The 2024 ACC football schedule is here and for the first time some questions are answered about how the conference will integrate games in California and Texas after the ACC’s September additions of Stanford, Cal and SMU.
The new schedule format, in place from 2024 to 2030, won’t have divisions and will feature the top two teams based on conference winning percentage in the ACC championship. Each team will play eight conference games per season, with all 17 squads playing each other at least twice — once at home and once on the road — over the next seven seasons.
The current 14 conference teams will each play a total of three times in California over the seven years. No team ventures west in back-to-back seasons, but Stanford heads east for two straight weeks against Syracuse (Sept. 20) and Clemson (Sept. 28) this year.
Each team has two bye weeks, excluding FSU and Georgia Tech who have three: a present for opening their seasons in Ireland in Week 0. The overseas game will be the first time ESPN’s College GameDay will broadcast live outside of the United States.
Week 1 is no less gripping, headlined by a Clemson-Georgia soiree, with all ACC schools competing in the official season opener.
The cross-country travel picture
One of the biggest questions we all had when Stanford and Cal joined the ACC (along with SMU), was what it might look like logistically for the West Coast schools playing in a predominantly East Coast conference. We now have some answers. Cal will come to the East Coast four times: to play Auburn, Florida State, Pitt and Wake Forest. The Golden Bears never come to the East Coast in consecutive weeks, and their final road game is at SMU in Dallas. Stanford wasn’t so lucky.
The Cardinal play at Syracuse on Sept. 20 (a Friday) and at Clemson just eight days later in Death Valley. Will the Cardinal simply stay on the East Coast that week? Where would they practice, if so? And what would that look like from an academic standpoint for classes? It’s clear the ACC did its best to accommodate both schools, but these are the tricky parts of having a cross-country conference. It doesn’t help matters that Clemson is one of the more difficult schools to get in and out of. The upside for Stanford? The Cardinal come to the East Coast just three times: to play the Orange and Tigers, as well as NC State. The team’s other road games are at Notre Dame, Cal and San Jose State. — Grace Raynor, ACC football staff writer
Who’s excited for Week 1? In what could be the most highly-anticipated nonconference matchup for the league, Clemson will travel to Atlanta to play Georgia at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Aug. 31. While Florida State and Georgia Tech playing each other in Ireland in Week 0 is certainly exciting, and Miami playing at Florida in Week 1 is intriguing, this Clemson-Georgia matchup will be the one to watch. The Bulldogs are the favorites to open the season as the best team in the country.
Odds are they will be bitter from missing out on the College Football Playoff this year and ready to prove they are still the kings of college football. Clemson, meanwhile, is looking to return to its former dominance from its College Football Playoff days. The Tigers had a down year in 2023, losing four games for the first time since 2011.
But a win against a dominant Georgia team in Week 1 would send quite the statement about where the Tigers could be headed. Similarly, a blowout loss could raise concerns again. — Raynor
Florida State’s tough stretch
Florida State took over as the class of the ACC in 2023, going undefeated and winning the conference championship with its third-string quarterback. The Seminoles will look different in 2023, without quarterback Jordan Travis and star receiver Keon Coleman. They also have quite the stretch in November to get through ahead of a potential ACC championship berth. From Oct. 26 through Nov. 9, FSU has a three-week stretch in which it will travel to Miami, host North Carolina then travel to Notre Dame. How many of those games the Seminoles can afford to lose and still potentially compete for a spot in a 12-team Playoff will be fascinating to see.
Clemson could be the preseason favorite to win the ACC, given the talent the Tigers return, but if FSU were to make the championship game and win it, the Seminoles could be well-positioned for the postseason. That late-October, early-November swing will be crucial in setting the table, though. — Raynor
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