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Prime time blues

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I got to thinking yesterday as the ACC released its Nov. 15 gametimes about just how little it seems like the league has found itself in a prominent prime-time spot this year.

That might have a little something to do with not having a top-15 team for the last two months. OK, it probably has a lot.

But as Maryland heads its a Thursday night game (one of seven featuring ACC teams this year), it might be the Terps’ only truly national prime-time appearance this season. In fact, between the start of the season and Nov. 15 – a total of 12 weeks – the league will land exactly eight prime-time Saturday games on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2.

Don’t believe me? Here is a breakdown of Saturday night (i.e. after 6 p.m.) starts for ACC teams on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 for all but the final two weeks of the season:

ABC

Aug. 30: Alabama 34, Clemson 10 (regional)
Sept. 27: Virginia Tech 35, Nebraska 30 (regional)
Nov. 15: Boston College at Florida State (regional)

ESPN

Sept. 6: Florida 26, Miami 3
Nov. 8: Notre Dame at Boston College

ESPN2

Sept. 20: Wake Forest 12, Florida State 3
Oct. 4: North Carolina 38, Connecticut 12
Oct. 18: Boston College 28, Virginia Tech 23

It’s worth pointing out only three of those are actually conference games. The nonconference opponents in the other five games include Alabama, Florida, Nebraska and Notre Dame (as well as Connecticut).

Maybe the trend changes in the last two weeks of the season. But probably too often for a big-time league – no doubt thanks to the absence of a national title contender – when the sun has set on Saturdays, the ACC has been left in the dark.

Patrick Stevens

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