Kickoff week is finally here ... almost. Weekday games will give us plenty of early ACC action, as the league features three games Thursday, one Friday and, of course, an early Saturday morning affair abroad.
There is plenty of other action to like Saturday afternoon and evening, along with Monday night. Here are the biggest storylines to watch as the season finally arrives this weekend.
How will the ACC fare against the SEC?
Three of the biggest Kickoff Week games come staggered on Saturday and Monday, as North Carolina faces Georgia in Atlanta, Clemson travels to Auburn, and Florida State faces Ole Miss on Labor Day in Orlando, Florida. Can the ACC make it 3-0 against the SEC? It is certainly possible, and it would make a big early-season impression on the rest of the nation. UNC-UGA looks to be the most difficult of these three games to forecast, but if the Tar Heels can make a Peach State statement and play the way they did during last season's 11-3 campaign, they could potentially make some noise in the playoff picture -- something they weren't able to do last season because of a Week 1 loss to South Carolina.
What will James Conner's return be like?
The 2014 league player of the year missed virtually all of last season after a Week 1 knee injury. Then he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma late last fall. The running back beat cancer this spring, became a national inspiration and is full-go for the Panthers' opener against FCS Villanova. The moment he appears out of the Heinz Field tunnel promises to be special for college football fans everywhere.
How will the new coaches look?
Dino Babers will be the first of the ACC's four new coaches to make his debut Friday, as Syracuse hosts Colgate. Will the FCS opponent allow us to see some of the offensive fireworks we've come to expect from Babers-coached teams? Virginia's Bronco Mendenhall and Virginia Tech's Justin Fuente open Saturday against FCS opponents as well, although the Cavaliers can't take anything for granted after four straight bowl-less seasons. Mark Richt also opens against FCS competition, as his debut at his alma mater, Miami, comes against Florida A&M.
An overseas wake-up call
Georgia Tech and Boston College get us started really early Saturday, as the clubs face off at 7:30 a.m. ET at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. While the venue and circumstance is neat, this is a very important game for a pair of teams coming off disappointing campaigns in 2015, when both went 3-9. Can the Yellow Jackets regain their mojo from 2014? Can BC's offense move the ball consistently enough to help out what should be another strong defense? Both teams had plenty of opportunities for more wins last season but lost several close games, resulting in a combined one ACC win between the two. Saturday will provide one of these teams a chance to get off on the right foot.
Monitoring QB situations
BC has yet to announce whether Patrick Towles or Darius Wade will start at quarterback. NC State says both Ryan Finley and Jalan McClendon will play. Wake Forest will start John Wolford but play Kendall Hinton as well. Elsewhere, it's worth keeping an eye on new quarterbacks at Duke, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Oh, and at Florida State, too. We've seen enough of Mitch Trubisky the past two years at UNC to have a good idea of what to expect. And, to a lesser extent, we know the talent Eric Dungey has thanks to the glimpse we got of him during his freshman season at Syracuse last year.