Five Takeaways From the Release of the 2019 ACC Football Schedule

    The 2019 ACC football schedule was released Wednesday, and we examined it in its entirety. Here are our biggest takeaways as we look ahead at a number of

    January 16, 2019

    The 2019 ACC football schedule was released Wednesday, and we examined it in its entirety.

    Here are our biggest takeaways as we look ahead at a number of storylines, including Clemson’s chances of repeating as the national champion.

    First game of the season

    Defending national champion Clemson will host Georgia Tech on Thursday, August 29 in the first ACC game of the season. What an introduction to the conference for new Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins.

    Sure, Collins has been on Georgia Tech’s staff twice previously, so he’s not entirely unfamiliar with the ACC, but his first game as the Yellow Jackets’ head coach will be on the road against the likely preseason No. 1 team and potential Heisman Trophy frontrunner in quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

    Talk about a tough spot.

    It’ll also be our first time seeing Tech’s new-look offense as the program moves away from the triple-option.

    Speaking of Thursday night games…

    There are five on the ACC schedule next season. In addition to Georgia Tech-Clemson, there’s also:

    • North Carolina-Wake Forest (Sept. 12)
    • Syracuse-NC State (Oct. 10)
    • North Carolina-Pittsburgh (Nov. 14)
    • NC State-Georgia Tech (Nov. 21)

     

    Georgia Tech, NC State and North Carolina will each play twice on a Thursday. Georgia Tech and Syracuse both have a bye week before their game in Raleigh in October, as do Pittsburgh and North Carolina before their game in mid-November.

    But for North Carolina at Wake Forest and NC State at Georgia Tech, the teams involved will only have four days off in between games.

    Home sweet home

    Boston College will be the last team in the ACC to play a true road game when the Eagles travel to Rutgers for a game on September 21. Boston College plays its first three games at home against Virginia Tech, Richmond and Kansas, as well as four of its first five and five of its first seven.

    Clemson, Louisville, NC State and Pitt will play their first two games at home.

    Georgia Tech and Virginia will enjoy a significant home-field advantage in November, which could come in handy if either school is still searching for bowl eligibility after nine games. The Yellow Jackets play their final three games and four of their last five at home: Pittsburgh, at Virginia, Virginia Tech, NC State and Georgia.

    The Cavaliers will host Georgia Tech, Liberty and Virginia Tech in their final three games.

    Long stretches on the road

    The price for Boston College staying at home in the first three weeks is that the Eagles must play on the road in four of their final five games. They might be four of their toughest games the entire season with trips to Clemson (the defending national champion), Syracuse (the only other ACC school to finish in the AP Top 25 last season), Notre Dame (which made the College Football Playoff last season) and Pitt (the ACC Coastal champions last season).

    Sandwiched in between those four games is a home game against Florida State, which is one of the best programs in the conference historically despite a 5-7 record last season.

    Miami (FL) also plays four of its final five games on the road against Pitt, Florida State, FIU and Duke.

    Louisville and Wake Forest both have three of their final four games on the road.

    The Cardinals have trips to Miami (FL), NC State and Kentucky, while the Demon Deacons have games at Virginia Tech, Clemson and Syracuse.

    Could Clemson run the table again?

    The Tigers have gone undefeated in conference play and won the ACC Championship twice in the last four seasons. Both times they made the College Football Playoff and won the national championship.

    Given the amount of talent Clemson returns, especially on offense, and its schedule, it’s not an unrealistic possibility for that to happen again in 2019. Texas A&M might be the best team that Clemson will play in the regular season and that game is at home in Week 2.

    It’s the Tigers’ game in Week 3 at Syracuse that could give them their toughest test of the season. The Orange went 10-3 last season and finished the season ranked No. 15 in the final AP Top 25 Poll.

    Syracuse nearly beat Clemson last season after starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence was knocked out of the game — and don’t forget that the Orange were successful in upsetting the Tigers two seasons ago after then-starter Kelly Bryant left the game with a concussion.

    Clemson losing its starting quarterback against Syracuse in each of the last two seasons was surely beneficial to the Orange and an occurrence that’s unlikely to happen for a third year in a row. But if Syracuse can both continue its positive momentum under head coach Dino Babers and successfully replace quarterback Eric Dungey, then Clemson’s first road test of the season, especially one that comes a week after what should be a hard-fought game against Texas A&M, could be its most difficult conference game.

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