We’re still in No Man’s Land on the football calendar, the down time after signing day and before spring ball gets underway, so naturally I have to stretch some material on the blog.
If you thought I was only going to get a day’s worth of posts out of the ACC schedule being released, you haven’t been reading the blog for long.
Here’s a breakdown of the ACC’s schedule. I’ll start with the Coastal Division today. Because Miami and UNC didn’t go to bowl games last year, I had to get a little technical with the wording of how many bowl-worthy teams are on each team’s schedule.
-- Schedule: vs. Elon (Aug. 31), at Duke (Sept. 14), vs. UNC (Sept. 21), vs. VT (Sept. 26), at Mia (Oct. 5), at BYU (Oct. 12), vs. Syr (Oct. 19), at UVa (Oct. 26), vs. Pitt (Nov. 2), at Clem (Nov. 14), vs. Ala A&M (Nov. 23), vs. UGa (Nov. 30)
– Opponents that met bowl eligibility standard in ’12: 9 (Duke, UNC, VT, Miami, BYU, Syracuse, Pitt, Clemson, Georgia)
– Must-see: Virginia Tech, Sept. 26. The Yellow Jackets and Hokies have had some memorable Thursday night matchups. It usually goes a long way in deciding the Coastal Division. This game should be no different.
– Trap game: Pittsburgh, Nov. 2. The bye week beckons the following week, with a tough stretch against Clemson and Georgia to finish the year. This is the last of eight straight weeks of games.
– Easy peasy: Georgia Tech eases into the season, hosting Elon in the opener, then getting a bye week before facing Duke. It gets tougher from there.
– Brutal stretch: Playing Clemson and Georgia in three weeks to finish the year is tough, although the Alabama A&M game in between provides a break. From Sept. 21 to Oct. 12, though, the Jackets host North Carolina and Virginia Tech in a six-day span, then travel to Miami and BYU.
-- Schedule: vs. NC Cent (Aug. 31), at Memphis (Sept. 7), vs. GT (Sept. 14), vs. Pitt (Sept. 21), vs. Troy (Sept. 28), vs. Navy (Oct. 12), at UVa (Oct. 19), at VT (Oct. 26), vs. NCST (Nov. 9), vs. Mia (Nov. 16), at WF (Nov. 23), at UNC (Nov. 30)
– Opponents that met bowl eligibility standard in ’12: 7 (GT, Pitt, Navy, VT, NCST, Mia, UNC)
– Must-see: at North Carolina, Nov. 30. The Blue Devils beat the Tar Heels last year for the first time since 2003. Think UNC might be up for this game?
– Trap game: at Virginia, Oct. 19. Sandwiched between Navy and Virginia Tech is a trip to Charlottesville to face the Cavaliers, who should be primed for a game against a Duke team that’s beaten them four of the last five years.
– Easy peasy: Duke has a soft opening, with games against North Carolina Central and at Memphis before starting ACC play.
– Brutal stretch: It doesn’t end easy. After their second bye, the Blue Devils host N.C. State and Miami, then travel to face state rivals Wake Forest and North Carolina. Duke probably has to win two of those games to be bowl eligible again.
-- Schedule: vs. FAU (Aug. 30), vs. Fla (Sept. 7), vs. Sav St. (Sept. 21), at USF (Sept. 28) ,vs. GT (Oct. 5), at UNC (Oct. 17), vs. WF (Oct. 26), at FSU (Nov. 2), vs. VT (Nov. 9), at Duke (Nov. 16), vs. UVa (Nov. 23), at Pitt (Nov. 29)
– Must-see: vs. Florida, Sept. 7. The ‘Canes and Gators meet for the first time since 2008 and, amazingly, only the second time in the regular season since 2004. This is the first time they’re both expected to be pretty good at the same time in a while.
– Trap game: vs. Wake Forest, Oct. 26. In a run of games that includes playing at North Carolina on a Thursday night, at Florida State and vs. Virginia Tech, the Demon Deacons stick out as a possible letdown game.
– Easy peasy: Once the ‘Canes get through that stretch, they finish with Duke, Virginia and Pittsburgh. None of those teams finished above .500 last year.
– Brutal stretch: The Florida game is marooned in a stretch of non-conference cupcakes and a bye week. The UNC-Wake-FSU-VT games will probably define Miami’s season.
-- Schedule: at S. Car (Aug. 29), vs. MTSU (Sept. 7), at GT (Sept. 21), vs. ECU (Sept. 28), at VT (Oct. 5), vs. Mia (Oct. 17), vs. BC (Oct. 26), at NCST (Nov. 2), vs. UVa (Nov. 9), at Pitt (Nov. 16), vs. ODU (Nov. 23), vs. Duke (Nov. 30)
– Must-see: vs. Miami, Oct. 17. The two teams that ended up not being eligible for the ACC Coastal title last year will meet in an ESPN Thursday night game that may very well propel one of them to participate in this year’s league title game.
– Trap game: vs. East Carolina, Sept. 28. The Heels play at Georgia Tech the previous week and at Virginia Tech the following week, two important Coastal games. The Pirates aren’t a pushover.
– Easy peasy: Once UNC gets to the second half of the season, things get easier. They miss Clemson and Florida State this year and finish with four of six games against teams that finished with a losing record, plus ODU, which is transitioning to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
– Brutal stretch: From late September to mid-October, the Heels play Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Miami, the top three other contenders for the Coastal Division title.
-- Schedule: vs. FSU (Sept. 2), vs. N. Mex (Sept. 14), at Duke (Sept. 21), vs. UVa (Sept. 28), at VT (Oct. 12), vs. ODU (Oct. 19), at Navy (Oct. 26), at GT (Nov. 2), vs. ND (Nov. 9), vs. UNC (Nov. 16), at Syr (Nov. 23), vs. Mia (Nov 29)
– Must-see: vs. Florida State, Sept. 2. What a way to join the league. The Panthers host the ‘Noles on Labor Day night. This could be a good way to announce their presence in the ACC.
– Trap game: at Navy, Oct. 26. The Midshipmen and their option offense host the Panthers right before Pitt’s toughest stretch of the year. Don’t forget that Navy went 8-5 last year.
– Easy peasy: After the FSU opener, Pitt plays New Mexico, Duke and Virginia, with by weeks on both ends of that stretch.
– Brutal stretch: From November on, the schedule gets tough. Pitt closes with games at Georgia Tech, vs. Notre Dame, vs. North Carolina, at Syracuse and vs. Miami on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It’ll be tough to go over .500 in those games.
-- Schedule: vs. BYU (Aug. 31), vs. Ore (Sept. 7), vs. VMI (Sept. 21), at Pitt (Sept. 28), vs. Ball St. (Oct. 5), at Md (Oct. 12), vs. Duke (Oct. 19), vs. GT (Oct. 26), vs. Clem (Nov. 2), at UNC (Nov. 9), at Mia (Nov. 23), vs VT (Nov. 30)
– Must-see: vs. Oregon, Sept. 7. Hand it to the Cavaliers in this sense: they schedule big. I don’t think it’ll result in a win when the Ducks come to Scott Stadium, but it’s a game that will generate some interest.
– Trap game: vs. Ball State, Oct. 5. This might look like just a MAC team, but it’s one that went 9-4 last year and made the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. It might not be the gimme everyone thinks.
– Easy peasy: That’s still in the easiest part of the schedule, a stretch that includes VMI, Pitt, Ball State, Maryland and Duke. UVa needs to get its wins there because …
– Brutal stretch: Everything else on the schedule it tough. BYU and Oregon is a hard way to start the year. The Cavaliers close with Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia Tech. It’ll probably need to win at least two of those to make a bowl game, a tall order.
-- Schedule: vs. Ala (Aug. 31), vs. W. Car (Sept. 7), at ECU (Sept. 14), vs. Marsh (Sept. 21), at GT (Sept. 26), vs. UNC (Oct. 5), vs. Pitt (Oct. 12), vs. Duke (Oct. 26), at BC (Nov. 2), at Mia (Nov. 9), vs. Md (Nov. 16), at UVa (Nov. 30)
– Must-see: vs. Alabama, Aug. 31. This one might get some viewers. The Crimson Tide has won three of the last four national titles and the game will get a primetime slot at the Georgia Dome.
– Trap game: vs. Pittsburgh, Oct. 12. The last game before the midseason bye week, it could be easy for the Hokies to look ahead to the break. They shouldn’t. Pitt has beaten the Hokies the last four times they’ve met, including a 35-17 beatdown last year.
– Easy peasy: The post-’Bama non-conference schedule is pretty easy, but I’ll list the finish: at BC, at Miami, vs. Maryland and at Virginia. The ‘Canes are tough, but the other three combined to go 5-19 in the ACC last season.
– Brutal stretch: A lot will be decided about VT’s season when it plays at Georgia Tech (on short rest on a Thursday) before returning home to play North Carolina and Pittsburgh.