The ACC has been the latest conference to announce a schedule change that eliminates divisions. The change is moving to a three primary opponent approach where teams will play the other 10 teams over the course of two years. In this format, teams will see every opponent in a two-year stretch but will have a game home against each every for years at worst.
The new schedule might end the chaos in the Coastal division. The schedule gives every team an option to compete for the championship regardless of record. This is a welcome change and one that every conference is on its way to adopting over time.
Loser: Georgia Tech
I’m starting to feel bad for the Yellowjackets on multiple fronts. Geoff Collins hasn’t been as advertised and a rash of transfers hurts the offense again this season. With the schedule change, Georgia Tech now has 3 yearly games against Clemson, Wake Forest, and Louisville. Clemson is the best team in the ACC year-over-year and has been under Dabo Swinney. Wake Forest has been one of the country’s best offenses with Dave Clawson at the helm. And finally, Louisville has been on a recruiting heater in the last few months, signing five-star running back Reuben Owens this week.
The Yellowjackets have gone 9-26 under head coach Geoff Collins and while they will rotate between the rest of the ACC under the format, it’s hard to see any wins against their primary opponents. Of all teams, Georgia Tech is the biggest loser on the field. Off the field, they’re probably not too broken up as Clemson is a huge draw monetarily and the matchup against Louisville in upcoming years could yield monetary value as well. Georgia Tech also plays UGA every season…tough times continue for the Ramblin’ Wreck.
Loser: Virginia Tech
Brent Pry gets no favors as a first-year head coach for the Hokies. Their primary opponents include rival Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Wake Forest. Virginia is, of course, a natural rival and a game that has been on the schedule indefinitely. Virginia looks to take a step back this year, but the game isn’t an additional opportunity for the Hokies. With Virginia, both teams should play close games over the next few seasons so the on-field impact here is negligent. Their current (now previous) permanent rival of Miami is no longer but would Virginia Tech take them over their two new ones?
The other two primary opponents tell different stories. Getting Pat Narduzzi’s Panthers is a tough draw. Not only has Narduzzi outperformed expectations but it’s not a big draw for ticket sales. Additionally, and in the same bucket is Wake Forest. Like Georgia Tech, the Hokies get a tough draw on the field without the same monetary payout as other matchups. Narduzzi has gone 53-37 as the head coach and comes off an 11-2 season with momentum moving forward after finishing 13th in the AP Poll.
Pitt fans should be excited about the new alignment. Previously, the Panthers had annual matchups with Miami and/or North Carolina. Two of the premier programs in the division. Moving forward, Pitt gets Virginia Tech, Syracuse, and Boston College. It’s one of the better schedules in terms of the ability to win their primary matchups.
The big question for Pittsburgh will be their ability to return to an ACC championship. With the new format, Pitt enters a more wide-open field than what they faced in the ACC Coastal. Previously the Panthers had Duke, Georgia Tech, and the two Virginia schools in their division. In 2023 and beyond, it will be a new challenge as they’ll play all ten teams over the course of two years.
Winner: Wake Forest
Featured on two of the ‘loser’ profiles, it’s only natural that Dave Clawson’s team makes the winner list. The ACC’s new no-division schedule gives the Demon Deacons’ the best two matchups in the conference. Having Georgia Tech and Duke as two primary opponents each year is almost guaranteeing two wins. These are clearly the two weakest teams in the ACC moving forward.
I love this schedule for Wake Forest when projecting their schedule moving forward but it’s not a sexy draw. As a private university, Wake is less concerned with its primary opponents than most but it’s an important note nonetheless.