GREENSBORO, N.C.– The 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference football schedule released Monday by Commissioner John Swofford is a slate which is the largest in league history, incorporating new league members Pittsburgh and Syracuse into the 14-team ACC, and it may also be one of the most ambitious in the league’s 61-year history.
Ambitious because conference members are playing 11 games against non-conference opponents that finished the 2012 football season ranked in the nation’s Top 25, nine games with non-conference teams ranked in the final AP Top Ten, including contests against each of the top four teams in the USA Today’s final poll. Nine games are against teams projected by ESPN in its Early Top 10 for the 2013 season.
“The 2013 ACC Football schedule showcases some tremendous matchups this year as our league is arguably playing the toughest nonconference schedule in the country,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “This is an exciting year as we look forward to welcoming Pitt and Syracuse into the ACC. Both teams are opening league play at home, with Florida State at Pitt on Labor Day Monday Night and in its first ACC game, Clemson at Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.”
No other BCS Automatic Qualifier conferences will play more than eight non-conference games against 2012 Top 25 foes and no more than four games against 2012 Top 10 non-conference opponents.
When Florida State (8th) and Clemson (9th), each ranked in the final USA Today Top 10, are included in the schedule, ACC teams will face eight of the final Top 10 teams in the Coaches poll.
The Conference will again enjoy national exposure on Labor Day Monday, as Pitt, in its first ACC football game, hosts defending ACC champion Florida State at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa., in a nationally-televised prime-time contest on ESPN. The game, which will have an 8 pm (ET) kickoff, will nationally showcase a pair of opponents who have not met on the gridiron in 30 years. The Seminoles last ventured to Pittsburgh in 1983. The game will mark the sixth time the Seminoles have appeared on the ACC’s Labor Day Monday Night contest.
In all, the schedule is comprised of 113 games and incorporates new conference members Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Syracuse will compete in the Atlantic Division and will play its first official ACC game against Clemson at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse on Oct. 5. Pitt will compete in the ACC’s Coastal Division. All ACC teams will face eight conference opponents.
The schedule includes 56 regular-season conference match-ups over a span of 14 weeks and is capped off with the Ninth Annual Dr Pepper Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game, which returns to Charlotte, N.C. this year and will be played on Saturday, Dec. 7 in Bank of America Stadium.
ACC teams will face 56 games against 48 nonconference opponents which had a combined winning percentage of .558 in 2012–by far the highest of any of the BCS AQ Conferences–including 43 games against FBS opponents who won .566 percent of their games last fall, also the highest.
From the final 2012 USA Today poll, ACC teams will face national champion Alabama (Virginia Tech), No. 2-ranked Oregon (Virginia), No. 3-ranked Notre Dame (Pitt) and No. 4-ranked Georgia (Georgia Tech, Clemson), as well as No. 7 South Carolina (North Carolina, Clemson) and No. 10 Florida (Miami, Florida State).
Twenty-three of the league’s 56 nonconference games (41 percent) are against 17 teams that earned bowl berths in 2012, again the most of any AQ league.
Including games against the eight ACC teams which earned bowl bids in 2012, no ACC team plays fewer than five opponents who went to bowl games last fall, with Virginia facing the most with eight followed by Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pitt and Wake Forest with seven each.
Adding in North Carolina (8-4) and Miami (7-5), no ACC school will play fewer than six teams with six or more wins, including Virginia which will face a league-high 10 opponents followed by Georgia Tech and Pitt, which will each face nine foes who had six or more wins in 2012.
ACC teams will also play nine non-conference games against six teams selected by ESPN.com in its early preseason Top 25 including matches with projected top-ranked Alabama (Virginia Tech), fifth-ranked Oregon (Virginia), sixth-ranked Georgia (Clemson and Georgia Tech), seventh-ranked Florida (Miami and Florida State), ninth-ranked Notre Dame (Pitt) and 10th-ranked South Carolina (North Carolina and Clemson).
ACC schools will play a total of 11 non-conference games against teams tabbed by ESPN.com in the early preseason Top 25 as Syracuse will also face Northwestern (projected to be 24th) and Wake Forest will play at Vanderbilt (projected to be 25th). Clemson is ranked 11th and Florida State 16th in the most recent ESPN Preseason Top 25.
Nonconference opponents who earned bowl bids this past season include Alabama, Ball State, BYU (2 games with the ACC), Central Michigan, East Carolina (3 games), Florida (2 games), Georgia (2 games), Louisiana Monroe, Navy (2 games), Nevada, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oregon, Southern California, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and West Virginia.
In all, the ACC will play five games nationally-televised by ESPN on Thursday night beginning with North Carolina travelling to South Carolina (Aug. 29) for the first Thursday night game of the year on ESPN. NC State then hosts Clemson on Thursday night (Sept. 19) followed by Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (Sept. 26); Miami at North Carolina (Oct. 17) and Georgia Tech at Clemson (Nov. 14).
The league will also play two games nationally-televised Friday games, with Boston College hosting and Wake Forest on Sept. 6, a game which will have an 8 p.m. kickoff and will be televised by ESPN or ESPN2; and Pittsburgh hosting Miami on Thanksgiving Friday, Nov. 29, in a game which will be televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, with the game time to be determined at a later date. The ACC Digital Network, the official home of ACC Video and Highlights, will feature a special edition of #ACCLIVE at 3:00 pm EST today. The ACC Live 2013 Football Schedule Release Show will include comments from ACC Commissioner John Swofford, as well as reactions from analyst Riley Skinner surrounding key matchups and the additions of Syracuse and Pitt to league’s schedule. Tune in at: http://theacc.co/ACCLive.