The Atlantic Coast Conference will meet a wide array of out-of-conference foes this upcoming season, ranging from the defending National Champions to the North Carolina Central Eagles (with NCCU-Duke taking place on the Eagles' newly minted teal colored field).
Power-5 conference versus conference competition makes for wondrous chatter. Inviting seldom seen rivals is great for fans and college football as a whole. While we'll have a plethora of amazing things such as these taking our previously dull Saturdays to manic levels, there's still a few scheduling disappointments to wag our fingers at.
We've culled a list to order the toughest OCC schedules in the ACC based on final rankings, expectations for 2015, and as much bias as deemed necessary, who's asking?
*Final rankings are ordered AP/USA Today.
- at UCLA Bruins - 10th/10th
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- William & Mary Tribe
- Boise State Broncos - 16th/16th
Virginia may possibly face three top-25 opponents in 2015 in UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise State. The Cavalier's pairing with Pac-12 members hasn't yet yielded the results fans would have hoped for, however, never shying away from tough competition, you have to respect their eagerness to schedule quality opponents. Overall: A+/A
After an overtime victory over the Bulldogs in 2014, Georgia Tech ended their 5-game losing streak in the Clean, Old-Fashioned Rivalry. Couple in ACC matchups with Florida State and Clemson, and Paul Johnson has his work cut out for him in 2015. Overall: A
- Wofford Terriers
- Appalachian State Mountaineers
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish
- at South Carolina Gamecocks
The absence of Georgia on the schedule is disappointing to all college football fans. However, rivalry aside, Georgia is replaced well by Notre Dame. Overall: A-
The only team to beat the National Champion Buckeyes in 2014 is the first team to have a crack at them in 2015 - the Virginia Tech Hokies. East Carolina, a thorn in the side of Virginia Tech in recent years, is another opponent Hokies fans approach with skepticism. Overall: B+
- Maine Black Bears
- Howard Bison
- Northern Illinois Huskies
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Fenway Park)
After watching Boston College give the USC Trojans hell en route to their 37-31 victory in 2014, I really wanted to see a rematch in 2015. Nevertheless, two cupcakes, a strong force in the MAC in Northern Illinois, and the Irish - a respectable OOC schedule for Boston College. Overall: B+/B
Auburn's hire of Will Muschamp as Defensive Coordinator set talking heads ablaze during the offseason and made the Tigers a very attractive team heading into 2015. Louisville begins their season in a neutral-site matchup against Auburn in Atlanta. Yeah, that'll be fun. Overall: B
Faltering against both Akron and Iowa in 2014, the Panthers are on a revenge tour with new Head Coach Pat Narduzzi in tote for 2015. Overall: B
Not a bad set of teams for the Demon Deacons. Overall: B
Syracuse welcomes LSU to the Carrier Dome and DEAR GOD WHAT WERE YOU THINKING. The Tigers showcased an elite group of freshman in 2014 and now with a year under their belt, they're downright scary. Overall: B
Probably more fat than you would like, but having some fat does yield flavor. That bitter taste of 2014 just might balance out with the Huskers as the lone marquee matchup of 2015. Overall: B-
- South Carolina Gamecocks (Charlotte)
- North Carolina A&T Aggies
- Illinois Fighting Illini
- Delaware Blue Hens
Mimicking the Hurricanes' opponents in strength, the Tar Heels have a rival, two FCS opponents, and a member of the Big Ten on their slate. None, other than South Carolina, are particularly worthwhile, but an OOC slate that's par for the course. Overall: B-
No, the season won't kickoff in the Jerry Dome, but Jimbo is still messin' with Texas. USF is trying to find their feet in the AAC with second-year Head Coach Willie Taggart. Florida, though, can be the blame for having such a soft out-of-conference schedule. Overall: B-
- at Tulane Green Wave
- North Carolina Central Eagles
- Northwestern Wildcats
- at Army Black Knights
It's hard to shame the Blue Devils for having a meager OOC schedule since their upwardly momentum in the ACC hasn't translated to non-conference schools yearning for their presence. While this schedule appears tougher than in recent years, it still airs on the side of weak. Overall: C+
Easily the most cringeworthy out-of-conference slate. This has been the case for years. For a team that's given Florida State and Clemson scares in conference play, albeit struggles to reach .500 success in the ACC, you want to see more. Overall: Do better.
Conference Showdown: The ACC faces the SEC in six matches, the Pac-12 once, and the Big Ten and AAC in seven games, but does not see the Big 12 in 2015.