As I look at the schedule, we have a number of tough games against teams that we'll need to play a complete game to beat. However, I wouldn't say that they all have the same value in terms of the schedule as a whole and the success of our season. Today, I want to figure out which game is the real "turning point" for this team, that can really set the tone for the season's outcome. Below, I'll present to you the options, and then pick between them.
Virginia Tech, September 26 (Thursday)
We all know what the Virginia Tech game has meant in terms of the Coastal race ever since the ACC broke into divisions and started playing a championship game -- these are the only two teams ever to ever represent the division in
Jacksonville Tampa Charlotte the game. Win this game, and it's almost like your ticket is punched to play a 9th conference game...except in the case of last year, where the loser goes. We won't plan on getting used to that.
This game will have a downright absurd atmosphere, as does every Thursday night game on the Flats. I'd say the Jackets have a really good chance to win too, which would be big for moving forward.
Miami, October 5
This is the "other" game that CPJ hasn't been able to win since his first season at Tech, and the two trips his teams have taken to Coral Gables have gone particularly poorly. Miami should be about as tough as ever this year, and barring ineligibility they'll be the favorite to represent the Coastal in Charlotte. A win in this game, on the road against a team that nobody on this team has ever beaten, would be huge in providing a spark as the team enters the second half of the season.
BYU, October 12
Exacting revenge on a team that made Tech look like a second-rate team in its Homecoming game last year would be huge, not to mention doing it in their home stadium. Yes, this is an out-of-conference game, but it would no doubt be a difference-maker over the course of the season in establishing momentum and making a name on the national stage. Not to mention that it would also give the team a lot of satisfaction and confidence after last year's debacle.
Clemson, November 14 (Thursday)
We've talked about how good Clemson should be, and how they'll be the favorites to win the Atlantic Division. Now throw in that they're our second-biggest rivals, we'll be playing at their place on a Thursday night, and it'll be our final conference game prior to the ACC Championship game, and you can see how this game would be such a huge win. Clemson begins the year ranked 9th, and I'll be shocked if there's a point that they drop below 15th. When we go there, they'll be well-established on the national stage. A win here would be absolutely enormous as we move towards our matchup with uga, a potential ACCCG berth, and bowl season.
georgia, November 30
This really doesn't need a whole lot of explanation. They're our biggest rivals, we haven't beaten them since 2008, nobody on this team has beaten them, and they, too, will be a major player on the national stage. It's an out-of-conference game and our last game of the regular season, but ruining the dogs' season would be the absolute sweetest moment of all. (It just might come up later this week...)
Winning any of these games would be all kinds of awesome, and losing them would hurt quite a lot. That said, when I look at which will have the most impact on whether or not our season is a success, there are only two options I can take seriously: Miami and Clemson, both sure to be very tough conference road games. Of those, there are two criteria that make a big impact on which I consider to be the most important. First, it's that Miami is a divisional matchup, where Clemson is in the other division. Second, it's that Miami comes at a much earlier point in the season where momentum will have more of a big-picture effect. Overall, I think a win against Miami would be the key to unleashing the full potential in this team.
I think Miami's the game most crucial to win this year, but maybe you disagree. Is there another game that will have a bigger impact on our season?