ACC Coastal Ultimate Schedule

July 26th, 2009

There are many articles out there on the best games this season, on a national level as well as by conference. But how would each conference’s (or in some cases division) schedule look if you had to follow the actual rules when doing so? This is just one person’s opinion, so feel free to add your input/suggestions. Next: the ACC Coastal, a division that boasts the preseason favorite to win the ACC in Virginia Tech.


ACC Schedule “Rules”:

-         Four Non-conference games

-         Eight conference games (five within the division and three against Atlantic Division opponents)

-         ACC Championship Game


Week 1: Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (in Atlanta) (September 5th)


Arguably the best game of the opening weekend, the Hokies head to the Georgia Dome with high hopes. Is Frank Beamer’s team good enough to compete for a national title? We’ll have a more definitive answer to that question following this one, a game in which some may expect another Crimson Tide blowout. Alabama embarrassed Clemson a year ago in the Chick-Fil-A Season Kickoff, but the Hokies are a much tougher (both physically and mentally) team than those Tigers.


Nick Saban will be unveiling a new quarterback in place of the graduated John Parker Wilson, most likely junior Greg McElroy. How much pressure Jason Worilds and company put on him while slowing down the Alabama rushing attack will determine the winner. The game within the game: special teams. The Hokies are renowned for their play in that area, consistently beating opponents in their game of “Beamer Ball”, but Alabama is no slouch in that department either. The Crimson Tide return one of the nation’s best returners in Javier Arenas and they can make plays in all facets of special teams.


Other Game Considered: Miami @ Florida State (9/7)


Week 2: Clemson @ Georgia Tech (September 10th)


Paul Johnson’s spread option attack took the ACC by storm last year, leading the conference in rushing and notching nine wins in his first season at Georgia Tech. This game matches up a Yellow Jacket offense that returns the majority of its key contributors with a defense some think could be the ACC’s best. Georgia Tech returns nine starters on offense while Clemson’s new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will have eight returning starters of his own. Overall, these are two of the more experienced teams in the ACC, with the major question being who will start at quarterback for the Tigers. A win for either team gets them on the right track towards a possible ACC Championship Game berth, with both teams having the opportunity to get to Tampa the first Saturday in December.


Other Games Considered: North Carolina @ Connecticut (9/12), TCI @ Virginia (9/12)


Week 3: East Carolina @ North Carolina (September 19th)


This is a very good weekend of games in the Coastal Division, but the pick here is the Pirates invading Chapel Hill because of what the Pirates were able to do last season. Skip Holtz’s team beat both Virginia Tech and West Virginia in September, finishing the season with the Conference USA title. In North Carolina ECU takes on a team some think could be ready to take the next step in the ACC, as the youngsters who were highly-touted recruits a couple of years ago emerge as team leaders.


The Heels return nine starters on defense, but the question is how they make up for the departure of receivers Hakeem Nicks, Brooks Foster and Brandon Tate. T.J. Yates is back under center for Carolina, which finished seventh in the ACC in total offense and 92nd nationally a season ago. The defense wasn’t much better (11th in the ACC in total defense), and what makes improvement that much more difficult is the graduation of All-ACC honorees Trimane Goddard (first team) and Mark Paschal (second team). They won games thanks in large part to their big play ability and the return game. ECU is sound defensively, so expect points to be at a premium in this one.


Other Games Considered: Nebraska @ Virginia Tech (9/19), Virginia @ Southern Miss (9/19)


Week 4: Miami @ Virginia Tech (September 26th)


The “Baby Canes” are a year older, but are they ready to throw their hat into the ring in regards to an ACC title? Jacory Harris is the guy at quarterback with Robert Marve transferring to Purdue, and the Hurricanes have some playmakers on both sides of the ball. Running backs Graig Cooper and Javarris James will need to be at their best in Blacksburg, as an ineffective run game would allow Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster to ratchet up the blitzes. Miami won last season’s meeting 16-14, holding the Hokies to just seventy-seven yards rushing and 2-for-11 on third downs. Another defensive performance like that would have Miami in the game at the end; can Harris can company make enough plays offensively to win in Blacksburg?


Other Game Considered: North Carolina @ Georgia Tech (9/26)


Week 5: Oklahoma @ Miami (October 3rd)


Two of the signature programs of the 80s, the Hurricanes and Sooners will get together in South Florida for the first time since the 1988 FedEx Orange Bowl. Of course, the Sooners blew out Miami in Norman a couple seasons ago, but the Miami program may be on better footing this time around. The tough part for Miami, other than facing a team that should be in the national title hunt again this season, is the fact that they’ll be coming off of a tough game at Virginia Tech.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford is back, and the Sooners also boast one of the best front sevens in college football. The national media will likely use this game as a measuring stick in regards to just how far Randy Shannon’s program has progressed, but the team has to be careful not to let the result linger for too long (win or loss).


Other Games Considered: Virginia @ North Carolina (10/3), Georgia Tech @ Mississippi State (10/3)


Week 6: Georgia Tech @ Florida State (October 10th)


Georgia Tech won last season’s meeting in Atlanta by three (31-28) despite passing for just fifty-five yards and racking up fourteen first downs. So how’d the Yellow Jackets win? They rushed for 288 yards and Marcus Sims fumbled the ball into the end zone late in the fourth quarter, giving Tech their first win over the Seminoles in thirteen meetings. FSU was down 31-20 with six minutes remaining but was able to get in position to win, something that will nag at them in the days prior to the rematch. How well the Seminoles make up for the loss of six defensive starters will determine whether or not they can keep the Georgia Tech rushing attack in check.


Other Game Considered: Boston College @ Virginia Tech (10/10)


Week 7: Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech (October 17th)


A game with definite ACC title implications takes place in Atlanta. Virginia Tech will look to improve its offensive output, accounting for just 247 yards of offense in last year’s 20-17 victory. Running the football worked for both teams in the last meeting, with the Yellow Jackets rushing for 287 yards and the Hokies accounting for 199. The difference: three Georgia Tech turnovers, including a pair of key drive-killing fumbles. That’s a risk involved in running the option; you can be more prone to putting the ball on the ground, you just have to hope the turnovers don’t kill you in the end. This is one game where turnovers will play a large role in which team leaves in the driver’s seat for the ACC Coastal crown.


Other Games Considered: Virginia @ Maryland (10/17), Miami @ UCF (10/17)


Week 8: Bye Week


The best matchups on this weekend are interdivisional battles, and with NC State taking on Virginia Tech in November this seems like a good time to take a week off.


Games Considered: Florida State @ North Carolina (10/22), Clemson @ Miami (10/24), and Georgia Tech @ Virginia (10/24)


Week 9: North Carolina @ Virginia Tech (October 29th)


The Thursday night before Halloween could be a wild one in Blacksburg, with the visiting Tar Heels likely looking to make a statement in the ACC race. Carolina had one of its best defensive performances of the season in the 20-17 defeat last season, but that was nullified by the offense turning the ball over four times. If that happens again, North Carolina will be blown out. But if T.J. Yates and company can take care of the football and make a couple of big plays they’ll have a shot. The Hokies will be coming off of a bye week while UNC will have hosted Florida State the previous week.


Other Games Considered: Duke @ Virginia (10/31), Georgia Tech @ Vanderbilt (10/31), Miami @ Wake Forest (10/31)


Week 10: Duke @ North Carolina (November 7th)


This is where my self-imposed rules on the schedule cause some trouble (more on that later). Instead of what should be a frenzied environment in Greenville on Thursday night (Virginia Tech visits East Carolina), it’s off to Kenan Stadium for the latest installment in the Duke/Carolina football rivalry. Last year’s game was a solid 28-20 victory for North Carolina, but they allowed the Blue Devils nearly 400 yards of offense. Quarterback Thaddeus Lewis is back at the controls for Duke, which could mean even more offensive success for Duke. This could be an “upset alert” game for the Tar Heels, who by this point may be looking to stay in the Coastal Division race.


Other Games Considered: Virginia Tech @ East Carolina (11/5), Wake Forest @ Georgia Tech (11/7)


Week 11: Miami @ North Carolina (November 14th)


One of the ACC’s wildest games a season ago, the Heels won at Miami thanks to a clutch (at least in the 4th quarter) relief effort from Cameron Sexton and two late interceptions by Trimane Goddard. Goddard’s two picks, one leading to the game-winning drive and the second coming in the end zone to save the game, were the only two turnovers. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris will get a full-time shot at Carolina, something that didn’t happen last season due to the presence of Marve. Expect another evenly-played game, with the Hurricanes hoping to end their two-game losing streak to the Tar Heels.


Other Game Considered: Virginia Tech @ Maryland (11/14)


Week 12: NC State @ Virginia Tech (November 21st)


In each of the last two seasons the Hokies lost in the regular season to the team they would play in the ACC Championship Game (Boston College). And both times they were able to avenge those losses and snag a berth to the FedEx Orange Bowl. Could that be the case here? The Wolfpack are one of the favorites to win the Atlantic Division, and sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson is a dual-threat player that can give opponents fits. These two schools haven’t played since the 2005 season, but thanks to the presence of State head coach Tom O’Brien (formerly the head coach at Boston College) there is some familiarity in regards to the scheme. It will be interesting to see how the Hokies attack Wilson, a player they have yet to play against…and whether or not any of those lessons learned could be used on December 5th.


Other Games Considered: North Carolina @ Boston College (11/21), Virginia @ Clemson (11/21)


Week 13: Georgia @ Georgia Tech (November 28th)


The reason for not picking Virginia Tech/ECU for Week 10 is the battle for supremacy in the Peach State, with the Yellow Jackets owning bragging rights thanks to their win in Athens last year. Paul Johnson’s team ran roughshod over the Bulldogs in that meeting, accounting for 409 yards rushing in the 45-42 win. However, they can’t give up 488 yards of offense like they did in that game and expect to be just as fortunate this time around. There are a variety of scenarios that could come into play, from both moving onto their respective conference title games the following week to simply playing for bowl positioning. But with all that said, there’s nothing better than being able to let the other fan base know that you rule the state for the next year.


Other Games Considered: Miami @ USF (11/28), North Carolina @ NC State (11/28), and Virginia Tech @ Virginia (11/28)


Week 14: ACC Championship Game (December 5th)


As stated in the ACC Atlantic Ultimate Schedule, look for Virginia Tech to win their third consecutive ACC crown with a win over Florida State.