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Caulton Tudor

Quirky ACC schedule could help Jackets, trip Heels

Posted September 20, 2013

GT head coach Paul Johnson during the University of North Carolina vs. Georgia Tech NCAA football game, Saturday, November 10, 2012 in Chapel Hill, NC.

At Georgia Tech on Saturday (Noon, ESPN), North Carolina obviously cannot win the Coastal Division title of the ACC in its first conference game of the season.

But on the flip side, the Yellow Jackets (2-0 overall, 1-0 ACC) can go far in positioning themselves for a trip to the league championship game on Dec. 7 in Charlotte.

It’s all about the schedule – the eternally strange nature of ACC football scheduling, that is.

If Tech, a touchdown favorite, beats Carolina (1-1, 0-0) for the eighth straight time in Atlanta, the schedule will give Paul Johnson and his option-offense team an opportunity to make rapid work of the top divisional challengers.

After UNC, the Jackets will get the coveted quick home turnaround with a game next Thursday against Virginia Tech (2-1, 0-0).

Against the option, teams want what the Heels have Saturday – extra time to prepare for the three to six instantaneous reactions that have to be made on every play against the formation. Larry Fedora’s defensive staff has had since Sept. 7 to get ready to correct the breakdowns that resulted in last season’s 68-50 loss in Chapel Hill.

Virginia Tech, which was lucky to escape ECU last week and could have some more trouble Saturday against Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato, will have less time rather than more to prepare for the option.

If the Jackets win over both Carolina and Virginia Tech, the schedule then smiles on them again by allowing for three extra days of preparation before a trip to Miami on Oct. 5 –12 days before the Hurricanes could face a potential elimination game at Carolina on Thursday Oct. 17.

What’s more, the Heels will have to go to Virginia Tech the week before they entertain Miami. There’s a chance Fedora’s second-year team could play reasonably well, lose two close road games at the Techs and basically be completely out of the title chase before its first home league game (The Heels host Miami Oct. 17 in a Thursday night ESPN game.).

With so many time-honored non-conference regular-season finales, the ACC probably will never have conventional scheduling balance. The sort of quirks that could end Coastal suspense early this season will likely pop up with regularity in both divisions.
Tech’s schedule this season ends with not one, but two non-conference games.

There’s the usual finale against Georgia on Nov. 30 in Atlanta, preceded by a visit from Alabama A&M on Nov. 23.

Don’t blame it on Johnson. He’s campaigned to move the Georgia game to an earlier date for years. But the odds, and history, are heavily stacked against him.

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  • accfanatic01 Sep 23, 12:07 p.m.

    VA Tech will TROUNCE UNC, hands down. From what I saw of ECU against VA Tech, they are gonna give UNC all kinds of trouble and could easily take that game. Carden is the real deal and I have not seen anything out of UNC's defense this season to lead me to believe they can handle him.

  • NoDumpingThePuck Sep 20, 9:09 p.m.

    I love it when I hear VT is down. Carolina will find out just what down feels like after Tech. Their defense is STOUT! If they can keep the QB from turning over the ball, they will be back in the title game.

  • Jewelry-EricLeak Sep 20, 4:57 p.m.

    No the premise is completely wrong, the ACC schedule is set up to make State fail, always has,... View More

    — Posted by Jewelry-EricLeak

    ? Stay off drugs!

    — Posted by chivegas

    Your drugs must keep you from understanding a little sarcasm.

    The fact of the matter is that NC State with Russell Wilson as QB had a GREAT chance to win a Division title when FSU and Clemson were having down years but pulled "NC State poo" like getting beat by Duke and Wake Forest.

    UNC has a better chance now to win a title because VT is down.

    Teams and chances come and go.

  • Tar Heels Victory-Show No Mercer Sep 20, 4:48 p.m.

    Cut blocks will also help GT, trip the Heels!

  • jdupree Sep 20, 4:36 p.m.

    Poor things, what if they had to play FSU or Clemson. They just get to loose to regular teams and that quirky fact hurts!

  • lec02572 Sep 20, 4:30 p.m.

    My with the schedule UNC has they should win the division without any problem. They don't play the two best teams in the ACC Clemson nor FSU. That's right they can't beat GT so that kills them even with the easier schedule.

  • fergie Sep 20, 4:23 p.m.

    The article makes no sense. If Tech beats UNC and then Virginia Tech it is in position to go to Charlotte. But if UNC loses to Tech and then to Virginia Tech, then it is out of the race. OK, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!!!

  • chivegas Sep 20, 3:58 p.m.

    No the premise is completely wrong, the ACC schedule is set up to make State fail, always has,... View More

    — Posted by Jewelry-EricLeak

    ? Stay off drugs!

  • Jewelry-EricLeak Sep 20, 3:46 p.m.

    No the premise is completely wrong, the ACC schedule is set up to make State fail, always has, always will be.

  • cjw6105 Sep 20, 3:26 p.m.

    Expansion killed ever having a fair format and conference schedule. Had they stopped at ten teams, or possibly even 12 if future NCAA rules would allow a 13-game schedule (11 conference games and 2 OOC games), teams would be able to play every conference opponent each season. Instead, we have so many teams that we're about to enter an era where State-Duke and WF-UNC can't meet on the field but once every decade. I don't want to see NC State play Syracuse and Boston College ten times each while not playing Duke at all. Other State fans don't, either. Not only can you not fairly determine a league champion, you've killed off local, longstanding rivalries as well.

    The ACC needs to re-align its divisions next season when Louisville comes aboard. We may have 3 ACC teams in the Top 10, all in the Atlantic Division, while the Coastal Division doesn't even have a ranked team.

    Again, put the Big Four, Clemson, GT and FSU in one division, and all the rest in the other division. Miami would maintain longstanding rivalries with their former Big East opponents and would continue to play FSU each season. Big Four teams would maintain longstanding rivalries plus geographical sanity and balance of strength would be achieved.

    I don't think UNC is being "tripped up" by not having to play FSU and Clemson each season.

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