As Valentine's Day gifts go, it wasn't bling, dark chocolate or lingerie. But when the ACC unveiled this season's football schedule Feb. 14, no date matched the appeal of Sept. 17.

Sure enough, Saturday has emerged as advertised: a historic opportunity for a conference founded on basketball to show a football pulse against the heavyweights.

No. 5 Florida State vs. No. 1 Oklahoma; Clemson vs. No. 21 Auburn; Miami vs. No. 17 Ohio State; Maryland vs. No. 18 West Virginia.

Four games, four ranked opponents, all at home. No doubt any league has hosted as many top 25, non-conference teams on the same day. It is a chance the ACC needs to boost its reputation.

The league is competitive, entertaining and produces NFL draft choices by the bushel. The ACC's 50 bowl bids since 2005 trail only the Southeastern Conference's 51.

But even commissioner John Swofford concedes that not enough has been done to forge and sustain national relevance. Acclaim comes only with marquee victories, and that is where the ACC is lacking.

Conference teams have lost 31 consecutive games to non-league opponents ranked among the top five at kickoff. The last such win was Florida State's thumping of No. 4 Florida in 2000.

The ACC boasts only five top-10 victories in the last decade, most recently in 2009, when Miami defeated No. 8 Oklahoma, and Florida State upended No. 7 BYU. The last conference team to finish a season among the national top five was the Seminoles in 2000.

Florida State carries the ACC banner again Saturday, and the No. 5 Seminoles can stamp themselves national contenders by beating No. 1 Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, Clemson can ease the pressure on coach Dabo Swinney -- the Tigers were 6-7 last year and haven't endured consecutive losing seasons since 1975 and 1976 -- by besting No. 21 Auburn.

New coaches Al Golden at Miami and Randy Edsall at Maryland can bank beaucoup goodwill with victories over No. 17 Ohio State and No. 18 West Virginia, respectively.

The four games are returns from last September, when the ACC contingent was winless on the road -- Clemson's overtime loss at then-No. 16 Auburn was the most competitive.

Those defeats were part of another season that frustrated conference officials. ACC teams were 2-12 versus outside top-25 opponents, the lone wins Florida State over South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and North Carolina State over West Virginia in the Champs Bowl.

Virginia Tech's Orange Bowl crash against Stanford dropped the ACC's Bowl Championship Series record to a national-worst 2-11.

Each of the other five major conferences have won at least six BCS games.

Saturday can't repair the ACC's football image, but this unrivaled convergence certainly could start the process.

Never has the ACC hosted four ranked non-conference teams on the same day. The previous high was three, in the ACC's 1953 inaugural season.

With the possible exception of Oklahoma, the opponents aren't daunting.

Auburn was lucky to survive Utah State, Ohio State couldn't shake Toledo, and West Virginia trailed Norfolk State at halftime before awakening at intermission.

Indeed, Clemson, Maryland and Miami are favored, albeit by slim margins. And three wins Saturday would be unprecedented.

Eight times the ACC has enjoyed two victories over ranked teams on the same day, most recently Sept. 29, 2007, when Maryland defeated No. 10 Rutgers, and Florida State bested No. 22 Alabama.

When Swofford offered his annual state-of-the-union at the conference's August football kickoff, he extolled, as always, the league's depth, bowl bids and draft picks.

But unprompted by media, he acknowledged the ACC's shortcomings.

"Obviously we need to win more of our high-profile games against non-conference opponents," he said. "That's the one thing we haven't done enough of in recent years ... and for us to gain the kind of respect we want for ACC football, those are the kind of games we will need to win."

If not Saturday, if not on its home fields, then when and where does the conference make a stand?