In recent years, there has been an Oklahoma on the schedule for us to talk about. A Boise State. An Alabama, or an LSU.
This year, we have Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech on Labor Day, and the matchup is a microcosm of the entire 2012 ACC schedule -- the conference games will draw more attention and interest than the nonconference schedule this year. Of course, the end-of-the-year rivalry games against SEC opponents South Carolina, Georgia and Florida remain of the utmost importance -- not only to the ACC fan bases, but to the league's overall image, and the ACC will play some great nonconference games against programs like Penn State, Stanford, Auburn, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.
When it comes to the best storylines of 2012, though, ACC fans will get the best bang for their buck within the ACC.
Once again, it should be a wide-open race in both divisions, contrary to the popular picks Virginia Tech, Florida State and Clemson. Florida State and Clemson play each other in September. So do Wake Forest and Florida State, Miami and Georgia Tech, Miami and Boston College, Virginia and Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech has three Coastal Division opponents in the first three weeks. With the Hokies and Jackets kicking things off on Labor Day, and Clemson travelling to Florida State on Sept. 22, two of the ACC's season-defining games will have already been played, and they will be far more compelling and meaningful than most, if not all, of the nonconference matchups that month.
Once again, it will be a September to remember in the ACC -- but not because of what happens between Clemson and Auburn or NC State and Tennessee. It will be because of what happens in the conference race.