Early ACC schedule thoughts
February, 27, 2012
By ESPN.com staff | ESPN.com
A few quick thoughts on the 2012 ACC schedule that was released today:
- If Florida State is really going to make a run at the Atlantic Division title this year, we'll know by the end of September, as it has to face Wake Forest and Clemson in back-to-back weekends. The Thursday night game at Virginia Tech will be the toughest ACC game on the schedule, and it should be one of the best three games of the conference season.
- This is another challenging schedule for Wake Forest, which has to face UNC in Week 2, a road trip to FSU in Week 3, a Thursday night game against Clemson, and a road trip to Notre Dame. The Deacs surprised us last season, but they're going to have to be a better team this season to do it again with this schedule.
- When looking at it on paper, it looks like it's going to be tough for Boston College to get to a bowl game. Aside from Maine, not seeing any "givens" there.
- Clemson has the bye week heading into the Virginia Tech game, while the Hokies get no break. It's not an easy schedule, but the Tigers will have home field advantage for their toughest league games (with the exception of Florida State), and South Carolina.
- Don't overlook the road trip to Temple, Maryland. Remember last year? The Terps could go 1-3 in their nonconference schedule, though Randy Edsall might be a little bit more motivated against Connecticut.
- This is a very manageable nonconference schedule for Tom O'Brien and NC State (again). There's no reason the Pack's bowl hopes should come down to the wire like they did in 2011. Officially, though, NC State still needs seven wins to become bowl eligible, because it plays two FCS teams.
- Good luck, Virginia. Not only do the Hoos have to replace seven starters on defense, but they've got Penn State in Week 2, followed by back-to-back trips to Georgia Tech and TCU. That's a tough September.
- I'll say the same thing I said last year ... If Duke can go 3-1 in its nonconference schedule, it can go bowling. And you'd think Duke could beat FIU, NC Central and Memphis in Year 5 under David Cutcliffe.
- Three September ACC games -- all against Coastal Division opponents -- will tell us a lot about Georgia Tech early. The Jackets get a favorable cross-divisional schedule, though, with Maryland and BC.
- Yikes, Miami. Three road trips in four weeks to start the season? Including two league games and a trip to Kansas State? And an October date with Notre Dame in Chicago? That's like a scheduling bowl ban.
- Take advantage of this one, Larry Fedora. North Carolina has a relatively soft September, but a road trip to Louisville shouldn't be taken lightly. The Tar Heels have the Hokies, NC State and Georgia Tech at home. It could set up for a surprise season for Fedora.
- Virginia Tech's overall schedule strength is a bit of an upgrade from last year, and the Labor Day opener against Georgia Tech will be must-see TV. The road trip to Pitt will be a sneak peak at ACC expansion, but it will be the back-to-back Thursday night games against Miami and FSU that will determine whether or not the Hokies return to Charlotte.
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