The 2014 ACC football schedule was released on Wednesday. After a closer look at the slate, here are a few observations:
Several ACC teams will be tested with big matchups right out of the gate. Clemson, coming off of its Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State, opens on the road at Georgia, which is ranked No. 8 in ESPN's "Way Too Early" Top 25 for next season. Florida State kicks off its national championship defense in Arlington, Texas, against Oklahoma State, which finished 10-3 last season.
The toughest first week matchup probably belongs to Virginia, which will play host to UCLA. The Bruins, who are ranked No. 7 in the ESPN poll, return the bulk of their offensive starters, including star quarterback Brett Hundley, who passed on a chance to be a possible first-round pick in the NFL Draft to return to Los Angeles. The Bruins routed Virginia Tech, 42-12, in the Sun Bowl to close out the 2013 season.
The Hokies get their first big test of the season on Sept. 6, when they travel to the Horseshoe to take on Ohio State. Quarterback Braxton Miller will be back to lead the Buckeyes and should be in the early season Heisman Trophy conversation.
Days of the week
During the first two weeks of the regular season, ACC teams will play games on four different days of the week. Wake Forest kicks things off when it travels to Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday, Aug. 28. After a full slate of games on Saturday, Aug. 30, Louisville makes its league debut on Monday, Sept. 1, when it hosts Miami in prime time. Boston College and Pittsburgh kick off the second week of ACC action on Friday, Sept. 5, in a game that will be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.
Non-Saturday games will be a common occurrence in the league this season. ACC teams will play in six Thursday games and three Friday games. Virginia Tech will be frequenting the non-Saturday slate, playing in two Thursday games and one Friday game.
First look at the Irish
Notre Dame begins playing a slate of games against ACC football teams in 2014 as part of deal that saw the Irish join the conference in nearly every other sport. The first of those games will take place against Syracuse on Sept. 27 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Notre Dame's other ACC games in 2014 are against North Carolina (Oct. 11), Florida State (Oct. 18) and Louisville (Nov. 22).
Four of Virginia's non-ACC college football programs appear on the conference schedule. Liberty takes on North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Aug. 30. The Flames' roster includes Virginia transfer Clifton Richardson.
Also on Aug. 30, William & Mary travels to Virginia Tech. The Tribe gave West Virginia a scare before falling, 24-17, in their 2013 season opener.
Old Dominion, making the move from FCS to FBS, travels to N.C. State on Sept. 6. Richmond will take on Virginia at Scott Stadium on Sept. 6. Chances are a former Virginia quarterback will guide the Spiders against the Cavaliers. Michael Strauss was Richmond's starting QB at the end of last season and Michael Rocco is eligible to play after sitting out the 2013 season.
The final week of the regular season will feature four, count 'em, four ACC-SEC rivalry games. The matchups are South Carolina at Clemson, Florida at Florida State, Georgia Tech at Georgia and Kentucky at Louisville.