On Monday I wrote about how this year's ACC schedule was more interesting and compelling than any of the nonconference games this year.
That's not to say the nonconference schedule is filled with duds (only half of it is). There are still plenty of meaningful games and chances for the ACC to make a national statement, but which game will draw the most interest and carry the most weight for the conference? Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia and Clemson-South Carolina are givens, and you can add Miami-Notre Dame to the list this year, though the Canes will be rebuilding in Al Golden's second season. The matchup at Soldier Field is one of four games that will be played on a neutral field, along with Virginia Tech-Cincinnati, NC State-Tennessee, and Clemson-Auburn.
West Virginia, Stanford, Kansas State and TCU are also among the ACC's more notable nonconference opponents for 2012.
Which nonconference game is this year's can't-miss?
My vote goes to Clemson-South Carolina. There was some bad blood between Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier last year that only made the series even more interesting. Swinney needs to let the scoreboard do the talking this year, though, as Clemson has lost three straight games to South Carolina. The Tigers will have home field-advantage this year, but Clemson fans won't be much consolation if Swinney is losing again. This matchup should feature two Top-25 teams, and any time the ACC can win one over the SEC, it means something.
To me, you've got to look at which matchups will feature the best teams, and in the SEC, Georgia and South Carolina should be two of the ACC's toughest opponents. While Miami-Notre Dame has historic and traditional appeal, the ACC has more to gain from a win over what could be the best team in the SEC East -- and it's about time Georgia Tech and Clemson turned the tables. Auburn and Florida could be middle-of-the-pack SEC teams this year.
I've cast my vote, time for you to cast yours.