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ACCting Up: Week One Features Big Games For Coastal Teams

North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech all face stern early tests.


Pitt's ACC debut against Florida State on Labor Day will cap what's shaping up to be a weekend full of intriguing games for the Coastal Division.

-North Carolina will lead off with a showdown against Jadeveon Clowney and No. 6 South Carolina (Thursday, 6 p.m., ESPN). While Miami has been a nearly-consensus pick to take the division, the Tar Heels could assert themselves as contenders with a win or even encouraging losing effort against a top 10 team. Lining up across from Clowney and Co. will obviously be a less-than-ideal situation for a UNC offensive line replacing several starters. But 3,000-yard passer Bryn Renner will be back behind center with big targets Quinshad Davis (61 catches, 776 yards in 2012) and Eric Ebron (40 catches, 625 yards) to work with.

-Despite bringing back many of its starters from last season, Virginia is being picked to finish toward the bottom of the Coastal as it breaks in David Watford at quarterback this season. If Watford can get off to a decent start against BYU (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU), the Cavaliers could change some perceptions early, though. Virginia had the No. 3 scoring defense in the country last season and will be facing a Cougars team with some uncertainty behind center in Taysom Hill, so that's something the Cavs could exploit.

-And of course, Virginia Tech has its big clash with No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., ESPN). With an inexperienced offensive line, it's hard to feel very confident about the Hokies' chances. If the Tide struggles with early cob webs, though, (heh) perhaps Tech could stay within striking distance in the second half.

Around the Atlantic

-Tajh Boyd and No. 8 Clemson get the big primetime spot against No. 5 Georgia (Saturday, 8 p.m., ABC). The quarterback battle between Boyd and Georgia's Andy Murray should be quite the week one display of offense. And remember, the Tigers are widely considered the ACC favorite.

-Syracuse will start against Penn State in the Meadowlands (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC). The Nittany Lions are loaded at the every offensive skill position but quarterback, so the Orange's chances likely hinge on what they can do to slow down whomever Bill O'Brien sticks behind center.

Other games

Coastal: Florida Atlantic at Miami (Friday, 8 p.m., ESPNU), Elon at Georgia Tech (Saturday, noon, ESPN3), N.C. Central at Duke (Saturday, 4 p.m., ESPN3).

Atlantic: Presbyterian at Wake Forest (Thursday, 6:30 p.m. ESPN3), Villanova at Boston College, (Saturday, noon, ESPNews), Florida International at Maryland (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., ESPN3), Louisiana State at N.C. State (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., ESPN3).