2017 ACC football schedule notes: Big games that will decide the conference

For the second time in four years, this fall's Florida State-Clemson game will feature the defending national champion. The official date for the annual clash of ACC Atlantic rivals was one of several calendar-circling announcements that came along with Tuesday's release of the 2017 ACC football schedule.

While much of the nonconference slate was already known, Tuesday's news lays out the path to the ACC title game for every team in the league. In the Atlantic, the expectation is that path will go through Death Valley on Nov. 11 when the Tigers host the Seminoles. Things are far less certain in the Coastal, where four different teams have won the division in the last four years.

Four things to know about the 2017 ACC football schedule.

1. Clemson has a tough draw: The defending champs catch no breaks in 2017. They do get to host Florida State in that pivotal ACC Atlantic matchup but other than that things will be tough, particularly in the first month. After opening the year with Kent State, Clemson welcomes Auburn on Sept. 9 then travels to Louisville for a rematch against Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals the following week (Sept. 16). Then at the end of the month, the Tigers have one of the toughest cross-division assignments around, traveling to Blacksburg, Virginia, to play Virginia Tech in Lane Stadium (Sept. 30).

2. The Lamar Jackson Heisman Tour is front-loaded, again: Jackson did much of the damage during his 2016 Heisman Trophy campaign in the first couple weeks of the season, tearing up Florida State and then coming up a few yards short against Clemson in Death Valley. After Louisville hosts Clemson on Sept. 16, the Cardinals will travel to Tallahassee on Oct. 21. If Louisville is going to make a run at the College Football Playoff, it will need to win both of those games and finish stronger in November.

3. ACC will have the spotlight on opening weekend: Clemson will have a traditional home opener on the first weekend of the season, but the ACC will be in the national spotlight with five neutral site games, none more anticipated than Jimbo Fisher and Florida State squaring off against Nick Saban and Alabama in Atlanta.

  • Florida State vs. Alabama (Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Saturday)
  • Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia (Landover, Maryland)
  • Louisville vs. Purdue (Lucas Oil Field, Indianapolis)
  • NC State vs. South Carolina (Belk College Kickoff Game, Charlotte, North Carolina)
  • Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee (Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Monday)

4. The path to the ACC Championship Game: Here are the conference games likely to decide the 2017 ACC title.

  • Saturday, Sept. 16: Clemson at Louisville, Miami at Florida State
  • Saturday, Sept. 23: Pitt at Georgia Tech
  • Friday, Sept. 29: Miami at Duke
  • Saturday, Sept. 30: Clemson at Virginia Tech
  • Thursday, Oct. 12: Georgia Tech at Miami
  • Saturday, Oct. 21: Louisville at Florida State
  • Saturday, Oct. 28: Miami at North Carolina
  • Thursday, Nov. 9: North Carolina at Pitt
  • Saturday, Nov. 11: Florida State at Clemson
  • Friday, Nov. 24: Miami at Pitt, Virginia Tech at Virginia
CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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