The ACC released the entire 2013 football schedule on Monday, giving fans a preview of the schedule in the new-look 14-team conference.
The 2013 season will mark the first season of ACC competition for Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The Panthers, set to join the Coastal Division, will kick off the ACC conference schedule on Labor Day in a primetime showdown against Florida State on ESPN. In addition to the league release, the school held their own press conference at Heinz Field; the site of the nationally televised ACC opener.
"The 2013 ACC football schedule showcases some tremendous matchups this year as our league is arguably playing the toughest nonconference schedule in the country," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in the official release. "This is an exciting year as we look forward to welcoming Pitt and Syracuse into the ACC. Both teams are opening league play at home, with Florida State at Pitt on Labor Day Monday Night and in its first ACC game, Clemson at Syracuse in the Carrier Dome."
Syracuse, the seventh member of the Atlantic Division, will start ACC play on Oct. 5 against the Tigers. The schedule also reveals the matchups for the ACC's nationally televised Thursday night games: Clemson at NC State (Sept. 19), Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Sept. 26), Georgia Tech at Clemson (Nov. 14), and Miami at North Carolina (Oct. 17). The meeting between the Hurricanes and Tar Heels will be the second Thursday night game in Kenan Stadium, the first being a 2009 game against Florida State, a 30-27 Seminoles win.
Click here to check out the full schedule at TheACC.com, below I've broken down the Top 5 games we can't wait to see in the ACC this fall.
1. Florida State at Clemson (Oct. 19) -- This was arguably one of the best ACC games in the 2012 conference schedule, and expectations for another classic are in order after both teams finished in the top 10 of the final AP Poll. In 2012 the head-to-head victory gave the Seminoles a bid to the ACC title game. For now, it seems the road to Charlotte in 2013 runs through Death Valley.
2. Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Sept. 26) -- Every year since the ACC Championship Game began in 2005, the Coastal Division representative has either been the Hokies or the Yellow Jackets. In 2012 the two teams kicked off the ACC conference schedule on Labor Day, with Virginia Tech edging Georgia Tech 20-17 in overtime. While the Coastal Division boasts new contenders like Miami and North Carolina (see below), it still belongs to these two teams until proven otherwise. Tune in on Thursday night for what promises to be another close primetime battle.
3. Miami at North Carolina (Oct. 17) -- Miami and North Carolina each finished with a 5-3 record in conference play in 2012. While both teams finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Coastal Division, postseason sanctions prevented them from competing for an ACC title. Both teams are expected to compete for the division title again in 2013, setting up a big-time atmosphere for the second-ever Thursday night game in Chapel Hill.
4. Florida State at Pittsburgh (Sept. 2) -- Paul Chryst and the Panthers will kick off the ACC era of Pittsburgh football on the largest stage -- an 8 p.m. Labor Day kickoff on ESPN. The annual wrap to college football's opening weekend will provide our first glimpse of a Seminoles team looking to repeat as ACC champs after saying goodbye several defensive leaders and quarterback EJ Manuel. An upset could also help Pitt avoid the slow start that set them back in 2012.
5. Clemson at NC State (Sept. 19) -- The Wolfpack have had an odd advantage over Atlantic Division title contenders in Raleigh, nearly derailing Florida State twice and Clemson in Carter-Finley Stadium in the last three seasons. Both victories over the Seminoles came in Thursday night games on national television -- the same rowdy environment the Tigers will face in mid-September.
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