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10 Non-Conference Games ACC Football Must Win in 2014

College Football: 10 Non-Conference Games the ACC Must Win in 2014

ACC Syracuse Carrier Dome
Rich Barnes - USATODAY Sports

Despite being home to the reigning national champions, the ACC is always looking for respect as a football league. The best way to gain that respect is to win non-conference games against other BCS conference teams. There will be no shortage of opportunities for ACC teams to do that in 2014, and here are 10 games the ACC must win in order to gain respect on the football field.

10. Florida State vs. Oklahoma State, Week 1

Jameis Winston Florida State
Melina Vastola - USATODAY Sports

10. Florida State vs. Oklahoma State, Week 1

Jameis Winston Florida State
Melina Vastola - USATODAY Sports

The ACC was home to the national champion last season, but that only did so much for the league's reputation. As the torch carrier for the league, Florida State needs to have another strong season, and they certainly can't afford to lose their season opener. The Seminoles should win this game, but Oklahoma State can score points and could make the one tricky for Florida State.

9. Clemson at Georgia, Week 1

SEC Football: Georgia vs. Clemson Best Game of Week 1
Joshua S. Kelly - USATODAY Sports

9. Clemson at Georgia, Week 1

SEC Football: Georgia vs. Clemson Best Game of Week 1
Joshua S. Kelly - USATODAY Sports

The Tigers won this matchup at home in the season opener last year, but beating the Bulldogs on the road will be much tougher, especially with all the offensive firepower Clemson lost from last year's team. Anytime an ACC school gets a chance to play a team from the SEC, it's a chance for the league to prove itself, and Clemson beating Georgia in back-to-back years would be great for the ACC's image.

8. Virginia Tech at Ohio State, Week 2

Ohio State vs Virginia Tech Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Geoff Burke - USATODAY Sports

8. Virginia Tech at Ohio State, Week 2

Ohio State vs Virginia Tech Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Geoff Burke - USATODAY Sports

The ACC needs Virginia Tech to get back to the days of being a top-25 or better program on a yearly basis, and the Hokies can take a big step towards doing that by beating Ohio State on the road. Virginia Tech will likely be an underdog, possibly by double digits, but if they can pull off the upset it would certainly give the ACC some positive national attention.

7. Miami at Nebraska, Week 4

Nebraska vs. Miami Non-Conference 2014
Getty Images

7. Miami at Nebraska, Week 4

Nebraska vs. Miami Non-Conference 2014
Getty Images

The Hurricanes are on their way back under Al Golden, and a road win against Nebraska would be big for the program. But an ACC team getting a win over a top-25 Big Ten team would be even bigger for the league. The Big Ten also has a bit of an image problem on the national stage, so the ACC can't afford to lose too many head-to-head matchups between the two leagues.

6. Iowa at Pittsburgh, Week 4

Iowa vs Pittsburgh Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

6. Iowa at Pittsburgh, Week 4

Iowa vs Pittsburgh Football 2014 Schedule Preview
Charles LeClaire - USATODAY Sports

This is another ACC-Big Ten matchup, and while these are a couple of middle-of-the-pack teams, this game will showcase the type of depth that both of these conferences have. It's one thing to produce a national champion, but the ACC needs to develop more depth. An average team like Pitt needs to be able to win non-conference games against BCS conference teams, especially at home.

5. Maryland at Syracuse, Week 4

Brisly
Mitch Stringer - USATODAY Sports

5. Maryland at Syracuse, Week 4

Brisly
Mitch Stringer - USATODAY Sports

In case you're late to the party, Syracuse is the ACC team here, while Maryland is now in the Big Ten. That being said, the last thing the ACC can afford to have happen is one of its newest members losing to a team that just left the league. The Orange handled Maryland last year on the road in the Terps' final year in the league, and they need to do the same in a non-league game this year or the ACC will have a PR nightmare on their hands.

4. Louisville at Notre Dame, Week 13

michael dyer
Jamie Rhodes - USATODAY Sports

4. Louisville at Notre Dame, Week 13

michael dyer
Jamie Rhodes - USATODAY Sports

Louisville is new to the ACC this season, and the league is banking on them being an upgrade over Maryland. So it's important that they pull their weight in non-league games. Several ACC teams are playing Notre Dame this year, per the alignment between the Irish and the ACC, but Louisville being able to get a win on the road late in the season would carry more weight than any other team taking down the Irish.

3. Kentucky at Louisville, Week 14

Louisville Cardinals at Kentucky Wildcats Against the Spread Game Preview SEC Football
Jamie Rhodes - USATODAY Sports/Mark Zerof - USATODAY Sports

3. Kentucky at Louisville, Week 14

Louisville Cardinals at Kentucky Wildcats Against the Spread Game Preview SEC Football
Jamie Rhodes - USATODAY Sports/Mark Zerof - USATODAY Sports

Obviously the Cardinals need to win this game against their in-state rival, but this is another matchup between the ACC and the SEC. Even though Kentucky is one of the worst tams in the SEC, ACC teams need to win these games every chance they get. There are several ACC/SEC games late in the season, and this is one that the ACC team should (must) win.

2. South Carolina at Clemson, Week 14

Tajh Boyd Clemson Tigers South Carolina Gamecocks
Jeff Blake - USATODAY Sports

2. South Carolina at Clemson, Week 14

Tajh Boyd Clemson Tigers South Carolina Gamecocks
Jeff Blake - USATODAY Sports

This is Clemson's second game of the season against an SEC team, and while this is an in-state rivalry game that they want to win every year, this could be a big win for the ACC if the Tigers can pull it off, especially if South Carolina ends up winning the SEC East. Even at home, this will be a tough game for Clemson, but it'll be huge for the ACC if they can beat one of the SEC's top teams.

1. Florida at Florida State, Week 14

Mario Edwards Jr.
Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

1. Florida at Florida State, Week 14

Mario Edwards Jr.
Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

This is always one of the year's marquee matchups between the ACC and SEC, and even with the Gators down, it's imperative that Florida State make a statement by disposing of their in-state rivals. The Seminoles could be in line to represent the ACC in the college football playoff, and they can't lose that chance by getting beat by the SEC's Gators. This is a must-win game for Florida State and the ACC.