Rating the Non-Conference Slate, Part 1: ACC

I’ve been working on this for a few days and unfortunately the time I finally have time to post it is when I’m suffering from some horrendous attack of allergies and/or a cold. I’ll try anyway, but I won’t make any guarantees about whether or not the following will make any sense at all.

Since the NCAA made the 12th game permanent, there’s been various debate over the best use of the 12th game. For most teams, it’s a 4th non-conference games. While ideally this is used to play an inter-sectional game (see: Cal and Tennessee) this is normally used to just get away with scheduling a DI-AA team every year. Due to the Big East being gutted by the ACC, they were able to add a 5th non-conference game, but only Syracuse has anything interesting going on. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Pac-10, who used the 12th game to create a full-round robin in their league. In fact, the Pac-10 by far has the highest percentage of teams without a I-AA team on their schedule this year (Arizona will play Northern Arizona).

So for this preview I took a conference-by-conference look at at the “BCS” conferences and ranked teams out-of-conference schedules on the completely subjective criteria of what I consider “legitimate” non-conference teams. Being completely subjective, it’s hard to say what’s a legit team and what’s not, but hopefully there’s some semblance of a pattern.

So, without further adieu, here’s the Atlantic Coast Conference:

  1. Florida State (3 legit teams, 0 DI-AA): UAB, @Colorado, Alabama, and @Florida. Probably the best non-conference slate in all of college football this year. The game against ‘Bama is at Jacksonville as well, and they play an away game against a BCS team (even if it Colorado). UAB isn’t a total patsy either, but I wasn’t sure whether to consider them “legit” for FSU.
  2. Miami (FL) (2, 0): Marshall, @Oklahoma, Florida International (HELL 2 DA NAW), Texas A&M. Pretty legit schedule, even if FIU is barely a DI-A team. @OU helps a lot.
  3. Georgia Tech (2, 1): @Notre Dame, Samford, Army, Georgia. @Notre Dame is the main thing here – Army and Samford won’t strike fear into anyone. Rivalry game against Georgia is huge. But you heard it here first: Tech will beat the Bulldogs this year.
  4. Duke (4, 0): UConn, @Northwestern, @Navy, @Notre Dame. 3 road games. Legit because it’s entirely likely they’re going to lose to all these teams.
  5. Maryland (2, 1): Villanova, @Florida International, West Virgina Virginia, @Rutgers. Play 2 of the better Big East teams, wait, hold on – to Florida International? What the heck?
  6. Wake Forest (2, 0): Nebraska, Army, @Navy, @Vanderbilt. No DI-AA’s is nice, as is the game against Nebraska. Navy and Vandy combine to form a legit non-conference game, even if it is 3/4 Navy and 1/4 Vandy.
  7. Virginia Tech (1,1): East Carolina, @LSU, Ohio, William & Mary. ECU should apply for honorary membership to the ACC this year (along with Notre Dame). The only thing that makes this schedule stand out is the game @LSU – see what I said above about inter-sectional games. It gets a lot worse from here.
  8. Boston College (1, 1): Army, UMass, Bowling Green, @Notre Dame. Amazingly, BC starts the year with three straight conference games. @ND is the only saving grace of the non-conference slate, though.
  9. North Carolina (1, 1): James Madison, @East Carolina, @South Florida, South Carolina. Nice series against South Carolina coming up, but @ECU and @USF? How did that happen?
  10. NC State (1,1): Central Florida, Wofford, Louisville, @East Carolina. @ECU again? Saving grace is Louisville.
  11. Virginia (1, 0): @Wyoming, Pittsburgh, @Middle Tennessee State, UConn. Could perhaps be 2 legit teams, but this schedule is burdened by the fact they ended up going to both Wyoming and MTSU. Really, any of these last few teams could lay claim to the ACC’s worst non-conference schedule.
  12. Clemson (1, 1): UL-Monroe, Furman, Central Michigan, @South Carolina. Absolutely pathetic schedule for this caliber of team.

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