The Atlantic Coast Conference announced the league's 2012 football schedule today. The announcement was expected early- to mid-February, but due to conference realignment, West Virginia pulled out of its out-of-conference game with Florida State, which caused delay in announcing the full schedule. Georgia Tech then also held up the schedule, as the Jackets were originally scheduled to play Middle Tennessee State the Saturday after playing Virginia Tech on Labor Day, but then wanted to find an FCS school instead, on account of the short week. In any event, the stage is set and Virginia now knows its road to a 10-win 2012 season.
Virginia's schedule features 12 regular season tilts, an ACC Championship game, and a BCS National Championship game on Monday, January 7 in Miami, Florida. Smart fans are advised to go ahead and book flights and hotels now. The slate features seven home games and five on the road, in what has to be considered a somewhat mild cross-divisional conference schedule. But the real highlight is that it also includes a Thursday night home game, featuring the South's oldest rivalry, against North Carolina on ESPN!
Virginia faces only two teams that finished in the final AP Top 25 poll last year -- TCU at No. 14 and Virginia Tech at No. 21. Virginia's opponents went a collective 2-6 in bowl games last year, though it should be noted that TCU actually played Louisiana Tech in their bowl games.
Here is Virginia's full 2012 football schedule, as just announced:
|Sept. 8||PENN STATE|
|Sept. 15||at Georgia Tech|
|Sept. 22||at TCU|
|Sept. 29||LOUISIANA TECH|
|Oct. 6||at Duke|
|Oct. 20||WAKE FOREST|
|Nov. 3||at NC State|
|Nov. 15||NORTH CAROLINA (Thur.), ESPN|
|Nov. 24||at Virginia Tech|
The Cavaliers have three home out-of-conference games and one on the road. The season opens on September 1 against the Richmond Spiders in Charlottesville. The Hoos lead the series against Richmond, 26-2-2. The last time these two teams faced each other was in Mike London's first game as Virginia head coach in 2010 - the Hoos won 34-13.
The following week, September 8, Virginia next hosts Penn State, now under new management by Bill O'Brien, the former offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots. The Hoos are down in the series, 2-5, and the two teams last played in 2002, in a 35-14 loss to the then-ranked No. 15 Nittany Lions.
The Cavaliers travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on September 15. The Hoos took the 17-16-1 lead in the series last year, coming up with a big 24-21 upset of the then undefeated No. 12 Yellow Jackets at home on a Thursday night.
Virginia travels on September 22 to take on the Horned Frogs of TCU. In the only meeting between the two teams, 2009 in Charlottesville, the No. 16 Horned Frogs emerged victorious, 30-14.
Virginia then returns to Charlottesville on September 29 to face Louisiana Tech, who finished last season 8-5. It will be the first time the Hoos and Bulldogs will meet.
On October 6, Duke gets a shot to avenge last year's 31-21 loss in Charlottesville, this time on their home field in Durham. Virginia broke a 3-game losing streak against the Blue Devils last year, and no, I still can't believe I have to type something like that. Hoos lead the all-time series, 33-30.
Virginia hosts Maryland on October 13, a team the Cavs handily took care of this past year, 31-13. The Terrapins have experienced all sorts of turmoil over the past year, including the transfer of their on-again, off-again starting quarterback Danny O'Brien.
Wake Forest travels to Charlottesville on October 20, a team Virginia has not seen since 2008, when the Hoos fell 28-17. The Hoos lead the all-time series, 34-13. Virginia then finally gets their bye week, coming in later than usual, on October 27.
On November 3, Virginia travels to NC State, who handed the Cavaliers a surprising 28-14 loss last year in what would have otherwise been a seven game win streak for the Hoos. The Wolfpack leads the all-time series, 21-34-1.
Virginia has played a surprising series against Miami, trailing all-time just 4-5 to the traditional powerhouse. The Hurricanes come to Charlottesville on November 10. Virginia has been victorious in each of the past two seasons, including last year, 28-21, handing Miami their first ever Thursday night home loss.
The Oldest Rivalry in the South takes place on Thursday, November 15 between Virginia and the North Carolina Tar Heels in Charlottesville. The two teams have played in 116 contests dating back since 1892. North Carolina has a narrow lead on the all-time series, 54-58-4. The Heels surprised the Hoos this past year with a 28-17 win in Chapel Hill.
Finally, the annual matchup between the Hoos and the Hokies takes place on November 24 this year, which is great because of the longer week to prepare. Bad juju happened last year when the two teams faced off in Charlottesville with conference title implications on the line and Virginia failed to show up. Here's to hoping Virginia has a better showing this year in Blacksburg and reverses this terrible trend of losing to a team who's clearly struck a deal with the devil.