Are you ready for some college football ACC style? If the answer is yes, then this is your time of year. The season kicks off on Thursday night and continues right through the holiday weekend. With that said, this also begins our weekly look at the league through our season-long notes column. So let’s get started with the Week 1 edition of the notes.
As the season gets underway, the league has three teams ranked inside the AP Top 25. They are Clemson at #3, North Carolina at #10, and Miami at #14. The Tar Heels will have an early-season conference test as they begin their season on the road in Blacksburg, West Virginia taking on the Virginia Tech Hokies. The last time these two teams got together in Blacksburg, it was a wild offensive show that went the way of Virginia Tech. The 43-41 victory took six overtimes and is still considered the longest game in conference history. North Carolina enters this game with their highest ranking since 1997 when they were ranked at #7. The Tar Heels finished last season with an 8-4 record overall and a #22 spot in the polls. North Carolina is led by quarterback Sam Howell who was named First-Team All-Conference on offense in the preseason, as well as preseason Player of the Year. He enters this season with 68 touchdown passes, 3rd most among active QBs in FBS.
The Clemson Tigers get started on Saturday night with a matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte, NC. The last time these two programs met was in 2014, with UGA coming out on top by a 45-21 score. In fact, the overall series between these two programs has been tilted more toward the Bulldogs side of things, as they lead the all-time series with a 42-18-4 mark. A new era at quarterback begins for Clemson as D.J. Ulagalelei will make his third career start for the Tigers and his first in a season opener. He enters the season with the nation’s longest active streak of pass attempts without an interception at 117.
On Saturday afternoon, the Miami Hurricanes will take their shot at the #1 team in the country the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta Georgia. These two teams have not met on the football field since 1993 with Alabama winning 34-13. The series has been somewhat one-sided with the Crimson Tide being on the winning side in 14 of the 17 meetings. That game back in 1993 decided a National Championship in the Sugar Bowl. Canes QB D’eriq King was sharp in his final tuneup before the big game. He completed 20-of-26 passes for 317 yards. He starts the year with 73 career touchdown passes at Miami. That’s the most in FBS.
Once again the ACC will play a difficult non-conference schedule. The league will play 23 non-conference games vs Power 5 conferences schools, the most in the country. They will play 13 against teams that were ranked in the final Top 25 poll for the 2020 season. Every team in the league will play at least one game vs a Power 5 opponent with nine schools playing two games.
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