Things to watch in the Atlantic Coast Conference in Week 1:
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 3 Florida State against No. 1 Alabama. The opening weekend in Atlanta offers probably the biggest regular-season matchup for the entire college football season. The Crimson Tide beat Clemson for the national title two years ago then lost to the Tigers in last season’s title game. Now Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles get their shot against Nick Saban’s powerhouse program, this time as the preseason favorite to win the ACC after Clemson’s recent run. This is the first time two top-3 teams in the Top 25 will meet to open the season, and the game features the winningest programs in the country since 2010 (Alabama 86, FSU 78).
BEST MATCHUP: Virginia Tech’s defense vs. West Virginia’s offense. They’re dusting off the Black Diamond Trophy after 12 years and bringing it to Landover, Maryland, for the renewal of a once-dormant border rivalry between two former Big East programs and current Top 25 teams. For veteran Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, this will be his 20th meeting against the Mountaineers but the first since 2005. This time, his trademark tough D will try to frustrate highly regarded Florida transfer Will Grier in his debut at quarterback for West Virginia.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: ACC schools hope this season starts as well as 2016 did. The ACC went 10-2 during the opening weekend last year, highlighted by Florida State’s victory over Mississippi in Orlando, Florida, and Clemson’s win over Auburn. That tied the best collective start in league history, also achieved in 2010 and 2015.
LONG SHOT: Youngstown State presents a tough challenge for Pittsburgh, even on the road. The Penguins are coming off a 12-win season that included an appearance in the Championship Subdivision title game, and they enter the season ranked in the top 10 nationally for both FCS polls. YSU lost to Pitt 45-37 in 2015 in its first game under former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, but earned an upset win in 2012.
IMPACT PLAYER: North Carolina State could use another big performance from do-everything threat Jaylen Samuels in Saturday’s opener against South Carolina in Charlotte. The senior — a preseason AP all-America second-team pick — creates matchup problems by lining up at tight end, running back and receiver. He has scored 29 rushing or receiving touchdowns the past two seasons, and gets the chance to play in his hometown against the Gamecocks.
Compiled by AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Joedy McCreary in Raleigh, North Carolina.