As a group this year, ACC teams have the 3rd most prestigious non-conference schedules in the country. Sadly, the ACC also has the only major conference school that plays two DI-AA (better known these days as DI-FCS) teams, North Carolina State.
So how do the individual schools rank? Below I provide their “legit” average and number of DI-AA teams played. Ties are broken by number of DI-AA teams played and then arbitrarily.
- Florida State (2 legit, 1 DI-AA): Louisiana-Monroe, Charleston Southern, Oklahoma, @Florida. Florida is a rivalry game of course, but the main reason FSU comes out on top two years in a row is the conclusion of the series with Oklahoma. It doesn’t hurt that the Sooners are also the pre-season consensus number one team. I don’t generally put a lot of stock in the pre-season polls (other than examining their undue influence on the polls later in the season), but remember this is more about prestige than any real objective criteria.
- Maryland (2, 1): West Virginia, Temple, Towson, N-Notre Dame. I just spent 20 minutes trying to figure out whether the Notre Dame game at Landover, MD is a true neutral site game. I think it is. I also just realized I don’t really have anything else to say about this schedule.
- Clemson (1.75, 1): Troy, Wofford, Auburn, @South Carolina. We get Tigers-Tigers once again, and this time at Clemson. I was tempted just now to refer to Clemson as the “purple” tigers to distinguish them from Auburn, but then I realized it’s not really unique because LSU uses purple as well. Go figure.
- Miami (1.75, 1): Ohio State, Kansas State, Bethun-Cookman, @South Florida. Most folks figure the kickoff of the season will put an end to the “here’s a list of everything that is wrong with college athletics and why” articles that have dominated the off-season. That’ll all be back for one last gasp during the week leading up to Miami-Ohio State, I’ll bet.
- Wake Forest (1.5, 1): @Syracuse, Gardner-Webb, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt. Technically, Wake Forest plays more BCS conference teams than any other team in the ACC. Technically.
- Boston College (1.25, 1): Northwestern, @Central Florida, Massachusetts, @Notre Dame. Yes, the tiebreaker here really was Northwestern over Kansas. I’m not proud of that, but I’d say Notre Dame and Georgia are a push for neutral fans. Unless UGA actually lives up to the hype this year. Well, same goes for Notre Dame I suppose.
- Georgia Tech (1.25, 1): Western Carolina, @Middle Tennessee State, Kansas, Georgia. I’m not excited about this non-conference slate. For those of you scoring at home, the game in Murfeesboro is part of a 2-for-1 deal. Man, I hope we beat Kansas this year.
- Duke (0.75, 1): Richmond, Stanford, Tulane, @Florida International. If Duke can manage to win three of these games (I’ll leave it to the viewers at home to determine which of the three are even possible) they’ll be halfway to bowl eligibility! Though that would still require some massive upsets in at least one or two of their conference games (also left as an exercise to the viewer).
- North Carolina (0.5, 1): James Madison, Rutgers, @East Carolina, Louisville. I keep thinking ECU is in the Big East. Remember, folks, when TCU joins next year they could instantly be the best team in the Big East.
- North Carolina State (0.5, 2): Liberty, South Alabama, @Cincinnati, Central Michigan. This sure is a schedule all right. This is USA’s (U-S-A! U-S-A!) first ever year of college football. Liberty is also a gimme. Though thanks to the two DI-AA games, NCSU will need 7 wins to be bowl eligible (with the 2 DI-AA games a given, that is), which they should end up with. If not, Tom O’Brien should be fired.
- Virginia (0.25, 1): William & Mary, @Indiana, Southern Miss, Idaho. UVA is, unfortunately, not traveling to the Kibbie Dome this year. I just like saying that. KIBBIE DOME. The other parts of this schedule are really boring.
- Virginia Tech (0, 1): Appalachian State, @East Carolina, Arkansas State, Marshall. Nothing like kicking off your darkhorse national title run with a signature win over… oh, wait. There aren’t any signature wins here. There aren’t any games to be excited about. And yet, VPI could well beat Appy State and ECU by a combined total of 8 points the way they tend to play down to these kind of teams sometimes. An embarrassing schedule for the only ranked ACC team.
That’s a wrap, finally. Up next, what remains of the Big 12. Stay tuned!