Berry Tramel

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ACC football: non-conference schedule trumps the Big 12′s

by Berry Tramel Published: May 30, 2012

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.

 

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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