They’re coming. Somewhere, at some time, an unheralded team will rise up and knock off a more glorified opponent. It happens every year and the ACC is certainly not immune to these upsets.
Last year’s big stunner came in October on Friday the 13th when Syracuse took down No. 2 Clemson at the Carrier Dome. Remarkably, that would be the last win of the year for the Orange.
Because they come out of nowhere, it is very difficult to predict when a higher ranked team will fall. But here is a list of 10 games involving ACC teams where an upset could be in play this fall.
10. Toledo over Miami, Sept. 15
A better Rockets team was pounded by the Canes 52-30 last year. But this game is at the Glass Bowl and Toledo will have two weeks to prepare following their warm-up game against FCS opponent VMI.
9. Old Dominion over Virginia Tech, Sept. 22
Obviously, there is a big talent gap between the two teams. ODU does return 15 starters and Norfolk will be ready for this one, as the in-state power whose program is always loaded with talent from the Tidewater region comes to Foreman Field.
8. Temple over Boston College, Sept. 29
The Owls closed 2017 strong, winning three of their last four to become bowl eligible, before thumping FIU in the Gasparilla Bowl. With a Thursday game the week before, Temple has a couple extra days to prepare and Boston College hosts the Owls between trips to Purdue and NC State.
7. Louisville over Alabama, Sept. 1
This is obviously unlikely, but the shock factor of this upset would be monumental. Getting the Crimson Tide right out of the gate is beneficial to the Cardinals because Alabama will be breaking in a host of new starters on defense.
6. Pittsburgh over UCF, Sept. 29
The Panthers have pulled off big upsets the past two seasons, beating Clemson in Death Valley in 2016 and knocking off then-unbeaten Miami at home last November. A victory over the Knights may not be of the same magnitude, but it would be noteworthy, especially if UCF comes in riding a 17-game winning streak.
5. Syracuse over Notre Dame, Nov. 17
Syracuse has pulled off its own huge upsets in each of the past two seasons. The aforementioned win over Clemson was preceded by a victory against No. 17 Virginia Tech in 2016. For the Irish, the game at Yankee Stadium is sandwiched between contests against Florida State and USC.
4. Texas A&M over Clemson, Sept. 8
Clemson is loaded and will be facing an Aggies squad with a new head coach. But Jimbo Fisher knows a thing or two about the Clemson personnel and the 12th Man will be jumping when the Tigers come to Kyle Field.
3. Marshall over NC State, Sept. 22
The week after hosting West Virginia, the Wolfpack will journey up to the Mountain State to play Marshall. The Thundering Herd returns 17 starters from its New Mexico Bowl championship team including virtually all of the nation’s No. 17 scoring defense.
2. NC State over Florida State, Nov. 3
The Wolfpack will have upset aspirations of their own when FSU comes to town. Dave Doeren’s crew won in Tallahassee last year and NC State is always a stern test for the Seminoles. The trip to Raleigh is right between games against Clemson and Notre Dame, making this a tricky spot for Florida State.
1. Boston College over Clemson, Nov. 10
Clemson can get caught napping, as Pittsburgh and Syracuse have shown in recent years. Boston College was tied with the Tigers in the fourth quarter of last year’s game and the Eagles bring back potential All-Americans in running back AJ Dillon, defensive end Zach Allen, and safety Lukas Denis. And it could be chilly in Chestnut Hill in November.
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.