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ACC's biggest battles: Nos. 3 & 4

8/18/2014

The 2014 college football season starts in 10 days. We're getting you ready by counting down the ACC's 10 biggest battles with playoff implications. Nos. 3 and 4 are up today.

No. 4

The matchup: No. 9 South Carolina at No. 16 Clemson

Date/location: Nov. 29 at Memorial Stadium, TBA

Why it matters: The Gamecocks have owned the Tigers in recent years, but Clemson has still been able to play in two BCS bowl games. If Clemson is going to make the College Football Playoff, the Tigers will likely have to defeat their in-state rival. Those two could be playing for a bid in the playoff the final weekend in November. The game could have implications for Florida State, too. If the Seminoles lose a game -- whether to Clemson or another team --they might need all the strength of schedule help they can get. The Gamecocks are a preseason top-10 team, and a Clemson win over South Carolina would benefit Florida State’s case.

No. 3

The matchup: No. 17 Notre Dame at No. 1 Florida State

Date/location: Oct. 18, Doak Campbell Stadium, TBA

Why it matters: The fact of the matter is every game on the Seminoles’ schedule is big for the ACC. They are the conference’s best shot at the playoff and a national championship. Notre Dame could be down their top defensive back and receiver, but the Fighting Irish do return quarterback Everett Golson. The reviews on Golson out of the Irish’s camp have been promising, and he was recently named the starter after missing the 2013 season. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the backfield develops, especially with running back Greg Bryant. He was a highly regarded prospect in the 2013 class but failed to make a mark as a freshman. A strong running game, one of the best ways to counteract a Jameis Winston-led offense, could be the beginning of a recipe to upset Florida State. The defense, which carried Notre Dame to the 2012 title game, will not be nearly as strong, though.