The 2014 college football season starts in 15 days. We're getting you ready by counting down the ACC's 10 biggest battles of the fall. We start today with Nos. 10 and 9.
The matchup: Virginia Tech at Ohio State
Date/Location: Sept. 6, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio (8 ET, ESPN)
Last meeting: The two programs have never played each other before.
Why it matters: This is one of several high-profile Power Five matchups for the ACC, which is looking to further improve its national image after putting an end to the SEC's seven-year national title streak last season. The Hokies are feeling a bit of pressure after posting just 15 wins over the last two seasons, and this trip to the Horsehoe will provide them with a great opportunity to knock off a preseason national title contender, as the Buckeyes debuted at No. 6 in the preseason coaches poll. Ohio State remains the biggest name program nationally for the Big Ten, and with Clemson beating the Bucks in last season's Orange Bowl, a Virginia Tech win in Week 2 would give the ACC two wins against Ohio State during a three-game span. That could pay huge dividends for the ACC, not to mention Virginia Tech's Coastal division hopes.
The matchup: Miami at Nebraska
Date/Location: Sept. 20, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb. (8 ET, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)
Last meeting: The two storied programs have met 10 times, splitting five games apiece. Their most recent meeting was for the 2001 BCS national championship on Jan. 3, 2002, at the Rose Bowl. Behind Ken Dorsey and Andre Johnson, the Hurricanes beat the Cornhuskers, 37-14, to win their fifth national title.
Why it matters: Forget the history between the two teams, as both have struggled in recent years to get back to their glory days. This game, like the Hokies-Buckeyes tilt before it, could prove to be huge for the images of both conferences. When it comes to College Football Playoff talk, the Big Ten, in the eyes of many, consists of Ohio State, Michigan State, and then everyone else. The same can be said for the ACC, which is top-heavy with Florida State and Clemson. A win for either No. 22 Nebraska or Miami could provide a big boost for the rest of the season, which could really bolster either conference's depth. And that could, ultimately, be a decisive point should a Big Ten and an ACC team be jockeying against each other for a playoff spot at the end of the season. The Big Ten's West division, like the ACC's Coastal, is wide open as well, so a signature win by either side will have it feeling good once it hits the heart of league play.