With newly minted BCS National Champ Florida State carrying the ACC banner, the league enters a new era of football with a touch of credibility that was lacking for much of the last decade.
There are a number of strong non-conference games, especially with Notre Dame sort of half in and half out of the ACC by playing four games against Louisville, Syracuse, North Carolina and FSU.
The ACC released its 2014 composite schedule, and here is a look at the 10 best conference games.
10. Duke at Miami (Sept. 27)
Duke’s 10-win season and first-place finish in the Coastal Division was one of the biggest stories of 2013. Now Duke is trying to prove it wasn’t a fluke.
The Hurricanes will definitely remember the 48-30 thrashing they took at the hands of the Blue Devils last year, and Miami is close to being nationally relevant again. Don’t overlook the potential of this game, and it could have serious implications on who wins the Coastal.
What would be even better is to see a rowdy crowd at a Miami game again … who doesn’t miss the Orange Bowl.
9. Virginia Tech at Pittsburgh (Oct. 16)
Pitt’s first season in the ACC didn’t go as well as the Panthers had hoped, but Paul Chryst is getting this program turned around the right way.
It will also be interesting to see how Frank Beamer’s squad responds to its second-straight season of being average.
The winner of this game could be headed to big things in 2014.
8. Florida State at Miami (Nov. 15)
When Miami joined the ACC in 2004, the conference expected this game to be top game every season. Instead, it has been an afterthought.
With FSU getting back on top and Miami trying to rekindle its glory days, there’s still a reason to get excited about the potential of this game.
The Hurricanes hung with FSU for half this past season, but then wore down. If Miami can get a bump from the home crowd who knows what might happen in this great rivalry game.
7. Miami at Virginia Tech (Oct. 23)
It’s the Hurricanes again, but this time on the road against another rival in Virginia Tech.
The Hokies pulled off a big win on the road last year, but this game has lost a little of its luster as these two programs have been relatively mediocre in recent years.
But that rowdy VT crowd is enough to get this game in the Top 10.
6. Boston College at Florida State (Nov. 22)
Until the BCS National Championship Game, Florida State faced only one reasonable challenge and that came against Boston College.
Now the Eagles will be without Heisman finalist Andre Williams, but we may see the debut of Florida transfer Tyler Murphy at quarterback.
It’s safe to say FSU will be ready for BC, but Steve Addazio has the Eagles headed in the right direction.
5. Clemson at Georgia Tech (Nov. 15)
Georgia Tech has been slipping in recent years, but the match up with Clemson in Atlanta has been a great recipe for exciting games.
The Yellow Jackets will have a new quarterback and coach Paul Johnson may need a win here to save his job.
Stopping the triple option is never easy either, so if Johnson’s offense is clicking this game could be a high-scoring affair.
4. Virginia Tech at Duke (Nov. 15)
Does it seem odd to have this game ranked so high? Just last year it would have been a joke, but not any more.
Duke is a legitimate contender and Virginia Tech is in transition. The Hokies will be ready for this road game.
3. Florida State at Louisville (Oct. 30)
With Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Petrino walking the sidelines in this one, you could make the argument this is a battle of the ACC’s best coaches.
There’s also a chance these are the two best teams in the ACC in 2014. FSU has more talent, but making the trek to Louisville should be enough to put the Seminoles on upset alert.
You will not want to miss this Thursday night game.
2. Miami at Louisville (Sept. 1)
Louisville’s first ACC game is a rematch of last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl when the Cardinals cruised to a 36-9 win. It’s also the start of the second Bobby Petrino era at Louisville.
There are so man storylines coming out of this game that it will make for a great end to the long opening weekend.
This game will also be the debut of new quarterbacks for both programs.
1. Clemson at Florida State (Sept. 20)
Clemson has lost a lot of talent to the NFL, but Dabo Swinney has enjoyed a number of strong recruiting classes so the Tigers should be among the best in the ACC again in 2014.
There was a lot of hype for this game last season, but FSU dismantled Clemson 51-14 in Death Valley. This game comes early in the season, so Clemson’s new quarterback may not be ready for this big of a game against such a talented group.
Despite the apparent mismatch right now, don’t be shocked when ESPN’s Game Day makes the trip to Tallahassee for this contest.