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Top 10 games to watch in the ACC

8/25/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Based on impact and interest, here are the 10 best games to watch in the league this year:

1. Clemson vs. Alabama, Saturday, August 30, 8 p.m. (ABC): It's not the end of the season if the Tigers get off to a bad start, but it certainly won't help to fumble the first one away in front of a national audience.

2. Miami at Florida, Sept. 6, 8 p.m. (ESPN): This will be quarterback Robert Marve's debut after serving his one-game suspension, and if Hurricanes fans want to know how far the program has to go before entering any conversations about national titles, this would be a good gauge.

3. Wake Forest at Florida State, Sept. 20: FSU playmaker Preston Parker will return from his two-game suspension in time for the Demon Deacons, who will have had a bye week to prepare for this game. FSU will still have players missing for suspensions, but Wake will be on the road for the second time in three games.

4. Clemson at Wake Forest, Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN): This game has upset written all over it. The Demon Deacons have a veteran team with a defense that can score, plus they've got home field advantage. And Jim Grobe, who can X and O with the best of 'em.

5. Maryland at Clemson, Sept. 27: Ralph Friedgen loves playing in Death Valley, and the Terps have a team that could surprise a few people, the Tigers included. The addition of first-year offensive coordinator James Franklin, backup quarterback Josh Portis, and a veteran offensive line make Maryland a dark horse.

6. Florida at Florida State, Nov. 29: The Seminoles should be an entirely different team by this point in the season -- a much better one if they stay healthy. The offensive line will have had ample time to become cohesive.

7. Virginia at Virginia Tech, Nov. 29: The battle for the Commonwealth Cup is more interesting than a drubbing by USC, and this rivalry game gets picked over Florida State/Miami because odds are, the Hokies will be playing for something more than just bragging rights.

8. South Carolina at Clemson, Nov. 29: It's not how you start, it's how you finish, right? Tommy Bowden vs. Steve Spurrier. Only one of them already has an ACC title. This game gets the nod over NC State/South Carolina because it's possible the Tigers will be jockeying for a spot in the BCS standings. Or just bragging rights.

9. Clemson at Florida State, Nov. 8: You can't forget about Bowden Bowl. The 'Noles will have the crowd behind them, and at this point, possibly Christian Ponder leading the way. And, of course, this could be another Tiger trap.

10. North Carolina at Miami, Sept. 27: Can Butch Davis do it again? The Tar Heels beat Miami 33-27 last season, but will have to do it on the road this time if they want to stay in the hunt for the Coastal Division. This is a key game in determining how far both programs have come over the past year.