Where does our fictitious road trip take us to in Week 4?
For those just tuning in, Heather and I are choosing our dream destinations each week during the season. In real life, we do not have control over where we get to go; our editors do the choosing for us. But in this blog series, we pick the road trip based on the most attractive game of the week.
So let's take a look at the Week 4 schedule.
Thursday, Sept. 19
Clemson at NC State
Saturday, Sept. 21
Pitt at Duke
Bethune-Cookman at Florida State
North Carolina at Georgia Tech
West Virginia vs. Maryland
Savannah State at Miami
Tulane at Syracuse
VMI at Virginia
Marshall at Virginia Tech
Wake Forest at Army
Looking at the slate, there are two intriguing options -- Clemson at NC State and North Carolina at Georgia Tech. Two pretty big conference games that are sure to have division implications. We thought about choosing the Clemson-NC State game for a few reasons. First, the game is on a Thursday night at Carter-Finley Stadium, where NC State has been known to pull an upset or two. The last time Clemson visited Carter-Finley Stadium, NC State upset the No. 7 Tigers despite going into the game with a .500 record. Second, this is the conference opener for both teams and the earliest they have played since the 2008 season. So you never know what can happen.
But ultimately we chose North Carolina at Georgia Tech.
Why? Well, we believe this is going to be a much better game. Clemson is going to be a big favorite to beat NC State, a team many believe will be rebuilding with a first-year coach. North Carolina and Georgia Tech, however, are two teams many believe will contend for the Coastal Division crown. As you saw from our previous choice, this is a critical stretch for the Jackets. Beginning with that Duke game in Week 3, Georgia Tech will face four Coastal Division opponents in a row. Ultimately, this stretch will determine how the Jackets fare in ACC play this season.
As for North Carolina, this game serves as the ACC opener, following a bye week. The Tar Heels have their own questions headed into the season, which starts with a doozy against South Carolina. But if North Carolina is going to make its first ACC title game, it is going to have to be better than the last meeting between these teams, a scoreboard keeper's nightmare. Georgia Tech won 68-50 in the highest-scoring game in ACC history. The teams combined for 1,085 yards and 16 touchdowns. You gotta think Larry Fedora is going to bring that up before the game.
But Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson could bring up something of his own for a bit of extra motivation -- Fedora handing out ACC Coastal Division rings to his players, despite the Heels being ineligible for the title game. It was Georgia Tech that played in the ACC championship game while Miami and North Carolina served postseason bans. There is no doubt there will be plenty of motivation on both sides heading into this one.