The biggest season ever in the Atlantic Coast Conference is set to kick off in around 320 hours.
Yes, we are counting down the hours now until kick off 2012 which means only one thing…
It’s time to start taking a look at some key games and important match ups for the 2012 campaign.
In going through the ACC football schedule, there are 12 games that jump out as critical for the teams involved and the conference as a whole. In other words, these are 12 contests you simply cannot miss in the ACC for 2012.
Top 12 Must See Games of 2012
Friday, August 31 – Tennessee Volunteers vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack - 7:30 pm
Saturday, September 1 – Clemson Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers - 7 pm
Monday, September 3 – Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Virginia Tech Hokies - 8 pm
Saturday, September 22 – Clemson at Florida State Seminoles - TBD
Saturday, October 6 – Florida State at NC State – TBD
Saturday, October 6 – Georgia Tech at Clemson – TBD
Saturday, October 20 – Virginia Tech at Clemson – TBD
Saturday, November 8 – Florida State at Virginia Tech – 7:30 pm
Saturday, November 17 – NC State at Clemson – TBD
Saturday, November 24 – Florida Gators at Florida State – TBD
Saturday, November 24 – Georgia Tech at Georgia Bulldogs – TBD
Saturday, November 24 – South Carolina Gamecocks at Clemson – TBD
These are the 12 games that will determine the outcome of not only the league in 2012 but the future of the conference as a whole. As the landscape continues to change and the BCS comes to an end, it is critical for the ACC to not only return to a competitive level, but overall relevance nationally.
Since the expansion of the ACC, the conference is only 141-112 overall and a mere 39-62 against the big 4 power conferences (Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC). Over half of the 62 losses come directly at the hands of the SEC (32) which makes the open and closing weeks of the season the most important games the conference has played in year if not ever in its history.
Six of the 12 games involve a contest with Clemson, four with Florida State and three each with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and NC State. Obviously those are the 5 horses in the conference this season and have the added pressure on its program to begin the rebirth of the conference.
Clemson and Florida State both have more to lose than any other team in the conference this season. Both programs will get a lot of national hype and play and both have already had some off the field issues to overcome.
Clemson will attempt to fill the void left by Sammy Watkins in the first two games of the season including the big opener against Auburn.
The Seminoles are quickly revamping their secondary after the dismissal of all-everything CB Greg Reid. Reid has enrolled at NCAA Division II Valdosta State to play the 2012 campaign. Florida State also suffered another blow on Wednesday as QB E.J. Manuel sprained his ankle while running a two-minute drill. Manuel sat out Thursday scrimmages. The ‘Noles cannot afford losing Manuel at any point during the season, but his injury appears to be minor.
“If we go tomorrow (Friday) he could probably go,” Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher said, adding Manuel would definitely be back for Saturday’s two-a-day workouts. “If he had to play, he could play.”
That is exactly why Florida State and Clemson will be so high on the radar nationally. Neither team can avoid a slip up or injury if the conference is to reclaim its place as a power.
Virginia Tech, who has finished tops in the conference in the final polls 7 of the past 8 years, will simply be Virginia Tech. Steady and strong. Georgia Tech and NC State must hold their own and win the games they are suppose to win and compete to the last play in the games they should not.
Now the fun begins!
Each contest will be broken down over the next 12 days as we lead up to the Chick-fil-A Kick Off Classic games.
First game up…
The opening contest — Tennessee vs. NC State