The 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference football schedule released Wednesday by Commissioner John Swofford once again is one of the most difficult nonconference slates among the Power Five Conferences.
ACC teams will play more nonconference games against teams in ESPN’s “Way Too Early Top 25” rankings for 2014 (12) and more games against teams in the final AP Top 25 (9) than any of the other Power Five Conferences and will play 24 nonconference games against teams that participated in bowl games in 2013, which tied the Big Ten for most of any Power Five Conference.
None of the other Power Five Conferences will play more than seven nonconference games against teams in ESPN’s Way Too Early Top 25 for 2014 and no more than eight games against teams in the final 2013 AP Poll.
“This is an exciting time in ACC Football, and as we look ahead to the 2014 season, it’s clear that our teams have once again combined for a strong lineup of nonconference opponents, along with our competitive league schedule,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “In addition to the overall schedule and season, we look forward to welcoming Louisville into the ACC and beginning our annual scheduling agreement with Notre Dame.”
In all, the schedule is composed of 113 games, including 56 conference contests over a span of 15 weeks culminating in the 10th Annual Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game, which will be held on Saturday, Dec. 6.
Among the nonconference foes this year is Notre Dame, which begins its scheduling with the ACC this fall with four games, including against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. (Sept. 27), home games in South Bend, Ind., against North Carolina (Oct. 11) and Louisville (Nov. 22) and at Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. (Oct. 18).
Louisville officially joins the ACC on July 1 and will compete in the Atlantic Division with defending champion Florida State, Boston College, Clemson, NC State, Syracuse and Wake Forest. The Coastal Division remains as it was in 2013 with champion Duke followed by Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
On the opening weekend of the season (Aug. 30), defending National Champion Florida State takes its nation’s best 16-game winning streak to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where the Seminoles will face Oklahoma State in the sixth annual Cowboys Classic. The Classic will mark the fifth meeting between the Seminoles and Cowboys and first since the 1985 Gator Bowl, won by Florida State 34-23.
The ACC will continue its tradition of national exposure on Labor Day Monday, as Louisville makes its league debut, hosting Miami in its first ACC football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville onMonday, Sept. 1. The game will be nationally televised by ESPN with an 8 p.m. kickoff.
The Hurricanes, who hold a 9-2-1 advantage in their series with the Cardinals, will be making their first appearance in Louisville since a 31-7 Cardinals victory in 2006. The game will mark the 10th appearance in 11 years by an ACC team on Labor Day Monday Night since the telecasts began in 2004. It will also mark Miami’s sixth appearance on Labor Day Monday.
Two other games featuring nationally ranked teams dot the opening weekend when Clemson, which finished 2013 ranked 8th in the AP final poll, travels to Athens, Ga., to face Georgia, ranked 11th in ESPN’s Too Early Top 25; and when Virginia hosts UCLA, which is ranked 7th in ESPN’s Too Early Top 25. Both games will be on Saturday, Aug. 30.
The league will also have five games nationally-televised by ESPN on Thursday nights beginning with Virginia Tech traveling to Pitt on Oct. 16 which begins a string of four straight Thursday night appearances for the ACC, including Miami at Virginia Tech (Oct. 23), Florida State at Louisville (Oct. 30) and Clemson at Wake Forest (Nov. 6). The final 2014 ACC Thursday night contest on ESPN will see North Carolina traveling to Duke on Nov. 20 for the Blue Devils’ first appearance on the ESPN Thursday night package since 1996 and their first home appearance since 1994. Duke finished the 2013 season ranked 23rd in the final AP poll, while North Carolina is rated 17th in the “Way Too Early ESPN Top 25” for 2014.
For the second year, the ACC will also play three nationally televised games on Friday, beginning with Boston College hosting Pitt (ESPN, or ESPN2) on Sept. 5; followed by Louisville at Syracuse (ESPN or ESPN2) on Oct. 3 and finally, Virginia Tech hosting Virginia (Network TBD) on Thanksgiving Friday, Nov. 28. The Hokies and Cavaliers previously played on Thanksgiving Friday in 1996.
With the ACC sending an NCAA-record 11 teams to bowl games in 2013, no ACC team will face fewer than six opponents that participated in bowl games last year, while 11 of the 14 ACC teams will play at least eight bowl teams from 2013 with both Miami and Virginia each facing 10 teams that were in postseason play a year ago.
ACC teams will play nine games against teams from the final 2014 Associated Press poll including games against 4th-ranked South Carolina (Clemson), 12th-ranked Ohio State (Virginia Tech), 16th-ranked UCLA (Virginia), 17th-ranked Oklahoma State (Florida State), 19th-ranked Southern California (Boston College) and 20th-ranked Notre Dame (Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina, Syracuse).
Conference teams will play 12 games against teams that were ranked in ESPN’s Too Early Top 25 including 7th-ranked UCLA (Virginia), 9th-ranked Ohio State (Virginia Tech), 11th-ranked Georgia (Clemson, Georgia Tech), 13th-ranked South Carolina (Clemson), 14th-ranked Southern California (Boston College), 21st-ranked Iowa (Pitt), 23rd-ranked Notre Dame (Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina, Syracuse) and 25th-ranked Florida (Florida State).
ACC teams will play 24 games against nonconference teams that earned bowl bids in 2013, including Southern California and Colorado State (Boston College); Georgia and South Carolina (Clemson); Tulane (Duke); Oklahoma State and Notre Dame (Florida State); Tulane and Georgia (Georgia Tech); Notre Dame (Louisville); Arkansas State, Nebraska and Cincinnati (Miami); San Diego State, East Carolina and Notre Dame (North Carolina); Iowa (Pitt); Maryland and Notre Dame (Syracuse); UCLA and BYU (Virginia); Ohio State and East Carolina (Virginia Tech) and Utah State (Wake Forest).
In all, the league’s FBS nonconference opponents posted a .532 winning percentage in 2013, second highest among the Power Five Conferences.