Analysis: 10 quirks from ACC football’s 2014 schedule matrix

Florida State QB/reigning Heisman Jameis Winston (left to right), Miami wideout Stacy Coley and Clemson tailback Zac Brooks should be high-end performers for the ACC in 2014. 

Here are 10 notable quirks from the ACC’s schedule matrix for the 2014 football season — which now includes Louisville and Notre Dame (extended cameo role).

1. There are four premier games on the opening weekend slate — beginning with UCLA @ Virginia, Miami @ Louisville, Clemson @ Georgia and Florida State vs. Oklahoma State.

**In the last six years, USC, TCU, Penn State, BYU and Oregon have all made early-season trips to Charlottesville, with the (presumed) highly ranked Bruins — led by QB Brett Hundley and linebacker/tailback Myles Jack — doing the same on Aug. 30.

**Miami has been tabbed as Louisiville’s official welcoming partner into the ACC … which wouldn’t be so awkward if the Cardinals hadn’t demolished the Hurricanes in December’s Russell Athletic Bowl, 36-9.

Of course, now that Louisville is without head coach Charlie Strong (now with Texas) and QB Teddy Bridgewater (potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft), I’m sure the ‘Canes won’t harbor any feelings of "revenge" against new Louisville coach Bobby Petrino.

**It will be hard for Clemson and Georgia — two teams breaking in new, full-time quarterbacks — to replicate the excitement of last year’s 38-35 thriller, won by the Tigers. But then again, who cares: With only 71 miles separating the two elite-level programs … this should be a federally mandated season-opener at least six times per decade.

**Reigning Heisman Jameis Winston (4,057 yards passing, 44 total TDs) and the Seminoles couldn’t have picked a tougher opener to defend a title, taking on Oklahoma State in Dallas. The last time Florida State played an out-of-state, non-conference, regular-season game on a neutral field? The No. 3 ‘Noles survived Iowa State in Kansas City, Mo. (38-31 in 2002).

2. Neither Pittsburgh, Wake Forest nor Duke have a league home date until Oct. 18 — against Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Virginia, respectively. Adding to the absurdity, the Blue Devils don’t enjoy a second ACC home outing until Nov. 15. (Duke hosts Va. Tech, North Carolina and Wake in the final three weeks.)

3. Miami is the only member school to start the season with an ACC game (@ Louisville) … and end with a conference game (vs. Pittsburgh).

4. From the Location, Location, Location Department: Tiny Florida International, based in one of the country’s most fertile recruiting areas (Miami-Dade County), has back-to-back home games against the ACC’s Pittsburgh (Sept. 13) and Louisville (Sept. 20).

5. Syracuse has two significant quirks with its 2014 slate: First, it’s only ACC school to play nine straight games without a bye break (Sept. 13-Nov. 8). Secondly, in addition to four league home games (Louisville, Florida State, N.C. State, Duke) … the Orange also have two home outings with Maryland (former member defecting to the Big Ten) and Notre Dame (a full-fledged ACC member in every sport but football).

6. Duke, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech (Coastal Division) each have the luxury of avoiding Atlantic Division powers Florida State, Clemson and Louisville. As a mild consequence, the Blue Devils are the only ACC school without a bye in the final five weeks of the regular season.

7. Notre Dame begins its official (non-exclusive) partnership with ACC football this season, traveling to Syracuse (Sept. 27) and Florida State (Oct. 18) and then hosting North Carolina (Oct. 11) and Louisville (Nov. 22).

For subsequent years, the Fighting Irish expand their conference commitment to five games — Clemson, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Boston College, Georgia Tech in 2015 and N.C. State, Syracuse, Duke, Miami, Virginia Tech for 2016.

8. It’s been 20 seasons since Nebraska upended Miami in the 1995 Orange Bowl — the de facto national championship game. The Cornhuskers and Hurricanes reconvene their 1980s/90s rivalry on Sept. 20 in Lincoln, Neb.

9. Boston College has hosted only one Pac-12 school since 1989 — Stanford in 2002 (34-27 victory).

USC, which travels to Chestnut Hill (BC) on Sept. 13, has only visited two ACC venues in that span — Virginia in 2008 (won 52-7) and Florida State in 1998 (lost 30 -10).