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ACC will drop divisions, introduce permanent rivalries for 2023 football schedule

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Change is coming to the college football schedule as the ACC announced it will scrap divisions in favor of a new format starting in the 2023 football season.

The league said it will create a 3-5-5 schedule format in which each team plays three permanent rivalry games played each season, with the other 10 opponents rotating on an every-other-year basis.

Best model for ACC football

"The future ACC football scheduling model provides significant enhancements for our schools and conference, with the most important being our student-athletes having the opportunity to play every school both home and away over a four-year period," ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said in a statement. 

"We appreciate the thoughtful discussions within our membership, including the head football coaches and athletic directors. In the end, it was clear this model is in the best interest of our student-athletes, programs and fans, at this time."

The 2022 college football season will be the last featuring the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions.

Call to change came this year

The idea to drop divisions from the football schedule gained serious momentum during the conference's spring meetings in May.

The ACC's hope was that by doing so it would improve its TV inventory of attractive games and create a championship game that includes its two best teams each year.

Notably, the ACC's new format would not have changed its conference championship game in seven of the last eight football seasons.

We had a preview of the ACC's division-less future during the 2020 football season in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, also when Notre Dame joined the conference for one year as a football member.

Notre Dame and Clemson played for the ACC title, with Clemson winning and both teams making the College Football Playoff.

The ACC isn't alone

The ACC is the fifth FBS conference to get rid of divisions: the Big 12 has operated that way since 2011, the AAC dropped them a year ago, while the Mountain West and Pac-12 both announced similar plans for 2023.

The SEC is expected to drop divisions, but that conference has not announced a formal plan.

ACC football permanent rivalry games

Boston College: Miami, Pitt, Syracuse

Clemson: Florida State, Georgia Tech, NC State

Duke: North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest

Florida State: Clemson, Miami, Syracuse

Georgia Tech: Clemson, Louisville, Wake Forest

Louisville: Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia

Miami: Boston College, Florida State, Louisville

North Carolina: Duke, NC State, Virginia

NC State: Clemson, Duke, North Carolina

Pitt: Boston College, Syracuse, Virginia Tech

Syracuse: Boston College, Florida State, Pitt

Virginia: Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech: Pitt, Virginia, Wake Forest

Wake Forest: Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech

Who has it easiest and hardest?

The easiest? Pittsburgh, a quarter of whose schedule would be comprised of some of the poorest-performing teams in the ACC during the College Football Playoff era. BC, Virginia Tech, and Syracuse are a shade under 40 percent winners during the playoff era.

The hardest? Georgia Tech, which has to contend with Clemson and Wake each year, in addition to Louisville. Combined, those opponents have won around 6 in 10 of their games since the CFP was established.

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