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Proposed ACC vs. SEC College Football Challenge

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The ACC and SEC have debated adding a ninth conference game for their teams’ college football schedules. Doing so would make bowl qualification more difficult for their members. More teams with an extra loss would mean possibly fewer bowl bids extended to a conference’s members. If neither conference wants to add another conference game, why not mandate at least one game versus the other conference in addition to the several that are normally scheduled every year?

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In order to upgrade the out-of-conference schedules of both the ACC and the SEC, I suggest the following pairings. I offer a slogan for each in order to promote the proposed home-and-home series.

Clemson vs. Alabama

Promotional Slogan: The Rubber Match

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Alabama
College Football Top 25 Rankings: Clemson

Series History: Alabama leads 13-3

Clemson vs. SEC: 49-97-5

Alabama vs. ACC: 22-4*

After facing each other for the national title in each of the past two seasons, this pairing seems like a fairly obvious choice. Seven meetings between the Tigers and Crimson Tide have occurred at neutral sites. Alabama has only ventured twice to Clemson (1967, ‘69).

*One of Alabama’s wins (Duke, 2006) was later vacated while a 1993 victory over North Carolina was forfeited.

Florida State vs. Georgia

Promotional Slogan: Battle of the Florida-Georgia Border

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Georgia
College Football Top 25 Rankings: FSU

Series History: Georgia leads 6-4-1

Florida State vs. SEC: 53-68-7*

Georgia vs. ACC: 75-27-5

The Seminoles and Bulldogs met nine times from 1954-65. They have only faced each other twice since then. Both of those games were in bowls. Maybe the county music group Florida Georgia Line would play a pre- or post-game concert when these two square off against each other?

*FSU’s 1997 win over Alabama was later vacated.

Miami vs. Florida

Promotional Slogan: Sunshine State Showdown

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Florida
College Football Top 25 Rankings: Miami

Series History: Miami leads 29-26

Miami vs. SEC: 59-82-1

Florida vs. ACC: 29-25-2

From 1938-87, the Gators and Hurricanes played each other every season with the exception of ‘43. However, since 2000 the two in-state rivals have played each other just six times with two of those being bowl games. The Hurricanes have won seven of the eight most recent matchups against the Gators.

Georgia Tech vs. South Carolina

Promotional Slogan: Switched Conference Affiliation Series

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Series History: Georgia Tech leads 11-9

Georgia Tech vs. SEC: 157-154-12

South Carolina vs. ACC: 123-114-6

The Yellow Jackets and Gamecocks met every year from 1970-78. They later faced each other from 1988-91, but haven’t since. Georgia Tech and South Carolina have many games against the other’s conference. This is mostly due to Georgia Tech’s membership in the SEC from its founding in 1932 until leaving after the ‘64 season. Likewise, many of South Carolina’s large number of past contests versus the ACC occurred during the Gamecocks’ time in that conference (1953-71).

Pittsburgh vs. Texas A&M

Promotional Slogan: Jackie Sherrill Bowl

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Texas A&M
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Series History: Pittsburgh leads 2-1

Pittsburgh vs. SEC: 6-3-2

Texas A&M vs. ACC: 6-5

Jackie Sherrill served as head coach of both of these programs. From 1977-81, he led the Panthers to eight or more wins and a 4-1 record in bowl games. Pitt also won the Lambert Trophy during the 1979 and ‘80 seasons. He left Pittsburgh in 1982 to become the head coach of Texas A&M, where he stayed for seven seasons. During his tenure in College Station, the Aggies won the outright Southwest Conference championship three times. The Aggies had five winning seasons and a 2-1 mark in bowls under Sherrill.

The first meeting between Pittsburgh and Texas A&M took place in the 1989 Sun Bowl. They played a home-and-home series in 2002-03. The Aggies are 2-4 against ACC teams since 2000.

The Panthers have faced an SEC opponent in a bowl game six times. They have not played anyone from the SEC during the regular season since 1983. Pittsburgh has only faced five of the current members of the SEC.

NC State vs. Tennessee

College Football Top 25: Tennessee
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Promotional Slogan: Trans-Appalachian Series

Series History: Tennessee leads 2-1

NC State vs. SEC: 7-28-2

Tennessee vs. ACC: 36-15-1

There has been only one meeting between the Volunteers and the Wolfpack since World War II. That was the 2012 season opener in Atlanta, a game Tennessee won 35-21.

Tennessee has faced every current member of the ACC at least twice. The Volunteers only trail their all-time series versus Pittsburgh and has one series tied (Florida State). Since the ACC was founded in 1953, Tennessee has not had more than five seasons without at least one game against an ACC school.

NC State’s four most recent matchups versus the SEC have occurred at neutral sites. NC State has faced nine of the current SEC members. The Wolfpack do not have a winning record against any of them.

Virginia Tech vs. Mississippi State

Promotional Slogan: Maroon Bowl

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Mississippi State
College Football Top 25 Rankings: Virginia Tech

Series History: None

Virginia Tech vs. SEC: 18-36-1

Mississippi State vs. ACC: 5-6

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Of Mississippi State’s 11 matchups with an ACC opponent, eight have been bowl games. The Bulldogs have faced nine current members of the ACC. However, MSU has a winning record against only three of them.

Out of Virginia Tech’s 10 most recent games versus an SEC team, eight have been played at a neutral site. This dates back to the 1990s. The Hokies are just 3-7 against SEC opponents.

Syracuse vs. Auburn

College Football Top 25 Rankings: Auburn
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Promotional Slogan: Break the Tie!

Series History: Tied 1-1-1

Syracuse vs. SEC: 8-11-1

Auburn vs. ACC: 34-10

The slogan refers not only to the series history but also to the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 1987 season. In that game, Auburn head coach Pat Dye chose to kick a field goal on the final play instead of trying to score a touchdown with the ball on Syracuse’s 13-yard line and four seconds remaining. The tie cost the undefeated Orange any chance of being voted as national champions. A radio station in Syracuse collected thousands of ugly ties and then sent them to Dye. He responded by autographing them and then donating them to Auburn’s athletic department to sell to raise money.

The only other meetings between these two schools happened in 2001 and ’02 with the home team winning both times. Eight of Auburn’s 14 most recent contests against the ACC have been played at neutral sites. Auburn has faced every current member of the ACC except Pittsburgh. Syracuse faced at least one SEC team from 1984-91. Eight of the Orange’s SEC matchups have been bowl games.

North Carolina vs. Vanderbilt

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North Carolina Football Schedule 2019

Promotional Slogan: Interstate 40 War

Series History: UNC leads 5-4.

UNC vs. SEC: 33-56-3

Vanderbilt vs. ACC: 32-25

The Tar Heels' and Commodores’ last meeting occurred in 1982. They have faced each other four times in Chapel Hill and five in Nashville. Eight of North Carolina’s last 10 games against an SEC team have been played at neutral sites. From 1998-2013, Vanderbilt played at least one ACC team every season with the exception of 2004. Only three of the Commodores’ matchups against the ACC have been bowl games.

Duke vs. Kentucky

Kentucky football schedule
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Promotional Slogan: Big Blue Battle

Series History: Duke leads 4-0

Duke vs. SEC: 37-46-3

Kentucky vs. ACC: 13-14-1

All four previous meetings took place from 1930-33, with the games alternating between Durham and Lexington. Only seven of Duke’s 86 games against an SEC team have been played at a neutral site. During the past 47 seasons, Duke has faced a member of the SEC 29 times. Since the 1990 season, the Wildcats have played ACC teams in a bowl game five times and has faced Louisville in the regular season three times.

Louisville vs. Missouri

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College Football Top 25: Louisville

Promotional Slogan: Duel on the Mississippi River

Series History: Missouri leads 1-0

Louisville vs. SEC: 17-25-1

Missouri vs. ACC: 5-4

Despite being in bordering states, the Tigers and Cardinals have only faced each other once. That was in Columbia in 1981. Clemson was both the last ACC member to visit Missouri (1996) and as well as to host Missouri (2000).

More than half of Louisville’s games against SEC opponents have involved Kentucky. Louisville has not played an SEC team on its home turf other than its in-state rival since 199. Similarly, the Cardinals have not faced an SEC member during the regular season other than Kentucky since 1991. Overall, Louisville has played at least one game against 10 current SEC members. The Cardinals have a losing record versus all of them except Kentucky.

Virginia vs. LSU

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Virginia: college football picks against the spread

Promotional Slogan: Thomas Jefferson Bowl

Series History: None

Virginia vs. SEC: 7-19

LSU vs. ACC: 21-2

Starting with a home game versus Duke during the 1958 season, LSU has won 20 of its last 21 matchups against ACC members. Five of the eight most recent games were in bowls.

Virginia has faced an SEC team just three times since 2000. The Cavaliers split a home-and-home series against South Carolina (2002-03) and lost to Auburn in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Bowl. Five of the Cavaliers’ nine most recent contests versus the SEC occurred in bowls.

What is the connection? Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. He was president when the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. What his opinion of college football would have been is up to historians to debate.

Boston College vs. Ole Miss

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Promotional Slogan: New England vs. the Old South

Series History: Ole Miss leads 3-0-1

Boston College vs. SEC: 14-20-1

Ole Miss vs. ACC: 1-4

The four previous meetings were between 1948-52 with two of them taking place in Memphis.

Boston College has only faced nine SEC opponents since 1980. In total, the Eagles have played 10 current members of the SEC. They lead the all-time series against five SEC programs and two others are tied.

Ole Miss has played just seven current members of the ACC. Georgia Tech (four games) has been the most frequent opponent. The Rebels also have faced Miami three times, and Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest twice each. The Rebels played Pitt before the Panthers joined the ACC.

Wake Forest vs. Arkansas

College football rankings: Arkansas
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Promotional Slogan: We’ve Never Faced Each Other So Why Not Now?

Series History: None

Wake Forest vs. SEC: 13-29

Arkansas vs. ACC: 0-4

Arkansas has only faced five current members of the ACC – three games vs. Miami, two vs. North Carolina and Georgia Tech, and one game against Duke and Virginia Tech.

Wake Forest is 5-5 vs. SEC teams since 2000. The Demon Deacons’ most common SEC foe in their history has been Vanderbilt (16 of the 42 total games).

These proposed games offer some variety. Five matchups involve teams in bordering states. Three pairings have never previously occurred. In the case of 10 of these matchups, the teams have faced each other less than 10 times in each program’s history. Would these contests not provide more entertainment than watching a rent-a-win from the Sun Belt or over an FCS program?

— Written by John La Fleur, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network. A graduate of Michigan State and LSU, La Fleur also has been a Saints fan since he was old enough to understand football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.