And it all comes down to this…
The biggest and most important season maybe ever in ACC Football lies in three rival games.
And they are just not any rival games…
But the ultimate in bad blood football versus the bully on the block in the SEC.
So that leaves the Florida Gators battle at the Florida State Seminoles, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets trip to the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks contest at the Clemson Tigers to wrap up the Top 12 Must See ACC Football Games in 2012.
Thanksgiving Saturday will have every eye in the South watching these big three ACC–SEC Showdowns ready to give a final judgement of just how successful the 2012 ACC Football campaign really was.
Florida at Florida State
At this point in the prediction of the 2012 season, it is hard to say how this game will match up. We know it has to be better than the contest in 2011 that saw the Gators run out a TE at QB and held on to lose just 21-7.
Yes… held on to lose… that’s about all you can say about that game…
Florida should be much improved and will have grown and gelled a good bit throughout the course of the 2012 campaign. The Gators could have anywhere from 2-5 losses by the time they reach the final regular season game versus their in-state rival.
The key, though, are the games the Gators scheduled leading up to FSU. Coming to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, will be the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns and the Jacksonville Gamecocks.
Needless to say, Florida will be rested and ready for the challenge.
Florida State will enter as the favorite with maybe only a single loss or two at the most. The ‘Noles will battle the Maryland Terrapins on the road the week before which will not be easy, especially if the Atlantic Division title is still on the line.
Everything points to a FSU victory, but, knowing the history of the ACC in big games against the SEC, its hard not to jump on the underdog Gators to pull off the upset.
But, the Seminoles have the confidence back and superior athletes on offense. The ACC will notch another huge win against the SEC, 23-21.
Georgia Tech at Georgia
Good… Old Fashioned… Hate…
Even if these two teams were winless, this would be a must watch.
But 2012 should be special…
The Yellow Jackets should enter the in-state battle with only 1-2 losses, while Georgia could enter the game undefeated staring a potential BCS National Championship birth in the face. It could set up to be the highest ranked battle of Georgia in the modern history of both programs.
The Yellow Jackets have not fared well winning only once in the past 11 years and Mark Richt will have the Dogs ready to go against the options offense of Paul Johnson.
If senior QB Tevin Washington can find a way to complete some passes, the Jackets will have a chance.
But by this point, the Georgia defense will be too experienced and junior QB Aaron Murray will have established weapons all over the field.
The Dogs win again in 2012, 38-21.
South Carolina at Clemson
One thing will be for sure in the Battle of the Palmetto State…
The jabs as the season goes on between Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney and South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier will be the lore of legend.
Both are emotional leaders who will have its team on edge and ready for the rival.
Both will have maybe a loss or two on the season.
Both could be playing for a division title.
Both could be playing for a BCS birth.
You can’t get much better than this for a Clemson, Carolina game.
The circus will ensue in Death Valley and when the dust clears after 5 overtimes, Clemson will pull out a 54-52 game of the decade victory.
So as the regular season comes to a close, the ACC will have had an epic football season.
Five teams will have been ranked most of the season and some of the most fun games to watch in all of college football will have featured ACC programs.
But for the ACC to regain its membership card to the big boys club it must fulfill this 4-2 mark against the king that is the SEC.
The speculation is just hours from being over…
It’s time to perform and regain respect…
And the ACC can not settle for anything less.
M. Shannon Smallwood has over 10 years experience in sports broadcasting, journalism and college athletics and currently covers ACC Football for Rant Sports.
Follow him @woodysmalls