Jim Young offers his initial impressions of the ACC's 2014 football schedule.
The ACC released its 2014 football schedule today at 3 p.m. - well, except for Wake Forest, which jumped the gun for some reason.
Whatever the real reason, i'm just going to pretend it was Dave Clawson telling the ACC 'you're playing by my rules now!'— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) January 22, 2014
But we digress ...
I'm on the record as not being a big schedule guy, but I understand that many of you get into this sort of thing. So I'll indulge you with a few items to note.
Oh and before we start, I've talked before with the good folks at the ACC about the whole scheduling process. It's mind-numbingly complex and made even moreso by the demands of ESPN. So while I understand many fans will have complaints - and I'll have some too - I also understand that there is ZERO way to produce the perfect schedule.
On to the fine print ...
Notre Dame's Conferenceish slate. The Irish play at Syracuse (Sept. 20), then host UNC (Oct. 11), then travel to Florida State, and wrap up conferenceish - should we drop the e at the end? - play by hosting Louisville on Nov. 22.
Duke-North Carolina, Thursday night, Nov. 20. Well that's certainly intriguing. It's also a pretty good indication that both teams are expected to be worth watching next season. Thus the rivalry has more gridiron-generated heat than it's had in a long, long time.
Rivalry Weekend. Duke-UNC moving from its usual spot at the end of the season to the week before opens up the Tar Heels to end the season against N.C. State. The usual non-conference rivarly games will be held that weekend as well: FSU-Florida, Georgia Tech-Georgia, Clemson-South Carolina. What about Virginia-Virginia Tech? That one will be played on Friday. I like it. Oh and BC-Syracuse are also on the slate.
Howard Schnellenberger Bowl Part 2, Sept. 1. Louisville makes its ACC debut on Labor Day when it hosts Miami. Let's all hope this game's more competitive than the Russell Athletic Bowl was. The Cardinals won that one, 36-9. Oh, and Bobby Petrino will be on the sidelines for Louisville. Storylines abound!
FSU-Oklahoma State, Aug. 30. In Arlington, Texas! For those who always wondered what it would be like if the Noles had jumped to the Big 12, well, here you go. I'm not sure how good the Cowboys are supposed to be next season. For what it's worth, they're not in Mark Schlabach's waaaay early preseason Top 25.
FSU-Clemson, Sept. 20. This bummed out a lot of people who wanted to see the matchup of the league's two premier programs pushed back later in the season, to build the drama. Here's a perfect analogy.
This is like killing the main character 30 minutes into your movie RT @IWCorriher: FSU/Clemson is in September again? Why??— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) January 22, 2014
FSU's Byes. Another Seminole schedule note? Well, they did win the national title last season, so maybe they deserve some extra attention. FSU gets byes at just the right time this season. Right before it faces Clemson in the aforementioned game, and then before a Thursday night game at Louisville.
Duke's Crossover Opponents. Yep, it's time we start giving the Blue Devils' schedule a closer look than we have in previous seasons. I'd say Duke's earned that, wouldn't you? Anyway, the Blue Devils avoid FSU, Clemson and Louisville in the crossover portion of the schedule, getting Syracuse and Wake Forest instead. That's nice for Duke. Doubly nice because of what UNC - another Coastal contender next season - got handed ...
UNC's Midseason Gauntlet. But, but, I thought Swoff always looked out for his old school? Not in football scheduling, apparently. The Tar Heels have to play at Clemson on Sept. 27. Then they follow that up with a critical home game against Virginia Tech the next week. That's followed by a trip to Notre Dame on Oct. 11 and then another key Coastal matchup - against Georgia Tech - on Oct. 18. Ooof.
Hokie Thursday. Virginia Tech gets back-to-back Thursday night games on its schedule. First up is a trip to Pitt on Oct. 16. Then Virginia Tech hosts Miami on Oct. 23. Lane Stadium and Thursday night just seem to go well together.
N.C. State Eases Into The Season. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing the Wolfpack. To me, this exactly the way State should start this season. The Wolfpack hosts Georgia Southern (somewhere a Florida fan grimaces) then Old Dominion (also trickier than you might think), then at South Florida (the Bulls went 2-10 in 2013) then a home game against Presbyterian. No, it might not set the fans' imagination on fire, but it just might give the Wolfpack a 4-0 start and some much needed confidence heading into the conference slate. By the way, that starts with a home game against FSU and then a road game against Clemson.