Today we rank the ACC’s non-conference schedules, and what a switch from the Big 12. ACC teams actually play a competitive, entertaining schedule. I know it’s a beleaguered conference. I know it’s gone in one year from a hunter to the hunted. I know it sees itself as a basketball conference. Maybe that’s why it plays big-boy football in September (and November, with Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia).
I don’t know the reason and I don’t care. The ACC embarrasses the Big 12 when it comes to non-conference scheduling.
Games against lower-division teams: 13. FloridaState plays both MurrayState and Savannah State, but that’s thanks to West Virginia, which pulled out of a contract. The Big 12 plays 30 percent of its non-conference games against I-AA foes; the ACC’s percentage is 27.1.
Games against traditional national powers: Eight. BostonCollege hosts Notre Dame, Miami plays Notre Dame in Chicago and Wake Forest plays at Notre Dame. Clemson plays Auburn in Atlanta; Florida State hosts Florida; Georgia Tech plays at Georgia; Maryland is at West Virginia and Virginia hosts Penn State. That’s outstanding; one-sixth of the ACC’s non-conference games is against elite names of college football. The Big 12 plays one/15th of its games against the elite.
Games against other major-conference programs: 14. Some good teams. Northwestern, South Carolina, Stanford, South Florida twice, BYU, Connecticut, Kansas State, Louisville, Tennessee, TCU, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Vanderbilt. So that means 22 of the ACC’s 48 non-conference are absolutely legitimate games. Much better than the Big 12’s seven out of 30.
Road games: 12, plus three neutral-site games. That’s 15 out of 48; which is 32 percent. The Big 12 plays 27 percent away from home.
So super job, ACC. Let’s rank you.
1. Miami: at Kansas State, Bethune-Cookman, Notre Dame at Chicago, South Florida. Wow. What a schedule. USF is only the third-best non-conference game.
2. Clemson: Auburn at Atlanta, Ball State, Furman, South Carolina. Auburn and South Carolina. Good job, Clemson.
3. Georgia Tech: Presbyterian, Middle Tennessee, BYU, at Georgia. Interesting pair of marquee games, from the traditional in-state rivalry to Brigham Young.
4. Virginia: Richmond, Penn State, at TCU, Louisiana Tech. Who knows what the Nittany Lions will be like in the post-Joe Paterno era, but either way, solid schedule. Kudos to the Cavaliers.
5. Maryland: William & Mary, at Temple, Connecticut, at West Virginia. Temple waxed Maryland 38-7 last year at College Park; now the Terrapins go to Temple, plus play UConn and West Virginia.
6. Florida State: Murray State, Savannah State, at South Florida, Florida. What a schedule the Seminoles would have if West Virginia hadn’t bolted and been replaced, out of necessity, by Savannah State.
7. Boston College: Maine, at Northwestern, at Army, Notre Dame. This schedule would rank No. 1 in the Big 12.
8. Wake Forest: Liberty, Army, at Notre Dame, Vanderbilt. If anyone had reason to dumb down a schedule, it’s Wake. But this is smart and solid.
9. Virginia Tech: Austin Peay, at Pitt, Bowling Green, Cincinnati. Pittsburg joins the ACC next season, but until then, the Panthers are a solid non-league foe.
10. North Carolina State: Tennessee at Atlanta, at Connecticut, South Alabama, The Citadel. Decent schedule. Even South Alabama has joined Division I-A.
11. North Carolina: Elon, at Louisville, East Carolina, Idaho. Good schedule by Big 12 standards. Bad schedule by ACC standards.
12. Duke: Florida International, at Stanford, North Carolina Central, Memphis. The ACC’s worst, but still not awful, considering it’s a game at Stanford.