Rating the 2014 Non-Conference Slate: ACC

First and sporting some pretty beefy schedules, at least the top end, is the ACC.

  1. Florida State (3 legit, 1 FCS): N-Oklahoma State, Citadel, Notre Dame, Florida. This is a pretty strong contender for one of the best schedules in the country. Yes, the meet with the Gators is a rivalry game, but nonetheless there’s two class opponents in Oklahoma State and Notre Dame.
  2. Clemson (2, 1): @Georgia, South Carolina State, Georgia State, South Carolina. Clemson visits Athens for the second part of their series. The 38-35 win last year set the tone for the Tigers’ season, riding a 6 game winning streak until getting dismantled by FSU.
  3. Miami (1.25, 1): Florida Agricultural and Mechanical, Arkansas State, @Nebraska, Cincinnati. Miami-Nebraska is the best kind of non-conference game, the intersectional meeting between two teams who don’t play each other often. Their last meeting the 2002 Rose Bowl, which the ‘Canes won easily. As national powers in the 80’s and 90’s, they met in four different Orange Bowls, with Miami winning three. The last regular season meeting was in 1976. As for the rest of the schedule, it’s pretty standard, though there is that throw-in with former Big East foe Cincinnati.
  4. Virginia Tech (1, 1): William & Mary, @Ohio State, East Carolina, Western Michigan. VPI finds itself playing a potential national title contender again, but I’ll give them kudos for scheduling those kinds of games at least.
  5. North Carolina (1, 1): Liberty, San Diego State, @East Carolina, @Notre Dame. I saved it for this one, but East Carolina is a bit of a trendy pick to be a really good non-power conference team this season, and definitely the sort of team that could make this year’s UNC team like every other year’s UNC team: overrated. There’s also a game at South Bend for good measure.
  6. Boston College (1, 1): @Massachusetts, Southern California, Maine, Colorado State. BC will play UMass in a huge NFL stadium and then play Southern Cal in their much cozier home. (UMass, for their part, will be re-opening their on-campus stadium a few weeks later.)
  7. Virginia (1, 1): California-Los Angeles, Richmond, @Brigham Young, Kent State. Somehow I doubt Virginia will have the same luck against BYU this year as they did last year. Then again, they may need luck just to get past Richmond and Kent State.
  8. Syracuse (1, 1): Villanova, @Central Michigan, Maryland, N-Notre Dame. The ‘Cuse already managed to get former ACC member Maryland on the schedule, which is somewhat impressive. The neutral site for the Notre Dame game is MetLife Stadium. I’m going to guess there’ll be a lot of blue and gold in the stands that day.
  9. Louisville (1, 1): Murray State, @Florida International, @Notre Dame, Kentucky. I know that Notre Dame has a “scheduling agreement” with the ACC now, but geez. This schedule also goes near the bottom for a “wtf?” road game at FIU and the fact that I tend to discount yearly rivalry games a bit.
  10. Georgia Tech (1, 1.5): Wofford, @Tulane, Georgia Southern, @Georgia. Our road game at Tulane, meanwhile, is to open up the return of football at Tulane for the first time since 1975. Other than that, there’s not much else to recommend this schedule. The half-FCS point is for Georgia Southern, which is a transitional team this year.
  11. Pittsburgh (0.5, 1): Delaware, @Florida International, Iowa, Akron. FIU managed to score eight home games this year, which is really good for a team like them. That’s probably one way to line up your 2-for-1 and 3-for-1 deals, but if I were a mid-major AD I’d probably shoot for spreading the wealth a little bit, you know?
  12. Duke (0, 1): Elon, @Troy, Kansas, Tulane. Speaking of called in return games, Duke will venture to Troy. We’ll quickly get an idea if the Blue Devils are working their magic again this year, it seems.
  13. Wake Forest (0, 1): @Louisiana-Monroe, Gardner-Webb, @Utah State, Army. Okay, what the heck? Is the ACC going on on a barnstorming tour this year?
  14. North Carolina State (0, 2): Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, @South Florida, Presbyterian. This might be one of the worst schedules in the country, with two transitional teams, an additional full FCS team for good measure, oh yeah, and then a road game.

So pretty good at the top, but pretty atrocious at the bottom. What do the other conferences have in store for us? Tune in next time for the Big Ten.