A little over seven months before the start of the 2016 season, the ACC has finalized the schedules its member schools will face this upcoming year
The first conference game of the 2016 season will pit Georgia Tech against Boston College Sept. 3 at 7:30 a.m. The early start time is due to the fact that the game will be played in Dublin, Ireland, the first time a league game has been played in that country. It is only the third ACC game played outside of the United States, and both of the others involved Clemson: vs. Wake Forest in Tokyo, Japan, in 1982 and vs. Duke in Tokyo in 1991.
The first games of the new season featuring ACC members will be played two days prior, with Louisville hosting Charlotte and Tulane traveling to Wake Forest Sept. 1. As has become a tradition, the ACC will close out opening weekend with a Labor Day night game — Florida State vs. Ole Miss in the Orlando Kickoff game. The games in Ireland and Orlando are two of five neutral-site games involving ACC teams, the others being North Carolina vs. Georgia (Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Sept. 3, Georgia Dome; Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (Bristol Motor Speedway, Sept. 10); and Syracuse vs. Notre Dame (MetLife Stadium).
The ACC also released some notes trumpeting the strength of the conference’s schedules:
ACC teams will play more games than any other Power Five conference:
— Against non-conference teams that are ranked in ESPN’s 2016 Too Early Top 25 rankings (12). The league will also play a higher percentage of its non-conference games against teams in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 (21%).
— Against non-conference teams that were ranked in the final Associated Press Top 25 (12). The league will again play a higher percentage (21%) of its non-conference games against these teams.
— Against non-conference teams that were ranked in the final Coaches poll (14) as well as a higher percentage (25%).
— Against more non-conference teams that went to bowl games in 2015 (27).
— Against FBS non-conference teams that won 10 or more games (15) as well as against FBS non-conference teams that won nine or more games (18).
ACC teams are also playing games against opponents which had a higher overall winning percentage (.562) in 2015 than any other Power Five Conference, and its FBS non-conference opponents had the second-highest winning percentage of any league (.559).
“Our programs continue to showcase our football strength with an appealing slate of games scheduled for 2016,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford in a statement. “In addition to a number of compelling conference matchups, we again have arguably the toughest non-conference schedule by any measure. With our depth, competitiveness and rivalries, ACC fans can look forward to another season of exciting games every week.”
The Syracuse-Notre Dame game in New Jersey is one of five contests for the Irish against ACC teams, the others being North Carolina State (Oct. 8), Duke (Sept. 24), Miami (Oct. 29) and Virginia Tech. The latter three games will all be played at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.
And, finally, if you’re only going to circle one game on your ACC football calendar, make it this one: Clemson at Florida State, Oct. 29. Both of those teams, expected to enter the 2016 season in the Top 10, will be coming off bye weeks.