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Rough Stretches in ACC Schedules

To be honest, it usually isn't very hard to analyze the various ACC football schedules. You see which Atlantic teams don't get the good fortune of playing Duke, make a note of who's not playing the prohibitive conference champions, and voila, instant analysis. Except after last season's eleven weeks of mediocrity, there are no prohibitive favorites, and any team can be tough or fail to show up on any given week. That being said, there's a couple of tough stretches for certain teams worth taking note of:

Georgia Tech's long September: The Yellow Jackets start their ACC schedule in a pretty rough way, with a Thursday night game on five days of rest against a Clemson team with a lot of talent and a new coach that's tougher to scout. It's a trap game, not too different from Georgia Tech's own opener against Boston College last year. And if they get past the Tigers, this is what they're looking at in the following weeks: at Miami (a second straight Thursday night game), UNC, a breather at Mississippi State, and then back to back games against the teams currently predicted to win their respective divisions - Florida State and Virginia Tech. Getting through that stretch with only two losses would be great for Tech, and anything better would put them in the driver's seat for the Coastal spot in Tampa. 

Wake Forest's ACC Tour: Wake gets almost all their ACC games in two lumps. The first starts in the last week of September, when they get almost the entire Atlantic Division - Boston College, N.C. State, Maryland and Clemson in four consecutive weeks. Two many missteps and they'll be out of the running before mid-October; if they're still contending following a a road game at Navy, they'll get the second wave of Miami, Georgia Tech, and Florida State. Only then do they get their off-week, in the pentultimate week of the season, where they can use the rest to prepare for... Duke. Boffo strategic scheduling there.

UNC's Thoroughly Rested Opponents: Carolina has really nothing to complain about regarding their schedule - putting two D1-AA teams on the list pretty much puts that out of the question. There is one interesting thing, though. UNC does get three opponents fresh off of bye weeks. First is Virginia on October 3rd, then Florida State and Virginia Tech on back-to-back Thursday nights at the end of the month. Happily, the Heels also have a bye week before FSU, and Georgia Southern the week before, significantly ratcheting down the October pressure. And Virginia Tech is followed by ten days until Duke, giving everybody time to hit Franklin Street for Halloween.

As for the easier slates teams will be facing, N.C. State's come to mind. They don't get a conference opponent until Wake on October 3rd, after which they have Duke and a weaker Boston College. That's followed by a bye before the meat of their schedule. The Wolfpack could very well be undefeated and ranked going into Halloween, generating a great deal of hype almost certainly designed to annoy me. I can't wait.