Ranking the Easiest ACC Non-Conference Schedules

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    ACC Non-Conference Schedules

    The best way to measure one conference up against another is to look at non-conference. The 2022 ACC non-conference schedules are all over the place. As the lone Power 5 conference unscathed by the crazy realignment, the ACC can re-establish itself as one of the top conferences in the nation with a strong showing.

    In this series, we will continue to look at each team’s out-of-conference slate and rank them based on difficulty. There are some teams who have serious gauntlets. Other teams have a cakewalk.

    The Easiest ACC Non-Conference Schedules

    Duke: vs Temple, @ Northwestern, vs North Carolina A&T (FCS), @ Kansas

    The lone ACC team without an in-conference win will have an opportunity to improve thanks to the easiest of the ACC non-conference schedules. Last year, all three of the Blue Devils’ wins came out of conference. Last year’s leading passer has since transferred to Florida International, so the winner of the sophomore quarterback battle between Riley Leonard and Jordan Moore will take over.

    Temple finished last season as the worst AAC team and is projected to finish the same in 2022. As for the other two FBS foes, Duke squares up against both Northwestern and Kansas for round two. Of those few wins, two came against the Wildcats and Jayhawks. Between Duke, Temple, Northwestern, and Kansas, there are going to be pillow fights all around.

    Wake Forest: vs VMI (FCS), @ Vanderbilt, vs Liberty, vs Army

    The defending ACC Atlantic division gets an easier path to defending its title with the second easiest ACC non-conference schedule. Last year, the Demon Deacons swept their non-conference slate fairly easily. Sam Hartman returns as does his top target and underrated stud receiver, A.T. Perry. With this foursome of non-ACC foes, Wake and Dave Clawson are going to be a force to watch.

    A trip to Vanderbilt shouldn’t be much trouble for Wake Forest. The Commodores are regularly at the bottom of the SEC. Last year, they fell so far as to lose to an FCS team. Liberty will have to replace the NFL-bound Malik Willis. They’ll have to replace him with Baylor and Utah transfer, Charlie Brewer. He’s good but he’s no Willis.

    Army, while not the strongest of the service academies, is a tough out for anyone. Wake will need to be better at stopping the run in 2022. Last year, they allowed nearly 196 yards per game on the ground, good for 109th in the nation.

    NC State: @ ECU, vs Charleston Southern (FCS), Texas Tech, vs UCONN

    A popular pick not named Clemson to win the conference, NC State is going to have an easier route with one of the less difficult ACC non-conference schedules. Devin Leary returns with some legitimate first-round hype looking to lead the Wolfpack to its first ACC title since 1979. Last year, NC State won three of its four non-conference games and lost its two AAC games by one and three points, respectively.

    ECU finished as a better-than-average AAC team last year and will be returning prolific passer, Holton Ahlers. Considering NC State only beat Louisiana Tech by a score last year, they had better not overlook the Pirates. In the Big 12, Texas Tech was one of the bottom teams in the conference but still won seven games. Finally, UCONN…is UCONN.

    Virginia: vs Richmond (FCS), @ Illinois, vs Old Dominion, vs Coastal Carolina

    Despite finishing just (6-6) last year, there is plenty of hype surrounding the Virginia Cavaliers. Most of that hype is due to quarterback Brennan Armstrong who finished fourth in preseason ACC Player of the Year voting after passing for 4,449 yards and 31 touchdowns last year. His top receiver returns after going off for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns last year.

    After facing the two best Independents in the nation, Virginia gets a break in 2022. Kicking off their FBS non-conference slate, UVA gets to travel to Illinois. Last year, the Cavs easily took care of the Fighting Illini, 42-14. It should be the same this year.

    Their final two non-conference games are against a pair of Sun Belt teams who should now be overlooked. Old Dominion finished just (6-7) last year in Conference-USA, capped off by a loss to Tulsa. Coastal, on the other hand, will be fun. They won 11 games last year, return NFL-bound Grayson McCall, and will be solid. Virginia scheduled this game for their second-to-last game before rivalry week. They better not overlook the Chanticleers.

    Boston College: vs Rutgers, vs Maine (FCS), @ UCONN, @ Notre Dame

    At the bottom of the ACC Atlantic, the Boston College Eagles ran through its non-conference schedule last year, winning all four. The final of those was in an overtime win over Missouri…but then they only won two games after that. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec leads the way after having his 2021 cut short.

    This year, the Eagles will have just as easy of a route in at least three of their games. To start, BC gets to host the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. For ten years, Rutgers and VT played regularly as Big East foes. To date, Rutgers hasn’t beaten the Hokies since 1991. A trip to UCONN should not be much of an issue, either.

    The difficult portion of the non-conference slate will be a trip to Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are CFP hopefuls and will be hitting their stride as these two face off in late November.

    Syracuse: @ UCONN, vs Purdue, vs Wagner (FCS), vs Notre Dame

    The Syracuse Orange is home to one of the best-kept secrets. Despite winning just five games last year, three of which were out-of-conference, the Orange have a running back who is taking the nation by storm. Sean Tucker, in just two seasons, has amassed 2,122 yards and 16 touchdowns.

    UCONN has struggled for years now. Since 2010, the Huskies have won six games just once. This will be the 10th time the two will face off with UCONN owning the series, 6-3. After returning from a trip to Connecticut, the Orange host Purdue. The Boilermakers had their best season since Kyle Orton led them to nine wins in 2003. Aiden O’Connell returns for one more season with plenty of experience out wide.

    As is the case with three other ACC programs, Syracuse gets to face off with Notre Dame. Maybe they’ll stop playing around and officially join the conference as they have in every other major sport.

    Virginia Tech: @ Old Dominion, vs Wofford (FCS), vs West Virginia, @ Liberty

    Last season, the Virginia Tech Hokies finished third in a weaker ACC Coastal division with just six wins. They split their non-conference slate last year behind Braxton Burmeister, who has since transferred out to San Diego State. Now, Marshall transfer Grant Wells gets to step in.

    VT and Old Dominion will suit up to face off for the fourth time since 2017. The Monarchs joined the FBS ranks in 2014, won ten games in 2016, and have yet to secure a winning record since. West Virginia travels to Virginia Tech for the first time since 2017, sporting a 29-23-1 record all time. The Mountaineers finished just (6-7) last year but they will have a new quarterback at the helm in J.T. Daniels.

    Finally, the penultimate game on the Hokies’ schedule, Liberty will be re-tooling its offense around Brewer. Even if they are not as projected to be as good as they were, VT needs to not overlook the Flames.

    14 Teams, No CFP?

    Last year, for the first time in its short history, the ACC was left out of the CFP festivities. With the overall perception that the league is weaker, a two-loss champion in Pitt was way outside looking in. Moving forward, even if Clemson stumbles again, the conference has a few teams who could take the leap and fill the void. Some really good teams have some of the easiest ACC non-conference schedules.

    For More:

    Mid-American: EasiestHardest
    Conference-USA: EasiestHardest
    Mountain West: EasiestHardest
    Sun Belt: EasiestHardest
    American Athletic: EasiestHardest
    Pac-12: EasiestHardest
    Big 12: EasiestHardest
    ACC: Easiest; Hardest
    SEC: Easiest; Hardest
    Big Ten: Easiest; Hardest

     

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