Duke and North Carolina are getting the prime-time treatment from ESPN … in football.
After the Blue Devils’ 10-win season and Coastal Division title in 2013, they will host the Tar Heels on Thursday, Nov. 20, at Wallace Wade Stadium in one of ESPN’s showcase games.
The national spotlight for the Devils and Heels, a regularity in basketball, is one of the highlights of the 2014 football schedule, which was announced Wednesday by the ACC.
The good, and bad, from the ACC schedules:
Serious upgrade for the champs
After playing Murray State, Savannah State, Bethune-Cookman and Nevada outside the ACC the past two years (in addition to the annual game with Florida), Florida State’s nonconference schedule will get a major upgrade. The 2013 national champions will open Aug. 30 with Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas, and will host Notre Dame, a partial ACC member, Oct. 18.
Given strength of schedule will be a major part of the criteria for the four-team playoff, this is a smart move by Florida State and the ACC.
The Seminoles, who likely will open the season ranked No. 1, will visit N.C. State on Sept. 27, their only game against a Triangle team this season.
The Fighting Irish, full ACC members in all other sports, will play four ACC games this season and five going forward. The Irish will get one game against the Triangle, an Oct. 11 visit from UNC.
Tough sledding for tar heels
Essentially, UNC – 7-6 this season – traded South Carolina for Notre Dame outside the league and Boston College for Clemson inside the league. The Heels also will have to go to East Carolina (Sept. 20) and Miami (Nov. 1) in what is the toughest schedule yet for third-year coach Larry Fedora.
The Terps are off to the Big Ten and Louisville, 12-1 this season, will take their place in the stacked Atlantic Division. The Cardinals, who have a new coach (Bobby Petrino) and will have to replace quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, will open at home with Miami on Labor Day (Sept. 1) on ESPN.
N.C. State has to go to Louisville on Oct. 18, neither Duke nor UNC will play the Cards this season.
Who are these guys?
The home schedule for N.C. State, coming off a 3-9 finish in coach Dave Doeren’s first season, lacks name-brand appeal. The Wolfpack will get Florida State in September, but it also will get Georgia Southern (Aug. 30), Old Dominion (Sept. 6) and Presbyterian (Sept. 20) outside the ACC. There’s no Duke, at least until the 2020s, and the UNC game will be on the road (Nov. 29).
Georgia Southern (Sun Belt) and Old Dominion (Conference USA) are making the transition from the Football Championship Subdivision. N.C. State’s other ACC home games will be Boston College, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest.
Hang 10 (again?)
The Blue Devils won 10 games for the first time in 2013. Their schedule is set up to win at least 10 more for what will be a veteran team for seventh-year coach David Cutcliffe.
Inside the ACC, the Blue Devils avoid Florida State, Clemson and Louisville (they will have Wake Forest and Syracuse). Outside the ACC, the Devils will get Elon, Troy, Kansas and Tulane.
Direct flight from Winston-Salem to Logan, Utah, please
First-year Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson will have to take his team to Louisiana-Monroe and Utah State. You’d be hard-pressed to find any team from a major conference that has ever played a Mountain West and Sun Belt team on the road during the same season.
Some of that is Vanderbilt and Notre Dame’s fault, but Wake Forest athletics director Ron Wellman isn’t exactly giving his new coach a chance to hit the ground running.
The Deacons also will have trips to Louisville and Florida State during the first six games.
Check out what AD Craig Littlepage did at Virginia. The Cavaliers, 2-10 in 2013, have by far the toughest schedule of any ACC team. They will open with UCLA, which will be a preseason top 10 team, trade Maryland for Louisville (This is what the ACC classifies as a “rivalry” game) and get Florida State (albeit instead of Clemson).
The Cavaliers’ road schedule will include trips to Brigham Young, Virginia Tech and Florida State. And all of this in what most people would consider a make-or-break season for fifth-year coach Mike London.
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