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Biggest Takeaways from Release of 2014 ACC Football Schedule

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 22, 2014

Biggest Takeaways from Release of 2014 ACC Football Schedule

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Atlantic Coast Conference released its full 2014 schedule Wednesday afternoon, setting the table for the Florida State Seminoles to defend their conference and national titles.

    The rest of the pack will be chasing the 'Noles, and several contenders, including Clemson, Miami (Fla.) and Louisville, will have to take them down head-to-head along the way—as will Notre Dame.

    It will be the Cardinals' first year in the conference, as well as the first year with the Fighting Irish as a partial ACC member.

    Click the links above and below for a detailed look at the schedule and click on for 10 of the biggest takeaways from the 2014 ACC schedule release.

     

    Note: For each team-by-team schedule, follow this link via TheACC.com.

Week 1 Rematch: Miami (Fla.) at Louisville

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    Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

    Louisville clobbered Miami 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl to end the 2013 season.

    Those two foes will meet in Louisville on Sept. 1 to start the 2014 season.

    It will be UL's first game as a member of the ACC—and it'll look much different than last year's bowl clash.

    The changes will be biggest for the Cardinals, who will be without head coach Charlie Strong and star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Hurricanes will also be replacing signal-caller Stephen Morris.

Plenty of Can't-Miss Nonconference Action

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    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    The ACC will be featured in several interesting nonconference matchups:

    DateMatchupLocation
    Aug. 30Florida State vs. Oklahoma StateDallas
    Aug. 30Clemson vs. GeorgiaAthens, Ga.
    Aug. 30Virginia vs. UCLACharlottesville, Va.
    Sept. 6Virginia Tech vs. Ohio StateColumbus, Ohio
    Sept. 13Virginia Tech vs. East CarolinaBlacksburg, Va.
    Sept. 13Boston College vs. USCChestnut Hill, Ma.
    Sept. 20Miami (Fla.) vs. NebraskaLincoln, Neb.
    Sept. 20Syracuse vs. MarylandSyracuse, N.Y.
    Sept. 20North Carolina vs. East CarolinaGreenville, N.C.
    Sept. 20Pittsburgh vs. IowaPittsburgh
    Nov. 29Georgia Tech vs. GeorgiaAthens, Ga.
    Nov. 29Louisville vs. KentuckyLouisville
    Nov. 29Clemson vs. South CarolinaClemson, S.C.
    Nov. 29Florida State vs. FloridaTallahassee, Fla.

Louisville Has Rough ACC Welcome

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    In addition to its stiff season-opener against Miami, Louisville could have a rough go of it Year 1 in the ACC.

    As previously mentioned, the Cards will have a new head coach (Bobby Petrino) and a new face under center.

    They'll have road trips at three tough venues against Clemson, Notre Dame and Syracuse. UL will also play host to defending champ Florida State.

    It might be a rebuilding year for the Cardinals.

Don't Count out the 'Canes

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    Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

    Miami fell short of its ACC title hopes last year after collapsing down the stretch.

    Again, the 'Canes will be right back in the race thanks to their talent and a relatively pleasant conference schedule.

    They'll have a difficult out-of-conference matchup with Nebraska, but they won't play Clemson or Notre Dame.

    Additionally, several of their hardest league tests will come at home, including Florida State, Duke and North Carolina.

Another Tough Slate for Clemson

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    Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

    Clemson just loves its daunting nonconference games.

    The Tigers will again play two SEC foes out of conference play, Georgia and South Carolina.

    As if that wasn't enough, CU will of course play Florida State—and this time it'll be at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.

    That contest will come early (Sept. 20) and could see the Tigers knocked from ACC title consideration early.

Another Manageable Road for Duke

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    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

    Unlike Clemson, Duke isn't the type to play hard nonconference games.

    The Blue Devils will take on Elon, Troy, Kansas and Tulane to start the season, and they won't have a terribly difficult conference slate either.

    Their conference opener won't be easy, as they'll head down to Miami to take on a 'Canes squad that will be out to avenge last year's loss.

    But from there, they don't play Florida State or Clemson and will have Virginia Tech and North Carolina at home.

Long Climb from the Cellar for Wake, UVA and NC State

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    It won't be an easy road out of the ACC gutter for Wake Forest, Virginia and North Carolina State, the three teams that finished in the bottom three of the conference a year ago.

    Wake plays at Louisville, Florida State and Duke and will host Clemson and Virginia Tech.

    UVA will have perhaps the conference's single most difficult nonconference tilt against UCLA and will host Louisville, Miami and North Carolina. The Cavaliers will also travel to BYU, Duke, Virginia Tech and Florida State.

    N.C. State has a smooth nonconference slate but plays Florida State and Clemson in consecutive weeks, with road trips to Louisville and North Carolina coming later.

    If any of these three squads are to make a bowl, some big upsets will be necessary.

Virginia Tech Can Improve in 2014

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    Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    Even with the departure of quarterback Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech could be poised for an improvement next year.

    The Hokies will be the same defensive-minded team they always are and will have a pair of tricky nonconference tests against Ohio State and East Carolina.

    Those two games will be very telling, but the ACC schedule is very navigable. VT doesn't play Florida State or Clemson and will host Georgia Tech and rival Miami.

    Virginia Tech also has a pair of Thursday games midway through the season, which could provide a showcase for this team if it is ready to compete for the ACC Coastal Division title.

Notre Dame's Addition Makes Things Interesting, but Not Even

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Notre Dame's addition to the ACC schedule sure is interesting.

    Four ACC teams—Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina and Syracuse—will have a potentially problematic addition to their conference slates.

    The Fighting Irish will host Louisville and North Carolina, they'll meet Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. and they'll travel to Florida State.

    While that makes for four intriguing games in the schedule, it also makes for a tougher slate for those teams, while other squads are playing Troy and Florida International.

Florida State Still Stands Alone

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    Phil Sears/Associated Press

    As if having the Heisman Trophy winner, an outstanding surrounding cast and a shiny new national title trophy wasn't enough, Florida State will also benefit from a relatively easy ACC schedule.

    The Seminoles will have two of their toughest foes, Clemson and Notre Dame, at home.

    They'll also play each of the three worst teams in the conference from a year ago: Virginia, North Carolina State and Wake Forest.

    They play just four true road games all year, the toughest ones coming at Louisville and Miami, which will both be fielding first-year starters at quarterback.

    Let's put it this way: It will be an huge shock if the 'Noles don't win the ACC.

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