ACC Football 2013 Schedule Analysis

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Athlon analyzes the schedules for the ACC in 2013.

<p> ACC Football 2013 Schedule Analysis</p>

With the release of the 2013 ACC schedules, the countdown for the upcoming college football season has officially started. The ACC has expanded by two teams since last season, as Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the conference from the Big East. And the conference will undergo another change next year, with Louisville replacing Maryland (leaving for the Big Ten) in 2014.

The ACC is currently only the second BCS league to play with more than 12 teams and as conferences expand, it certainly creates some quirks in the scheduling. No team from the Coastal Division will play both Florida State and Clemson in 2013, while NC State catches a huge break in crossover play, missing Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Miami. The Wolfpack also only have to leave the state of North Carolina twice in 2013. 

Athlon has combed through the ACC schedule to point out the most interesting tidbits and notes of information to know before making your 2013 predictions and travel plans. 

ACC Football Schedule Analysis for 2013

Atlantic Division Analysis

Boston College

Aug. 31 Villanova
Sept. 6 Wake Forest (Friday)
Sept. 14 at USC
Sept. 21 Bye Week
Sept. 28 Florida State
Oct. 5 Army
Oct. 12 at Clemson
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at North Carolina
Nov. 2 Virginia Tech
Nov. 9 at New Mexico State
Nov. 16 NC State
Nov. 23 Maryland
Nov. 30 at Syracuse

* Thanks to some late movement on the schedule, Boston College will meet Villanova for the first time since 1980. The Eagles own a 29-15-1 series edge over the FCS Wildcats.

* If the Eagles want to make a bowl game, beating Wake Forest on Friday, Sept. 6 is a must. Both teams will likely be fighting just to get to six wins, and this game could be just enough for one team to reach that mark. The Eagles have lost their last two meetings to the Demon Deacons.

* Boston College travels to Los Angeles to play USC on the road for the first time since 1987. The Eagles last played the Trojans in the 2009 Emerald Bowl and have lost all three previous matchups to USC. Needless to say, this is a difficult road trip for new coach Steve Addazio’s team.

* After winning five straight games over Army, the Black Knights shocked Boston College 34-31 last season. As mentioned previously, getting to a bowl game will be no easy task in 2013. Consider Army a must-win game for the Eagles in 2013.

* Boston College has one of the most bizarre road trips in all of college football next season. The Eagles travel to New Mexico State on Nov. 9. Really? Shouldn’t Boston College play the Aggies in Chestnut Hill? This is the first meeting between these two schools.

* The Eagles drew one of the toughest crossover schedules in the ACC. Boston College travels to North Carolina on Oct. 26 and hosts Virginia Tech on Nov. 2.

* With Boston College and Syracuse back in the same conference, these two teams will restart their annual rivalry game. The Eagles and Orange played every year from 1971-2004 but stopped once Boston College left for the ACC. These two programs met in 2010, with the Eagles winning 16-7 in Syracuse.


Clemson

Aug. 31 Georgia
Sept. 7 South Carolina State
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 19 at NC State (Thursday)
Sept. 28 Wake Forest
Oct. 5 at Syracuse
Oct. 12 Boston College
Oct. 19 Florida State
Oct. 26 at Maryland
Nov. 2 at Virginia
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 14 Georgia Tech (Thursday)
Nov. 23 The Citadel
Nov. 30 at South Carolina

* Clemson opens 2013 with an opportunity to make a huge statement. The Tigers take on Georgia, which is a chance to pickup a victory against a top-10 team, and it's also a win that could help propel Clemson into the national title discussion. These two schools are separated by less than 100 miles but have not played since 2003. The Tigers have lost five straight to the Bulldogs and trail 41-17-4 in the overall series.

* Considering the magnitude of the Week 1 matchup, it’s a good idea Clemson scheduled South Carolina State in Week 2 and has a bye in Week 3. This will allow the Tigers plenty of time to put the game with Georgia in the rearview mirror before ACC play starts.

* The Tigers open ACC play with a game at NC State on Sept. 19. This will be the second consecutive season Clemson has a matchup on Thursday night. The Wolfpack lost a handful of key players from last year, including quarterback Mike Glennon and two All-ACC selections in the secondary. NC State won the last matchup against Clemson in Raleigh in 2011 but has lost eight out of the last nine in the series.

* Clemson takes on Syracuse on Oct. 5, which is the first meeting between these two schools as ACC opponents. The Tigers and Orange have met one time, with Syracuse winning 41-0 in the 1996 Gator Bowl.

* ACC Atlantic title? Florida State and Clemson will meet on Oct. 19 in Death Valley, which will likely decide the ACC Atlantic title. The Tigers have defeated the Seminoles five consecutive times at home but trail 18-8 in the overall series. The midseason matchup is better news for Florida State, especially with a handful of new starters breaking into the lineup on defense.

* The Nov. 9 bye week comes at a perfect time for Clemson. The Tigers have back-to-back road dates against Maryland and Virginia, before playing Georgia Tech on Nov. 14. Having an off date to prepare for the Yellow Jackets is crucial, while the bye also allows Clemson a late-season chance to get healthy.

* If Clemson starts 11-0, in-state rival South Carolina will be all that stands in the way from an unbeaten regular season. The Tigers have lost the last four matchups in the series with the Gamecocks and has not won in Columbia since 2007. Clemson is a legitimate national title contender but beating South Carolina could be a major roadblock in 2013.
 

Florida State

Sept. 2 at Pittsburgh (Monday)
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 Nevada
Sept. 21 Bethune-Cookman
Sept. 28 at Boston College
Oct. 5 Maryland
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 at Clemson
Oct. 26 NC State
Nov. 2 Miami
Nov. 9 at Wake Forest
Nov. 16 Syracuse
Nov. 23 Idaho
Nov. 30 at Florida

* Florida State will open ACC play with a Labor Day matchup at Pittsburgh. This will be the first meeting between these two teams as conference members and only the ninth overall matchup. The Panthers have a 5-3 series edge over the Seminoles, with the last game between these two programs coming on Oct. 8, 1983. Florida State’s last game on Labor Day was on Sept. 7, 2009, when it lost 38-34 to Miami.

* In order to play Pittsburgh in the season opener, Florida State was forced to shuffle its schedule. The Seminoles replaced Wofford with Bethune-Cookman, which went 9-3 in 2012.

* Florida State’s Sept. 14 meeting with Nevada will be the first matchup between these two programs. The Wolf Pack has been one of the most successful WAC/Mountain West teams in recent years, but legendary coach Chris Ault stepped down at the end of the year, and running back Stefphon Jefferson departed early to the NFL.

* ACC Atlantic on the line? Florida State and Clemson finished tied atop the division with a 7-1 record last season and another tight battle should be expected once again in 2013. The Seminoles knocked off the Tigers in Tallahassee last season but has not won in Death Valley since 2001. And we can’t forget about the bye week. Florida State catches a huge break in scheduling, as it has a bye just before playing its biggest conference game of 2013.

* Can Florida State continue its in-state dominance over Miami? The Seminoles have won four out of the last five matchups, including four in a row in Miami.

* The Seminoles catch a break in crossover scheduling, as they miss North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech from the Coastal Division.

* Taking a page from the SEC? With a key matchup against in-state rival Florida on Nov. 30, the Seminoles smartly scheduled Idaho for Nov. 23. The game against the Vandals is a guaranteed win and allows Florida State to rest some of its key players for the huge game against the Gators the following Saturday. 
 

Maryland

Aug. 31 FIU
Sept. 7 Old Dominion
Sept. 14 at Connecticut
Sept. 21 West Virginia (Baltimore)
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 at Florida State
Oct. 12 Virginia
Oct. 19 at Wake Forest
Oct. 26 Clemson
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 Syracuse
Nov. 16 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 23 Boston College
Nov. 30 at NC State

* In order for Maryland to get bowl eligible, it needs to sweep all four games in its non-conference schedule. The Terrapins have a good chance to accomplish that, especially with West Virginia rebuilding and Connecticut losing some key contributors from its defense.

* Maryland’s October slate isn’t easy, as the Terrapins have a road trip to Florida State, a home date against Clemson and swing games against Virginia and Wake Forest. Maryland should be favored to beat the Cavaliers and Demon Deacons, but both matchups have to be considered tossups for now.

* Part II of the Randy Edsall Bowl will take place on Sept. 14, as Maryland travels to Storrs to take on his old team (Connecticut). Edsall spent 12 years with the Huskies and led the program to one BCS bowl during that stretch. Connecticut defeated Maryland 24-21 last season, and this year’s matchup will be huge for both teams in terms of bowl eligibility.

* Maryland caught a break in crossover conference scheduling, missing Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Miami in 2013. The Terrapins do have to play at Virginia Tech but catching Virginia over Miami or North Carolina is a plus.

* Maryland’s meeting with Syracuse on Nov. 9 is the first between these two programs since 1994. The Orange own an 18-14-2 series edge over the Terrapins.

* Unless Maryland makes the conference championship, the Nov. 30 meeting with NC State will be the final ACC game for the Terrapins. Maryland trails NC State by one game in the overall series (33-32-4).
 

NC State

Aug. 31 Louisiana Tech
Sept. 7 Richmond
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 19 Clemson (Thursday)
Sept. 28 Central Michigan
Oct. 5 at Wake Forest
Oct. 12 Syracuse
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 at Florida State
Nov. 2 North Carolina
Nov. 9 at Duke
Nov. 16 at Boston College
Nov. 23 East Carolina
Nov. 30 Maryland

* For a program with a first-year coach and just eight returning starters, NC State has to be thrilled with its 2013 schedule. The Wolfpack leave North Carolina just two times – at Florida State and at Boston College – and plays a very favorable non-conference schedule. NC State catches a rebuilding Louisiana Tech team in the opener and catches a dangerous East Carolina squad late in the year, allowing Doeren and his staff plenty of time to find replacements for the departed starters.

* The Sept. 19 matchup against Clemson will be a huge test for NC State. The Tigers are expected to be a heavy favorite to win the ACC and could get in the mix for a national title. The Wolfpack aren’t expected to win that game, but a good showing as an underdog would be a nice boost for Doeren and this team in 2013.

* Considering how tight the ACC standings will likely be after the top two teams in the Atlantic Division, beating Wake Forest on Oct. 5 and Duke on Nov. 9 is crucial to NC State’s hopes of getting bowl eligible.

* The Wolfpack welcome ACC newcomer Syracuse to Raleigh on Oct. 12. NC State and the Orange have played six times, with the Wolfpack taking a 6-0 series edge. However, these two teams have not played since 1998.

* New life in the North Carolina-NC State rivalry? With two young coaches, the annual rivalry between the Tar Heels and Wolfpack should have some new energy. Larry Fedora led North Carolina to a 43-35 victory over NC State last season, while Doeren hopes to get revenge with a home victory over the Tar Heels in early November.

* ACC finale. Unless Maryland makes the conference championship, the Nov. 30 meeting with NC State will be the final ACC game for the Terrapins. Interestingly enough, the Wolfpack hold a 33-32-4 series edge over Maryland.
 

Syracuse

Aug. 31 Penn State (East Rutherford, N.J.)
Sept. 7 at Northwestern
Sept. 14 Wagner
Sept. 21 Tulane
Sept. 28 Bye Week
Oct. 5 Clemson
Oct. 12 at NC State
Oct. 19 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 26 Bye Week
Nov. 2 Wake Forest
Nov. 9 at Maryland
Nov. 16 at Florida State
Nov. 23 Pittsburgh
Nov. 30 Boston College

* Syracuse and Penn State will meet for the first time since 2009 in East Rutherford, N.J. on Aug. 31. These two teams have a storied rivalry, as they played virtually every year from 1922-1990 and met in 2008 and 2009. The Orange has lost the last four matchups in this series and trail the Nittany Lions 42-23-5 in the overall series.

* Getting to a bowl game is going to be quite a challenge for Syracuse in 2013. The Orange should beat Wagner and Tulane and could be favored against Wake Forest and Boston College but there are few guaranteed victories after that. Even road games against NC State and Maryland will be tough, and Syracuse catches Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh in crossover matchups with the Coastal Division.

* Syracuse has two back-to-back road trips on their schedule. The Orange play at NC State on Oct. 19 and then travel to Georgia Tech on Oct. 19. In November, Syracuse travels to Maryland on Nov. 9 and to Florida State on Nov. 16. Ouch.

* Syracuse and Northwestern meet on Sept. 7 for the fourth time in six seasons. The Orange are 1-2 in their last three meetings against the Wildcats, which includes a 42-41 shootout defeat in last season.

* How’s this for a welcome to the ACC? Syracuse hosts Clemson – the favorite to win the ACC – in its conference opener. The Tigers and Orange have played only once, with Syracuse winning 41-0.

* Syracuse will meet Florida State for the first time since 2005 on Nov. 16. The Orange has lost their last five meetings against the Seminoles, including a 38-14 blowout in Tallahassee in 2005. This will be the first meeting between Syracuse and Florida State as ACC members.

* From 1971-2004, Boston College and Syracuse met every season. Since the Eagles departed to the ACC, these two teams have met only once as non-conference foes (2010). With both teams back in the same conference, expect this Northeast rivalry to get some traction once again.
 

Wake Forest

Aug. 29 Presbyterian (Thursday)
Sept. 6 at Boston College
Sept. 14 Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 21 at Army
Sept. 28 at Clemson
Oct. 5 NC State
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 19 Maryland
Oct. 26 at Miami
Nov. 2 at Syracuse
Nov. 9 Florida State
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 Duke
Nov. 30 at Vanderbilt

* This is the second time in four years that the Demon Deacons have opened with Presbyterian. Wake Forest won 53-13 in 2010, which was the first meeting between these two teams since 1945. The Demon Deacons should have little trouble with the Blue Hose on Aug. 29.

* Wake Forest’s Week 2 matchup at Boston College could be a huge game in terms of bowl eligibility. The Demon Deacons don’t have a bevy of guaranteed wins, so beating a Boston College team coming off a 2-10 record is a must. Wake Forest has won the last two games against the Eagles, including a 28-14 victory in 2012.

* Upset alert? The Demon Deacons shouldn’t overlook their Sept. 14 contest against Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks knocked off Arkansas last season, took Auburn to overtime and lost to Baylor by just five points. This is a dangerous team and is capable of pulling off an upset in Winston-Salem.

* The Sept. 28 matchup against Clemson should be a good barometer test for Wake Forest. The Tigers handily won last year’s game 42-13 and should be picked to win the ACC in 2013. If Wake Forest keeps things closer, it’s a good sign this team is showing signs of improvement from 2012.

* The home team in the NC State-Wake Forest series has won the last six matchups. If that trend holds true in 2013, the Demon Deacons should beat the Wolfpack in Winston-Salem.

* With Maryland headed to the Big Ten in 2014, the Oct. 19 meeting between Wake Forest and the Terrapins will likely be the last for the foreseeable future. Maryland owns a 43-17-1 series edge over the Demon Deacons.

* Wake Forest meets Syracuse on Nov. 2, which is the first meeting between these schools as conference foes. These two teams have played twice, with each program winning once.

* The Demon Deacons Oct. 26 road game against Miami is the first away game against the Hurricanes since 2008.

* For the sixth time in seven seasons, Wake Forest will close its regular season against Vanderbilt. The Commodores have a 3-2 edge in the last five games in this series.   


Coastal Division Analysis

Duke

Aug. 31 North Carolina Central
Sept. 7 at Memphis
Sept. 14 Georgia Tech
Sept. 21 Pittsburgh
Sept. 28 Troy
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 Navy
Oct. 19 at Virginia
Oct. 26 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 2 Bye Week
Nov. 9 NC State
Nov. 16 Miami
Nov. 23 at Wake Forest
Nov. 30 at North Carolina

* David Cutcliffe has a manageable start to his sixth season as the Duke head coach. Two winnable non-conference games get the season started before three straight home games with a trio of teams that lost a combined 21 games. So with four of the first five at home, Duke needs to make hay in the first month if it expects to return to a bowl game.

* The first bye week comes in the first week of October. Regardless of how the first month of the season goes, the off week comes at a great time. Should Duke struggle, it gives Cutcliffe a chance to adjust. Should the Blue Devils start well, it gives this team a break to prepare for the brutal second half of the season. More importantly, it gives the defense two weeks to prepare for the triple option (Navy on Oct 12).

* Between the bye weeks in Week 6 and Week 10, the Blue Devils will be tested in a big way. The triple option of Navy is no easy task to slow considering what they have returning at quarterback in sophomore Keenan Reynolds. Packaged with back-to-back road trips to the Commonwealth of Virginia, this middle trio of games could determine the overall direction of the 2013 season.

* Following the second bye, four straight ACC games will finish the 2013 schedule for Duke. A pair of tricky in-state road trips will be a very difficult way to end the season. Of the four finishing games, only Wake Forest missed getting enough wins to be bowl eligible a season ago.
 

Georgia Tech

Aug. 31 Elon
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 at Duke
Sept. 21 North Carolina
Sept. 26 Virginia Tech (Thursday)
Oct. 5 at Miami
Oct. 12 at BYU
Oct. 19 Syracuse
Oct. 26 at Virginia
Nov. 2 Pittsburgh
Nov. 9 Bye Week
Nov. 14 at Clemson (Thursday)
Nov. 23 Alabama A&M
Nov. 30 Georgia

* Is having an open date in Week 2 a good thing for Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech? A layup in Week 1 against Elon gives this bye week a wasted feel. However, a trip to Durham to play a pesky Duke team in Week 3 might say otherwise. Anytime a coach can take two weeks to prepare for a conference opponent it’s a good thing. 

* And since the Yellow Jackets will play four straight brutal ACC games following the off week, Johnson is likely pleased with the timing of his first open date. Following the trip to Duke, a three-game stretch with North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami could set the entire tone for the season. It is very likely that these four teams are the top four teams picked in the division and any struggles early from Tech could be crushing in their quest to repeat as Coastal champs.

* The Tech-on-Tech battle has long been the most important game in the division and it should once again carry significant weight in the league. But just in case anyone overlooks this game in the summer, it has been placed in primetime on Thursday night. It means Frank Beamer has just five days to prepare for Johnson’s triple option attack.

* A long road trip to BYU comes at a horrible time for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech will have just worked its way through a brutal first month in league play before taking the long trip out West to Provo.

* With Syracuse and Pitt on the schedule, Tech is the only Coastal team that will play both new additions to the league.

* Should Tech make it through to the second bye week in contention, an ACC Championship game preview could take place in primetime in Death Valley. Georgia Tech will travel to Clemson on Thursday night to wrap-up ACC play on Nov. 14.

* The season culminates with Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate once again. Johnson needs to make a statement in the one-sided rivalry with Georgia. The Bulldogs have won four straight and 11 of the last 12. And Georgia has averaged 36.3 points per game over the last six meetings.


Miami

Aug. 30 Florida Atlantic (Friday)
Sept. 7 Florida
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 Savannah State
Sept. 28 at USF
Oct. 5 Georgia Tech
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 17 at North Carolina (Thursday)
Oct. 26 Wake Forest
Nov. 2 at Florida State
Nov. 9 Virginia Tech
Nov. 16 at Duke
Nov. 23 Virginia
Nov. 29 at Pittsburgh (Friday)

* All eyes in South Florida should be on Week 2 when the Florida Gators come to town in a big intrastate battle. Conference and state bragging rights are certainly on the line, but much more could be on the line. Florida always has national title aspirations but Miami could send a shot across the bow of the ACC with a huge non-conference win over an SEC power. All hands should be on deck for the Florida game with a bye week and then Savannah State following the showdown with the Gators.

* Fans of football and The Sunshine State alike should appreciate when the big boys get together and Miami will play three BCS Florida teams in 2013. In fact, three of the four non-conference games on the Canes schedule will take place against teams from the state of Florida.

* A big home game with Georgia Tech leads Miami into its second bye week. Al Golden better have his team rested and healthy following the second off week because there are no breaks after Week 7. Seven straight ACC games will end the season for Miami, as both open dates are in the first half of the year. Especially, considering how the second half begins...

* Miami will begin the second half of the season with a brutal four-game stretch that will likely determine where the Canes finish in 2013. A primetime road trip to North Carolina begins the stretch that also features a trip to Florida State and a pair of home games with Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

* Should Miami make it through that four-week span, the final three games are extremely winnable. Duke, Virginia and Pittsburgh combined for 22 losses a year ago and only Pittsburgh appears to have any upside in 2013. The season finale against the Panthers will be a primetime showcase the day after Thanksgiving.


North Carolina

Aug. 29 at South Carolina (Thursday)
Sept. 7 Middle Tennessee
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 at Georgia Tech
Sept. 28 East Carolina
Oct. 5 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 12 Bye Week
Oct. 17 Miami (Thursday)
Oct. 26 Boston College
Nov. 2 at NC State
Nov. 9 Virginia
Nov. 16 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 23 Old Dominion
Nov. 30 Duke

* Larry Fedora has a tall order facing him in Week 1. Jadeveon Clowney can literally block the sun, and Fedora has to figure out a way to block him with a rebuilt offensive line. Williams-Brice Stadium will be rocking in Columbia, as ESPN will feature this game on Thursday night to kickoff the season. Best of luck, Tar Heels.

* Following the first bye week in Week 3, the Tar Heels will have to play their first two ACC games on the road against quality opponents. At both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech will be brutal tests for the Heels. North Carolina was 2-3 on the road last year and allowed a total of 102 points to the Tech schools.

* Following those two road tests, the Heels will get another bye week before a primetime showdown with Miami on Thursday night. These two were the best teams in the division a year ago and could be the same again in 2013. This one is must-see TV on a weeknight.

* Watch out fans in Chapel Hill following the home game with Miami, because the rest of schedule is surprisingly manageable. The Tar Heels figure to be big favorites in home games with Boston College, Virginia, Old Dominion and Duke. Two road trips to NC State and Pittsburgh might be tricky but aren’t all that intimidating as the Wolfpack breaks in a new coach and Pitt will be near the end of its first ACC season.

* In perhaps one of the biggest scheduling breaks in the ACC, North Carolina won’t face either Clemson or Florida State from the Atlantic Division. Additionally, the Heels will face just three teams that won bowl games a year ago in South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Fedora will face one team that won more than eight games a year ago (South Carolina).
 

Pittsburgh

Sept. 2 Florida State (Monday)
Sept. 7 Bye Week
Sept. 14 New Mexico
Sept. 21 at Duke
Sept. 28 Virginia
Oct. 5 Bye Week
Oct. 12 at Virginia Tech
Oct. 19 Old Dominion
Oct. 26 at Navy
Nov. 2 at Georgia Tech
Nov. 9 Notre Dame
Nov. 16 North Carolina
Nov. 23 at Syracuse
Nov. 29 Miami (Friday)

* Welcome to the ACC, Pittsburgh. The Panthers will have to face the defending ACC champs on Labor Day night in not only their first ACC league game, but also as their first football game as an ACC team. Paul Chryst will have his work cut out for him in the debut of his second season.

* The good news is Pittsburgh gets a bye week to lick its wounds following the game against Florida State before a fairly easy three-week stretch featuring New Mexico, Duke and Virginia. This will end the Panthers’ first month of play with three ACC games and two bye weeks under their belt before Week 7.

* Mid-to-late season non-conference games are oddly located. Old Dominion (Week 8), Navy (Week 9) and Notre Dame (Week 11) gives the Panthers three non-conference games in a four-week period deep into November. Not only could playing non-conference games halt any ACC momentum, but it features a test against the defending national championship runner-up.

* Few teams in the nation will finish with a harder stretch than the Panthers' final five games. Heinz Field will be the place to be over the final month in the ACC as North Carolina and Miami will come to town as well as the Fighting Irish. Mixed in are road trips to Georgia Tech and Syracuse, two teams that played in a bowl game last season.
 

Virginia

Aug. 31 BYU
Sept. 7 Oregon
Sept. 14 Bye Week
Sept. 21 VMI
Sept. 28 at Pittsburgh
Oct. 5 Ball State
Oct. 12 at Maryland
Oct. 19 Duke
Oct. 26 Georgia Tech
Nov. 2 Clemson
Nov. 9 at North Carolina
Nov. 16 Bye Week
Nov. 23 at Miami
Nov. 30 Virginia Tech

* If fans in Charlottesville want fireworks, they won’t have to wait long. Two brutal non-conference games with BYU and Oregon might be the toughest two-week start for any ACC team in 2013. The odds of winning both are slim and none so a 1-1 split would be considered a great start to the year. And at least Mike London’s team gets a bye week and VMI after the Ducks come to town.

* The Cavaliers will begin conference play in unfamiliar territory. Virginia has played at Pittsburgh twice all-time and only once since 1955 — a 38-13 loss in 2006. It will actually be the third ACC game for Pittsburgh but the first for Virginia in 2013.

* October offers some chances for London to get wins. Three of four will be at home and all four are winnable. Georgia Tech might be the only opponent that is favored over the Wahoos during the month.

* Virginia better win games in October because November is nasty. Road trips to North Carolina and Miami are going to be brutal while home tests against Clemson and Virginia Tech will likely feature large point-spreads. The good news is a bye week sandwiched directly in the middle of the five-week stretch. A small consolation.
 

Virginia Tech

Aug. 31 Alabama (Atlanta)
Sept. 7 Western Carolina
Sept. 14 at East Carolina
Sept. 21 Marshall
Sept. 26 at Georgia Tech (Thursday)
Oct. 5 North Carolina
Oct. 12 Pittsburgh
Oct. 19 Bye Week
Oct. 26 Duke
Nov. 2 at Boston College
Nov. 9 at Miami
Nov. 16 Maryland
Nov. 23 Bye Week
Nov. 30 at Virginia

* The ACC will get yet another chance at the SEC in the kickoff classic. While Clemson won twice against the SEC a year ago, the rest of the league failed epically against the best league in America. This does not bode well for a rebuilt Hokies offensive staff against the back-to-back defending BCS national champions. Needless to say, Virginia Tech will be a huge underdog. The season might as well start in Week 2 for Frank Beamer. Two easy non-conference games should allow for plenty of wound-licking before ACC play because…

* Conference play gets started right away for the Hokies. A road trip to Georgia Tech followed by two key home tests against North Carolina and Pitt could have Virginia Tech in control of the division after just three games – or teetering on the brink of missing a bowl — much like the first half of the 2012 season. The bye week will be a welcome sight after the first six games of the season.

* Of the final five games, only one appears to be difficult. Duke and Maryland at home should be wins. Road trips to Boston College and Virginia should be victories as well. So the trip to South Beach to face Miami in Week 10 is the only marquee matchup on the schedule following the first bye week.

* Virginia Tech misses both Florida State and Clemson this year.

* The second open date comes in Week 13 on the penultimate week of the year. It isn’t the most useful location for an extra week of preparation. However, the off week means Virginia Tech could be a heavy favorite in the Commonwealth Cup. 

* Hokies Athletic Director Jim Weaver requested that Virginia Tech not play a home game on Thursday night this year — something that has happened for 11 straight seasons in Blacksburg. The ACC and ESPN agreed.


by Braden Gall (@BradenGall) and Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
 

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