ACC Football: A Look At Each School’s Strength Of Schedule In 2015

Miami Hurricanes

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 67-38

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 30-20

Miami will have the most daunting conference schedule of any ACC school — and it’s not that close. They’ll face ACC schools with a combined 67 wins in 2014. The Canes will square off with four ACC schools that won at least nine games a season ago, and will also face a pair of opponents from outside the ACC whom had 9-4 marks a season ago (Nebraska and Cincinnati). The middle of October will be the toughest stretch for the Hurricanes as they face Florida State and Clemson with a Virginia Tech team focused on avenging its 30-6 loss last season in between. Having the toughest ACC strength of schedule in 2015 will do head coach Al Golden and the Hurricanes no favors in what amounts to a must win season.

Virginia Cavaliers

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 57-47

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 37-15

Virginia may have 2015’s toughest schedule for a sub .500 team a year ago in all of college football. The Cavaliers will face five teams coming off at least nine wins in 2014, including squaring off against UCLA (10-3) and Boise State (12-2) in their first four games. The only “cream puff” game on the entire Virginia schedule could be the October 17th contest against Syracuse. Most of the conference match ups will be against schools that were on similar footing as the Cavaliers in 2014, and the non-conference schedule in easily the toughest in the ACC. Improving on last season’s 5-7 record could be nearly an impossible task for head coach Mike London and Virginia.

Boston College Eagles

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 62-41

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 29-21

Another surprisingly difficult 2015 schedule falls in the lap of Boston College, coming off a 7-6 record a season ago. The Eagles should get off to a good start against Maine and Howard before running head on against Florida State to start ACC play. Along with the Seminoles, Boston College will also square off against Duke, Clemson, Louisville and NC State, all schools with superior records in 2014. A circle-worthy date on the calendar is their primetime contest against rival Notre Dame on November 21st at Fenway Park.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 61-42

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 31-20

A surprise run to the ACC Championship game and an Orange Bowl victory over Mississippi State yielded a challenging campaign for head coach Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech in 2015. The Yellow Jackets’ toughest ACC opponents this season will be a match up against Clemson, with both schools looking to take the next step in the conference. There’s also an ACC Championship rematch against Florida State. The non-conference schedule brings a trip to Notre Dame early in the season, and a home game against rival Georgia to close out the regular season. Georgia Tech and their triple-option offense should finish atop the Coastal division again in 2015, but the road will not be with out its bumps.

Syracuse Orange

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 61-42

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 20-30

Coming off a dismal 3-9 season in 2014 Syracuse will face a surprisingly tough slate of teams this season, with opponents combining for 81 victories last year. The non-conference slate is fairly reasonable aside from the final weekend in September when LSU makes a visit to the Carrier Dome. The Orange schedule against ACC opponents is especially challenging as they look to improve on last season’s 1-7 record against ACC foes. November could prove to be a long and unproductive month for the rebuilding Orange as they take on Florida State, Louisville, Clemson and NC State, all teams with at least eight victories in 2014.

Virginia Tech Hokies

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 58-46

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 28-24

Any schedule featuring a match up against the defending National Champion is sure to boost the strength of schedule rating in the eyes of college football, and that is no different for Virginia Tech in the coming season. The Hokies will host the defending champions to open the season, and hope to upset the Buckeyes for the second time in as many seasons. The rest of the Hokies non-conference schedule against Furman, Purdue and East Carolina should prove manageable. The most challenging conference games for the Hokies should be against Duke at home in October, and on the road against Georgia Tech in November. Noticeably absent from the Virginia Tech schedule is the staple Thursday night home game at Lane Stadium. Instead they will host NC State on Friday, October 9 at home.

Clemson Tigers

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 60-44

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 28-21

Clemson hopes their rise both on the field and in recruiting, coupled with a retooling at Florida State can lead them to the top of the ACC Atlantic in 2015. If they are able to reach the upper echelon of the conference they will have earned it by outlasting their season schedule. They will have a chance to prove themselves against the Seminoles on November 7th in the Tigers’ biggest home game of the season. The contest against Florida State will be one of four against conference opponents coming off at least an eight-win campaign a season ago. The non-conference schedule should provide some relief for Clemson, with the toughest games coming against Notre Dame and rival South Carolina.

Louisville Cardinals

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 55-47

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 28-21

Like Clemson, Louisville has aspirations of moving to the top of the ACC Atlantic, but won’t have an easy road to the top in 2015. The Cardinals will have their mettle tested on the first weekend of the season, as they play Auburn in Atlanta, a neutral site, that will in reality likely feel more like an Auburn home game. The Cardinals’ ACC schedule will feature games against Clemson, and consecutive road match ups against NC State and Florida State in October. They conclude the season by traveling to rival Kentucky, a game that usually proves to be deceptively competitive.

Florida State Seminoles

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 57-46

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 28-22

Florida State is coming off its first loss in two seasons after being dominated in the Rose Bowl by Oregon, and will be moving on without several key players during that run, namely quarterback Jameis Winston. The Seminoles should have a manageable schedule as they move on without Winston and try to stay on top of the ACC. Florida State will face off against three schools looking to take the mantle of ACC Champion in 2015 hosting Louisville in October, before traveling to play Georgia Tech and Clemson. They also will travel to “The Swamp” to close out the season against the rival Florida Gators, the team that handed them their last regular season defeat in 2012.

North Carolina Tar Heels

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 55-48

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 28-22

North Carolina turned a relatively mundane 2014 schedule into a sub .500 result, thanks largely to one of the worst defensive efforts in recent memory. The Tar Heels hope to rebound in 2015, but will have to do so against opponents that won a combined 83 games last season. The Tar Heels’ campaign opens against rival South Carolina in a contest of two teams looking to improve on a disappointing finish a season ago. They will also face off against Georgia Tech and Duke in the ACC, before ending with consecutive road games at challenging Lane Stadium against Virginia Tech, and versus rival NC State.

NC State Wolfpack

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 58-45

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 24-28

NC State will face a similar schedule in 2015 as they look to build on an 8-5 mark in 2014. Last season the Wolfpack had their non-conference games whipped, as they went 5-0 including a bowl win over UCF. Where they will need to improve is their play within the ACC, where they finished at 3-5 last year. The ACC slate features challenging road games against Boston College, Virginia Tech and Florida State, as well as home contests against Clemson and Louisville, both superior teams in 2014.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons 

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 55-36

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 27-35

Wake Forest faces an uphill climb in 2015 if they hope to improve on their three wins a year ago. Their non-conference slate does not look daunting as they face only one team with a winning record a year ago, Notre Dame on November 14th. Their schedule against ACC schools will be more challenging, however. They play Florida State, Louisville, Clemson and Duke — all nine win or better teams in 2014. On paper the only clear cut winnable game in conference would come in the second week of the season against Syracuse, a contest of two three-win schools last season.

Pittsburgh Panthers

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 56-47

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 27-23

Pittsburgh will have a very manageable schedule on paper during the first season of the Pat Narduzzi era. The Panthers’ toughest games in conference will be road trips to face Virginia Tech, Duke, and against the 2014 ACC runner-up Georgia Tech. Their non-conference slate features three very winnable games against Youngstown State, Akron and Iowa to start the season as well as a home game against Notre Dame on November 7th.

Duke Blue Devils

ACC Opp. 2014 record – 51-52

Non ACC opp. 2014 record – 19-29

The easiest schedule in 2015 falls to Duke, surprising for a school that finished last season with a 9-4 mark. The Blue Devils will only face three conference opponents with above .500 records in 2014, versus five that didn’t. Duke squares off against Boston College and Virginia Tech, both 7-6 last year, and will host Georgia Tech on September 26th. There only non-conference game will come in week two against North Carolina Central, a 7-5 school last season. The weak schedule could help the Blue Devils close the gap on last seasons ACC Coastal winner Georgia Tech.

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