When Miami and Virginia Tech joined the ACC in 2004, many thought the conference would reign atop the college football mountain for years to come.
Suffice to say that hasn’t happened. Since realignment, not one member of the ACC has reached the BCS title game and as a whole the group has struggled in bowl games. Most of the high-profile out-of-conference games (see: Boise State/Virginia Tech and Oklahoma/Florida State) since 2004 have gone against the ACC as well.
The ACC is 2-6 in the last eight Orange Bowls, and one of those includes Florida State’s 31-10 win over Northern Illinois in 2012. Should that even count?
In order to start to gain any credibility, the teams at the top of the ACC have to win these out-of-conference games that highlight college football’s first few weeks of the season. Too many times during the last decade has the ACC failed miserably in these contests, which causes the teams to start out 0-1 or 0-2 and to never be able able to climb back up the rankings again.
Here are five crucial out-of-conference games in 2013 that will help the ACC bust out of its disappointing trend, or help that trend continue. Geography aside, there is no coincidence that four of the five games that made the list involve tilts with SEC teams. To be the man, you have to beat the man.
Annual rivalry games such as Florida/Florida State and Clemson/South Carolina will be ignored.