In each of the past five seasons, the winner of the Clemson-Florida State game has gone on to play in the ACC championship.
In 2013, it was a meeting between two top-five teams, billed all summer to be the most important game of the season.
This year should be no different -- except that it will be.
On Sept. 20, Florida State and Clemson will open their respective ACC seasons against each other, The Game, following a bye week for both teams. Once again, FSU and Clemson should be the highest-ranked teams in the ACC at that point -- unless, of course, Atlantic Division newcomer Louisville finds a way to quickly leapfrog the Tigers with wins over Miami and Virginia.
Until proven otherwise, though, Clemson-FSU is the game that will determine the division winner. Do ACC fans want to see the league's blockbuster so early in the season?
PRO: The biggest argument in favor of having this matchup early is that it will help the loser of the game stay in the hunt for the national title in the new College Football Playoff. Considering the strength of the rest of the conference right now, the loser of that game still has a good chance to run the table. Meanwhile, other leagues like the Pac-12 and SEC are backloaded on their schedules. The national perception is that an early top-10 loss in the ACC isn't as detrimental to the overall résumé as one later in the season.
CON: Jim Young quoted this tweet in ACCSports.com, and it sums up the argument against an early game perfectly:
This is like killing the main character 30 minutes into your movie RT @IWCorriher: FSU/Clemson is in September again? Why??— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) January 22, 2014 -
Having the game so early loses much of the anticipation of the Atlantic Division race. With all due respect to the rest of the division, it's like crowning the winner before midseason. Of course, it's far too early in the season to declare anyone champs -- we all know anything can and does happen in college football. But whatever happened to saving the best for last?