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The 2014 ACC football season shouldn’t lack for excitement and drama
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Following a football season that ranked as arguably the finest in Atlantic Coast Conference history, the league will seek an encore performance on a highly competitive stage in 2014.
It might seem a near-impossible task to top a 2013 season that included a National Championship, a Heisman Trophy winner in addition to nearly every other notable postseason award and an NCAA-record 11 teams earning bids to bowl games with winning records. But the ACC is poised to try.
The 2014 ACC Football schedule for announced on Wednesday offers intriguing matchups throughout the season, prompting fans and alumni to begin planning accordingly. Though plot lines are certain to be rewrite themselves between Labor Day weekend and late November, below is a week-by-week glance at the season ahead and potential “games to watch” involving ACC teams.
Thursday, Aug. 28: Wake Forest first-year head coach Dave Clawson won’t be kept waiting to make his debut, as the Demon Deacons will be the first ACC team to hit the field … Wake Forest travels to Louisiana Monroe with hopes of avenging last season’s loss to the Warhawks in Winston-Salem.
Saturday, Aug. 30: The season begins in earnest, with 11 ACC teams set for season openers ... Nationally, all eyes will be on AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – home of next January’s National Championship Game – where Florida State will open defense of its national title against Oklahoma State … Other Week 1 Saturday action finds Clemson at Georgia in a rematch of one of the most exciting and competitive games of 2013 … Virginia continues its recent history of early-season games against stern nonconference opposition when it welcomes UCLA to Charlottesville.
Monday, Sept. 1: Labor Day Monday Night games involving ACC teams are becoming a tradition, and new member Louisville becomes part of it early when the Cardinals play host to Miami in a rematch of this past December’s Russell Athletic Bowl ... A national ESPN audience will see the ACC make its 10th Labor Day Monday Night appearance in the past 11 seasons, and it marks the sixth time that Miami has played in a Labor Day game.
Friday, Sept. 5: The first of three Friday games involving ACC teams features a conference matchup between two of the ACC’s eleven 2013 bowl participants as Pitt travels to Boston College.
Saturday, Sept. 6: ACC teams continue to test the nonconference waters with 11 games, and one of the most closely watched will be Virginia Tech’s road trip to Ohio State …. The meeting with the Buckeyes will be the first for the Hokies, but it won’t be the last, with Ohio State scheduled for a return trip to Blacksburg on Labor Day 2015.
Saturday, Sept. 13: Nonconference action continues dominates the weekend, but Virginia becomes the fifth team to plunge into ACC action when it plays host to Louisville at Scott Stadium.
Saturday, Sept. 20: It is Florida State’s turn to play host to what has become the Atlantic Division’s most highly anticipated matchup of recent years, as Clemson makes the trip to Tallahassee … Things also heat up in the Coastal Division, with Georgia Tech traveling to Virginia Tech … Another attractive weekend of non-league games includes Miami at Nebraska.
Saturday, Sept. 27: Duke begins defense of its ACC Coastal Division title at Miami, while North Carolina travels to Clemson for the first meeting between the teams since 2011 … Meanwhile, Notre Dame faces Syracuse at MetLife Stadium, as the ACC begins its football scheduling partnership with the Fighting Irish ... Notre Dame will face four ACC teams in 2014, six ACC teams in 2015 and will then begin a rotation of five games a year against ACC members in 2016.
Friday, Oct. 3: The conference is showcased for a second time on a Friday night via an ESPN platform as Louisville travels to Syracuse … It will be the 13th meeting in a series that is currently all even at 6-6.
Saturday, Oct. 4: Division matchups abound in the first weekend devoted solely to conference play … NC State visits Clemson, while Wake Forest visits Florida State in the Atlantic Division … In the Coastal Division, it’s Miami at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech at North Carolina, and Pitt at Virginia.
Saturday, Oct. 11: Four divisional matchups again highlight the schedule, and the two nonconference games aren’t bad either … North Carolina travels to Notre Dame for the first time since 2006 (and only the second time since 1971), while Miami plays host to a Cincinnati team that finished 9-4 last season despite a loss to North Carolina in the Belk Bowl.
Thursday, Oct. 16: The ESPN Thursday night slate is off an running with a Coastal Division matchup between Virginia Tech and Pitt at Heinz Field … The Hokies hold an 8-5 edge in the series following last season’s 19-9 win at Blacksburg.
Saturday, Oct. 18: Five more division matchups, and a nonconference game certain to garner more than passing attention as Notre Dame’s third round of 2014 ACC opposition takes the Fighting Irish to Florida State.
Thursday, Oct. 23: Virginia Tech again steps into the Thursday night ESPN spotlight for a Coastal Division game, this time at home against Miami … Virginia Tech scored a 42-24 road win last November, leaving the series at 18-13 in favor of the Hurricanes.
Saturday, Oct. 25: The weekend’s lineup of five ACC division games includes the renewal of the “South’s Oldest Rivalry” as North Carolina travels to Virginia for the 119th meeting in a series that was first played in 1892 and has been played continuously since 1919 … Meanwhile, Pitt will play host to Georgia Tech for the first time since 1920, when Glenn Scobey “Pop” Warner coached the Panthers.
Thursday, Oct. 30: After two weeks of Coastal Division contests, the ESPN Thursday night package turns to the Atlantic Division, where Florida State makes its first ACC trip to Louisville … While the Seminoles lead the series, 10-1, the Cardinals won the most recent meeting by a 26-20 score in overtime at Louisville on Sept. 26, 2002 (also a Thursday night).
Saturday, Nov. 1: A five-game ACC slate includes rematches of two of the most entertaining games from 2013, as North Carolina travels to Miami and Pitt plays host to Duke.
Thursday, Nov. 6: This will mark the third time since 2008 that Clemson has played in Winston-Salem on a Thursday night … The Demon Deacons prevailed by a 12-7 score on Oct. 9, 2008, but Clemson countered with a 42-13 win two seasons ago.
Saturday, Nov. 8: An interesting collection of four conference games between teams that did not meet in 2013 with Louisville at Boston College, Virginia at Florida State, Georgia Tech at NC State, and Duke at Syracuse.
Saturday, Nov. 15: Florida State at Miami highlights a five-game lineup … The Hurricanes hold a 31-27 lead in the rivalry, but the Seminoles have closed the gap with wins in each of the last four meetings ... Each side hopes this year’s pregame scenario is similar to that of 2013, when both teams entered the game unbeaten and ranked among the nation’s top 10.
Thursday, Nov. 20 – The Duke vs. North Carolina rivalry has often been reserved for the final weekend, but the 2014 game will be played on this Thursday night before a national audience on ESPN … The defending Coastal Division champion Blue Devils will be making their first appearance on the ESPN Thursday night package since 1996 and their first at home since 1994.
Saturday, Nov. 22: A six-game blend of ACC and nonconference action includes Syracuse at Pitt … the longtime rivals have played every year since 1955 and will continue to meet as ACC annual crossover opponents.
Friday, Nov. 28: The close of the regular season is synonymous with rivalry games, and one of the most intense takes place in Blacksburg, Va., where Virginia Tech welcomes Virginia … This will mark the first Thanksgiving Friday matchup between the teams since 1996.
Saturday, Nov. 29: Those into high intensity and bragging rights have a full menu from which to choose, starting with traditional ACC/SEC rivalries that finds South Carolina at Clemson, Florida at Florida State, Georgia Tech at Georgia or Kentucky at Louisville … The North Carolina-Duke rivalry has come and gone, but NC State visits the Tar Heels for an equally heated finale … Wake Forest at Duke offers yet more in-state rivalry, while Syracuse plays at Boston College and Pitt makes the trip to Miami.