Notre Dame Officially Joining ACC on July 1, 2013: But What About The Irish Football Schedule?

Notre Dame's ACC Scheduling Arrangement Doesn't Start Until 2014, But We Took a Quick Look at What the Future Holds Anyway

Notre Dame’s ACC Scheduling Arrangement Doesn’t Start Until 2014, But We Took a Quick Look at What the Future Holds Anyway

The University of Notre Dame is officially ACC-bound (per SI.com) for non-football sports (where applicable) come July 1 of this year. And while the early entry means both sides are passing on the first year of the “five ACC opponents per season” agreement, there’s still plenty left to figure out in terms of Notre Dame’s future. Starting in 2014, they’ll be starting the five-teams-per-year rotation, and as of right now, it seems the Irish and the ACC’s schools all have some reshuffling to do both in the short- and long-term.

Inspired by some initial questions over at Hokie Mark’s ACCFootabllRx, we wanted to take a look at just what needs to change in order for this ACC scheduling rotation to get rolling for 2014. First a look at Notre Dame’s 2014 schedule layout (*note, all schedules based on information from FBSchedules.com):

Current Open Dates: One

Locked Games: Seven (Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse, Stanford, at Navy, Pittsburgh, at USC)

The Rest (Flexible): Four (Rice, at Temple, at Arizona State, Northwestern)

With two ACC teams already on the docket (SU & Pitt), they’ll need to drop two of the four games in the flexible pile. Rice and Temple can be assumed as two of those, and I’d think Arizona State’s would be another possibility, since the Irish already head west once in 2014 when they head to Los Angeles to face USC.

But in trying to fill the three open games, which ACC teams will they have to choose from. A look at each school’s non-conference schedule as currently comprised:

Boston College: at UMass, USC, Army, Rhode Island

Clemson: at Georgia, Coastal Carolina, South Carolina

Duke: at Troy, Kansas, Elon, Tulane

Florida State: Oklahoma State, The Citadel, Florida

Georgia Tech: at Georgia, at Tulane, Wofford

Louisville: Kentucky, at Florida International, at Marshall

Miami: Florida A&M, at Nebraska

NC State: at Central Michigan, at USF, Presbyterian

North Carolina: at East Carolina

Virginia: UCLA, Richmond, at BYU, Kent State

Virginia Tech: William & Mary, East Carolina, at Ohio State, Western Michigan

Wake Forest: at UL-Monroe, Northern Illinois, Army, at Vanderbilt

As it stands, just seven schools have any openings right now and of those, two are likely to be off the table immediately — Florida State and Clemson already have two power-conference games scheduled. That leaves us with Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, NC State and North Carolina. Tech always schedules Georgia, so that doesn’t eliminate them from adding the Irish, but Miami’s game against Nebraska might. With that in mind, we can go with UNC, NC State and Georgia Tech, provided the latter two are road games for ND. Both State and Tech are already on the road twice in non-conference play, and will not want to get knocked down to just five home dates on the season.

So with that, Notre Dame’s 2014 ACC Schedule: Syracuse (neutral site), Pittsburgh, North Carolina, at NC State, at Georgia Tech

That leaves nine teams to choose from for 2015. Notre Dame’s slate currently looks like this:

Current Open Dates: Two

Locked Games: Seven (Texas, at Purdue, Navy, USC, Wake Forest, at Stanford, at Boston College)

The Rest (Flexible): Three (UMass, Syracuse, at Pittsburgh)

Since Wake and Boston College are both already scheduled, they get lock status, and Syracuse and Pitt automatically get dropped since both are set to play Notre Dame in 2014 anyway. With those moves (and the current open date), we get the five openings they’ll need, without cutting any non-ACC matchups. Of the seven teams (originally nine, but subtracting BC and Wake) teams we’re looking at for 2015, their respective schedules lay out as follows:

Clemson: at South Carolina, Wofford

Duke: Northwestern, Army, N.C. Central, Tulane

Florida State: Texas State, Chattanooga, at Florida

Louisville: at Kentucky

Miami: at Toledo, Nebraska, at Florida Atlantic

Virginia: at UCLA, William & Mary, Boise State

Virginia Tech: Furman, at East Carolina, Ohio State

Off the top, you can add a Louisville road game to the list, and a home game versus Clemson, too. Duke and Miami can be removed (Blue Devils have a full schedule, while Miami plays Notre Dame next year anyway), meaning you’re choosing between Florida State, Virginia and Virginia Tech. Keeping in mind UVA’s heavy slate already, coupled with VaTech’s full schedule in 2016, the best option would appear to be a home date versus the Hokies.

With that decided, Notre Dame’s 2015 ACC Schedule looks like this: at Boston College, Wake Forest, at Louisville, Clemson, Virginia Tech

To wrap up the rotation, we look at 2016. Notre Dame’s currently committed to the following matchups:

Current Open Dates: Two

Locked Games: Seven (at Texas, Stanford, at Michigan State, Miami, Navy, at USC, Purdue)

The Rest (Flexible): Three (Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse)

The Miami game stays and when adding the two open dates, they get to three ACC games off the bat. The other two, however, are a bit trickier. BC, Pitt and SU all have secured dates with Notre Dame already, and in the devised setup, each cycle has one extra spot. Since the Syracuse game is already set to be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey (while the other two are still up in the air), I’m tempted to hand the Orange this spot. The other games for Notre Dame in this cycle would be a road game verus FSU, road game against Virginia and home game against Duke.

Notre Dame’s 2016 ACC Schedule: Syracuse (neutral site), Miami, at Florida State, at Virginia, Duke

Obviously, there’s still plenty of work left for Notre Dame to do. Regardless of how ambitious they’d like to consider themselves from a scheduling standpoint, no one wants to go up against a 12-team gauntlet of major conference opponents. There needs to be at least one break in there (hi, Duke!). But at least for now, this is a quick look at how a schedule could lay out for them over the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, without really making many waves.

Have a better way to put this all together, though? Feel free to share below.

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5 thoughts on “Notre Dame Officially Joining ACC on July 1, 2013: But What About The Irish Football Schedule?

  1. Well done. Those last two years are potentially brutal schedules for Notre Dame. It’s really easy to see why ND loves their football agreement with the ACC. Those are all teams they would have wanted play anyway. The ACC really does have the potential to be a or the dominant football conference in five or six years. Hopefully the current membership realizes this. I also believe that the forces that are trying to pick the ACC apart realize this too.

    • Thanks!

      I think many of the ACC members do realize this at this point, and are now actively trying to fix their current situation (versus leaving for a new one). If the ACC’s overall product improves, and the top teams (FSU, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Clemson) schedule elite non-conference opponents as well, the league has handed itself a simple road to the playoff system. I think ESPN is also working to keep things together (something others — http://accfootballrx.blogspot.com/2013/03/latest-rumors-31313.html — also agree with), which is another huge financial boon for the ACC.

  2. If the ACC continues to under-perform in football, it’ll likely get picked apart in a few years…which they would deserve. Your point about ESPN is spot on. Why on earth would they stand-by and let pass what would essentially be a pre-announced burglary by the Big 1G and Fox?? The Big 1G has pretty much openly stated that it will expand as much as it needs to get all the desirable ACC schools they can get. Problem there being that all of that inventory/content currently belongs to ESPN. Mark my words, Fox is going to throw A LOT of money at the Big 1G–when their negotiations come up–to peel off as many ACC schools as they can get. They need content for that new Fox Sports network. My money’s on the ACC’s geographic/demographic advantage and current ties to ESPN. That said, defections would completely undermine any kind of low-ball ESPN TV contract with the ACC. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

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