The ACC is coming off of its best football season in 2016 with the national champion (Clemson) and Heisman Trophy winner (Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson).
The league will look to build on its momentum in 2017. The ACC released its schedule on Tuesday.
The highlights, and lowlights, for the upcoming season:
The ACC will get nine chances against the SEC in the regular season, including three during the opening week. The best game on the entire ACC schedule is Florida State’s opener against Alabama, likely the preseason No. 1 team, in Atlanta on Sept. 2.
With apologies to Clemson, the program that has been closest to Alabama in recruiting and style is Florida State. This is not by accident because FSU coach Jimbo Fisher is a former Nick Saban assistant.
Potential bad news for FSU: Saban owns a 10-0 record against his former assistants but this will be his first meeting with Fisher, who worked for Saban at LSU from 2000 through 2004.
The ACC went 6-3 in nine regular-season matchups with the SEC last year and then won four of five games in the postseason to boost its mark to 10-4. N.C. State, which closed the 2016 season with a bowl win over Vanderbilt, will have a key swing game for the ACC with its opener against South Carolina on Sept. 2 in Charlotte. Another key game for the ACC to continue its recent winning ways against the SEC is Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee on Sept. 4 in Atlanta.
The ACC actually had a better overall winning percentage against the SEC (71.4) than it did in road games with Group of 5 conference teams.
The ACC went 5-3 (62.5 percent) in eight road trips to schools outside the power structure. All three losses – N.C. State lost at East Carolina, Louisville lost at Houston and Virginia lost at Connecticut – were to American Athletic teams.
The American will get two chances to knock off the ACC on its own turf this season with Virginia Tech’s trip to ECU (Sept. 16) and Georgia Tech’s visit to Central Florida (Sept. 16).
The Sun Belt will also get two home games with ACC foes: Wake Forest at Appalachian State (Sept. 23) and Miami at Arkansas State (Sept. 9).
Wake up the echoes
Notre Dame, coming off a disappointing 4-8 season, faces five ACC opponents this season, including three from the state.
The Fighting Irish, 9-6 against ACC teams since joining as a partial member in 2014, hosts N.C. State (Oct. 28) and Wake Forest (Nov. 4) and visits Boston College (Sept. 16), UNC (Oct. 7) and Miami (Nov. 11).
Wake up … no, for real stop sleeping
There are the usual clunkers on the schedule, with every ACC team but Boston College playing at least one Football Championship Subdivision opponent, but someone has to explain how Kent State ended up on both Louisville and Clemson’s schedule.
The Golden Flashes, 3-9 last year, probably won’t put up much of a fight but they will be paid handsomely for it.
You’ll probably want to pass on Rice’s visit to Pittsburgh, Utah State’s tilt at Wake Forest and Louisiana-Monroe’s trip to Florida State.
Under the lights
There are eight league games scheduled for Thursday and Friday nights. Miami is the most frequent participant with trips to Duke (Sept. 29) and Pittsburgh (Nov. 24) on Fridays and a Thursday night home game with Georgia Tech (Oct. 12).
N.C. State will host its first Thursday night game since 2013 with Louisville’s visit on Oct. 5. UNC goes to Pittsburgh for a Thursday night game on Nov. 9.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio