ACC football scheduling model changes: UNC, NC State pairings


North Carolina head coach Mack Brown talks with N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren after UNC’s 48-21 victory over N.C. State at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.

The ACC revealed its new football scheduling model for the 2023-2026 seasons on Tuesday, featuring three primary opponents a school faces every year and rotating five additional teams every two years.

The 3-5-5 approach will eliminate the conference’s split into Atlantic and Coastal divisions and thus end the long gaps that came from playing cross division foes.

“It was clear this model is in the best interest of our student-athletes, programs and fans, at this time,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said in an official statement.

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

North Carolina’s three primary opponents are teams it already faced every year in Duke, N.C. State and Virginia. The Blue Devils and Cavaliers are both Coastal foes and N.C. State was its permanent Atlantic game. The UNC-UVA game is the oldest football rivalry in the South dating back to 1892.

N.C. State’s primary opponents include Duke and Clemson. The Wolfpack had played Wake Forest annually every season since 1910 in a series that dates back to 1895. But by adding the Tigers as a primary partner, that run will come to an end in 2025.

Duke’s primary partners include Wake Forest, making it the only in-state school that will play its traditional Big Four rivals every year. That will allow the Blue Devils to renew their rivalry with the Pack. While in separate divisions, the teams only played each other twice (2013, 2020) since conference expansion.

The new model, which was approved by the league’s athletic directors and faculty athletic representatives on Tuesday, also guarantees each team will face all 13 ACC opponents both at home and on the road in a four-year cycle. Under the old model it would take 12 years for that to happen.

The NCAA Division I Council voted in May to eliminate division requirements in order for a conference to hold a title game. Starting in 2023, the top two teams in the ACC standings will meet in its conference championship game on the first Saturday in December in Charlotte.

ACC primary partners

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

2023 season breakdown

Duke: Home – Clemson, NC State, Pitt, Wake Forest; Away – Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia

North Carolina: Home – Duke, Miami, Syracuse, Virginia; Away – Clemson, Georgia Tech, NC State, Pitt

NC State: Home – Clemson, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina; Away – Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

2024 season

Duke: Home – Boston College, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech; Away – Miami, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest

North Carolina: Home – Boston College, NC State, Pitt, Virginia Tech; Away – Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia

NC State: Home – Duke, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Wake Forest; Away – Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, Pitt

2025 season

Duke: Home – Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Wake Forest; Away – Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pitt

North Carolina: Home – Clemson, Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia; Away – Miami, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest

NC State: Home – Clemson, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech; Away – Boston College, Duke, Louisville, Miami

2026 season

Duke: Home – Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Syracuse; Away – Boston College, NC State, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

North Carolina: Home – Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Wake Forest; Away – Boston College, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech

NC State: Home – Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Pitt; Away – Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Syracuse

This story was originally published June 28, 2022 12:10 PM.

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C.L. Brown covers the University of North Carolina for The News & Observer. Brown brings more than two decades of reporting experience including stints as the beat writer on Indiana University and the University of Louisville. After a long stay at the Louisville Courier-Journal, where he earned an APSE award, he’s had stops at, The Athletic and even tried his hand at running his own website,

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