Teel Time: U.Va., Carolina face ACC's toughest non-conference football schedules

Were the ACC’s most successful bowl performances in nine years last winter a glimpse of progress or merely a mirage? As Monday’s release of the 2013 football schedule reminds, the first two weeks of the regular season could portend the answer.

The opening week features Virginia Tech-Alabama, Clemson-Georgia and North Carolina-South Carolina. Those are Southeastern Conference squads that finished Nos. 1, 5 and 8 in the final Associated Press poll.

Plus, there’s Syracuse-Penn State, Virginia-Brigham Young and North Carolina State-Louisiana Tech. That trio was a combined 25-12 last year.

Week Two is nearly as ambitious with Virginia-Oregon, Miami-Florida and Syracuse-Northwestern. The Ducks, Gators and Wildcats finished Nos. 2, 9 and 17, respectively, in the AP poll.

Four late-season matchups -- Pittsburgh-Notre Dame, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia Tech-Georgia and Florida State-Florida -- give the ACC nine total games against last season's final top 10.

During the 2011 regular season, ACC teams went 0-10 against non-conference opponents ranked among the top 25 at kickoff, an embarrassment that eroded its already tarnished football image.

A 4-2 bowl record that included Clemson besting LSU and Florida State defeating Northern Illinois marked the ACC’s best postseason since 2003. The chore is to build upon that.

Here’s a look at the ACC’s non-conference schedules, in order of probable difficulty based on recent success and expected personnel:

VIRGINIA: Brigham Young (8-5), Oregon (12-1), VMI (2-9) and Ball State (9-4). All four are at home, but for a program burdened by its second 4-8 record in three years, this is a monumental test.

NORTH CAROLINA: at South Carolina (11-2), Middle Tennessee State (8-4), East Carolina (8-5), Old Dominion (11-2). Unlike U.Va., the Tar Heels go on the road, and with quarterback Taylor Heinicke, ODU is a far more threatening Championship Subdivision opponent (the Monarchs are transitioning to the Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA) than VMI.

VIRGINIA TECH: Alabama (13-1) in Atlanta, Western Carolina (1-10), at East Carolina (8-5), Marshall (5-7). The opener versus the two-time reigning national champion requires no hype, and playing in Greenville, N.C., is rarely easy.

CLEMSON: Georgia (12-2), South Carolina State (5-6), The Citadel (7-4), at South Carolina (11-2). Two Championship Subdivision opponents remove the Tigers from the best-in-show conversation.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE: Louisiana Tech (9-3), Richmond (8-3), Central Michigan (7-6), ECU (8-5). The Wolfpack and Tar Heels are the only ACC teams not playing any outside opponent that had a losing record last season.

GEORGIA TECH: Elon (3-8), at BYU (8-5), Alabama A&M (7-4), Georgia (12-2). Yet another two-FCS opponent schedule. Season-ticket holders must be thrilled.

FLORIDA STATE: Nevada (7-6), Bethune-Cookman (9-3), Idaho (1-11), at Florida (11-2). Too bad Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have eligibility remaining at Nevada.

PITTSBURGH: New Mexico (4-9), ODU (11-2), at Navy (8-5), Notre Dame (12-1). The incoming Panthers also landed two exclusive national TV windows, both at home – Labor Day evening against Florida State, and Black Friday versus Miami.

SYRACUSE: Penn State (8-4) in East Rutherford, N.J., at Northwestern (10-3), Tulane (2-10), Wagner (9-4). New coach Scott Shafer inherits a very credible non-conference slate and drew an ACC opener against Tajh Boyd and Clemson.

MARYLAND: Florida International (3-9), ODU (11-2), at Connecticut (5-7), West Virginia (7-6) in Baltimore. Can’t believe the Terps didn’t schedule a Big Ten team.

MIAMI: Florida Atlantic (3-9), Florida (11-2), Savannah State (1-10), at South Florida (3-9). At least Gators fans should provide the attendance-starved Hurricanes with a home sellout.

BOSTON COLLEGE: Villanova (8-4), at Southern California (7-6), Army (2-10), at New Mexico State (1-11). A Nov. 9 game in Las Cruces, N.M., is truly random.

WAKE FOREST: Presbyterian (2-9), Louisiana Monroe (8-5), at Army (2-10), at Vanderbilt (9-4). The Deacons and Boston College are the lone ACC teams playing two true road games out of conference.

DUKE: North Carolina Central (6-5), at Memphis (4-8), Navy (8-5), Troy (5-7). The Blue Devils never have received bowl invitations in consecutive seasons, but they’ll have no excuses if they can’t follow up on their 2012 Belk Bowl appearance, especially since they avoid Clemson and Florida State.

I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at dteel@dailypress.com. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP

Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad