In less than ten days, the ACC will have a chance to take center stage in college football. It’s not just opening weekend in Atlanta, it’s an opportunity to play against the premier conference in the country.
ACC vs. SEC: NC State vs. Tennessee. Clemson vs. Auburn.
If the SEC is the king of college football, the ACC is somewhere between a rook and pawn. In other words, there is no comparing the conferences based on recent success, NFL players, coaching greats and facilities.
Yet the opportunity for comparisons presents itself in less than two weeks. If one of the ACC teams can pull off an early season victory over their SEC opponents, fans will talk. When you consider that Florida State, the clear favorite in the ACC, isn’t involved in either of these contests, an early season victory could change the perception of the conference.
As one would expect, the ACC hasn’t posted a winning mark against the SEC since 2003, when they went 5-4. The Chick-fil-A kickoff game hasn’t been kind lately, either. The SEC has come out victorious in each of the last three opening season games between the conferences: UNC fell to LSU in 2010, Virginia Tech to Alabama in 2009 and Clemson to Alabama in 2008.
While losses to Tennessee and Auburn won’t ruin seasons in Week 1 for NC State or Clemson, wins can set an early tone for success.
In the case of NC State, quarterback Mike Glennon can assert himself as a top-tier quarterback from the outset of the season. He has the tools and now the production must follow. Atlanta is a stage for that production and exposure.
As for Clemson, playing without their star playmaker will be a challenge, but overcoming it for a victory would be a huge boost. It would prove to Dabo Swinney’s team that they can overcome adversity. When injuries piled up later in the season, he could point back the moment they won a game vs. Auburn in Atlanta.
Laces Out will break down both games further next week.