Saturday’s focus will be consumed by the Florida State-Alabama game, and rightfully so, but the buzz around the Atlantic Coast Conference is that there really are some other interesting games scheduled for the opening weekend. Seriously.
Unfortunately, defending national champion Clemson isn’t involved in a marquee matchup on Saturday. Instead, Dabo Swinney’s Tigers have spent the offseason getting prepped to take on mighty Kent State, a 40-point underdog, as a way to open the 2017 season.
That means if you actually plan to watch the Tigers play Saturday, you might want to keep the TV remote handy so you can channel surf during those moments of extreme boredom. You might even keep a phone handy so you can take time to call your mom or a favorite aunt at halftime. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it, even if you do get distracted by the studio highlights of other games.
Meanwhile, of the “name games” set for this weekend, Tennessee is favored by a field goal over Georgia Tech in a contest that is set for Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Yes, that’s also where FSU and Alabama will meet Saturday, so that makes Atlanta the place to be this weekend if you are a college football fan. You can even take time to tour the College Football Hall of Fame.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on Saturday, N.C. State is expected to beat South Carolina by about a touchdown in Charlotte, N.C., North Carolina is favored by two touchdowns over California in Chapel Hill and Louisville is a four-TD favorite over Purdue in a game that will be played in Indianapolis.
As for the other nine games involving ACC teams, you’d have to be a homer to want to watch any of them. But then, that’s the nature of college football, isn’t it?
Fortunately, the season won’t take too long to heat up. Even Swinney’s Tigers will have to put on their game faces over the next two weeks as Auburn visits Death Valley on Sept. 9 before Clemson has to travel to Louisville on Sept. 16.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Florida State vs. Alabama, Saturday, 7 p.m Central, ABC
California at North Carolina, 11:20 a.m., ACC Network Extra
N.C. State vs. South Carolina, Saturday, 2 p.m., ESPN
Louisville vs. Purdue, 6:30 p.m., Fox
Tennessee at Georgia Tech, Monday, 7 p.m., ESPN
- Florida State: To be the best, you have to beat the best. But no team can win the championship in Week One.
- Clemson: Defending champion Tigers have earned the right to play with swagger.
- Miami: By November. Mark Richt could be coaching best team in ACC.
- Louisville: Heisman winner Lamar Jackson again will be fun to watch.
- N.C. State: Wolfpack will be good but not great.
6. North Carolina: Tar Heels still posting ‘Help Wanted’ ads on offense.
7. Virginia Tech: Hokies nearly spoiled Clemson’s 2016 postseason run in ACC title game.
8. Georgia Tech: Jackets were 3-0 vs. SEC teams last season.
9. Syracuse: Orange offense too often left Orange defense exposed in 2016.
10. Pittsburgh: Panthers need grad transfer QB Max Browne to be as good as advertised.
11. Duke: Don’t worry fans, basketball season isn’t too far off.
12. Wake Forest: Deacons closed the season with just two wins in their last seven games, but one of those W’s was in a bowl game.
13. Boston College: Even with a bowl win, Steve Addazio’s seat is blistering hot.
14. Virginia: Cavs are coming off a 2-10 season. Enough said.
Presbyterian 7, WAKE FOREST 51
Central Connecticut 7, SYRACUSE 50
BOSTON COLLEGE 23, Northern Illinois 20
(All times Central; Projected winner in bold caps)
Kent State at CLEMSON, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN
California at NORTH CAROLINA, 11:20 a.m., ACC Network Extra
Bethune-Cookman at MIAMI, 11:30 a.m., ACC Network Extra
Youngstown State at PITTSBURGH, Noon, ACC Network Extra
N.C. State vs. SOUTH CAROLINA, 2 p.m., ESPN
William & Mary at VIRGINIA, 2:30 p.m., ACC Network Extra
North Carolina Central at DUKE, 5 p.m., ACC Network Extra
LOUISVILLE vs. Purdue, 6:30 p.m., Fox
Florida State vs. ALABAMA, 7 p.m., ABC
WEST VIRGINIA at Virginia Tech, 6:30 p.m., ABC
TENNESSEE vs. Georgia Tech, ESPN