The Atlantic Coast Conference is broken into 2 divisions, the Atlantic (Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Syracuse, & Wake Forest) and the Coastal (Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia, & Virginia Tech). This league, in football ( Notre Dame is part of the ACC in its other sports except football & hockey) is made up of 14 universities and like the SEC, plays 8 conference games (the B-10, B-12 & P-12 play 9 conference opponents) and 4 NC games.
The conference can boast the nation’s best football team, Clemson, who whipped 2 undefeated teams, Notre Dame 12-0 and Alabama 14-0, to win the College Football Playoff (CFP). That said, the conference as a whole has struggled and its other ‘Blue Blood’ programs, Florida State, Miami, & Virginia Tech have been wildly inconsistent the past few years. Right now, it is Clemson and everybody else! Alabama has Georgia, Ohio State has Michigan, Oklahoma has Texas, & Washington has Oregon; someone in the ACC needs to step up! Listed here are the opportunities (2019 schedules), if not to catch Clemson, to at least improve the league’s national image.
We will break the ACC’s opponents for the 2019 season into three categories, Power 5 (P5) Conferences (ACC, B-10, B-12- Pac-12, & SEC), Group of 5 (G5) (American Athletic Conference (AAC), Conference -USA (C-USA), Mid-American Conference (MAC), Mountain West Conference (MWC), & Sun Belt Conference (SBC), and finally, the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The P5 & G5 conferences are part of the NCAA’s Football Bowl Division and must award 85 full scholarships to maintain their good standing, while the FCS may not award more than 63 full rides, yet may provide fewer and maintain their FCS status!
That said, the FCS members may break apart their 63 scholarships and offer partial dollars to not more than 85 individuals. One final note on the FCS membership, as mentioned they are not required to offer 63, they may offer fewer than the 63 to none at all. The IVY & Pioneer Leagues are part of the FCS, yet do not offer athletic scholarships in football! So the quality of FCS programs can, and often does, vary widely!
ACC’s Atlantic Division
Boston College: Plays 3 P5’s teams, Kansas out of the B-12, @ Rutgers (B-10) & @ Notre Dame (IND)! The Eagles play 1 FCS team, Richmond, a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) member in Boston; BC does not play a G5 opponent in 2019!
Clemson: The Tigers will line in up against 2 P5’s, Texas A&M (SEC) @ home and travel to take on South Carolina in Columbia. Clemson also plays 1 G5, UNC Charlotte (C-USA) & 1 FCS opponent, Wofford (SoCon)!
Florida State: FSU has scheduled along traditional lines, 1 P5, 2 G5, 1 FCS squad. The Seminoles play 1 P5, Florida (SEC) in Gainesville, 2 G5’s Boise State (MWC), @ a neutral site, Jacksonville, FL, & Louisiana Monroe (SBC), & 1 FCS team, Alabama State, Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Both the ULM & Alabama State games are in Tallahassee’s, Doak S. Campbell Stadium.
Louisville: takes on 2 P5 opponents, ND (IND) @ home & Kentucky (SEC) on the road. The Wildcats, then challenge the rest of the state of Kentucky, a G5 team, Western Kentucky (C-USA) in Nashville, TN and a FCS club, Eastern Kentucky out of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC), at home, in Papa John Cardinal Stadium!
NC State: will travel the traditional route in 2019, 1 P5, @ West Virginia (B-12), 2 G5’s, East Carolina (AAC) & Ball State from the Mid-American Conference (MAC), and 1 FCS unit, Western Carolina, a Southern Conference representative (SoCon), all 3 games are @ home, in Carter-Finley Stadium.
Syracuse: has scheduled the traditional NC journey, 1 P5, @ Maryland (B-10), 2 G5’s, @ Liberty (IND) & Western Michigan (MAC) @ home in the Carrier Dome. They also take on a 63 scholarship opponent (FCS), Holy Cross (Patriot League), at home.
Wake Forest: is taking a different path in scheduling for the 2019 season, they are playing, in-state, ACC rival, North Carolina, but not as a ACC opponent, this is a NC game vs another ACC team… Say what? The reason being, lost revenue! If they do not play one of the nearby rival universities, Duke, Wake, NC State, & UNC, which are all in easy driving distance, they lose money! The Demon Deacon’s also ‘lace en up’ against 2 G5 teams, Utah State (MWC) @ Home & at Rice (C-USA). Finally, the double D’s play Elon, a FCS team out of the CAA.
The Atlantic Division plays 28 non-Conference (NC) games, 11 of them are against P5’s, 7 vs FCS opponents, 10 are contests with the Group of 5! The Atlantic takes on the SEC 4 times in 19′, Independents 2 times, B-12, & B-10. twice each or 4 total games equaling 10 P5 games, the 11th game is a NC game vs an ACC opponent (Wake vs UNC)!
ACC’s Coastal Division
Duke: is looking to punish or test itself this season, they play 2 P5’s, Alabama in Atlanta and Notre Dame in Durham’s, Wade Wallace Stadium. The Blue Devils also take on 1 G5 opponent, @ Middle Tennessee (C-USA) and 1 FCS team, North Carolina A&T from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in Durham.
Georgia Tech begins a new era as Paul Johnson, their former Head Coach has retired and with him the triple option. Tech plays 1 P5, Georgia (SEC) @ home, 2 G5’s, @ Temple & @ home vs South Florida, both of these teams are from the AAC. The Ramblin Wreck also play 1 FCS opponent, The Citadel (SoCon), at home in Atlanta’s @ Bobby Dodd Stadium!
Miami plays 1 P5 team, Florida (SEC) at a neutral site, Orlando, 2 G5’s, Central Michigan @ Hard Rock Stadium and Florida International @ Marlins Park. They round out their NC schedule vs Bethune-Cookman (MEAC) @ home.
North Carolina plays a NC game vs a team, Wake Forest, that is in the same conference as themselves, the ACC and another P5 game vs South Carolina (SEC) @ a neutral site, Charlotte, NC. The Tar Heels also line it up’ against 1 G5, Appalachian State, Sun Belt Conference (SBC) and 1 FCS team, Mercer (SoCon), both games are @ Home.
Pitt battles 1 P5 opponent, in-state rival, Penn State (B-10) @ Beaver Stadium, 2 G5’5, Ohio (MAC) & Central Florida (AAC) . The Panthers will kick it off’ vs 1 FCS team, Delaware. All three of these games are at Heinz Field!
Virginia has its best team in years and certainly the best group that HC, Bronco mendenhall has fielded. The Cavaliers play 1 P5, ND @ Notre Dame Stadium, 2 G5’s, Old Dominion (C-USA) & Liberty (IND), and 1 FCS team, William & Mary (CAA) all three games are at home in Scott Stadium.
Virginia Tech takes on 1 P5, Notre Dame in South Bend, 1 G5, Old Dominion (C-USA) and 2 FCS teams, Furman (SoCon) & Rhode Island (CAA). Tech can count only 1 of the wins (games) vs an FCS opponent toward their 6 wins needed to become Bowl Eligible! In other words, they now have 11 games (not 12) to win 6!
The Coastal Division plays 28 NC games, 7 teams that play 4 Non-Conference equaling the 28 total. They will take on 9 P5’s; 3 IND, 1 B-10, 4 SEC, & the NC game vs a conference team, North Carolina vs Wake Forest! They play FCS opponents in 8 contest, Virginia Tech plays 2 such games, and battle the Group of 5 in ten games in 19′
The ACC plays 56 NC games in 2019, in 21 of these games, the ACC has scheduled P5’s opponents 0r 38% of the NC Schedule. They take on 20 G5 opponents, which makes up 36% of their NC schedule, and play the FCS in 15 games or 26.7% of their schedule.
There is growing tension between SEC and the ACC, clearly related to the Clemson/Alabama rivalry. While I would not hesitate to announce the SEC, as far and away the better league, that’s the eye test, a subjective perspective on my part. Let’s compare their NC schedules for the 2019 season and see what that tells us.
vs P5 opponents: SEC plays 16 P5 opponents or 29% of their schedule is made up of these games, while the ACC will challenge 20 P5’s accounting for 38% of their NC games. The ACC gets the nod in playing the better non-conference schedule. or at least more P5’s!
The discrepancy can be found with games the respective leagues play against Notre Dame. The SEC will play the Irish once in 2019 (Georgia host’s ND in week three) while the ACC has a contracted agreement to play ND 5 times each season. Sully’s College Football Page counts ND & BYU as P5 teams, as do most, if not all, P5 conferences. That said, technically, they are not in a P5 conference and one can certainly debate if they should or should not be counted, however, that is a different discussion. For here and now, these teams are in the mix!
What about the other end of the spectrum, scheduling of FCS opponents? The SEC gets beat up nationally for scheduling the 63 scholarship teams on/during the week before Thanksgiving weekend or what we call in college football, rivalry weekend. It must be the time of year that the SEC schedules these games, as both conferences schedule 15 FCS teams or 27% of their NC games are played in these types of contests. Neither the ACC or the SEC earns any advantage in NC scheduling with this result. That said, if you are one who complains about the SEC scheduling “cupcakes”,you should be equally frustrated with the ACC, as they schedule the exact number (15) of FCS opponents!
Finally, the conferences are scheduled to play 8 games in 2019 against one another;
Coastal (4 games vs SEC): Miami plays Florida, UNC takes on South Carolina, Duke challenges Bama, & Georgia Tech battles Georgia;
Atlantic (4 games vs SEC) finds Clemson playing 2 SEC teams, Texas A&M & South Carolina, Florida State getting after Florida, and Louisville taking on Kentucky!
Here are the results on these encounters since 2016!
Atlantic Division vs SEC!
Clemson: 2016: beat Auburn, 19-13, South Carolina, 56-7, & Alabama, 35-31! 2017: beat Auburn, 14-6, South Carolina 34-10, & lost to the Tide, 24-6, 2018: beat Texas A&M, 28-26, beat South Carolina, 56-35, & beat Bama, 44-16! Clemson is 8-1 vs SEC since 2016
Florida State: 2016: beat Ole Miss, 45-34 & beat Florida, 31-13; 2017: lost to Alabama, 24-7, beat Florida, 38-22; & 2018: lost to Florida, 41-14! FSU is 3-2 vs SEC since 16′
Syracuse: 2016: did not play a SEC opponent; 2017: lost to LSU, 35-26; 2018: did not Play a SEC team! Syracuse is 0-1 vs the SEC since the 2016 season!
NC State: 2016: Beat Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl, 41-17; 2017: lost to South Carolina, 35-28; 2018: lost to Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl, 52-13! NC State is 1-2 vs the SEC since 2016!
Boston College: did not play a SEC team during the time frame being evaluated; BC is 0-0 vs the SEC from 2016 through 2018!
Wake Forest: 2016: did not play an SEC team; 2017: beat to Texas A&M, 55-52; 2018: did not play a SEC opponent! WF is 1-0 vs the SEC since 2016!
Louisville: 2016: lost to Kentucky, 41-38 & LSU in the Citrus Bowl, 29-9; 2017: beat Kentucky, 44-17 and then lost to Mississippi State, 31-27 in the Gator Bowl; 2018: lost to Bama, 51-14 & Kentucky, 56-10; Louisville is 1-5 vs the SEC since 2016!
The Atlantic Division of the ACC is 14-11 vs the SEC; against the East Division of the SEC since 16′, the Atlantic Division is 7-4 and when playing the West they are 7-7 (Clemson has 5 of the 7 wins vs the SEC West & 3 of the 7 vs the SEC East)!
The Coastal Division vs the SEC
Miami: 2016: did not play a SEC team; 2017: did not challenge a SEC club; 2018: lost to LSU, 33-17; Miami is 0-1 vs the SEC since 2016!
Virginia Tech: 2016: lost to Tennessee, 45-24 & beat Arkansas, 35-24 in the Belk Bowl; 2017: did not play a SEC team; 2018: did not play a SEC team! The Hokies 1-1 against the SEC since 2016!
Virginia: 2016 & 17′ did not play a SEC team; 2018: beat South Carolina, 28-0; The Cavaliers are 1-0 vs the SEC since 16’!
Pitt: has not played a SEC team during this time frame, 2016 thru 18’! Pitt is 0-0 vs the SEC
North Carolina: 2016: lost to Georgia, 33-24; 2017: did not play a SEC team, 2018: no games with the SEC; UNC is 0-1 vs the SEC since 2016!
Duke: has not played a SEC opponent since losing the Chick-fil-A Bowl to Texas A&M, 52-48, in 2013; Duke is 0-0 vs the SEC!
Georgia Tech: 2016: beat Georgia 28-27 & beat Kentucky, 33-18 in the Gator Bowl, 2017: lost to Tennessee, 42-41 & Georgia, 38-7; 2018: lost to Georgia, 45-21; G-Tech is 2-3 vs the SEC in this, 16 thru 18, time frame
The Coastal Division of the ACC is 4-6 vs the SEC; against the East Division of the SEC since 16′ the Coastal is 3-5 and when playing the West, they are 1-1!
So here is what we know, the ACC is 18-17 vs the SEC since 2016, (10-9 vs the East & 8-8 vs the West). Clemson has played in 9 of these games or 26% of all played games, the Tigers account for 8 of the wins (22% of the wins of all games played & 44% of all the wins) and only 1 of the losses (2%). If one were to remove Clemson from the mix, the ACC’s record would be 10-16 vs the Mighty SEC!! Clemson has become to the ACC what the New York Yankees were to the American League in the 1950’s & 60’s … them and everybody else!