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Schedule Sets up Nicely for Hokies and Noles
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #486, May 27, 2011
A good schedule can sometimes be the difference between playing for a championship and being just another team. Virginia Tech has been the best coached team in the ACC since they joined back in 2004, their talent level is higher than most of the other teams in the league, and this year they have the benefit of having an outstanding schedule on their side.
Virginia Tech's eight ACC opponents in 2011 combined to go 24-40 in conference games last season. That's the lowest mark in the entire conference.
Before we get to the Coastal Division and the Hokies, let's take a quick look at the Atlantic Division.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will have a very difficult conference schedule to navigate as he tries to save his job. The Tigers must play at Virginia Tech, Maryland, NC State and Georgia Tech. They also host Florida State, Maryland and North Carolina. Their only easy game is a home game against Wake Forest. Things are just as bad out-of-conference, with a home game against Auburn and a road game at South Carolina.
Wake Forest was one of the worst teams in the ACC last season. This year they probably won't be much better: road trips to Boston College, UNC and Clemson, while hosting NC State, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Maryland. The Demon Deacons don't have a lot of talent, and perhaps Jim Grobe should have taken another job while he had the chance.
Boston College should open 2-0 in ACC play. The Eagles host Duke and Wake in their first two conference games. However, their last six conference games are against Clemson, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Florida State, NC State and Miami. The Clemson, Maryland and VT games are all back-to-back-to-back, and all on the road.
The Terps are a sleeper in the Atlantic Division this year, behind All-ACC quarterback Danny O'Brien. Their toughest ACC game will be at Florida State on October 22, but they do kick off the season by hosting Miami in an 8pm game on September 5. Maryland also has Virginia and Wake Forest on the schedule.
Finally, NC State and Florida State have the two easiest schedules based on last year's results. Florida State plays all three 1-7 teams - Virginia, Duke and Wake Forest - this season. They also get Miami at home. NC State gets Wake and UVA at home, but they must travel to Florida State. However, Clemson and Maryland must visit Raleigh.
The Coastal Division looks like this ...
Miami has road games against Virginia Tech, Florida State, Maryland and North Carolina. It will be very difficult to get through that group unscathed. They also host Boston College and Georgia Tech, who aren't pushovers.
North Carolina has a pretty favorable schedule, from a record standpoint. However, road trips to Virginia Tech, Clemson, Georgia Tech and NC State could end any chances the Tar Heels have of winning the Coastal.
Virginia and Duke are not threats to win the division, while Georgia Tech is probably on the outside looking in as well.
Virginia Tech and Florida State were the favorites to meet in the ACC Championship Game before the schedule was even released. After a closer examination of the schedule, it's really difficult to pick any other ACC team to make it to Charlotte this year. Other teams just don't have the right schedules on their side.
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