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Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The List: Top ACC games for recruits

By Corey Dowlar and Jared Shanker

Clemson, Pitt and Virginia Tech have important season openers, and Florida State, Virginia and Virginia Tech could use a win in the regular-season finale to help sway recruits against a major in-state rival.

Here are 10 games involving ACC teams that could shape the 2014 recruiting class as well as classes to come.

1. Florida at Miami, Sept. 7
Miami has a chance to make a major statement here. With all kinds of offensive talent at their disposal, the Hurricanes will try to take advantage of a younger but talented Gators defense. Florida has done very well in South Florida this recruiting cycle, but with a win, Miami might be able to make a push for some recruits the Gators have by being able to point to a win in a head-to-head situation. Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead) and Dalvin Cook (Miami/Miami Central) are major targets committed to Florida.

2. Georgia at Clemson, Aug. 31
South Carolina talent is by no means terrible. There are quality prospects that come out of the Palmetto State all the time. But since Clemson borders Georgia, one of the top producing states in the country, it would be a mistake not to utilize it. With the Bulldogs coming to town in week one, the Tigers could notch a win that would make Georgia recruits take notice. It's worth mentioning that the top dual-threat quarterback in the country, Deshaun Watson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) is a Clemson commitment.

3. Miami at Florida State, Nov. 2
Florida State's 2014 schedule is really attractive. But as nice as 2014 is, 2013 is quite the opposite. The Seminoles home slate is missing a couple of marquee games, but the in-state rivalry game with the Hurricanes is at least one of them. Because there aren't too many other big games, expect this to be a massive visit weekend for Florida State. Any of their top targets will most likely be encouraged to visit, unofficially or officially.

4. Florida State at Florida, Nov. 30
Following the Gators' tremendous recruiting momentum from last year's class, the Seminoles would like to answer in kind. Both schools will have mutual targets in attendance at this game. Should the Seminoles be able to pull off a win in this one, even though they will likely be underdogs heading in, it could spring Jimbo Fisher and his coaching staff toward a big finish.

5. Virginia Tech at Virginia, Nov. 30
The Hokies rarely lose in-state recruiting battles to the Cavs, but Mike London is dominating Virginia Tech with Virginia prospects. Much of the state’s top 2015 prospects will be in Charlottesville that Saturday, so a Virginia Tech win would help turn the momentum some. London is also on the hot seat some, so if a loss to the Hokies concludes a disappointing season for Virginia, it could cost London his job and a top-20 recruiting class.

6. Alabama at Virginia Tech, Aug. 31
It is a neutral-site game, but it is Alabama. Whether Virginia Tech was coming off a BCS bowl or 7-6 season, a win against the Crimson Tide during Alabama’s unprecedented run in the BCS era would speak volumes to recruits. Virginia Tech recruits up and down the East Coast, so although the Hokies won’t be hosting prospects that weekend, a large number of potential Hokies recruits will have their eyes on the game. Virginia Tech immediately becomes the talk of college football if it can upset the Tide.

7. Clemson at South Carolina, Nov. 30
South Carolina is not usually looked at a state with a large quantity of BCS talent, but the Palmetto State has 10 ESPN 300 prospects and 13 four-star prospects. Both the Tigers and Gamecocks do a good job of keeping the talent at home, so this annual end-of-the-season contest could swing a few in-state recruits in the winner’s direction.

8. Florida State at Clemson, Oct. 19
Clemson's home schedule is ripe with big-time home contests to be able to showcase the program. Florida State, most years, is the biggest game on the schedule for the Tigers because of the conference title implications. But it doesn't hurt to notch a win in this series, of course, because Clemson often recruits in the state of Florida. Players such as Tony Steward, Jamie Harper and C.J. Spiller are all notable Clemson wins in recruiting over Florida State.

9. Florida State at Pittsburgh, Sept. 2
Not only is it the season opener for Pitt, but it’s the Panthers’ first ACC game as it changes conferences. Paul Chryst has struggled some as a recruiter especially with elite Pennsylvania prospects, but several of the Panthers’ top in-state targets will be on hand on Labor Day. A win could go a long way in preventing Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State from raiding western Pennsylvania like in years past.

10. Clemson at NC State, Sept. 19
NC State has the No. 31 class in the rankings, as first-year coach Dave Doeren is recruiting well to start. This could be a statement win for Doeren at NC State, as it will be in prime time on a Thursday night. Even if recruits cannot make the game because it is a school night, their eyes will be on the TV that night. A win against a highly ranked Clemson program at home would force in-state prospects to give NC State a harder look.