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ACC Football: Possible Annual Matchups in a Divisionless Conference

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In the future, the ACC could do what some other conferences have already, drop divisions in favor of an alternate schedule model for college football

At the recent ACC Meetings in Amelia Island, Florida, the league discussed the possibility of eliminating divisions in future football seasons. While nothing was finalized, momentum seems to be building and at this point, it would be a surprise if the idea was not adopted in the coming months.

The next step would be how to set up future schedules. The scenario that seemed to have the most traction coming out of the meetings was a 3-5 model where each program would have three ACC opponents that would be on the schedule year after year while the other 10 schools would be played every other year.

A delicate balance would be needed for this format to work. While everyone would love to preserve all the traditional rivalries – and/or lay things out geographically – it can not be at the expense of one or two schools facing a gauntlet each season while others play lesser opponents. Clemson has been the king of the ACC for going on a decade, but Florida State and Miami have the potential to be part of the nation's elite and balancing out those three on an ACC squad's list of games is important. Maintaining long-standing rivalries while not overloading certain teams with national powers is a difficult proposition.

Here is a wild stab at what each ACC team's 3 in a 3-5 model could be.

Boston College - Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech

The Eagles would continue their annual games with Syracuse and Virginia Tech while fellow Atlantic competitor Florida State remains on the schedule. Adding Pitt would have given this an old-time Big East feel, but competitive balance was needed and the Eagles and the Panthers have only faced off three times since 2004.

Clemson - Georgia Tech, Florida State, Louisville

Clemson has a number of important rivals and leaving NC State and Wake Forest off this list seems criminal. But the North Carolina schools have their own long-standing matchups that need to be addressed, limiting some options. The FSU clashes are newer but they have been intense and a few Louisville games have been memorable as well.

Related: Which Team Wins the ACC Atlantic in 2022?

Duke - North Carolina, NC State, Georgia Tech

It would be nice if all of the North Carolina schools played each other every season, but it just isn't feasible to ensure competitive balance, so Wake Forest will play Duke every two years. The Blue Devils have actually played the Demon Deacons more times than NC State, but keeping the Research Triangle teams as permanent rivals makes more sense than dropping them for Wake. Georgia Tech has met up with Duke 89 times throughout the years so they are a natural fit.

Florida State - Miami, Clemson, Boston College

Without question, the Seminoles are the team that would have the most difficult challenge on a yearly basis. Miami as part of the schedule is a given and the Clemson games have been intriguing for some time now. Atlantic partner Boston College is the third choice, giving FSU a pretty difficult draw in most seasons.

Georgia Tech - Clemson, Wake Forest, Duke

Besides Georgia, the Yellow Jackets have played Duke more than any other school. And in two years, Clemson will surpass Auburn for No. 3 on that list. Adding one of the two Florida programs would make sense just based on proximity, but that seems like a little too much meat on the Georgia Tech schedule and neither one has deep rivalry ties to the Jackets. As such, Wake becomes team number three.

Louisville - Syracuse, Clemson, Pitt

Because Louisville only joined the ACC in 2014, there are not really any teams that are must-plays every year. Syracuse and Pitt are a couple of programs that the Cardinals battled during their short time in the Big East and Clemson has been a big division rival in recent seasons.

Miami - Florida State, Wake Forest, Virginia

Beyond Florida State, the Hurricanes' two biggest league rivals in terms of games played are Pitt and Virginia Tech. But due to those programs' northeast connections that make other games more appealing, Miami will have to create new traditions. They have seen Virginia plenty in the Coastal, but Wake Forest, a team they haven't battled since 2013, would be new. Georgia Tech was considered instead of Wake, but the Jackets' schedule is tough enough without the Canes.

Related: Which Team Should be the Favorite to win the Coastal Division in 2022?

North Carolina - Duke, NC State, Virginia

Under this set up, North Carolina won't have to schedule non-conference games against Wake Forest, but they also won't be playing them every year. Duke and NC State are the real local rivals and the Tar Heels and the Cavaliers have played each other in the "South's Oldest Rivalry" 126 times, eclipsed in the FBS by only Wisconsin and Minnesota.

NC State - North Carolina, Wake Forest, Duke

The Wolfpack are the only program in North Carolina that would play all of the other in-state teams. As mentioned in the Clemson segment, the Textile Bowl would be held every other season as NC State plays its local neighbors and Wake Forest, who they have faced more than anyone else.

Pitt - Louisville, Virginia Tech, Syracuse

Virginia Tech and Syracuse are closer to Pitt than any other ACC institution and Louisville has Big East lineage as well. The Panthers and the Orange have squared off 77 times and Virginia Tech has been a Coastal companion since 2012.

Syracuse - Boston College, Pitt, Louisville

There's more Big East flavor when you look at Syracuse's draw. The 77 games against Pitt are more than any opponent and BC has been on the schedule on 54 occasions, making them two of the Cuse's most constant adversaries. Louisville has played Syracuse 20 times, more than they have gone against any other ACC program.

Virginia - North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Miami

According to Wikipedia (so you know it has to be true), Virginia has played a combined 229 games against North Carolina and Virginia Tech, meaning those meetings will certainly be a part of the future. The passion when playing Miami is not quite the same, but most of the recent games have been close affairs.

Virginia Tech - Boston College, Virginia, Pitt

Along with the season-ender versus UVA, the Hokies hold on to annual clashes with Boston College and Pitt. In both the Big East and as crossover foes in the ACC, Tech and BC have played 30 times since 1993 and the Pitt selection is based on both location and history.

Wake Forest - NC State, Miami, Georgia Tech

I tried to get more than one in-state team on Wake's yearly docket, but it just didn't work out. Alternating Duke and UNC each season would be the way to go and allow for two North Carolina teams on the schedule every fall. The Demon Deacons and Wolfpack have played every season since 1910 and Wake first battled Georgia Tech in 1917. Miami is not a common opponent, but developing a hatred of the Canes should be fairly easy for Wake Forest fans.

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Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, focusing on the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.