The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

August 29, 2013

ACC gets chance to make great 1st impression

Eds: With AP Photos.

OK, ACC, this is your chance.

The first month or so of the college football season is as much about how conferences fare against each other as it is about which teams win.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, forever trying to shed its reputation as the fifth best of the major football leagues, gets three shots to knock off the neighborhood bully SEC during the opening weekend.

On Thursday night, North Carolina takes on No. 6 South Carolina, one of six Southeastern Conference teams ranked in the Top 12 of the AP preseason poll.

Virginia Tech can pull off a huge upset Saturday when it faces No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta.

The main event comes Saturday night in Death Valley — the one in South Carolina.

No. 8 Clemson plays No. 5 Georgia. It's the Tigers' third straight game against the SEC after losing to South Carolina to end last regular season and beating LSU in the Chick-fil-A bowl.

"Regardless of what conference they're from, you've got the No. 5 team coming to your stadium," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "That's all that really matters."

Well, maybe to you coach.

Aside from Clemson, the ACC went 0-5 against the SEC last season.

The ACC also gets a crack at Penn State (vs. Syracuse), BYU (at Virginia) and Louisiana Tech (at North Carolina State) during the opening weekend.

Win about half those big games and the ACC gets to boast. Win no more than one, and the when-does-basketball-season-start? jokes begin.

The picks (all games Saturday unless noted).

MAIN EVENT

No. 5 Georgia (minus 2) at No. 8 Clemson

Tajh Boyd, your Heisman front-runner ... CLEMSON 45-38.

MARQUEE MATCH-UPS

North Carolina (plus 11½) at No. 6 South Carolina

Jadeveon Clowney meet Tar Heels QB Bryn Renner. He's not scared ... SOUTH CAROLINA 28-17.

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