The 2009 ACC football schedule includes six ESPN Thursday night appearances, two by Virginia Tech; a Labor Day evening clash between Miami and Florida State; and 24 non-conference games against teams that made bowls last season.
The two-time defending champion Hokies play North Carolina and are at East Carolina on back-to-back Thursdays: Oct. 29 and Nov. 5. This marks the eighth consecutive season Virginia Tech has played at least one Thursday game, the sixth straight with two.
The marquee non-conference opponents are Alabama and Nebraska for Virginia Tech, Oklahoma for Miami, Brigham Young and Florida for Florida State, and Texas Christian for Virginia.
Florida State plays 11 games against 2008 bowl teams. The exception is Division I-AA Jacksonville State.
Ranking the ACC's 2009 non-conference schedules 1Virginia Tech: Alabama (in Atlanta); Marshall; Nebraska; at East Carolina. Ambitious doesn't begin to describe. Only Marshall, 4-8 last season, resembles a break.
2Florida State: Jacksonville State; at Brigham Young; South Florida; at Florida. Unlike last season, and in spite of Jacksonville State, a schedule worthy of Bobby Bowden's program.
3Miami: Oklahoma; Florida A&M; at Central Florida; at South Florida. The Sooners won't be happy returning to the site of their national championship loss to Florida. Bodes ill for the Hurricanes.
4Georgia Tech: Jacksonville State; at Mississippi State; at Vanderbilt; Georgia. Three games against the Southeastern Conference, two on the road, will test the Jackets.
5Virginia: William and Mary; Texas Christian; at Southern Mississippi; Indiana. Sneaky strong, what with TCU finishing No. 7 in polls last season and Southern Miss winning a bowl.
6Maryland: at California; James Madison; Middle Tennessee State; Rutgers. TV saddled Cal with a noon kick in College Park last season. So why not midnight in Berkeley?
7Wake Forest: Baylor; Stanford; Elon; at Navy. Clearly the Deacons and Jim Grobe target academically similar institutions, and in the case of Navy, a decent rivalry results.
8Boston College: Northeastern; Kent State; at Notre Dame; Central Michigan. Typically pedestrian. Notre Dame doesn't carry the cache of yesteryear, and the other three are at home.
9Clemson: Middle Tennessee; Central Michigan; Coastal Carolina; at South Carolina. If the Tigers didn't have to play the Gamecocks, there's no telling who they'd schedule.
10Duke: Richmond; at Army; at Kansas; North Carolina Central. Playing their neighbors from Central may be the only way the Devils approach a home sellout. Beware UR.
11North Carolina: The Citadel; at Connecticut; East Carolina; Georgia Southern. An alleged ACC contender should not play two I-AA opponents, neither of whom was very good in '08.
12North Carolina State: South Carolina; Murray State; Gardner-Webb; Pittsburgh. Weak. The only ACC team not traveling outside the conference. Plus, two are I-AAs.
Circle these dates Sept. 5: Virginia Tech vs. Alabama; Maryland at California; South Carolina at N.C. State.
Sept. 19: Nebraska at Virginia Tech; Boston College at Clemson; Virginia at Southern Miss; Florida State at BYU; East Carolina at North Carolina.
Nov. 28: Virginia Tech at Virginia; Florida State at Florida; Clemson at South Carolina; Georgia at Georgia Tech; North Carolina at N.C. State.
Dec. 5: ACC championship game, Tampa, Fla.
Ranking the ACC's 2009 non-conference schedules Circle these dates