ACC: most important game 2013

Our “most important game” series continues today with Virginia:

Virginia

Most important game: Nov. 30 vs. Virginia Tech.

SportsNation

Which game will be most important to Virginia in 2013?

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    8%
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    4%
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    8%
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    74%
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    6%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,829)

Why it’s important: The Commonwealth Cup doesn’t even know where Charlottesville is anymore. Look, few if any outside the program are expecting this to be a banner year for Virginia. The Hoos just lost another quarterback in Phillip Sims, they have new offensive and defensive coordinators and the schedule is simply brutal. One goal Virginia must continue to cling onto, though, is beating its in-state rival and starting to turn the table on this lopsided series. Last year’s 17-14 win over UVa was Virginia Tech’s ninth straight win in the series. The Hokies have won 13 of the last 14 games against Virginia, and UVa coach Mike London has yet to have the upper hand in the game. While the division title probably won't be at stake in this game this year, bragging rights, pride and in-state recruiting will be -- especially since it's a home game for UVa this year. If Virginia is ever going to make a move in the Coastal Division standings, the balance of power first has to shift within the state.

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Most important game: Syracuse

June, 11, 2013
6/11/13
2:00
PM ET
Our “most important game” series continues today with Syracuse. If you’re just joining us, you must be, well, Syracuse. Welcome to the ACC …

SportsNation

Which game will be the most important to Syracuse in 2013?

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    19%
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    45%
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    18%
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    13%
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    5%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,989)

Syracuse

Most important game: Oct. 5 vs. Clemson

Why it’s important: Because Syracuse can win. No, really. It’s happened before. In each of the past two seasons, Syracuse upset a ranked opponent at home. The Orange did it in 2011 against West Virginia and Geno Smith. They did it last year against Louisville and Teddy Bridgewater. Why not Clemson and Tajh Boyd? There will be plenty of motivation, as Syracuse will be looking to make a statement at home against its first ACC opponent -- which also happens to be its top competition in the Atlantic Division, and what could prove to be one of the best teams in the country. Clemson is the more talented team, and Syracuse will be breaking in a new quarterback, but the Orange will have home-field advantage and confidence from knowing they have won big games like this before. This is a chance for Syracuse to make a statement in its new conference, and for it to continue a streak of knocking off ranked opponents with stellar quarterbacks.

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Most important game: NC State

June, 7, 2013
6/07/13
10:30
AM ET
Our “most important game” series continues today with NC State. If you’re just joining us, get a clue.

NC State

Most important game: Nov. 2 vs. North Carolina

SportsNation

Which game will be the most important to NC State?

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    29%
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    3%
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    28%
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    38%
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    2%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,487)

Why it’s important: Because with an entirely new staff and new quarterback, the state championship is a more realistic goal for the Wolfpack this year than an ACC championship. First-year coach Dave Doeren will get his first taste of the in-state rivalry, which NC State has dominated in recent years. Last fall, UNC beat the Wolfpack to end a five-game losing streak in the series. The Pack will have home field advantage this year, but UNC will have the more proven quarterback in Bryn Renner -- and the Tar Heels could also have more to lose than just pride and in-state bragging rights, as UNC is expected to be the ACC’s top team on Tobacco Road this fall. For Doeren, though, the stakes are also high, as beating UNC can also win over fans and recruits. Both Fedora and Doeren have been tasked with rebuilding their respective programs, and Fedora is already a year ahead. Doeren could close the gap a bit with a win on Nov. 2.

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Our “most important game” series continues today with North Carolina. If you’re just joining us, shame on you.

North Carolina

Most important game: Oct. 17 vs. Miami

SportsNation

Which game will be the most important to UNC in 2013?

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    12%
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    37%
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    38%
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    4%
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    9%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,361)

Why it’s important: This will be a nationally televised Thursday night game between two programs expected to contend for the Coastal Division -- and this time be eligible to actually win it. Both Miami coach Al Golden and UNC coach Larry Fedora had their teams in contention to win the division last year, but both programs were ineligible for postseason play. Miami had self-imposed sanctions and UNC was under NCAA sanctions. Miami has yet to hear back from the NCAA, so the Canes' future is still murky, but there's no question this year's team should be a contender, as no team in the league returns more starters.

This fall, the Coastal Division race will be crowded with the addition of Pitt and expected improvement of Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, but if UNC and Miami can build upon the success they had last fall, this game should be critical to the top of the standings. Last year, UNC won at Miami, handing the Canes their first ACC loss. The Tar Heels will have home-field advantage this season, and this game will feature two of the ACC’s top quarterbacks in Miami’s Stephen Morris and UNC’s Bryn Renner.

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Most important game: Miami

June, 5, 2013
6/05/13
9:00
AM ET
Our “most important game” series continues today with Miami. If you’re just joining us and still need an explanation beyond the title, you must be looking for the SEC blog …

Miami

Most important game: Oct. 17 at North Carolina

SportsNation

Which game will be the most important to Miami in 2013?

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    22%
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    8%
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    14%
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    49%
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    7%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,736)

Why it’s important: Because it’s a nationally-televised Thursday night game on ESPN that could determine the Coastal Division winner. Neither of these teams was eligible for the postseason last year, but both were in contention to win the division, and should be again. They are both well-coached programs on the rise with veteran quarterbacks looking to build upon last year’s success. Last fall, Miami started off as one of the ACC’s biggest surprises at 3-0 and suffered its first league loss at home to UNC. Had those teams been eligible, that game would have been the difference in a trip to Charlotte to play for the ACC championship. In fact, North Carolina has self-proclaimed itself 2012 Coastal Division champs, and even purchased rings as proof. This will be a tough test for Miami because it will be the first game of the season they have to leave the state for. While home field advantage will work in the Canes’ favor early, their most important game will also be their first out of state.

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Our “most important game” series continues today with Maryland. If you’re just joining us, you must be Louisville …

Maryland

Most important game: Nov. 30 at NC State

SportsNation

What game will be most important to Maryland in 2013?

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    15%
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    26%
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    6%
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    31%
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    22%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,230)

Why it’s important: This could be Maryland’s last game as a founding member of the ACC. (That’s assuming, of course, that the Terps aren’t playing in the ACC championship game.) It will be historic, as the Terps, a member of the ACC since 1953, will join the Big Ten in 2014 and be replaced that year by Louisville. Coincidentally, former Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow is now the AD at NC State, so it will be interesting to hear what kind of emotions are surrounding that game, both on the field and off of it. What kind of statement will the Terps make in their final regular-season league game? How will they be received in one of the ACC’s most raucous stadiums?

While few expect Maryland to be a true contender in the Atlantic Division, this game will still have meaning to the standings, and there is still a very good possibility that Maryland’s bowl eligibility will come down to the final game of the season. Maryland should pick up at least two nonconference wins, and has legitimate chances to beat Virginia, Wake Forest, Syracuse and BC. A road trip to Virginia Tech will be tough, as will a trip to FSU. If the Terps are going to get back to the postseason, they’re going to have to steal a few wins on the road. Regardless of what’s at stake in the standings or the postseason, though, the storyline will be Maryland’s final farewell to the ACC.

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Our “most important game” series continues today with Georgia Tech. If you’re just joining us, you must be on the NCAA’s calendar -- late.

Georgia Tech

SportsNation

Which game will be the most important to Georgia Tech in 2013?

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    7%
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    45%
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    25%
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    20%
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    3%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,992)

Most important game: Sept. 26 versus Virginia Tech.

Why it’s important: Because FIVE DAYS after lining up against North Carolina, Georgia Tech has to play a Thursday night game on ESPN, and historically, no game has meant more to the Coastal Division race than this one. These back-to-back home games against Coastal Division opponents will let ACC fans know quickly if Georgia Tech is for real, but it’s the game against the Hokies that has historically determined the Coastal Division winner.

Every year since the ACC split into divisions -- with the exception of last season -- the winner of the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game has gone on to win the division. Virginia Tech did it five times and Georgia Tech did it twice before 2012, when Virginia Tech beat Georgia Tech at home in overtime, but the Jackets wound up playing in the ACC title game because both UNC and Miami were ineligible. Georgia Tech has a brutal schedule, with back-to-back road trips to Miami and BYU following the short turnaround to end September. If the Jackets can go 2-0 against UNC and the Hokies, though, they’ll have some big-time momentum heading into Coral Gables.

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Time to move on in our series looking at the most important game for each team in the ACC.

Up today: Florida State.

SportsNation

Which game will be most important to Florida State in 2013?

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    65%
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    15%
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    15%
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    4%
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    1%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,310)

Most important game: at Clemson, Oct. 19.

Why it's important: The Seminoles have a double rivalry whammy every season with important games against Florida and Miami. But the Canes game has taken a backseat to the Clemson game when it comes to league title implications. Miami has yet to become a consistent Top 25 team again (and has lost six of the past eight meetings with Florida State); Clemson has emerged as the main Atlantic Division rival for the Noles. Last year, Florida State beat the Tigers at home and won their first league title since 2005. This year, many anticipate the Atlantic Division will be decided between these schools again, this time in Death Valley when the Seminoles come to town. There is a chance both teams will be undefeated and ranked in the top 10, which could add more national drama than their matchup a year ago. Though Florida State lost 11 players in the draft, the Noles return an extremely talented team full of more future NFL picks. All eyes no doubt will be on the quarterback matchup, with the old guard versus the new -- veteran Tajh Boyd going against Jameis Winston, widely expected to get the starting job. The matchup between Boyd and the retooled Florida State defense is another intriguing one, especially when you consider all we heard this spring was how much more aggressive this D is going to be under Jeremy Pruitt. To have national championship hopes, you have to win the conference, and to win the conference, Florida State has to beat Clemson. It's easy to see why this game is the most important one on the schedule for these respective teams.

More on the series

Most important game: Duke

May, 30, 2013
5/30/13
3:30
PM ET
Our “most important game” series continues today with Duke. If you’re just joining us, it is exactly what the headline says it is: the most important game of the year for each school in the ACC. It's not brain surgery, guys, it's football. C'mon ...

Duke

SportsNation

Which game will be the most important to Duke in 2013?

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    10%
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    10%
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    14%
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    57%
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    9%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,700)

Most important game: Nov. 23 at Wake Forest

Why it’s important: Duke’s road win at Wake Forest last year was the program’s first win in the series since 1999, and it was a critical step toward becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 1995. This game has always been a down-to-the-wire thriller, but recent history has been on the Deacs’ side. Duke has the misfortune of having to travel to Winston-Salem for the second straight season, and this late November game could again go a long way in determining whether Duke reaches the postseason again. A 3-1 record against nonconference opponents should be expected, and 4-0 isn’t unreasonable, considering Duke’s Sept. 14 game against Georgia Tech will help prepare the Blue Devils for the Oct. 12 home game against Navy. A win at Virginia and a home win against NC State isn’t far-fetched, but in order to get to a bowl game, Duke is going to have to steal some wins on the road. Four of the last six games are on the road, but none will be more important than Nov. 23 at Wake. Can Duke prove last year wasn’t a fluke?

For more in this series, click here.

Most important game: Clemson

May, 29, 2013
5/29/13
10:30
AM ET
HD kicked off our new series looking at THE most important game of the season for each ACC team with Boston College. With all due respect to Eagles fans, I have drawn a far more difficult assignment today: picking the most important game on the schedule for Clemson.

You could make the case for three games. I chose ...

SportsNation

Which game will be the most important to Clemson in 2013?

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    50%
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    18%
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    4%
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    27%
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    1%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,829)

Most important game: Florida State, Oct. 19.

Why it's important: Every coach in America will tell you the No. 1 priority for any team is to win the conference championship. Clemson could beat Georgia to open the season, but what would that victory mean if the Tigers go ahead and lose to Florida State, a loss that would impact their shot at making another trip to the ACC title game? The Georgia game has gotten a lion's share of national attention because of its place on the schedule, its implications on the national title race and the possibility of matching two Top 10 teams. It is important. But Florida State is more important. Clemson lost to the Seminoles last year, and lost a chance at the ACC title. Clemson beat Florida State in 2011, and ended up winning the ACC and making a BCS game (although it was one to forget). Clemson could lose to Georgia and still make a BCS game with a win over Florida State. Clemson could lose to Georgia and still make an outside run at a national title if it can win the remainder of its games -- yes that includes Florida State. As for the third choice, South Carolina is always an important game. It grows more important with every passing year the Tigers lose to their in-state rivals. There is no question Clemson wants to win this one badly. But, again, that is a nonconference game. A loss here does not prevent Clemson from playing for an ACC title. To us, the conference games simply have more weight to them. Especially conference games against your top division rival.

More in the series
Every team has a season-defining weekend, a can’t-miss game on the schedule that will help determine the identity of the team and the outcome of the season. Some are more difficult than others to pinpoint, and many will change as the season and conference race unfolds. Based on what we know now, this series will highlight one game on the schedule for every ACC team -- THE game, the most important game of the year.

SportsNation

Which game will be the most important to Boston College?

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    11%
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    13%
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    10%
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    51%
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    15%

Discuss (Total votes: 1,742)

The series begins today with Boston College:

Most important game: Nov. 30 at Syracuse

Why it’s important: Because Syracuse and BC are former Big East rivals, and it will be the final measure of how much progress Steve Addazio made during the regular season in his first year. Syracuse, which will join the ACC in July, leads the series 28-18, but Boston College won the last meeting, 16-7, in 2010. The two programs haven’t played regularly, though, since 2004, when Syracuse drubbed BC 43-17 -- a not-so-subtle sendoff for the Eagles, who then left for the ACC. Both programs will now compete in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, once again making their rivalry more meaningful. Both programs will be under first-year head coaches this fall, as Scott Shafer has taken over at Syracuse. Addazio has said that he is looking forward to the game against Syracuse becoming a meaningful rivalry again. It can start this fall.

 

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