After accepting Pitt and Syracuse into the fold in 2013, the ACC adds another former Big East school in Louisville for 2014. Of course, the Big East football programs became the American Athletic Conference last season and the Cardinals finished second to UCF.
The ACC invited Louisville after Maryland opted to end its membership in the ACC. The Terps were a charter member when the conference was founded in 1953. Louisville was a member of Conference USA from 1996-2004 and joined the Big East in 2005.
The Cardinals replace the Terrapins in the Atlantic Division to keep 7 teams in each division.
Notre Dame joins the ACC in all sports except football, but the school did agree to play five football games each season against ACC teams. However, due to previous scheduling commitments, that number was reduced to 4 games this season, followed by 6 games in 2015 and then 5 each year beginning with 2016. On The Irish' slate for 2014 are visits to Syracuse (Sept. 27) and Florida State (Oct. 18), and home games vs. North Carolina (Oct. 11) and Louisville (Nov. 22).
2013 was a banner year for the ACC as it qualified 11 schools for the bowl season and went 5-6 in those games. Most importantly, Florida State brought the conference its first national championship since the Seminoles defeated then-Big East member Virginia Tech at the end of the 1999 season.
Florida State is a nearly unanimous choice to win back-to-back national titles as Heisman-winning QB Jameis Winston returns. The computer has the 'Noles as double-digit favorites in every game except the visit to Miami on November 15. Both teams are projected to be undefeated when that meeting takes place and FSU is favored by just 4.34. The 'Noles are later forecasted to beat Miami by 7.34 points in Charlotte in the ACC Championship game.
Florida State would then be favored to beat 4th-seed Oklahoma in the first round of the playoff, and by 4.37 over UCLA in the national championship game.
North Carolina, Duke and Virginia Tech could all mount challenges to Miami in the Coastal division as less than 8 power points separate the highest and lowest of those 4 schools.
Duke was the ACC darling last year, coming from consensus bottom-feeder status to finishing 10-4 with a loss to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Blue Devils were 10-2 in the regular season and captured the Coastal title before falling 45-7 to Florida State in the ACC Championship game. This year, Duke is given a 9-3 forecast and a 3rd-place Coastal ranking.
Clemson and Syracuse are the 2nd- and 3rd-place picks in the Atlantic division.
Louisville and Wake Forest will have new head coaches. The Cardinals lost Charlie Strong to Texas and hired Bobby Petrino away from Western Kentucky. Petrino spent just one season with the Hilltoppers. The Demon Deacons plucked Dave Clawson from Bowling Green to succeed Jim Grobe who resigned after 13 seasons.