ACC adapts 3-5-5 football schedule model; FSU learns new opponents for 2023 through 2026

·5 min read

The upcoming 2022 season will be the last year that the ACC has divisions in football.

The conference announced Tuesday that it will be doing away with the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions starting in 2023. Instead, it will be adapting a new 3-5-5 scheduling method where each team will have three annual conference opponents and will play the other 10 ACC teams in groups of five over alternating seasons.

This pathway to this decision was paved when the NCAA announced May 18 that conferences with 12-plus teams are no longer required to have divisions and can decide how they want to determine which teams play in the championship game

FSU's three annual opponents will be Miami, Clemson and Syracuse, just like FSU director of athletics Michael Alford told outlets when the 3-5-5 model was being discussed.

“Today’s announcement is an important change for our conference for several reasons with the primary being it allows the two best teams to meet in the championship game each season," Alford said in a FSU press release.

"The new format has advantages in many areas, including the positioning of our top teams should the college football playoff expand."

Florida State’s three permanent annual opponents are Miami, Clemson and Syracuse, and the other five conference opponents will rotate each year. The elimination of divisions creates more frequent matchups across the conference and will result in each ACC team playing in Doak Campbell Stadium at least once by the end of the 2026 season.

"The new format means our season ticket holders will see every ACC team play in Doak Campbell Stadium over a four-year period," said Alford. "It also allows every ACC football student-athlete to play at each ACC school every four years which was one of the goals of the plan. Our three primary opponents will allow us to maintain one of the highest television profiles in the country while also providing consistently attractive home schedules.

"I’m also pleased that the four-year projection will give our supporters a better chance to make long-range plans."

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FSU will host Miami and Syracuse in odd-numbered years and host Clemson in even-numbered years, matching the Tigers up with rival Florida.

Along with this announcement, the ACC announced updated schedules for which teams FSU will play at home and on the road for the 2023 through 2026 seasons.

In 2023, FSU will host Miami, Syracuse, Duke and Virginia Tech and will play at Clemson, Boston College, Pitt and Wake Forest.

In 2024, FSU hosts Clemson, BC, North Carolina and NC State and plays at Miami, Syracuse, Georgia Tech and Virginia.

In 2025, FSU hosts Pitt and Wake Forest along with Miami and Syracuse and plays at Duke, Louisville and Virginia Tech along with Clemson.

In 2026, FSU hosts Georgia Tech, Louisville, Virginia and Clemson and plays at UNC, NC State, Syracuse and Miami.

What does it mean for FSU, the ACC?

On the surface for the ACC, this was a necessary change.

The divisions were created in hopes of being at least somewhat equal, but that hasn't proven to be the case as Atlantic teams have won 11 of the 16 ACC Championship games. The Atlantic's streak of nine straight ACC Championships was snapped last year with Wake Forest's loss to Pitt.

For FSU, it got three logical annual opponents. Miami, obviously, was going to remain on its schedule and Clemson has similarly become a bigger rival of late for the Seminoles.

Many FSU fans were clamoring for Georgia Tech to be the third annual opponent. While this makes sense from a geographical perspective, the Yellow Jackets may not always be down as bad as they are right now as a program.

If GT utilizes its recruiting footprint and takes a step back towards the success it had under Paul Johnson, that would make for a third challenging ACC opponent on FSU's schedule each year.

If fairness is supposed to be part of the equation -- and that's a big part of why this is happening to begin with -- then Syracuse, expected to perennially be among the worst ACC teams, makes sense as a counter to FSU drawing two tough games each year against Clemson and Miami.

And even though FSU won't play GT annually, it will play the Yellow Jackets twice every four years, far more frequent than the once every six or seven years it did in the divisional schedule format.

Looking ahead to the first year of this scheduling format in 2023, things line up fairly well for FSU.

The Seminoles trade what would have been home games against Louisville and NC State for Virginia Tech and Duke. Add in Pitt, Wake Forest and BC on the road -- a few of whom will likely be replacing standout quarterbacks -- and the schedule definitely lines up at least somewhat favorably.

A neutral-site game against LSU in Orlando, trips to Clemson and Florida and a home game from Miami mean it won't be a cakewalk by any means. But relative to the brutal schedules of some of the last few seasons, it should be a bit softer.

Reach Curt Weiler at cweiler@tallahassee.com or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FSU set to play Miami, Clemson, Syracuse annually in new ACC schedule model