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Kynes' Korner: ACC crossroads


This is the Most Important Week 1 in ACC History.

Talks of conference realignment have dominated the media landscape for the better part of the summer. Rumors about realignment have been all over the news. Every day a new vote seems to take place, and images of Blake James holding court with a former president and secretary of state become more and more real.

However, other than the TV deals, the most important factor in this whole process is on-field success. With the ACC lagging behind the other power conferences, success this year is pivotal if the conference is going to maintain its relevance among the nation’s elite. Week 1 provides an excellent opportunity for the ACC to showcase its depth and talent. With a few games against SEC opponents, some key intra-conference matchups, and a handful of (unfortunately) toss-up cupcake games week 1 of the CFB season has massive implications for the future of the conference.

I will rank these matchups from least important to most -- and maybe even make some picks while I’m at it.

Virginia Tech vs Old Dominion

9/2 @ 8:00 PM on ACCN

If you have followed the Tech program for the last few years you understand the importance of this one. If not, I’ll fill you in: The Hokies have really struggled with ODU. VT splitting the last 4 games in the series dating back to 2017 is unacceptable. What is supposed to be the best program in such a proud football state should not be losing to Old Dominion once, and certainly not twice.

Last year VT traveled to Norfolk and blew a fourth-quarter lead. This year, I would expect second year coach Brent Pry to try and run up the score in Lane Stadium, potentially sending a message to recruits in the state of Virginia that the Hokies should not be messed with. Another bad loss would not only be devastating to the VT program, but would continue to hurt the ACC’s claim as a legitimate power conference.

Prediction: Virginia Tech 35 - 10 Old Dominion

Virginia vs. #12 Tennessee

9/2 @ 12:00 PM on ABC

*Game will be played in Nissan Stadium in Nashville*

Simply put, Virginia has no chance. A bad ‘Hoos team rolling into Nashville for what is practically a home game for a program coming off its best season in two decades is disastrous. However, if by some grace of God UVA is able to hang around and at least give us a competitive half of football, the ACC would benefit greatly.

A national audience on ABC will be tuned in to watch the Vols, but a good fight from Virginia that does not totally embarrass the rest of the conference would be nice.

Prediction: Tennessee 45 - 14 Virginia.

Georgia Tech vs Louisville

9/1 @ 7:30 PM on ESPN

*Game will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta*

This game really interests me. Maybe I’m just a sicko ACC fan or maybe I just like watching ball at a bar in Southie on a Friday night, but this game could have a huge impact on the national attitude towards the ACC this year. These programs don’t fit the description of a “sleeping giant”, but I can’t think of something that’s smaller than a giant but still big so I’m rolling with it.

These sleeping giants with passionate fan bases in crucial markets are both at the beginning of new eras. Brent Key is looking to build some momentum for the Yellow Jackets as they still recover from both the years of the triple option and a Geoff Collins disasterclass. Louisville ushers in the Jeff Brohm era. I was recently in Louisville and I had multiple people tell me that there is a “very high” chance that the Cards make the playoffs within three years. I don’t buy that for a second, but Brohm had success at Purdue and could certainly make some waves at his alma mater. That being said, what I’m looking for here is a good game that is not lopsided but also that is played clean. If the game is close but sloppy, that does us no good.

2The best outcome is a good fight from GT for three and a half quarters then for Lousiville to pull away. UofL could win 9+ games so I would hate to see that spoiled week 1 in ATL.

Prediction: Louisville 35 - 24 Georgia Tech. O’Sheas in Lou will be bumping. IYKYK.

Duke vs. #9 Clemson

9/4 @ 8:00 PM on ESPN

Duke was one of the best stories in CFB last year, reaching nine wins. However, the biggest game of the Blue Devils season is easily this week 1 matchup with the Tigers. Although Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham is not the hardest place to play, I expect that the environment will probably be the most electric it has been in program history.

With that said, electric environments are not exactly the thing that scares Dabo & the Tigers. Cade Klubnik is an absolute stud and Will Shipley will lead the ACC in rushing. Garrett Riley from TCU is calling plays for Clemson, and the defense is once again loaded. I don’t think Duke will be able to pull this one out, but I do think that they can keep it close at home. This standalone game on Labor Day will be a good spotlight for Duke and if they can keep it close they will gain the respect of a national media that is very high on Clemson this season.

Prediction: Clemson 31 - 17 Duke

#21 North Carolina vs. South Carolina

9/2 @ 7:30 PM on ABC

*Game will be played in BofA Stadium in Charlotte*

This is going to be an incredible game. South Carolina is a trendy pick to finish second in the SEC East, and Shane Beamer is looking every bit as good as his pops was at VT. Although they are starting the season unranked, the ‘Cocks played their best ball of last year in their biggest games: doubling up Tennessee and knocking off Clemson in an emotional Palmetto Bowl. On the North Carolina side, Drake Maye will be looking to start his Heisman campaign off with a bang. A win here for either side will set the tone for what could be a special season for either program.

Add in incredibly passionate fanbases, recruiting territory, and bragging rights and this game instantly becomes one of the most exciting games of the season. This is a matchup that should be played every year. A Tar Heels win sets up the ACC nicely with another top 15 team most likely and the chance to have a real title race for the first time in years.

Prediction: UNC 38-34 South Carolina

#8 Florida State vs. #5 LSU

9/3 @ 7:30 on ABC

*Game will be played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando*

This game is a rematch from last year that brought the excitement on the Sunday before Labor Day. However, as exciting as last year’s game was, this game undoubtedly means much more. With both teams inside the top 10, the winner of this game sets themselves up for a playoff bid. I believe that the winner of this game will go to the playoffs, while the loser will be forced to win out in order to make the dance. If you know anything about me you’d know that this fact pains me a great deal. My ideal scenario is that the game ends in a 0-0 tie. But that is impossible and one of these teams that I despise so much will be propelled to the playoff by the end of the night. The game is basically a home game for FSU, so the ‘Noles fans will be out in full force. Little do they know that the real test will come week 3 in Chestnut Hill.

Prediction: Florida State 28 - 24 LSU

Andrew Kynes, Contributor, to Eagles Daily and BC Class of 2023. He may be reached at & @AndrewJKynes

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