CBS Sports Graphic
The strength of schedule across the ACC is anchored by a solid middle class that might fall below the fold when the preseason polls are released, yet still help give the entire league good standing among its peers in college football.
When judged across the entire FBS landscape, all 14 teams end up in the top half of the country in terms of strength of schedule ratings and rankings. In Bill Connelly’s SP+ projections for 2021 over at ESPN, you can find 12 of the 14 teams inside the top 65. But since nine of those 12 teams fall between No. 35 (Virginia Tech) and No. 64 (Wake Forest), the ACC’s strength might be overlooked or undersold on a national level since conversations are more often driven by a top-25 mindset. About half of the conference will rate out within a touchdown of each other on a neutral field, and I mention that to point out how fluid these strength of schedule rankings are (and will be) once you get outside of the top four.
But what ties the top four teams with the toughest slates in the ACC together? The presence of Clemson, North Carolina and Miami. While Miami is among those four and obviously can’t play itself (more on that below), it has arguably the toughest nonconference game in the entire season with the opener against Alabama. So while the strength of the conference is a strong middle class with no bad teams and plenty of coin-flip games, the toughest schedules are the ones that include those few teams occupying the obvious top tier heading into the 2021 season.
ACC Strength of Schedule Rankings