Welcome to your weekly installment covering who you should root for in the ACC this week. We’re all enjoying this first weekend of college football, and if you need someone to root for besides Miami on Sunday you’ve found the right article.
Week 1 will be pretty simple, since there’s only one conference game this week, but as the season goes on things will get more complicated as we start to see how the conference plays out. Miami should be a contender in the ACC this year, so the performances of fellow members of the conference will be vitally important throughout the season.
Thursday, August 30th
Wake Forest 23, Tulane 17 F/OT
This game didn’t really affect Miami that much, but it was nice to see the Demon Deacons get a win on the road in Week 1. It wouldn’t be surprising if Wake Forest took a step back this year after losing a lot of experience, and it certainly looks like they will after a rather disappointing performance. Nevertheless it was a win, and any win is good for the ACC.
Friday, August 31st
Syracuse (0-0) at Western Michigan (0-0), 6:00 PM Eastern, CBSSN
This is an interesting game. Syracuse will have to go on the road to face a Western Michigan program that is just a few years removed from a Cotton Bowl appearance. Syracuse should win this game, but it may be closer than you think. Many think Dino Babers’ team could take a few steps forward this season, but if they stumble in this game it could all fall apart for the Orange.
Root for ‘Cuse here, it’s out of conference, and even though the Hurricanes don’t play Syracuse this year, an improvement in their fortunes could add yet another layer of respect to the ACC.
Army (0-0) at Duke (0-0), 7:00 PM Eastern, ESPNU
One of the more unique games of Week 1, Army at Duke is a battle of two programs that have found consistent success in recent years. While part of me wants to root for Duke because of the conference, another part of me wants to root against Duke, partly because I will always root for the military academies to do well, and also because I simply don’t like the Blue Devils.
You should probably root for Duke and the conference here, but I understand if you want to go rogue and root for Army, there are reasons to root for them as well.
Saturday, September 1st
JMU (0-0) at NC State (0-0), 12:00 PM Eastern, ESPNU
JMU is one of the better FCS teams in America, and it’ll be interesting to see them face off against a Power Five opponent. However, expect NC State to win big here. Ryan Finley is one of America’s best and most underrated quarterbacks, and the Wolfpack could quietly be one of the ACC’s better teams this year.
Once again root for NC State for the same reason as everyone else, the more they win, the stronger the conference becomes.
Furman at No.2 Clemson, 12:20 PM Eastern, ACCNE
Clemson could turn out to be America’s best team in 2018, and the only question they might have in Week 1 is whether or not to take mercy on Furman. The most important piece of this game might be to get a look at just how close Trevor Lawrence is to catching Kelly Bryant under center, because due to the NCAA’s new redshirt rule I’d expect him to play early and often throughout this game.
Root for Clemson here, especially because a strong Clemson could help Miami at the end of the season if we see a repeat of last year’s ACC Championship Game. If Clemson is undefeated a close loss or a victory would make Miami’s record look stronger in the eyes of the Playoff Committee.
Alcorn State (0-0) at Georgia Tech (0-0), 12:30 PM Eastern, ACCNE
Ah Georgia Tech, everybody’s favorite team to face in the ACC. This is another game that should be a cakewalk for the Power Five team involved. I’ll be interested to watch the Yellow Jackets over the first few weeks of the season. They could be a wild card in the ACC Coastal Division this year, especially due to their offensive scheme. On the other hand, if GT struggles like they have in the last few years Paul Johnson could find himself out of a job by December. Things could go either way for the Ramblin’ Wreck in 2018, but Week 1 should be easy.
You should root for Georgia Tech in this game. For much the same reason as all the previous games listed. The Yellow Jackets are in the ACC, and we need the conference to be strong in order to impress the Playoff Committee.
UMass (1-0) at Boston College (0-0), 1:00 PM Eastern, ACCNE
This is a fun little in state rivalry game in Week 1. UMass already played a game last week in “Week 0” of college football and secured their first victory. Expect them to get their first loss on Saturday. Boston College could be very good this season, and they play a tough, physical brand of football that is tough to defend against. BC will break you down and run all over you, and it’s doubtful that UMass will be able to stop them. Additionally, it’ll be America’s first chance to watch AJ Dillon in 2018. The sophomore running back is one of the best players in all of college football, and if you’re a Miami fan you won’t regret getting some early scouting in on him and having the pleasure of watching him play.
You should root for Boston College nearly every week besides the week that they play Miami. The stronger Boston College is the more impressive a win on the road in Chestnut Hill will be come October 26th.
Albany (0-0) at Pitt (0-0), 3:30 PM Eastern, ACCNE
Yet another ACC team taking on an FCS opponent in Week 1. Pittsburgh should be improved this season, but no one expects them to be quite back to where they were a few seasons ago before a disastrous 2017 campaign. The Panthers have gained experience after the difficulties of last season, and I expect them to take a step forward this year, but I’m not sure that step forward will be as big as Pitt fans would hope it to be.
Despite what Pitt did to us last year, root for them in this game, and root for them to win big. We need Pitt to gain confidence and find some limited success in order to strengthen the division and provide the strongest case that Miami is one of the best teams in America.
UNC (0-0) at California (0-0), 4:00 PM Eastern, FOX
This game is one of the most interesting games of Week 1. Both of these programs have struggled recently, and it’ll be interesting to try to gauge if either team has improved heading into this season based off how they play against each other. UNC had a rough season last year due to a multitude of factors, and just as they thought they had cleared the rough waters 13 players were suspended, including QB Chazz Surratt. It’ll be difficult to cope without those players against a Power Five opponent in Cal, but the Tar Heels will just have to find a way.
Root for UNC in this game. Any ACC win over a Power Five opponent is good, even if it comes against a relatively weak Cal team.
Richmond (0-0) at UVA (0-0), 6:00 PM Eastern, ACCNE
Virginia has made huge strides forward under Bronco Mendenhall, and they’ll look to continue that upward trajectory this season. Back in 2016 Richmond stunned Virginia in Mendenhall’s debut by defeating them 37-20, but this year I would expect Virginia to take their revenge. The Cavaliers have come a long way from that day two years ago, and this season they’ll look to continue their return to winning ways in the ACC.
Once again you should root for the ACC team, Virginia, in this game.
Louisville (0-0) vs No.1 Alabama (0-0), Camping World Kickoff in Orlando, Fl, 8:00 PM Eastern, ABC
Here’s the big one for the ACC on Saturday, but I wouldn’t expect the Cardinals to give the Crimson Tide much of a challenge. UL lost many of their best players after last season, and this game could get ugly quick, especially if Alabama has truly found a dynamic QB in Tua Tagovailoa. Unfortunately it appears as if the ACC will lose two consecutive kickoff games to Alabama, but an upset is always possible. Unfortunately for Louisville this game came just a year or two too late.
You should root for the boys from Kentucky in this game, even if it seems unlikely that they will be able to keep up with Alabama. Weirder things have happened, and anything can happen in College Football.
Sunday, September 2nd
No.8 Miami (0-0) vs No.25 LSU (0-0), AdvoCare Classic in Arlington, TX, 7:30 PM Eastern, ABC
Miami enters the season looking to finish what they started last year, but the Tigers from the Bayou will do everything they can to stand in their way. This is classic national powerhouse football, and the eyes of the nation will be upon AT&T Stadium in Texas on Sunday night. Miami struggled in the spotlight last season, especially early on, and the biggest key of this game may be whether or not the offense can find it’s stride early on in the game.
Obviously you should root for Miami here. A win could go a long way towards earning Miami respect on the national stage, especially since LSU is becoming the popular pick in this game.
Monday, September 3rd
No. 20 Virginia Tech (0-0) at No.19 Florida State (0-0), 8:00 PM Eastern, ESPN
Here is the first ACC conference game of the season. Virginia Tech has suffered a lot of bad storylines leading up to this game, especially in the injury department. It has resulted in the Hokies seemingly having to replace their whole secondary. For many teams this would be an early season death sentence, but not for a Bud Foster defense. In years past, no matter what, he’s had his defense prepared, and they’ll need to be to face a Florida State offense that plans to move quickly and score even more quickly. The Willie Taggart era at FSU could not begin with a bigger game. This game is huge for both teams, and it feels like both teams whole seasons could hang in the balance based off the tone they set in this opening game.
However, that doesn’t make it any easier to decide who to root for. On one hand Florida State is a rival, and we all like seeing them lose, but on the other hand if the Seminoles hand the Hokies a loss in ACC play in Week 1 it could go a long way to providing peace of mind for the Hurricanes in the ACC Coastal Division race. It’s up to you to decide who you want to win, but the Hurricanes don’t really like either team, so I think I’ll root for the ‘Noles, because if they win they can at least provide a benefit for Miami later down the road.
That’s it for this week. Enjoy your first full weekend of college football, and be happy that we finally have college football back in our lives.