Published: Sep 01, 2010 9:15 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 02, 2010 4:30 AM EDT

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — There is reason for optimism in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

A league-record five teams are ranked 20th or higher in the preseason poll. Some traditional powers are poised for breakout years.

Yet, the league is at somewhat of a crossroad.

The ACC is in desperate need of a fast start to generate some positive buzz and stave off its critics who say it's nowhere near as tough as some other power conferences.

A bad weekend or two will kick start the "same old ACC" chatter.

The ACC can squash that talk by winning its big out-of-conference games. That starts Saturday night with No. 18 North Carolina playing No. 21 LSU in Atlanta. Two nights later, No. 10 Virginia Tech faces No. 3 Boise State Monday in Maryland.