Luke DeCock

Five thoughts on the 2018 ACC football schedule

N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley (15), running against Clemson in 2017 game, was named to the All-ACC preseason team on July 24, 2018.
N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley (15), running against Clemson in 2017 game, was named to the All-ACC preseason team on July 24, 2018. ehyman@newsobserver.com

We already knew nonconference opponents and ACC crossover foes, so there wasn’t a ton of new information as far as competitive impact in Wednesday’s official release of the 2018 football schedule, but the dates and open weeks and order of opponents certainly matters, and not just if you’re planning a fall wedding and if you are, RESERVE YOUR VENUES NOW WHY ARE YOU READING THIS? GO!

With that in mind, here are five thoughts on the full schedule now that it’s public:

Early conference games

1. We’re continuing to see the television-influenced move of more conference games into September, highlighted last year by the earliest-ever UNC-Duke game. Virginia Tech opens at Florida State on Labor Day, one of three conference games for the Seminoles in the opening month. Most teams play two ACC games in September, although that’s skewed by it being a five-Saturday month this year. Even limited to the first four weeks of the season, a more equivalent time frame, everyone but Duke, Miami and N.C. State has at least one ACC game.

Timely open weeks

2. The Triangle teams will be thrilled with their open weeks, all of which fall smack in the middle of the season in the first two weeks of October. N.C. State’s is before the Clemson game and Duke’s is before Georgia Tech, if not their top choices for extra rest, certainly close to it. (Clemson’s off too, so it’s not the advantage it would be otherwise.) North Carolina’s is after a Thursday game at Miami and ahead of Virginia Tech, so even if the Tar Heels have to hustle to get ready for the Hurricanes, they’ll be rested for the Hokies.

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UNC head coach Larry Fedora gets worked up over a call during the fourth quarter of an ACC college football game between the N.C. State UNC at Carter-Finley Stadium on Nov. 25, 2017. Chris Seward cseward@newsobserver.com

No complaints at Georgia Tech

3. Despite the Duke bye, Paul Johnson can’t complain that the ACC stacked the deck against Georgia Tech this year. Virginia Tech is the only other team with a week off before facing the Yellow Jackets’ triple option, and that’s only like half a bye because VT and GT play on a Thursday. Louisville even has a short Saturday-Friday turnaround before facing Georgia Tech, which will make Johnson very happy and Louisville fans convinced the ACC is punishing the Cardinals for all of their misdeeds (which 14 other ACC schools would approve).

Thursday night games

4. North Carolina and N.C. State each got one ESPN Thursday night game, the Wolfpack at home against Wake Forest and the Tar Heels, as noted, at Miami. Duke did not get one, and the North Carolina game will be played on a Saturday in November after last fall’s early meeting. Wake Forest plays three Thursday games – the opener at Tulane, vs. Boston College, at N.C. State – but with no extra time off and short turnarounds before the ACC games. None of the N.C. teams ended up in any of the ACC’s five Friday night games.

‘Championship’ matchup

5. North Carolina’s Sept. 15 home opener is against Central Florida, which will pit its 2018 national title rings up against the Tar Heels’ 2012 Coastal Division championship rings. In terms of other made-up things, Notre Dame’s “ACC” games are at Syracuse (at Yankee Stadium), Virginia Tech and Wake Forest while Pittsburgh and Florida State go to South Bend. The Irish went 4-1 against the ACC last season to run its record in faux-conference games to 14-7. Those Notre Dame games account for five of the ACC’s 19 games against power-conference opponents.

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @LukeDeCock

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