CBS Sports’ Jeremy Fowler reports the ACC is leaning toward an eight-game conference schedule, keeping in line with the SEC but going against the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac 12. While nothing is set in stone and things could change, Fowler talked to a pair of ACC athletic directors who said things seem to be heading toward an eight-game conference schedule.
The SEC stuck to an eight-game conference schedule, though will mandate its teams annually schedule at least one opponent from the other four power conferences. The ACC already has a built-in schedule booster, with Notre Dame beginning in 2014 its agreement to play five ACC teams per year (though the Irish will play four ACC opponents in 2014 and six in 2015).
Programs that don’t have Notre Dame on their schedule may be required to play a power conference opponent, too. With the Notre Dame agreement in place, it doesn’t make sense for ACC schools with traditional non-conference rivalries — like Georgia Tech/Georgia, Florida State/Florida, Clemson/South Carolina — to play nine ACC games when Notre Dame could be on their schedule, too.
The Irish, in fact, play Florida State in 2014, Clemson in 2015 and Georgia Tech in 2016 — and if the ACC mandated a nine-game conference schedule, those programs would face the prospect of nine ACC games, a non-conference game against Notre Dame and another non-conference game against a traditional rival (that happens to be an SEC power). Navigating those brutal 11 games plus one cupcake would be extremely difficult, to say the least.
Fowler reported league powers Florida State and Clemson favor the eight-game schedule, and both schools should have considerable influence when a vote on the schedule is held this week.
UPDATE (3:00 p.m.): Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) the ACC has voted to keep an eight-game conference schedule with the requirement to schedule a power conference opponent as described above.