A simple realignment to ACC football divisions would avoid potential repeat matchups

·3 min read

A few weeks ago, and for a fleeting moment, just a few seconds after N.C. State’s football overtime defeat of Clemson in late September and as North Carolina took the field in Atlanta to do unsuccessful battle with Georgia Tech, there was a possibility the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels could meet twice this fall.

Once on Thanksgiving Friday in the Wolfpack’s Carter-Finley Stadium, and the second time the next weekend in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s football title game in Charlotte.

It was possible then, and still is — but not probable, at least not now unless UNC gets a lot of help from other Coastal division teams. And the Wolfpack needs to win out.

ACC football divisional make-up and scheduling would make a replay possible. If State and Carolina entered their regular-season finale with locks on division titles, one or the other could lose that game and still get to the title game and the other could do the same. Lots of ifs and buts.

When the ACC’s two seven-team divisions — Atlantic and Coastal — were created, Florida State and Miami were put in different divisions, suggesting the two then-most-powerful-teams of the league would play for many ACC titles under the glare of national prominence. All they would have to do is win as usual.

That hasn’t happened.

In 16 years, the Seminoles and the Hurricanes have never met in the championship game. Florida State made it five times and Miami just once, but never against each other. Florida State and Miami just aren’t what they used to be when it comes to competing in the ACC. One day some sort of normalcy might return, but “one day” might be years away.

This year, before the season began, the possibility of two teams meeting in the ACC title game after playing the last game of each team’s regular season applied to N.C. State (Atlantic) vs. North Carolina (Coastal) and Syracuse (Atlantic) vs. Pittsburgh (Coastal).

Thanksgiving weekend games between teams in different ACC divisions don’t have to happen. Season-ending league games for 10 ACC teams could be between teams in the same division, or, with respect to Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Louisville, against non-conference traditional in-state rivalries.

To get there would require a simple change in divisional alignment if the ACC and the two schools want the State-Carolina game played on the last weekend of the season. Just move N.C. State to the Coastal and Duke to the Atlantic. And arrange the schedule starting with the last week of games.

Here’s how divisional realignment would look with final game opponents:

Atlantic Division

Boston College vs. Syracuse

Clemson vs. South Carolina

Duke vs. Wake Forest

Florida State vs. Florida

Louisville vs. Kentucky

Syracuse vs. Boston College

Wake Forest vs. Duke

Coastal Division

Georgia Tech vs. Georgia

Miami vs. Pittsburgh

North Carolina vs. N.C. State

N.C. State vs. North Carolina

Pittsburgh vs. Miami

Virginia vs. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech vs. Virginia

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