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Top 20 Tuesdays: Best ACC Football Games of the 2024 Season

By Pete Bertheaud | May 28
Sked composite
Graphic courtesy of @ACCFootball on X

With realignment running wild last summer, the (remaining) power football conferences all got facelifts heading into 2024. Three of the most bizarre additions to any league were Stanford, Cal, and SMU joining the ACC – which stands for Atlantic Coast Conference, but I digress. The new look will provide a bunch of odd, yet interesting matchups, along with some of the standard ACC scuffles we know and love. I decided to compile a list of what I consider to be the 20 best ACC conference games of the 2024 college football season. To remain as objective as possible, I asked myself strict criteria questions about each and every game:

National Interest – Will the average college football fan care about this game?

ACC Title Importance – How will this game impact the race for the ACC Championship game?

Competitive Game – How much potential is there for an exciting/dramatic/awesome game?

Rivalry – Is it widely considered a rivalry?

Unique – Is there a differentiating “cool” factor to the game?

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get to the list:


Honorable mention: Virginia at Virginia Tech on 11/30

We're entering year three for head coach Tony Elliott at UVA. After some recent success in the portal, he and his team need to prove they can be competitive in conference play (3-12 in his first two seasons), especially against their rival. Virginia Tech whipped the ‘Hoos 55-17 last season – if they get crushed again, the writing may be on the wall for Elliott.


20) Clemson at Pitt on 11/16

A late-season road trip to Pittsburgh? That’s never gone poorly for any team before (sarcasm). In all seriousness, the Panthers should be pretty bad in 2024, but never underestimate Pitt doing Pitt things. Clemson needs to be on high alert as the ACC title game draws near.


19) Miami at Syracuse on 11/30

Miami making a November 30th visit to the former Carrier Dome is reason enough to get this one on the radar. First year Syracuse head coach Fran Brown also went out and got himself a proven QB in Kyle McCord - along with a dozen other quality transfers - to bolster the Orange's roster (Top 10 net portal rating according to On3). Do they have enough depth to hang with Miami on the last week of the year? Like Clemson going to Pitt, the 'Canes need to be careful if they want to finish the season at the top of the ACC standings. 


18) Virginia Tech at Stanford on 10/5

This is one of those weird ones - our very own Hokies playing a conference game at Stanford. This will be the Cardinal's first ACC home game, a major reason why it is even on the list. Perhaps more importantly, this is a big let down spot for VT, as Tech will be coming off an emotional game down in Miami. It is quite possible that the miles catch up with Brent Pry's squad in Silicon Valley. Speaking of Tech...

Stanford wine
Photo courtesy of

17) Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech on 10/26

The Techmo Bowl had to be on here. Want to hear something crazy? GT has won four straight matchups in Blacksburg, the most recent being an 11-point, 4th quarter comeback in 2022. The Hokies have to get off the schneid - a couple of extra days after a Thursday nighter against BC should help the cause as the good Tech prepares for the Yellowjackets' QB Haynes King. Regardless, I am supremely confident that Tech is going to win, and the victorious head coach will be named Brent.


16) Miami at California on 10/5

The Hurricanes are getting the same treatment as VT, having to fly across the country the week after a tough rivalry game. And just like Stanford, this is Cal's first ACC home game. Justin Wilcox has done a solid job in Berkeley - their NIL is competent and he's heading into his 8th(!) year at the helm, which is hard to believe. What won't be hard to believe is if the Golden Bears, who will be coming off a bye, keep it close late into this one.


15) Stanford at California on 11/23

Despite being new to the conference, and both teams projected to be mediocre to poor in 2024, the "Big Game" is now appointment viewing for ACC fans. What's known as the oldest college football rivalry in the West comes East.  Well, not really, but it should be easier to find on TV in the Mid-Atlantic. Stanford dominated the decade of the teens, winning nine straight from 2010-2018, but Cal has sneakily won the last three and should be favored in this one. The average college football fan might know nothing about these teams, but I bet almost all of them have seen a clip of "The Play".

14) Miami at Georgia Tech on 11/9

The 2023 version of this matchup is one Miami fans remember for all the wrong reasons. Instead of taking a knee and sealing the victory, the 'Canes famously fumbled the game away. Heavy criticism fell at the feet of Miami head coach Mario Cristobal, which only intensified as his team lost six of its last nine games. Nevertheless, the Miami hype machine is cranked up and "The U is BACK" once again in 2024 - shocker. Traveling to Bobby Dodd isn't a great recipe for revenge, especially with King back behind center for the Bees, but to be taken seriously as an ACC title contender, UM needs to TCB in ATL.


13) Southern Methodist at Louisville on 10/5

These teams have largely been two ships passing in the night. Louisville left Conference USA the same year that SMU joined.  SMU then moved up to the American Athletic Conference, but Louisville was already ACC bound. For one season, the two did share the AAC standings, but due to an unbalanced schedule they didn't even play. So here they are, together and matched-up at last. SMU will be coming off their ACC home opener against FSU, and the Cards will have just played in South Bend - I think you know what I mean when I say this game has a ton of #GoACC potential.


12) North Carolina State at Georgia Tech on 11/21

I've talked about GT a couple of times already, but this is NC State's first of a few entries. After a surprising third place conference finish in 2023, the Wolfpack hit the portal hard this offseason and are hoping to have a breakthrough year. One of the bigger obstacles standing in their way is a Thursday night road trip to Atlanta in late November. With both teams coming off a bye and Thanksgiving on the horizon, everyone should be hungry going into this matchup.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia -

11) North Carolina at Duke on 9/28

While not as heated as the basketball rivalry, the battle for the Victory Bell has had its fair share of memorable moments, including last season's double-OT shootout. Carolina prevailed, giving them their fifth straight victory (bell) over their arch nemesis. In fact, Mack Brown has won 13 in a row over the Blue Devils going back to his previous tenure at UNC. Manny Diaz will attempt to do what Mike Elko couldn't and break the streak in his first season at Duke. 


10) North Carolina State at North Carolina on 11/30

We go from one Tobacco Road rivalry to another. NC State has owned this series as of late, winning the last three matchups and 12 of the last 17. With Drake Maye off to the NFL and Dave Doeren's team loaded up for 2024, the scales once again seem tipped in the Wolfpack's favor. However, State has a way of falling a bit short whenever expectations are at their highest. Will this finally be the year they win 10 games (something they've only accomplished once in their history)? They'll likely need to beat their rival to make it happen.


9) Florida State at Southern Methodist on 9/28

Could this be SMU's biggest home game in 40 years? Sure, there have been highly anticipated Iron Skillet games vs. TCU in the past four decades, but SMU's first ACC contest against what will surely be a Top 25 FSU team (if not Top 10) will be one for the history books. The Mustangs actually have three pivotal home games in September, with BYU and TCU visiting Gerald J. Ford Stadium prior to Florida State. Will the 'Noles give them a "welcome to the league" whoopin', or will SMU find some magic that Saturday? I can't wait to find out.

8) Florida State vs. Georgia Tech on 8/24 

Once again, college football kicks off in Ireland this year. Despite Notre Dame pounding Navy in last season's Aer Lingus College Football Classic, the game drew nearly four million viewers. I would imagine a more competitive game between conference foes could do similarly well, as it will be showcased in the noon slot on ESPN. GT may be a tier or two down from FSU in the ACC pecking order this year, but eight out of their last nine meetups have been decided by one score - I wouldn't count out the Bees.

7) Louisville at Clemson on 11/2

8-0. That is Clemson's all-time record against Louisville. Yes, the Tigers have been a powerhouse ever since the Cardinals joined the ACC, but it's still a tough look. This year's edition of the matchup offers an interesting clash of team-building philosophies. On one side, you've got Jeff Brohm's gaggle of portal mercenaries (59 transfers the last two cycles), and on the other, you've got Dabo's homegrown OKGs. Whoever emerges victorious will not only have a leg up in the race for the ACC Championship game, but he will also have temporarily won the roster management debate.


6) Clemson at Virginia Tech on 11/9

This is a game many Hokies have already marked on their calendar. Clemson is the best team that will visit Lane Stadium this year and VT is desperate for their first win against the Tigers since 2007. An electric environment will most certainly help Tech's defense, but will Drones, Tuten, and the talented receivers be able to put up enough points to get the W? Will Clemson be properly motivated one week after facing a tough Louisville team? The stakes could be sky high for both squads when this game kicks off.

5) Miami at Louisville on 10/19

At the end of last season, Louisville had to dig deep against Miami to clinch their spot in the ACC title game. What had been a back and forth second half was all tied up at 31 when Jack Plummer hit Kevin Coleman for the go-ahead TD. This year, Miami and Louisville both have hopes of making it to Charlotte, and this mid-October tilt could easily swing the pendulum in the winner's direction. Though the Cardinals will have home-field advantage (and the coaching advantage), Miami will be coming off a bye as they head to bourbon country. This game just feels like it's going to be awesome.


4) North Carolina State at Clemson on 9/21

I'm not sure how many casual CFB fans know just how old this rivalry is, or that it even has a name - The Textile Bowl. The first game between Clemson and North Carolina A&M was played in the 1800s and they've met 90 times since, so yeah, it goes back a ways. Last year, NC State handed the Tigers their fourth loss of the season just eight games in. Dabo was under some scrutiny, and he let Tyler from Spartanburg have it on "Tiger Calls" that week after being asked about his contract. Guess what? Clemson hasn't lost since, ripping off five straight wins to end the year. I'm sure another thing on Dabo's you-know-what list is revenge vs. the 'Pack.

3) Virginia Tech at Miami on 9/27

Any Clemson and FSU fans reading this may scoff at VT/Miami being the third best game of conference play, but let me explain. First and foremost, the ACC righted the wrong of these two rivals not playing last season (VT and Miami had played every year from 1992-2022) - this game is now one of the 16 annually protected ACC matchups. Second, there is a decent chance both teams are 4-0 when this game kicks off on 9/27. Add in the fact that it's all alone on a Friday night, and you've got yourself a made-for-TV showdown.


2) Florida State at Miami on 10/26

I came really close to putting this game at no. 1, but that would require my full faith and trust in Miami actually being "back" this time. History says that's unwise. Nevertheless, Miami should be quite good, and their performance against FSU improved dramatically in year two under Mario Cristobal - losing by only 7 points after getting blown out in 2022.  This game always gets eyeballs, but if Miami can hold up their end of the bargain and both teams come in ranked (which hasn't happened since 2016), look out! This could be the marquee matchup the ACC has been anticipating since adding Miami to the league 20 years ago.

1) Clemson at Florida State on 10/5

Despite Clemson's early struggles last season, they took undefeated Florida State to overtime in Week 4. They might have pulled it off in regulation, too, if not for a Seminoles sack-fumble-scoop-and-score at the end of the 3rd quarter. Dabo has taken a ton of heat this offseason for his position on the portal, while Mike Norvell is looking like the new king of the conference. These narratives will be further confirmed or turned on their heads based on what happens here. This matchup is still the best the ACC has to offer in 2024. 

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I grew up in Delaware and have always identified as a Philly fan. However, once I got to VT, I fell in love with the Hokies. I went to just about every game as a student, dozens as an alum, and turned that passion into the podcast in 2015. Years later, we’re still putting out episodes, and 2024, our 10th season, is sure to be the best yet. 

I’m happily married and settled out in the ‘burbs after living in DC and Philly for years. My JMU wife is extremely supportive of my Hokies “hobby” and doesn’t mind spending weekends in Blacksburg cheering on Tech (as long as I root for the Dukes on occasion). I also try to be a valuable member of society, volunteering my time to our local Rotary Club - which the Sons have supported via their online resources. 

Being part of the SOS has lit a fire in me and I’m grateful for that. It keeps pushing me to make our content the best it can be.

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