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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

ACC restructures football schedule after SMU, Cal and Stanford join

The Demon Deacons will play Duke and NC State annually under the new schedule
Football travels west of the Mississippi River four times over the next six years. (Photo courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics)

Another year, another scheduling format change for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The schedule change was necessary due to the inclusion of three new institutions in the conference, with the SMU Mustangs, Stanford Cardinal and California Golden Bears slated to join the ACC for the 2024-2025 academic year. 

“This [announcement] brings a greater and more challenging variety of ACC foes along with new opponents like Cal, SMU & Stanford to Winston-Salem,” said Director of Athletics John Currie via press release.

The new scheduling format gets rid of the “3-5-5” model that was introduced this past summer. The name derived from the decision to eliminate the Atlantic and Coastal divisions and create three annual rivalries and a biennial rotation of the 10 other members of the ACC.

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“The approved format will continue to have each member institution play eight conference games per season, with all 17 teams playing each other at least twice over the next seven seasons,” the ACC said via press release. “The current 14 conference teams will play a total of three times each in California over the seven years and none will travel west to California in back-to-back seasons.”

In the immediate future, the 2024 schedule features a host of familiar faces along with a few new challenges — including a cross-country away-game against the Stanford Cardinal.

“My prediction that the ACC in the first year would send us out there (to California) proved to be true, but that’s fine,” said Wake Forest Football Head Coach Dave Clawson in a Tuesday press conference. “The way [the conference] did [the schedule] was very balanced.”

Related to the topic of schedule balancing, the new schedule format offsets the long-form travel to California and Texas for some teams by maintaining two annual in-state matchups. The Demon Deacons, for example, will play NC State and Duke each year. 

The rivalry between the Demon Deacons and the Wolfpack has been played annually since 1910, pre-dating the former’s move to Winston-Salem in 1956. It is also college football’s third longest-lasting annual rivalry, only behind Clemson-South Carolina and Wisconsin-Minnesota. Similarly, Wake Forest and Duke have faced off every year since 1921, absent two occasions (1966, 2020). This rivalry had already been protected between the two schools in the previous schedule model.

My prediction that the ACC in the first year would send us out there (to California) proved to be true, but that’s fine. The way [the conference] did [the schedule] was very balanced.

— Dave Clawson, Head Football Coach

“I’m very excited that we get to play Duke and NC State every year,” Clawson said. “For our fan base and home crowds, imagine the idea of not playing a game that you’ve played more than 100-consecutive years in NC State.”

Student-Athlete Advisory Council President and current placekicker Matthew Dennis said he was excited about playing the Blue Devils and Wolfpack.

“As a Charlotte native, I am excited to play half our season next year in the state of North Carolina,” Dennis said.

The Tobacco Road rivalry also lives on in the way of the North Carolina-Wake Forest, which will play in 2024, 2025, 2027 and 2028 under the new scheduling model.

“Playing [North] Carolina four out of seven years is better than what we had before,” Clawson said, referring to the model released in June of last year. “I think that’s really positive.”

In the 3-5-5 model, the Demon Deacons had protected rivalries with Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech — each of which was done away with under the new model. Wake Forest will play the Yellow Jackets five times and Virginia Tech three times over the seven-year window.

One of the benefits of the 3-5-5 model was that each team in the conference would see each other at least every other year. In the new model, that is not the case. Wake Forest will only see teams like Boston College, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse twice between 2024 and 2030. 

In addition, the top two teams based on in-conference winning percentage will play each December in the ACC Football Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Wake Forest last reached the ACC Championship in 2021, when they won the now-eliminated Atlantic Division. The Demon Deacons lost to the then-Coastal Division champions, Pittsburgh Panthers, 45-21.

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About the Contributor
Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy, Sports Editor
Sean is a junior from Long Island, NY majoring in communication and minoring in journalism and film studies. Outside of the OGB, he is the president of the Sports Analytics Club and a member of Wake Radio. In his free time, you can find him following all levels of professional sports and supporting his favorite teams — the Celtics, Jets, Yankees and Islanders.

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