Florida State and Miami will provide the first glimpse of the new-look Atlantic Coast Conference in a made-for-TV Labor Day showdown, but Virginia Tech will be first up for a league poised to redefine itself.
The Hokies, who along with Miami bolted from the Big East, open against co-national champion Southern California Aug. 28 in the Black Coaches Association Football Classic in Washington. Their ACC regular-season finale is Dec. 4 at Miami.
The Seminoles have met Miami in early October in recent years, but the earlier-than-normal game for the perennial powers is just one of the quirks in ACC expansion.
Needing another nonconference foe to make up for Miami becoming a conference game, the Seminoles added an Oct. 9 game at Syracuse. Rounding out FSU's nonconference slate are previously scheduled games in Tallahassee Sept. 18 against Alabama-Birmingham and Nov. 20 against Florida.
Though the Seminoles won't play Georgia Tech for the next two years, the conference schedule remains daunting: Clemson, which stunned FSU 26-10 last season in a game that might have saved Tommy Bowden's job, comes to Tallahassee Sept. 25; improving Virginia visits Oct. 16; FSU plays at Wake Forest Oct. 23 and at Maryland Oct. 30; and, after hosting Duke, FSU plays at North Carolina State on a Thursday, Nov. 11.
"The ACC has gotten better and better every year and it will be even better in 2004," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said in a statement. "Now you add Miami as an ACC team in the mix for next year and our schedule has got to be one of the toughest in the country again. I know it sounds old, but I don't know anybody else who plays Miami and Florida."
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes face eight opponents coming off bowl appearances.
"Our schedule may be the most challenging we've had in several years," coach Larry Coker told the Associated Press.
A pair of Thursday nonconference games, home against Louisville and at Houston, follow the opener against FSU.
- Information from Times wires was used in this report.