Schedule unveilings always send fans, media and ops directors scrambling to book hotels and flights for the upcoming season – keyboard jockeys are addicted to Marriott points – but otherwise, since opponents have long been known, Wednesday’s release of the 2014 ACC football calendar created few waves for the local contingents.
Yes, playing the annual Virginia Tech-Virginia finale on Thanksgiving Friday instead of Saturday is unusual – this last was done in 1996 – and may inconvenience habitual Black Friday shoppers. But as an occasional change-up, why not? There’s certainly less television competition Friday.
Given Virginia’s prospects – the Cavaliers were 2-10 last season and face a frightening schedule in 2014 – it’s fair to wonder why the ACC and its broadcast partners moved the game. The hunch here is that the conference and ESPN preferred the Miami-Pittsburgh matchup they staged last Black Friday, but that complications arose.
Following the outcry over Tech’s lack of a home Thursday night game last season -– then-athletic director Jim Weaver requested the one-year hiatus – Hokies faithful were glad to see the Oct. 23 date versus Coastal Division rival Miami. The opponent and day make it Tech’s most attractive home game.
Schedule makers did Virginia no favors with its ACC opener, Sept. 13 at home versus league newcomer Louisville. The Cardinals were 12-1 last season and are the third leg of a salty four-game opening stretch that starts with UCLA, followed by Richmond, with Brigham Young on the road to close.
The UCLA and BYU non-conference contests are among 24 ACC teams will play against opponents that reached bowls in 2013. Again, the only news Wednesday was the sequencing of games, but seeing the entire season mapped out provided reason for greater inspection.
* Virginia Tech’s Sept. 6 game at Ohio State figures to be the ACC’s most challenging non-conference test. The Buckeyes were 12-2 last season, return quarterback Braxton Miller and are 15-0 at home under coach Urban Meyer. Florida State’s opener against Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas is a close second.
* North Carolina and Miami are the lone ACC teams that play three 2013 bowl squads in non-conference. The Tar Heels face San Diego State, Notre Dame and East Carolina; the Hurricanes encounter Arkansas State, Nebraska and Cincinnati.
* Miami and Virginia each play 10 bowl teams from last year. The Cavaliers’ lone Bowl Subdivision opponent that didn’t reach postseason in 2013 is Kent State. The Hurricanes’ exception is Virginia.
* Miami’s two games against the Atlantic Division, Louisville and defending national champion Florida State, seriously impede its chances of winning the Coastal Division for the first time. Conversely, reigning Coastal champ Duke faces Wake Forest and Syracuse, while perennial contender Virginia Tech gets Wake Forest and Boston College.
* North Carolina is the only team whose four non-conference opponents all had winning records in 2013. The Tar Heels’ other non-league game is against Liberty.
* That said, Florida State’s outside schedule – Oklahoma State, The Citadel, Notre Dame and Florida – rates as the ACC’s boldest.
* The tamest (feel free to use another word that rhymes) non-conference schedules belong to Duke and North Carolina State. The Blue Devils play Troy (6-6 last season), Kansas (3-9), Elon (2-10) and Tulane (7-6), the former on the road. The Wolfpack faces Georgia Southern (7-4), Old Dominion (8-4), Presbyterian (3-8) and South Florida (2-10), the latter on the road.
* The ACC game o’ the year could well be the Oct. 30 Thursday nighter pitting Louisville and visiting Florida State. Both have earlier hurdles, to be sure, but it would not surprise if the Cardinals were 8-0, the Seminoles 7-0.
National signing day is less than two weeks away, and spring practice isn’t far behind. The season will be here before we know it.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns.