The ACC is filled with talented teams and the conference schedule is long and arduous. But when it comes down to it, the conference has just two elite teams that have a chance to represent in the BCS next January. The Clemson Tigers and Florida State Seminoles have set themselves apart in a class of their own in recent years and can be counted on to be a cut above the rest of the conference again in 2013. That means that the ACC title race will be decided when these two programs face off October 19 in Death Valley.
At least that’s the way it has worked in the last two seasons. In 2011, Clemson beat Florida State and went on to win the ACC Championship and represented the ACC in the BCS (though their performance there was one to forget). Last season, the Seminoles ran away with the game and finished out as the ACC champs. The loser of the game will be locked out of winning the Atlantic Division which would likely keep them out of a BCS bid (the ACC doesn’t have the clout of the SEC, after all). That makes their mid-season matchup even more important.
On paper, it would appear that Clemson has the advantage heading into the game. The Tigers have a clear identity on offense with Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins leading the high-flying attack that has many predicting that the Tigers could be in the mix for a slot in the BCS National Championship next fall. Florida State, meanwhile, will be breaking in a new quarterback in Jameis Winston, but they will still field one of the best defenses in the country and Winston could capitalize on the immense potential Jimbo Fisher has seen in him.
Either way, the winner of that game will have the inside track to the ACC crown and a spot in the BCS. So in the battle of the ACC elite, who comes out on top in 2013?