The ACC will keep an 8-game conference football schedule when it expands to 14 teams in 2013, the league announced today at their annual Fall meetings.
With Pittsburgh and Syracuse set to join the ACC next season, the conference was going to migrate to a 9-game schedule. But the recent agreement with Notre Dame altered those plans.
“The addition of Notre Dame gives us an opportunity to reinforce a number of conference rivalries in basketball and Olympic sports while also giving our schools greater flexibility in nonconference football scheduling,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “With Pitt, Syracuse and Notre Dame joining us, it is an exciting time in our league and our schools have made decisions that position us extremely well for the future.”
Beginning in 2014, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will play five ACC football games per season. This made the schedules tougher for Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia Tech. Each of them already face their in-state SEC rival on an annual basis. Clemson plays South Carolina, Florida State plays Florida, and Georgia Tech plays Georgia.
In years that those three schools face Notre Dame, they would only have two non-conference openings. This creates less scheduling flexibility, especially when most schools want seven or sometimes eight home games.
The downside to the decision is that it allows teams to schedule at their own free will, which likely means games against Furman, Presbyterian, Richmond, and so on. This could hurt the strength of schedule for teams looking to get into the new four-team playoff.
But the SEC continues to play an 8-game conference schedule, and the Big Ten announced in July that they plan to keep an 8-game slate also.
Here is how the ACC Atlantic and Coastal Divisions will set up in 2013: