Florida and Florida State is the perfect cross-conference rivalry. What others can we make? Photo: USA Today Sports
With conferences looking for ways to make for more attractive games — and maximize on television revenue — the idea of nine-game conference schedules continues to grow in popularity. For the record, I hate nine-game schedules for conferences. I see the benefits from a conference's financial standpoint, but hate the idea of possibly playing more conference road games every other year for any team. But the ACC is looking to adapt the idea a bit with an "8+1" model that would include non-conference match-ups against the SEC.
Whether or not that idea passes the beta phase remains to be seen. I have some doubts about it coming together, but it got me thinking, who would each ACC team play? Would they be paired up with an SEC team forever or get put on some sort of rotating basis? Does Notre Dame get in on this action too (that would be difficult as the ACC has 14 football members and Notre Dame is just sort of there)?
Ideally, in my book, each ACC team would be allowed to schedule one long term rivalry series with any non-conference opponent of their choosing. So I decided to pair them each up with the rival I'd like to see them play annually. I don't care if these games get played at the end of the season or beginning, as long as they are played.
The four already in place would not be touched. No reason to touch them. Keep them going.
Clemson vs. South Carolina
Florida State vs. Florida
Georgia Tech vs. Georgia
Louisville vs. Kentucky
Now, for everybody else…
Boston College vs. Connecticut: If UMass ever becomes respectable in football, the Minutemen could become a viable alternative.
Duke vs. Northwestern: The Academic Bowl. Northwestern may be replaced with Stanford or Vanderbilt.
Miami vs. Central Florida: Perhaps this is capitalizing on what may be the high point for UCF football as a program, but the Golden Knights appear to be heading upward as a program and that could make for a fun series wit Miami. Florida would be preferable of course, but they are locked in with Florida State. Forget USF, FIU or FAU. If you are staying in-state, UCF it is.
North Carolina vs. East Carolina: I admit I ran in to a buzz saw with this one. The Tar Heels were the last team I ended up pairing with someone and outside of the big names I could have just thrown in to the mix just because (Ohio State, USC, Oregon etc.) I decided to just keep it close to home and throw East Carolina in to the mix. Feel free to suggest your own match-up if you think you can do better.
Another solution would be to have the North Carolina schools combine to have just one Notre Dame game each season. That way we can rotate the opponents in and out with Notre Dame as needed.
North Carolina State vs. Maryland: Considering the animosity behind the scenes by some members of these schools, this could be fun
Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia: I was tempted to say Penn State here, but I'll go with the revival of the Backyard Brawl. Feel free to mix it up between West Virginia and Penn State if you wish.
Syracuse vs. Penn State: The two schools have a long and storied history together. If Pittsburgh gets West Virginia, then Syracuse should get Penn State. If Pittsburgh gets Penn State, then Syracuse can have West Virginia (or Rutgers).
Virginia vs. Maryland: A good regional battle with long time ACC ties. This just seems to make sense without completely embarrassing either side year after year.
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee: This series will get going in a few years at Bristol Motor Speedway, but considering the distance involved, let's just keep it going year after year on campus locations.
Wake Forest vs. Vanderbilt: The other Academic Bowl. Also feel free to alternate with Northwestern or Stanford whenever Duke is not playing either.