Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde has come up with a plan to radically realign college football. Forde created 10 leagues of 12 teams each, “designed to maximize proximity and reduce travel demands and costs.”
The plan, which he calls the Forde Bowl Subdivision, rearranges all existing conferences. “There are no more than eight Power 5 programs in a single new conference, and no fewer than four,” he explains.
Each team conference plays all 11 other conference members and has one designated nonconference foe. The 10 conference champions and two wild cards are advanced to the College Football Playoff.
So where does Duke wind up? Forde placed the Blue Devils in the new Mid-Atlantic Conference.
The MAC includes a core of ACC teams, including North Carolina, preserving the best rivalry in sports. Virginia, Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State and Virginia Tech are also in the conference. Joining the seven ACC teams are South Carolina, Appalachian State, East Carolina, Charlotte and Old Dominion.
Duke’s assigned nonconference opponent is Rutgers, who is a member of the Yankee Conference, along with Penn State, Navy, Syracuse, Boston College, Maryland, Pitt, Army, Temple, Buffalo, UConn and UMass.
Here’s a look at Duke’s proposed 2020 football schedule in Forde’s world versus the actual schedule the Blue Devils will play:
Half of the opponents on Duke’s schedule wouldn’t change. The Blue Devils are still paired with ACC Coastal Division foes North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech, as well as longtime Atlantic Division partner Wake Forest. NC State is Duke’s other Atlantic Division crossover opponent this year. Duke also has a non-conference game scheduled with Charlotte this year.
The other half of Duke’s schedule appears slightly easier than in the current system. National title contender Clemson replaces rotating non-conference opponent Notre Dame, replacing one likely loss with another for the Blue Devils.
Former SEC power South Carolina is added, replacing Miami, likely improving Duke’s chances of a win but still leaving the Blue Devils as underdogs.
App State has been a powerhouse in recent years and would be a challenge for Duke, but no more so than departing Coastal team Pitt, who has had the Blue Devils’ number.
The assigned non-conference foe, Rutgers, would replace Georgia Tech. That has to be considered an improvement for Duke’s win probability.
Non-conference foes Middle Tennessee and Elon will get replaced by East Carolina and Old Dominion. That may be a slightly tougher slate, but Duke would still be the prohibitive favorite in both games.