<
>

ACC schedule released: Miami-FSU set for Labor Day

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The ACC schedule has been released, and yes, Florida State and Miami are playing each other on Labor Day, kicking off the ACC conference schedule at 8 p.m. on Sept. 7 on ESPN with what should be one of the best league games of the season.

Florida State has won the past two Labor Day games in this series -- 2005 and 2006 -- and will be catching the Canes early in the season when they're still adjusting to new offensive and defensive coordinators. Both teams, at some point last season, were each in contention to win their respective divisions, and both programs have been working and recruiting to return to national prominence. This game will be a good early gauge to see who's leading that race.

Every win counts as FSU coach Bobby Bowden is trying to reach his goal of 400 wins before he retires. In order to reach that mark before he turns the office over to offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, the Noles have to win nine games in each of the next two seasons. While Bowden continues to extend his career, the pressure is on in Coral Gables for coach Randy Shannon to show significant improvement in his third season. The Canes collapsed after a five-game winning streak in 2008 and finished with a 7-6 record that included a loss to Cal in the Emerald Bowl.

While the Labor Day game makes for an entertaining start to the season, it also creates an unforgiving start to the season for Miami. By opening the season against rival FSU, the Canes will face three straight conference opponents in September, including Coastal Division foes Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Both of those early games will make an immediate impact on the conference race. Florida State, on the other hand, will at least get a breather by hosting Jacksonville State in Week 2 before traveling to BYU.

Thursday night games include:

  • South Carolina at NC State, Sept. 3 (ESPN, 7 or 7:30 p.m. ET)

  • Clemson at Georgia Tech, Sept. 10 (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET)

  • Georgia Tech at Miami, Sept. 17 (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET)

  • Florida State at North Carolina, Oct. 22 (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET)

  • North Carolina at Virginia Tech, Oct. 29 (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET)

  • Virginia Tech at East Carolina, Nov. 5 (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET)

Virginia Tech, a preseason favorite to win the Coastal Division for a third straight season, will have a challenging September, as the Hokies will face Alabama, Nebraska and Miami in three of their first four games. Wake Forest is the only one of the Carolina schools that doesn't have two FCS opponents on its schedule, as the Demon Deacons will host Baylor, Stanford and Elon to open the season.

Other key nonconference games include:

SEPTEMBER

  • Maryland at California, Sept. 5

  • North Carolina at Connecticut, Sept. 12

  • TCU at Virginia, Sept. 12

  • East Carolina at North Carolina Sept. 19

  • Rutgers at Maryland, Sept. 26

  • Pittsburgh at NC State, Sept. 26

OCTOBER

  • Oklahoma at Miami, Oct. 3

  • Boston College at Notre Dame, Oct. 24

  • Wake Forest at Navy, Oct. 24

NOVEMBER

  • Clemson at South Carolina, Nov. 28

  • Florida State at Florida, Nov. 28

  • Georgia at Georgia Tech, Nov. 28

Four schools -- Duke, Maryland, NC State and Virginia -- don't face an ACC opponent until October.