Around the ACC: Circled in Red

We asked our bloggers this question: As a follower of your school, what game are you most jacked up for this year?  What’s the one you REALLY want to win, and why?  It doesn’t necessarily have to be the traditional rivalry game, or even the most “important” game … just name the game that’s circled in red on your calendar.

Duke, by Mike Kline (@DukeBlogMKline)

Two games stand out as important for Duke. The first game of the season against Florida International is crucial. The Blue Devils are only 2-2 in season openers under David Cutcliffe and all of those games, both the wins and losses, came against FCS schools. This is Duke’s first season opener in the Cutcliffe era against an FBS School and it is an absolute must win to get the Blue Devils off to a good start.

That being said, the September 29 game against Wake Forest is the game of the utmost importance. If all goes according to plan Duke should be 3-1 after wrapping up its non conference schedule. The Blue Devils have been haunted by the Demon Deacons over the years and last season they lost yet another heart beaker by one point. They have lost the last five to Wake by a total of 15 points and haven’t beaten the Deacons since 1999, so this season’s matchup is a must win if the Blue Devils have any shot at posting a winning record or getting to a bowl game. This is Duke’s best team in a long time, and they will have to find a way to exercise the Demon Deacons.

Florida State, by Adam Tolliver (@primediscussion)

Florida State’s biggest game of the year will be September 22nd against Clemson, in Tallahassee. It will be the first big game of the year after playing through two cupcakes and a depleted Wake Forest team, all at home. Clemson is quickly becoming Florida State’s biggest conference rival with impending sanctions looming in Miami, as well as the consistent building of their program over the past few seasons. For FSU, who has conference title and even national title hopes, Clemson represents a team with comparable talent and skill to truly test the Seminoles and answer a lot of questions about the team overall. It is my belief that this team will not be taken seriously until it notches a victory over the Clemson Tigers at the end of September in Tallahassee.

Georgia Tech, by Geofferson P. Burdell

For the Yellow Jackets, the biggest, keyest game is Labor Day (9/3) night against Virginia Tech. It is then that they will face the Hokies. This is a huge game for a few reasons: One, every single Georgia Tech player will be tested. If Virginia Tech has a weakness, this writer cannot see it. Two, it’s in Blacksburg. Their crowd is an ardent & intelligent sea of orange and maroon. Three, it *is* the opener. Last, the Yellow Jackets are pumped about it. They’ve taken “nine three” as their mantra and it looks like most of the players have worked hard on improving their game in the offseason. I can’t wait! Nine Three!

Miami, by Chris Bennett (@ChrisBennettACC)

Let’s just get this out of the way – we respect the FSU program, but hate losing to them. Attention Hokies, we feel the same way about you. Irish – there’s no respect here, you’re going down! Playing VaTech and the ‘Noles in back to back weeks seems like the obvious pick here, as does the season opener against Boston College. But for me, the season in Coral Gables rests upon the outcome of September 29th’s game against North Carolina State. Miami could enter this game anywhere between 4-0 and 1-3 (Bethune Cookman can’t pull an upset,) and any record in that mix makes this game the linchpin in the ‘Canes’ schedule. Falling to 1-4 would have idiots calling for Al Golden’s head, while moving to 5-0, or anything slightly less, would have to get the administration questioning any further self imposed post season bans. N.C. State is a team that should be able to compete within the Atlantic division, and at this fifth game of September will show us whether this young Miami squad is on the right path, or mentally weak.

UNC, by Zach Evans (@ztevans)

October 27 against NC State.  Say what you want about NC State being UNC’s “annoying little cousin” or whatever.  The fact of the matter is the Tar Heels have gone too long without beating the Wolfpack in football. Frankly, I’m selfish. I don’t want to graduate without seeing it happen at least once, and October 27 is my last shot.  No pressure, guys.

NC State, by Spencer Hardison (@SpencerHardison)

The NC State game I want the Pack to win most is without question the Tennessee game. Opening the season in the Georgia Dome, against an SEC opponent, is a huge test for the Wolfpack. Out of the gate State will be tested, and that could make or break the entire season. Getting off to a good start by beating the Volunteers could give the Pack the early momentum to head into the ACC ready to compete for a championship. And of course, the UNC-CH game is always circled on the schedule, but after five in a row, it’s a given.

Virginia, by Brendan Cotter (@MaizeNBlueWahoo)

Short and sweet: Until such time as we actually see it happen, and happen repeatedly, beating VT will be the most important goal of the season.

Virginia Tech, by Will Stewart (@WillStewartTSL)

I’ll answer it this way: If you’re a Hokie and your primary focus is the conference championship, that starts with the Coastal Division crown, and therefore the opener against Georgia Tech is “the one you want to win.” But if you want payback, if you want to right last year’s wrongs and put Dabo Swinney and the Tigers back in their place, then for sheer emotional satisfaction, the Clemson road game on October 20th is the one you’ve got circled.

The Talley

That only represents 8 of the 12 ACC football schools, of course — we have yet to sign up bloggers for BC, Clemson, Maryland and Wake Forest (see here, ya’ll). But among the eight bloggers we’ve got, they named Clemson twice, Virginia Tech twice, and NC state twice. Wake Forest was named once, and OOC opponent Tennessee was named once.

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