10 Most Anticipated ACC Football Games of 2014 Season
Thanks to BCS victories by Florida State and Clemson last season, the ACC is back on the map in 2014.
With as many as four teams expected to be ranked inside the preseason Top 25, the conference is currently riding a high. That includes the defending national champion Seminoles, who should be a lock to open at No. 1.
Given the rise of the ACC, that only makes the conference matchups all the more intriguing.
Join B/R as we take a closer look at the 10 matchups that college football fans should circle on their calendars.
Author’s Note: This list only contains matchups featuring two ACC teams.
Week 1: Miami at Louisville
When: Monday, Sept. 1
What better way to celebrate Labor Day than watching football?
In this matchup, the Cardinals will get their first taste of ACC action against a familiar opponent in the Hurricanes. Most recently, Louisville stomped all over Miami, 36-9, in last December’s Russell Athletic Bowl.
Fortunately for the Hurricanes, Teddy Bridgewater won’t be under center for the Cardinals this time around.
Still, there’s no doubt Miami will be thinking revenge.
Look for the Hurricanes to test out Louisville’s depleted front seven, dishing out a healthy dose of running back Duke Johnson. The loss of Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith in the secondary won’t help matters either.
In what should be a hard-nosed, full-out brawl, look for Miami to try and hand the Cardinals a rude welcome to the conference.
Week 4: Clemson at Florida State
When: Saturday, Sept. 20
This was one of the most anticipated matchups early on last season. However, things quickly took a turn for the worse, as the Seminoles romped to a 51-14 victory in Death Valley.
With the Tigers losing Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and other key playmakers, is it really that crazy to expect an even bigger blowout this time around in Tallahassee?
Whoever steps in as Clemson’s new signal-caller will certainly have a tough time during this one—especially given that this will be the team’s second road game against a likely Top 25 opponent in the first three games.
Quarterback Jameis Winston and Florida State will definitely treat this as a rivalry game.
But don’t be surprised if it turns out to be nothing more than a glorified practice.
Week 5: Duke at Miami
When: Saturday, Sept. 27
If losing three games in a row after starting 7-0 wasn’t bad enough for the Hurricanes, getting tossed aside by the Blue Devils, 48-30, was the icing on the cake.
It became a bit more bearable when Duke made its run all the way to the ACC title game. Still, don’t expect Miami to forget that loss anytime soon.
The team won’t have to wait long to get revenge, as the two pair up just five weeks into the season.
With the Sun Life Stadium fans behind them, the Hurricanes will look to pour it on the Blue Devils. But don’t expect the team to go down without a fight.
This will be a good one.
Week 8: Clemson at Boston College
When: Saturday, Oct. 18
This game snuck up on all of us last season.
Before we knew the Eagles resurgence was real, the team actually had the then-No. 3 Tigers on the ropes. Boston College actually led in the fourth quarter before eventually falling, 24-14.
The Eagles will be without Heisman Trophy finalist running back Andre Williams, but the team will have former Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy potentially under center.
If he wins the job, it could be our first look at how Murphy handles his first true test in the ACC. Conversely, it will be a game Clemson can’t afford to lose.
Boston College head coach Steve Addazio will be looking to continue his revival of the football program. You can guarantee Alumni Stadium will have his back for this one.
Week 9: Miami at Virginia Tech
When: Thursday, Oct. 23
For the first time in 11 years, the Hokies didn’t host a Thursday night game last season.
The team will make amends by hosting the Hurricanes in 2014.
Last year, Virginia Tech took advantage of a hurting Miami squad. On the heels of an embarrassing loss to Florida State, the Hurricanes were thrashed at home by the Hokies, 42-24.
The loss not only was a shot to the gut, but it also essentially put Miami in a hole it couldn’t recover from in the Coastal Division.
Head coach Al Golden and the Hurricanes will look to assert a bit of payback to Virginia Tech this time around. Having running back Duke Johnson healthy for the game will certainly help.
Week 10: Florida State at Louisville
When: Thursday, Oct. 30
This will be the Cardinals' first season in the ACC. And to their credit, the team has put together one heck of a tough schedule for 2014.
However, it won’t get any tougher than when the Seminoles roll into town.
Thursday night games are usually full of atmosphere. But when you’re hosting the defending national champions, it could get a little crazy.
For Florida State, this could easily wind up being the team’s toughest test of the season.
Sure, Louisville will have to regroup and replace key playmakers on both sides of the ball. But with this game taking place in Week 10, that’s plenty of time for head coach Bobby Petrino to get his team in shape.
Expect Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to be rocking for this one.
Week 12: Virginia Tech at Duke
When: Saturday, Nov. 15
It’s very likely that these two could be battling for the Coastal Division yet again in 2014.
Although the Blue Devils will lose some key players on defense, the team will return most of its offense. That includes quarterback Anthony Boone and pretty much the entire rushing attack.
They were all key players in Duke’s stunning upset of the Hokies on the road, 13-10 last season.
Virginia Tech would like to forget about that game, but it will be tough, especially with the Blue Devils likely to be the favorites in this matchup.
Still, it is shaping up to be a pretty good game that will go a long way towards deciding who will play for the ACC title.
Week 12: Florida State at Miami
When: Saturday, Nov. 15
Regardless of the talent level on either side, this game is always a heated affair.
After being embarrassed in Tallahassee last season, 41-14, the Hurricanes will be out for revenge against their rival. Meanwhile, the Seminoles will be looking to make it five straight wins in the series.
Two weeks after traveling to Louisville, it will be interesting to see how Florida State comes into this one.
Miami will be breaking in a new quarterback in 2014, but explosive running back Duke Johnson will return for his junior season. After seeing what Tre Mason did against the Seminoles in the BCS title, the Miami, Fla., native must be licking his lips.
All in all, this is a matchup that usually delivers.
Week 13: North Carolina at Duke
When: Thursday, Nov. 20
It’s usually a heated affair when the Tar Heels and Blue Devils match up.
The players don’t like each other and neither do the fans. It’s what makes this one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.
And it’s not just on the basketball court.
Last season, the two played an intense game that came down to the wire. Duke needed a late field goal to claim the victory, 27-25.
With North Carolina showing signs of a resurgence—the team finished 2013 6-1—the anticipation for this one was already there. But throw it on a Thursday night in front of a national audience, and expect Wallace Wade Stadium to be deafening for this one.
Pride and bragging rights will be on the line.
But more importantly, the right to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC title game could also be up for grabs.
Week 14: Virginia at Virginia Tech
When: Friday, Nov. 28
If you’re a fan of either of these teams, you better cancel any Black Friday plans.
This in-state rivalry should turn it up a notch in 2014. That’s because the Cavaliers look to be on the rise while the Hokies are heading the opposite way.
Returning eight starters on defense, including a very solid Class of 2014, Virginia will look to take a stride in the right direction. The team will also return quarterback David Watford—you decide if that’s a good thing—and running back Kevin Parks.
Meanwhile, Virginia Tech will have to replace key playmakers on either side of the ball.
Still, it will take a lot from Virginia to put an end to its 10-game losing streak in the series.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.