Future ACC Football vs. Power 5 Conference Games We'd Love to See
Following the SEC's lead, the ACC schools voted this week to stay with an eight-game conference schedule. And just like the SEC, the ACC is adopting an eight plus one format where each conference member is mandated to play at least one team from the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC every season, beginning in 2017.
As is the case with the SEC (hear an echo?), the ACC wants other power conferences to do its dirty work while maintaining the ability to schedule non-power or FCS patsies to pat its member teams' records. We had a solution for that—the other conferences should boycott the SEC...as well as the ACC.
That said, we decided to help out the ACC, just as our colleague Barrett Sallee has done with the SEC, by mapping out an ideal annual interconference game for each school. While there are already permanent rivalries for four ACC teams, the other 10 teams can use some advice.
So in alphabetical order, these are contracts we'd love to see drawn up.
The Permanent Rivalries
Four ACC schools are already playing annual interconference but intrastate rivalry games, all against SEC teams, with three scheduled as the last game of the regular season. And if they like their rivalries, they should keep them.
Florida State (vs. Florida), Clemson (vs. South Carolina), Georgia Tech (vs. Georgia) and newcomer Louisville (vs. Kentucky) will have no reason to make any changes to their existing rivalries, with the former three ranked among the best in college football and the latter admittedly bigger in basketball.
While Clemson holds a 65-42-4 lead, the other ACC schools are playing catch-up, with Florida State (22-34-2), Georgia Tech (39-64-5) and Louisville (12-14) all trailing their SEC rivals in the all-time series.
Boston College vs. Notre Dame
While Notre Dame will be playing five ACC opponents every season beginning in 2014, the one team that the Irish should have to face annually is Boston College.
The two biggest Catholic football powers already have a rivalry going in what's known as the Holy War (popularized by Condoleezza Rice, no less). Until the Irish won the last four games to take a 13-9 lead, the two schools were tied in the series, with Boston College wining six straight and scoring the most memorable upset in the series.
Who can forget Tom Coughlin's Eagles taking down Lou Holtz's No. 1 Irish in the 1993 game that cost Notre Dame perhaps its last best chance to win the national title? After a one-year hiatus, these schools will meet in the 2014 and 2015 seasons, but they should just keep playing every year no matter what.
Duke vs. Nothwestern
This is an ideal matchup that already has a bit of history, with the all-time series tied at 8-8. These highly regarded academic powerhouses are two private universities that play in predominantly public-school conferences, so they should meet as like-minded programs every year.
In fact, that's already in the works. After an eight-year break, the schools will resume the series from 2015-18. They should just keep it going beyond that.
Miami vs. UCLA
Call it the "Bus Bowl," as these are the only two power conference schools that play in stadiums more than three miles away from their campuses. In fact, that's a major reason why both programs have had attendance issues throughout the years.
The Rose Bowl in Pasadena is a 17-mile drive from the UCLA campus, as is Sun Life Stadium from the Miami campus. But if these teams meet annually, they will have no trouble selling tickets at either stadium.
The programs met only three times but produced two memorable games. In the 1985 Fiesta Bowl, UCLA kicker John Lee kicked a 23-yard field goal in the final minute to give the Bruins a 39-37 victory over the defending champion. But Miami got its payback in 1998, when Edgerrin James rushed for 299 yards in a 49-45 upset that denied UCLA a berth in the inaugural BCS Championship Game.
North Carolina vs. Kansas
Call this the "Dean Smith Bowl," as these two storied basketball programs are inescapably connected by the Hall of Fame coach, who won a national title as a player at Kansas and then went on to a legendary coaching career at North Carolina.
While these schools have met six times in the NCAA tournament, including four times in the Final Four, they've met just twice on the football field—in 1984 and 1986, with UNC winning both games.
Admittedly this would be a much better series in basketball, but they should hook up in football in tandem to start a new rivalry. Though both schools aren't known for their football prowess, they did give us Lawrence Taylor (UNC) and Gale Sayers (KU).
North Carolina State vs. Mississippi State
OK, this one is maybe a bit of a stretch. But since NC State plays arguably one of the worst nonconference schedules in FBS, almost anything is an upgrade.
In 2014, the Wolfpack have the non-ACC gauntlet of two schools that just moved up to FBS last year (Georgia Southern and Old Dominion), one FCS school (Presbyterian) and their only road game at South Florida. It's not all that better in 2015, with Old Dominion back and Sun Belt powers Troy and South Alabama on the slate.
So why Mississippi State? Well, they're both one of the older land-grant universities in the South. They've faced off five times but just once since 1963, when the Wolfpack won the Peach Bowl after the 1994 season to take a 3-2 series lead.
Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia
The Backyard Brawl was one of the best rivalries in college football but became a casualty of conference alignment. When West Virginia bolted for the Big 12 in 2012, the rivalry that had spanned 104 games (with Pitt leading 61-40-3) abruptly ended.
Instead of playing the likes of Akron, Delaware, Villanova and FIU, Pitt should bring back the Mountaineers and resume the brawl. And this will be on Pitt, since WVU has resumed some of its old rivalries, including both Virginia Tech and Penn State, in future home-and-home series. And with a nine-game conference schedule, WVU has less room to maneuver.
Reviving the series will be good for both schools, which are just 75 miles apart and often compete for the same recruits. And the Panthers shouldn't forget that one of their most memorable recent games was the 2009 upset that knocked the Mountaineers out of the BCS title game.
Syracuse vs. Penn State
We really meant to put Georgetown here, but since the Hoyas do not field an FBS football team, Penn State is an outstanding consolation prize.
Both Syracuse and Penn State used to be Eastern independent powers until conference alignment swept them in different directions. They had met annually uninterrupted since the end of World War II until Penn State left for the Big Ten in 1991.
The Orange and Nittany Lions have signed a two-year home-and-home for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but that's just too much time to wait. They need to get together sooner to resume a series that Penn State leads, 43-23-5.
Virginia vs. Maryland
This regional rivalry is another casualty of conference realignment. The two schools had played annually since 1957 (with Maryland holding a 44-32-2 lead), but that series concluded last season with Maryland's impending exit for the Big Ten.
There is no immediate plan to resume this season. In fact, Maryland is completely leaving the ACC behind with only a pair of games against Syracuse on its schedule for the next eight seasons. With the Big Ten's move to play nine conference games beginning in 2016, it might be a long while before these two schools see each other on a football field again.
Virginia Tech vs. Texas A&M
Did you know Virginia Tech started life as Virginia A&M before becoming Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University?
Then it would only make sense for VPI to play the other major agricultural school that's also a football power. Besides, they also have this in common: Virginia Tech and Texas A&M are now the pre-eminent football programs in their respective states, much to the chagrin of their more venerable brethren.
The contrasts on the field also make this a compelling game: defense-minded Hokies vs. high-powered Aggies offense. At least that's the trend now, as the teams have not played since 2003 after splitting four games in the all-time series. They did sign up to play each other in 2021-22, but why wait that long?
Wake Forest vs. Vanderbilt
This competitive series, matching up two private universities in neighboring states, should be continued as it serves to benefit both schools. Vandy leads the series 14-10 after winning the last three games from 2011-13, but there are no plans as of now to continue the matchup.
With the respective decisions by the SEC and ACC to adopt the eight plus one model, perhaps this will nudge both schools into resuming the series, and this time make it permanent.
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