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Which ACC rivalries are king?

8/12/2013

Every game is significant. The most important game is the next game. Yada, yada, yada …

Sure, each team has 12 games on its 2013 schedule, but we're kidding ourselves if we say that some are not more important than others. Whether it is a nearby school fighting for your school's recruits, or an up-and-comer that ruined your team's season goal, there is no shortage of contests that many already have circled on their calendars annually.

So, which rivalry is the best in the ACC? Which is gaining steam? Which isn't what it used to be? Let's take a look and find out.

Top rivalry: Florida State-Miami

Where do you even begin when talking about this rivalry? Bobby Bowden going for two in 1987? The Miami Muff? Wide Right I, II, III or IV? (Or Wide Left?) At the end of the day, nothing touches this annual contest between two national powers. Yes, the Seminoles have won the last three contests, six of the last eight and are the reigning ACC champions, but the preseason Coastal Division favorite Hurricanes are trending upward under third-year coach Al Golden, and are just a win away on Nov. 2 from shaking up the ACC's upper-tier and again making this rivalry what it has traditionally been: A battle between two national powers, with conference and perhaps even national title hopes at stake. Miami also has the historic edge, leading the series 31-26.

Rivalry on the rise: Clemson-Florida State

No two teams have headlined the ACC in recent years more than the Tigers and the Seminoles. These Atlantic Division rivals have combined to win the last four division crowns, with last year's classic in Tallahassee eventually serving as the deciding game between the 7-1 squads (FSU pulled out a 49-37 win in Week 4.) They are the conference's last two Orange Bowl participants, and are the two favorites to win the ACC again this season, with Clemson holding the preseason edge from the media. What's more, these two have helped set the standard on the recruiting trail, as FSU currently holds the top spot among ESPN's class of 2014 team rankings, with both hauling in top-15 classes in 2013, top-10 classes in 2012 and top-10 classes in 2011. The Seminoles lead the all-time series, 18-8, and will travel to Clemson on Oct. 19.

Rivalry fading: Clemson-Virginia Tech

The teams that made up the 2011 ACC title game have been among the conference's best in recent years, but the 2012 contest could be the last one we see for quite some time. The Tigers won that one, 38-17, en route to an 11-2 season. And while it is certainly possible that we see these teams match up in a conference title game or two in the future, the new ACC scheduling format has these squads slated for matchups in just 2017 and 2024, making this rivalry one of the unfortunate casualties of the conference realignment carousel. The Tigers currently hold the all-time series lead, 20-12-1.