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The Minimalist Schedule: ACC Edition

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Because two losses are sufficient for Miami fans to demand a coaching change.

Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Banner Society Illustration.

In the Minimalist Schedule, I reduce every team’s year to two games, one home and one away. If a conference wants to adopt this concept, I accept Cash App, PayPal, and Venmo, and I have already presented my proposed schedules for the Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12.

The two-game schedule works surprisingly well for the ACC, a conference where most of the games feel interchangeable to non-partisans, a fair amount of intrigue is reserved for non-conference rivalries, and Clemson gets accused of having a weak schedule no matter what. And while I’m not much of a prognosticator, I’m reasonably confident the majority of these teams will go 1-1, leaving us with the logjammed ACC standings we all crave. Only a coward demands a clear hierarchy. The brave demand flocks of .500 teams, strained through increasingly absurd tiebreaker scenarios.


Game 1: Syracuse

Game 2: UMass

The Eagles get one series that’s been competitive in recent history (Syracuse has won four of the last seven since joining Boston College in the ACC Atlantic) and one that … has not (BC’s won ten straight against the Minutemen). There’s a reasonable shot with this schedule that Boston College finishes undefeated for the first time since 1940, subjecting us to months of “well, can Jeff Hafley do it without Steve Addazio’s players?” inartfully planted by Steve Addazio’s League of Sha-Dudes.


Game 1: Georgia Tech

Game 2: South Carolina

South Carolina’s obvious, but picking Clemson’s second game was trickier. I had NC State in this spot for a bit, half because the Wolfpack are pretty good at losing to Clemson in deeply agonizing ways and half because it’s called The Textile Bowl. But my colleagues convinced me that NC State is needed elsewhere, to help form the Tobacco Triangle of Rancor, and the Textile Bowl trophy is, bizarrely, not made out of any actual textiles.

Georgia Tech’s played Clemson plenty AND doesn’t drag around a misleading name for this rivalry. (There is no trophy for this game, but if there were it would probably be plastered with message board comments about Kirby Smart cheating/sucking despite all his aforementioned cheating.)


Game 1: NC State

Game 2: UNC

Duke and NC State have only played three times since 2003, and their most recent meeting was way back in 2013. You can’t get a Triangle of Rancor going without all three points of the triangle generating said rancor!

But the real key to the Triangle isn’t hate. It’s a common purpose Duke, UNC, and NC State can all rally behind: making Wake Forest feel left out, and not in a purposefully exclusionary way. It’s more of a “Oh shoot, we already bought tickets to the concert together and forgot to tell you! But you can get a ticket by yourself and we can hang out afterwards if you want!” kind of thing.


Game 1: Miami

Game 2: Florida

Look, college football Twitter’s already a hellish nightmare on its best days. This schedule just accepts that and embraces the fate all Floridians share: to one day get shouted at by a stranger in line at a rest stop Subway, simply for wearing a shirt that looked Gator-y. (In fact, it’s just a New York Knicks shirsey, which is sad for different reasons.)


Game 1: Clemson

Game 2: Miami

No, Georgia’s not on this schedule. The Dawgs have a Notre Dame-ish number of rivals, and I decided to take off the opponent they’re usually most confident they can beat. (Their record against Georgia Tech in this millennium largely backs them up.) I do not expect Georgia Tech to be happy about this, but I trust they will focus that frustration into a higher purpose: winning a game that gets the losing coach fired and damages Mark Richt’s legacy.


Game 1: Cincinnati

Game 2: Kentucky

  1. Win the Keg of Nails.
  2. Win the Governor’s Cup.
  3. Pour the nails into the cup.
  4. Drink from it deeply, seize the crown of MOST METAL GOVERNOR IN KENTUCKY HISTORY.


Game 1: Florida State

Game 2: Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech may not seem like an interesting fit to an outsider, but the Yellow Jackets are 7-9 against Miami since the Hurricanes joined the ACC. Georgia Tech’s also won three ACC titles to Miami’s zero.

Wait, did you just say the NCAA vacated one of those? You, a Miami supporter, sided with the NCAA? Look what I’ve turned you into, just by putting Georgia Tech on your schedule. The thing you hate most: an official records defender.



Game 1: Duke

Game 2: UNC

NC State played UNC 13 times before they got a victory. In 1902, right in the middle of that streak, students at Duke (then known as Trinity College) sent NC State a telegram congratulating the team on their 0-0 tie against UNC.

Trinity stopped fielding a football team in 1895 and didn’t start a program up again until 1920. That they still felt like talking shit to NC State proves that the Triangle of Rancor is destiny for these three schools.


Game 1: NC State

Game 2: Duke

UNC’s played Virginia in The South’s Oldest Rivalry every year since 1919. Being old is not the same as being good, though I can understand how you might think that given Mack Brown’s first year back in Chapel Hill. Do what Cornell did to every UVA student and cast the Hoos aside.


Game 1: Penn State

Game 2: West Virginia

If Pitt goes 2-0 against this schedule, they should cease football operations. This is the mountaintop, there are no other worlds to conquer, and you are forever clothed in Ruining Life For Others glory. I believe in you, Pitt, while recognizing believing in you is one of the most foolish things I can or will ever do.


Game 1: Boston College

Game 2: Rutgers

I recognize this schedule basically means we’re assured a confusing brawl between Red Sox and Yankees fans at both of these games, with a few random bystander Mets partisans somehow taking the worst of the injuries. I just don’t care.


Game 1: Wake Forest

Game 2: Virginia Tech

If you’re frustrated that I took away the UNC game, take note: the first current ACC opponent Virginia played in program history was actually Wake Forest, whom they beat 46-4 in 1889. UNC and UVA didn’t play one another until 1892, so a true lover of history must acknowledge the Demon Deacons belong on Virginia’s schedule, not the Tar Heels.


Game 1: West Virginia

Game 2: Virginia

This is the most extreme case of tailgating whiplash I’ve seen in this scheduling exercise. You’re welcome!


Game 1: Virginia

Game 2: Vanderbilt

Wake-Vandy isn’t really considered a rivalry, but the stakes become enormous when you realize their mascots are brothers who had a terrible falling out due to an unspoken grudge that is slowly revealed over the course of a six-episode BBC historical drama. The Deacon broods in church graveyards while The Commodore broods at the harbor! The Lady Deacon seems dreadfully unhappy throughout!