There are several matchups in the ACC that always have and always will play a bigger role in the conference race than others. There is one, though, that seems to have taken on a greater importance this fall: Florida State at Clemson. Historically, the winner of the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game has decided the Coastal Division winner, but ACC fans aren't buying into Georgia Tech's chances this year, according to last week's poll. The spotlight has turned to the Atlantic Division race. Agreed.
My vote: Florida State at Clemson
Making the case for Sept. 24 in Death Valley: This game will define the Atlantic Division race early. The Tigers will have home-field advantage, and they'll have had three games to work out the kinks in first-year coordinator Chad Morris' offense. A Clemson win over Auburn the preceding week will add to the intrigue of this game because momentum can do wonders for a team. Just ask Auburn, which couldn't be stopped after its overtime win against Clemson last year. It's equally as interesting from the Florida State perspective because if the Seminoles are going to live up to the hype and preseason expectations, they can't afford to be derailed so early in the season -- regardless of what happens in the Oklahoma game.
Don't forget about: NC State at Florida State. Did you guys see this game last year? NC State won and it was one of the best games of the fall. I think I referred back to that game for the entire season because it had such an impact on the Atlantic Division race. Just because Russell Wilson is gone doesn't mean the Wolfpack aren't contenders. Christian Ponder is gone, too. So is Kyle Parker. Things have changed, including the fact that NC State is deeper and healthier than it's ever been before under coach Tom O'Brien.