ACC schedule rankings (cont.)
Posted: Thursday June 21, 2007 1:07PM; Updated: Thursday June 21, 2007 6:04PM
Behind the ranking: At least no Division I-AA teams taint the schedule. Facing Notre Dame on the road is always difficult. The Atlantic Division trio of Wake Forest, Florida State and Clemson is a tough draw.
Toughest game: Take your pick. The suggestion here is a Sept. 29 trip to Miami. Weakened by suspensions, the Hurricanes eked out a 20-15 victory in Durham last season. The Hurricanes will be looking to put Duke back in its place.
Cakewalk: Are you kidding? The Blue Devils are 1-22 over the last two seasons. They have death marches, not cakewalks.
Trap game: Does not apply.
Changes from last season: Goodbye frying pan, hello fire. After going winless in 2006 the Blue Devils' schedule actually appears more difficult with Connecticut, Notre Dame and Northwestern replacing Vanderbilt, Alabama and Richmond in non-conference play. Duke also must travel to Navy, Miami and Florida State. But hey, the Blue Devils get Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Clemson at home! Thanks for nothing.
8. Virginia Tech
Behind the ranking: East Carolina is a respectable opening foe, and a trip to LSU is a stellar early season matchup. The Hokies take on Florida State, Clemson and Boston College from the Atlantic Division.
Toughest game: That would be a Sept. 8 trip to LSU, which is a strong national-championship contender. Agreeing to play LSU is admirable. Playing the Tigers this season in Baton Rouge is masochistic.
Cakewalk: Should the Hokies fall at LSU, at least they will have a soft place to land. Their next three games are in Blacksburg against Ohio, Division I-AA William & Mary and North Carolina. Yeah, yeah. Ohio won nine games last season and reached the MAC championship game, but let's be realistic. It's Ohio, not Ohio State.
Trap game: Georgia Tech defeated Virginia Tech 38-27 last season, but Calvin Johnson, who had a huge performance in that game, is now on the Detroit Lions. That means the Hokies can relax a bit -- but not too much. Virginia Tech visits Atlanta for a Thursday night game on Nov. 1, one week after facing Boston College and before taking on Florida State and Miami in succession.
Changes from last season: Virginia Tech maintained a Division I-AA speed bump by replacing Northeastern with William & Mary. The Hokies play only one non-ACC opponent from a BCS conference school. However, Tech dropped Cincinnati and added SEC powerhouse LSU, so that's a monumental upgrade. Florida State replaces Wake Forest as an Atlantic Division opponent and the Hokies get Boston College and Miami at home.
9. Georgia Tech
Behind the ranking: Five opponents won at least nine games in 2006, but Virginia, Army, Duke and North Carolina are coming off losing seasons. Samford is a Division I-AA team. The Yellow Jackets' projected toughest games -- Boston College, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Georgia -- will be played in Atlanta.
Toughest game: The best is saved for last. Georgia Tech is 0-6 against Georgia since Mark Richt took over as the Bulldogs coach. The game is on Nov. 24 in Atlanta, which may be to the Yellow Jackets' advantage. However, Georgia figures to be improved.
Cakewalk: Mid-November brings back-to-back games against Duke and North Carolina, which combined for three victories last season.
Trap game: If Virginia is improved from last season, then Georgia Tech could be ripe for an upset when it heads to Charlottesville on Sept. 22. That game is sandwiched by games against Boston College and Clemson.
Changes from last season: Army replaces Troy in non-conference. The bigger issue is that Boston College replaces N.C. State as an Atlantic Division opponent.
10. North Carolina
Behind the ranking: Trips to Virginia Tech and Wake Forest are formidable, but the remainder of the schedule isn't as intimidating. The Tar Heels get Miami, South Carolina and Maryland at home. They also take a trip to South Florida.
Toughest game: Virginia Tech blasted the Tar Heels by 25 points in Chapel Hill last season. This year the game moves to Blacksburg. Why should it be any different this time?
Cakewalk: The Butch Davis era figures to get off to a good start with a season-opening home game against Division I-AA James Madison. After that, there's no more cake.
Trap game: North Carolina is 8-1-1 all-time against East Carolina, but you know the Pirates are just aching to knock off the big state school. The Heels have to go to Greenville on Sept. 8, which happens to be a week before the Tar Heels start ACC play.
Changes from last season: Exit Rutgers and Notre Dame. Enter South Carolina and East Carolina. That lightens the load some. The Heels also get Atlantic Division foe Maryland rather than Clemson, which ripped them 52-7 last year.
Behind the ranking: Middle Tennessee State is the only non-conference opponent coming off a winning record, and getting Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State is like hitting the ACC scheduling trifecta.
Toughest game: Venturing into Miami on Nov. 10 could be a scary. The Cavaliers had one of the nation's worst offenses in 2006, and Miami figures to have one of the nation's best defenses in 2007. If the Cavs don't make remarkable offensive progress this season, they could be in serious trouble in this game -- especially if new Miami coach Randy Shannon restores the Hurricanes' attitude.
Cakewalk: A road trip to 6-6 Wyoming in the season-opener isn't a gimmie, but the next two games against Duke and North Carolina are definitely winnable.
Trap game: You'd expect Virginia to beat Middle Tennessee State. A team from a BCS school against a Sun Belt Conference foe. Easy win, right? The Blue Raiders can be dangerous in Murfreesboro. Two years ago they upset Vanderbilt, which cost the Commodores a bowl bid.
Changes from last season: Western Michigan and East Carolina are gone and replaced by Middle Tennessee State and Connecticut, which may be a slight downgrade. Wake Forest replaces Florida State from the Atlantic Division.
12. Wake Forest
Behind the ranking: Scheduling Nebraska was a bold move, but the non-conference slate also includes Army and Navy. Is Wake Forest trying to get in on the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy? Four of the last five games are against teams coming off losing seasons.
Toughest game: Six of the starters from last year's stellar defense are gone, including three in the secondary. That doesn't bode well for a Sept. 8 game against Nebraska, a likely top-20 team that boasted one of the best offenses in the country last season. The Cornhuskers might be better this year with Sam Keller at quarterback.
Cakewalk: Army comes to Winston-Salem on Sept. 15. The Cadets haven't had a winning season since 1996. That doesn't figure to change.
Trap game: Navy may not be as good as it was last season, but the Midshipmen might catch the Deacons at just the right time. Wake Forest goes to Annapolis nine days after facing Florida State.
Changes from last season: The non-conference degree of difficulty is raised with Nebraska, Vanderbilt and Navy replacing Syracuse, Mississippi and Connecticut. Even Army is an upgrade from Division I-AA Liberty. The Deacons catch a break, however, with Virginia replacing Virginia Tech as a Coastal Division opponent.