Future ND-ACC schedules a win for all
Well, my friends, Friday's Notre Dame-ACC scheduling announcement should not be one of those times. Both the Irish and the league should be applauded for the way they handled an often maddening process to provide a win for all parties involved.
The schedules for 2014, 2015 and 2016 are perfectly balanced. Each season features one major high-profile game with national implications. Simply put, it was a wise move to have the Irish play Florida State in 2014, Clemson in 2015 and Miami Hurricanes in 2016.
Both the Seminoles and Tigers have elevated themselves back into the national spotlight and appear to be annual Top 25 programs again. Both the Irish-Noles and Irish-Canes rivalries are classics with huge national interest (even if the Miami game last season was decidedly one-sided).
In addition to those games, Louisville snagged a huge spot in Year One of the three-year rotation -- potentially adding two more Top 25 teams onto the Irish schedule from the ACC. Not a bad way for the Cardinals to start off their first year in a new league, especially with the subpar nonconference slate they have for 2013.
As for some of the games that had already been on the Irish schedule, Notre Dame was able to keep its two-game series with Syracuse intact. The Orange are actually the only one of the 14 ACC teams that will play Notre Dame twice in this three-year cycle. But, as expected, Pitt and BC will lose games previously set.
Pitt -- the ACC team that has played the Irish the most with 68 previous appearances -- remains on the schedule for 2015. That means its games against Notre Dame for 2014 and 2016 are off. Pitt will play Delaware, FIU, Akron and Iowa in nonconference in 2014.
Boston College remains on the schedule for 2015 as well. That means its game against Notre Dame scheduled for 2016 is off as well.
Folks in Pittsburgh and Boston have had time to come to terms with these expected changes as part of the ACC-Notre Dame partnership. Looking at the bigger picture, the ACC stands to benefit from what should be an overall stronger nonconference schedule -- especially since that is going to play such a large factor in the future playoff. Should Notre Dame continue what it started last season, the ACC benefits even more.
As for the Irish, their future ACC schedules are not totally daunting. On paper, 2014 looks to be the most difficult with Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina all on the slate. But the Louisville and UNC games are in South Bend. Even in 2016, both Miami and Virginia Tech play at Notre Dame.
Of course, predicting the ease or difficulty of future schedules is an exercise in the unknown, since teams change so much year-to-year. But at least today, the schedule split looks exactly right.
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