One of the consequences of a super-sized conference is a league schedule that can lead to serious imbalances.
Take Virginia from last year. Everyone gets caught up in all the close games the Cavaliers played. They often forget Virginia didn’t have to deal with Boston College, Clemson and Florida State.
The same sort of thing can happen in other leagues. Think Kansas would have gone 12-1 last year if it had to play Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech rather than Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M?
Every year, someone gets serendipity on their side in terms of scheduling. And while you really can’t fully know who gets really lucky until the season plays out, you can guess based preseason predictions.
So by assigning six points to one of the ACC’s predicted division winners (this being an external measurement that was not contrived by this blog), one point to its anticipated cellar dwellers and corresponding point totals to every team in between, here’s a division by division look at who got lucky, with opponents missed in parentheses:
Wake Forest: 14 (Virginia Tech-6, North Carolina-5, Georgia Tech-3)
N.C. State: 11 (Virginia Tech-6, Georgia Tech-3, Virginia-2)
Florida State: 8 (North Carolina-5, Virginia-2, Duke-1)
Maryland: 8 (Miami-4, Georgia Tech-3, Duke-1)
Boston College: 7 (Miami-4, Virginia-2, Duke-1)
North Carolina: 15 (Clemson-6, Wake Forest-5, Florida State-4)
Virginia Tech: 12 (Clemson-6, Wake Forest-5, N.C. State-1)
Miami: 11 (Clemson-6, Boston College-3, Maryland-2)
Duke: 9 (Florida State-4, Boston College-3, Maryland-2)
Georgia Tech: 8 (Wake Forest-5, Maryland-2, N.C. State-1)
Virginia: 8 (Florida State-4, Boston College-3, N.C. State-1)
The scoring system is obviously imperfect, since it doesn’t account an extremely good or extremely bad team, not to mention marginal differences between teams.
But since most teams on a scale that will place everyone between 6 and 15 will land between 8 and 13 (i.e. not be outliers), it’s realistic to believe Clemson, Wake Forest and North Carolina might have caught a break and that Boston College might have its work cut out for them.
It would only further justify Clemson’s preseason hype, further cement expectations Wake Forest will win another nine or so games this year, and further fulfill the hopes in Chapel Hill that good football is just around the corner.
And on the flip side, it might just mean the incessant questions about the post-Matt Ryan era will continue well after Chris Crane’s tenure as a starter at Boston College begins.