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Top 10 ACC Non-Conference Games of 2018

Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney

Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney

Entering the 2018 college football season, the ACC has one of true national contenders in Clemson along with perennial power Florida Statelooking to claw its way back to the top of the Atlantic Division. On the other side,Miamiis positioning itself to once again be a major player nationally. As a result, ACC schedules will be a bear, regardless of the division in which you reside.

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Throw on top the fact that the league will be a part of non-conference games involving both of last year’s national championship game participants, the reigning Fiesta Bowl champs, and four other programs in Athlon Sports' Top 25 and you have what should be an entertaining year in the ACC.

Here are the 10 best non-conference games involving ACC teams in the 2018 season.

1. Clemson at Texas A&M (Sept. 8)

The Aggies return 14 starters and have two exciting options at quarterback. But we all know those things are not what makes this game interesting. This matchup is all about Jimbo Fisher, who left Florida State at the end of last season, hosting the team that dethroned his Seminoles as the ACC's marquee program.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Texas A&M
College Football Top 25 Rankings: Clemson

2. Miami vs. LSU (Sept. 2 in Arlington, Texas)

Mark Richt’s team brought the swagger back to South Florida last season when the Hurricanes won their first 10 games. But then the wheels came off over their last three. We will know right away which Miami is coming to play this season when the 'Canes face the Bayou Bengals in AT&T Stadium in week one.

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College Football Top 25 Rankings: Miami

3. Pittsburgh vs. Penn State (Sept. 8)

Much like the Clemson-Texas A&M game, outside factors are what make this battle so compelling. In May, Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour announced that after next year's game the series with the Panthers will be put on hold until at least 2026. That means that this will be the last meeting in Pittsburgh for the foreseeable future.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Penn State
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4. Florida State at Notre Dame (Nov. 10)

The Seminoles and Fighting Irish have played only eight times, but there have been some memorable moments in this rivalry. There was the famed Game of the Century in 1993, two bowl victories for FSU, and the offensive pass interference call on ND receiver Will Fuller in 2014 that gave Florida State a victory in a battle of unbeaten teams.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Notre Dame
College Football Top 25 Rankings: FSU

5. Louisville vs. Alabama (Sept. 1 in Orlando, Fla.)

Not only does Louisville have to move on without Lamar Jackson, the Cardinals start that process by facing Nick Saban and the defending national champions. The good news is that new quarterback Jawon Pass will get a taste of what it is like to go against a stout defense, something he’ll have to do in conference play on Nov. 3 at Clemson.

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College Football Top 25 Rankings: Alabama
College Football Top 25: Louisville

6. Florida State vs. Florida (Nov. 24)

It’s a whole new dynamic as each team welcomes in a new coaching staff in 2018. Willie Taggart will bring a faster offensive tempo to Tallahassee while Florida fans hope that Dan Mullen can fix the Gators' ongoing quarterback issues and end the Seminoles' five-game winning streak in the series.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Florida
College Football Top 25 Rankings: FSU

7. Virginia Tech vs. Notre Dame (Oct. 6)

Lane Stadium will be ready for the Irish, who will be making their first-ever trip to Blacksburg. The Hokies came back to win a nail-biter in South Bend two years ago and should at worst be 4-1 entering this game. It’s a tough spot for the Irish, who host Stanford the week before.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Notre Dame
College Football Top 25 Rankings: Virginia Tech

8. Clemson vs. South Carolina (Nov. 24)

Little by little, year by year, the Gamecocks are getting better under head coach Will Muschamp. And this year, quarterback Jake Bentley gets star receiver Deebo Samuel back from injury. Still, the Gamecocks were thumped by the Tigers 34-10 in Williams-Brice Stadium last year and this year a stronger Clemson team will host the game at Death Valley.

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College Football Top 25 Rankings: Clemson

9. Georgia Tech at Georgia (Nov. 24)

As Georgia Tech’s 2018 season was spiraling downward, the rival Bulldogs were marching towards an SEC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Along the way, Kirby Smart’s crew went to Atlanta and beat up the Jackets 38-7. Tech should be improved this fall and they are just one year removed from a victory in this series.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Georgia
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10. NC State vs. West Virginia (Sept. 15)

The game in Raleigh will be a battle between two of the nation’s best quarterbacks. The Wolfpack’s Ryan Finley completed 65 percent of his passes last year for more than 3,500 yards. West Virginia’s Will Grier is getting plenty of preseason Heisman Trophy buzz after throwing for nearly 3,500 yards with 34 touchdowns before a finger injury ended his debut campaign with the Mountaineers.

College Football Top 25 Rankings: WVU
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-- 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.