CHARLOTTE NC - DECEMBER 04: EJ Manuel #3 of the Florida State Seminoles runs away from Jack Tyler #58 of the Virginia Tech Hokies during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 4 2010 in Charlotte North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The 2012 ACC football schedule has now joined us. Virginia Tech's the bull in the ring, Miami's running a gauntlet, and even Florida State fans approve.
We should probably talk about the ACC football schedule right now. After being delayed by almost two weeks thanks to West Virginia dropping its game against Florida State and Georgia Tech carving out space for a Labor Day game against Virginia Tech, it's a masterpiece quite a while in the making.
Actually, this year it looks like only one fan base is all that mad about anything, so it might be the peak of the genre. Virginia Tech gets a bunch of teams coming off byes, but that's about it. Time heals all wounds! Patience pays off! Let's have some categories!
Five Really Important Games
Clemson vs. Auburn, Sept. 1: The ACC lives in the shadow of its big brother football conference, but the Auburn-With-A-Lake Tigers aren't exactly to blame for that. This series has become one of the Southeast's recent best, with three memorable games in the past five years. There may also be sandwich envy. And we'll all hope something happens over the summer to liven up this game's N.C. State Vs. Tennessee counterpart just a little, like maybe the Wolfpack renting Lane Kiffin somehow.
Florida State at Virginia Tech, Nov. 8: The ACC Championship Game favorites, as they are every year no matter what happened the year before or during the summer! Thursday night football without Craig James! Thursday night football without Craig James? Say no more.
Virginia at TCU, Sept. 22: The two college football coaches who frighten me the most, Mike London and Gary Patterson, on the same field. If any TCU players still have any ideas about running criminal organizations on campus, it would be wise to not do so while London, a former vice cop, is on campus. Oh, and with the Hoos rising and the Frogs patching their depth chart back together, this could be an early-season upset watch.
Clemson at Florida State, Sept. 22: The battle for the ACC Atlantic, probably -- these teams have combined to win the Atlantic four of seven times and three in a row. The Techmo Bowl on Labor Day could also go here, as the winner of that matchup has won the Coastal every year since there's been a Coastal. The ACC's really nowhere as random as we'd like to believe.
Florida State at Florida, Nov. 24: All three of the ACC's Hate Week showdowns with SEC rivals matter (and you do too, Vandy-Wake Forest!), but FSU looks like the ACC rep most likely to be somewhere in or around the top 10 by the end of the year, based on ...
Strength Of Schedule
Average strength of schedule, according to final 2011 F/+ rankings and charted according to bloodiness. The lower, the bloodier:
North Carolina's bloodless schedule, with non-con games against Elon, Idaho, and East Carolina, merits no coloring whatsoever. Larry Fedora must wear a white fedora all year. Florida State could be this year's 2011 Virginia Tech -- the ACC school that's clearly good, but just tramples an easier schedule for most of the year. Their status is hurt by swapping out West Virginia for Savannah State, which was beyond FSU's control. Noles' fans are not unhappy about all of this.
N.C. State's sched is navigable, once they chop through the rough early waters.
The Canes, meanwhile, are awash in gore, getting top-40 foes Notre Dame, South Florida and K-State, in addition to FSU and Virginia Tech. Miami's just taken its coat off and started pointing at all the biggest people in the bar, so to speak, and fans of the U are well aware what they're in for. Duke and Maryland will not be surging to the top this year, and Virginia's rebirth will be put to the test.
Right in the middle is Georgia Tech, which gets Georgia and BYU but enjoys a nice home stand to start the season.
Things To Get Mad About
Frank Beamer will get to enjoy only the freshest-smelling opponents all year long:
Wow, Virginia Tech always gets CRUSHED by opponent's bye weeks. Clemson, Florida State (Thu) and Miami (Thu) all have off week before VT.— BC Interruption (@bcinterruption) February 27, 2012
But Logan Thomas ain't mad:
so your tellin me that there are 5 teams that are coming off of a bye before they play us? Cool Trick ACC but you know VT up for the task!!—Logan Thomas 3⃣ (@Lthomas_3) February 27, 2012
Clemson-FSU scheduling always seems to get one side or the other worked up:
I can already hear the whambulance. Clemson gets Furman the week before traveling to Tallahassee. FSU plays Wake the week before.— BC Interruption (@bcinterruption) February 27, 2012
Maryland's schedule is unfairly loaded:
Maryland tidbit: The Terps went 0-9 last fall against the teams on its 2012 schedule. Did not play Connecticut, William & Mary or UNC.— Patrick Stevens (@D1scourse) February 27, 2012
As is Boston College's:
The toughest stretch on the BC schedule is the entire 2012 BC schedule.
— A.J Black (@BCHysteria) February 27, 2012
But if even Florida State fans are happy, then everybody's happy:
100% RT "@ScalpEmOfficial: Can't really complain, good job ACC. :)"— TomahawkNation.com (@TomahawkNation) February 27, 2012