Hurricanes fans, get out your calendars and circle these dates: Oct. 8 and Oct. 29.
The Atlantic Coast Conference released its 2016 composite football schedule Tuesday, and Miami will host arch-rival Florida State on Oct. 8 in the fifth game of the season and play at Notre Dame on Oct. 29 in the eighth game.
And like last season, the Canes can breathe a bit before they face their first ACC opponent on Oct. 1 — Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
UM, which finished 8-5 last season but is led in 2016 by new coach Mark Richt, opens Sept. 3 at home against Football Championship Subdivision member Florida A&M (1-10 in 2015).
The Canes then host Palm Beach County neighbor FAU (3-9) on Sept. 10 before heading to Boone, North Carolina, on Sept. 17 to play Sun Belt Conference powerhouse Appalachian State (11-2), a former FCS team that won three consecutive national titles from 2005 to ’07.
UM has a bye week Sept. 24 — like last year, an early one. It then travels to Atlanta on Oct. 21 to face the triple option of Georgia Tech (3-9).
On Oct. 8, Miami has its first chance at redemption against Florida State, which defeated UM 29-24 at Tallahassee in a 2015 nail-biter. The Hurricanes have lost six consecutive games to the Seminoles, who finished 10-3 last season.
The Canes stay at home Oct. 15 to face North Carolina (11-3), with only five days’ rest before a Thursday-night, ESPN game at Virginia Tech (7-6).
Then, the really fun one at South Bend, Indiana, for an Oct. 29 clash against the Irish (10-3), the team everyone seems to either love or hate — sort of like the Hurricanes. The last time Miami beat Notre Dame was in 1989, when the seventh-ranked Canes ended No. 1 Notre Dame’s 23-game winning streak. The Canes subsequently have lost to the Irish in 1990, 2010 and 2012.
UM comes home to face Pittsburgh (8-5) on Nov. 5, then plays at Virginia (4-8) on Nov. 12 and at ACC Atlantic Division foe North Carolina State (7-6) on Nov. 19 before facing Duke in the regular-season finale Nov. 26 at Sun Life Stadium.
Though two of UM’s last three games are away, the Hurricanes will not be on the road more than two games in a row in 2016. They also will not be at home more than two games in a row.
FSU begins its schedule against Southeastern Conference member Ole Miss on Sept. 5 (Labor Day) at the renovated Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The game will be on ESPN at 8 p.m.
The Seminoles then meet nonconference opponent Charleston Southern on Sept. 10 before heading to Louisville on Sept. 17 and to USF on Sept. 24.
FSU hosts UNC on Oct. 1, then plays at Miami, returns to Tallahassee for its homecoming game Oct. 15 against Wake Forest and follows that with its bye week Oct. 22.
What appears to be the biggest challenge of the season comes Oct. 29 against Clemson and Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Deshaun Watson in Tallahassee.
FSU’s final four games: Nov. 5 at N.C. State; Friday, Nov. 11, at home against Boston College; Nov. 19 at Syracuse; and Nov. 26 at home against Florida.
UM 2016 football schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Florida A&M
Sept. 10 vs. Florida Atlantic
Sept. 17 at Appalachian State
Sept. 24 BYE
Oct. 1 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 8 vs. Florida State
Oct. 15 vs. North Carolina
Oct. 20 at Virginia Tech, ESPN (Thu.)
Oct. 29 at Notre Dame
Nov. 5 vs. Pittsburgh
Nov. 12 at Virginia
Nov. 19 at North Carolina State
Nov. 26 vs. Duke