There should be no reason why the Virginia Tech Hokies do not win nine or 10 games next season, even without all-world quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back Ryan Williams. Why? The 2011 Virginia Tech football schedule is about as easy as you could make it.
For one thing, there are no big non-conference matchups on the schedule. After facing powerhouses like Boise State, Alabama, LSU and USC in recent years, the Hokies don't face a single power-conference team. Their four non-conference games are against Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State and Marshall.
For another, the Hokies will avoid having to play Florida State and Maryland, arguably the top two contenders in the ACC Atlantic Division. They also get home games against Miami, North Carolina and Clemson, three of the likeliest contenders for the ACC Coastal Division crown.
If you hoped that the Randy Edsall era in Maryland would begin with a couple easy games to give the team some confidence, think again. Maryland's 2011 football schedule was just released, and the first game is a Labor Day night ACC showdown against Miami at Byrd Stadium.
Indeed, Maryland will kick off its season on September 5 by hosting the Hurricanes, who have a new coach of their own in Al Golden. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN. It's a big-time opportunity for the Terps to bring new energy to their program by knocking off a name school at home in prime time. A big win in the opener will do wonders for a fanbase that many feel is still reeling from the questionable process that dominated Ralph Friedgen's firing and Edsall's hiring.
Maryland also benefits because they won't have to leave Byrd Stadium for the first month of the season. Then again, the games won't all be cakewalks. The Terps will play regional rival West Virginia on September 17 and then host much-improved Temple on September 24. A gimmie game against Towson follows before the team hits the road for the first time. The Terps will also play Notre Dame at FedEx Field on November 12, a one-game series the two schools agreed on last March.
While the college football season is still several months away, we can still look forward to some key matchups in the ACC next season, as the full 2011 ACC Football schedule was just released to the public today.
The most interesting matchup is one that will kick off the ACC season. On Monday, September 5, Miami will travel to Maryland to face the Terps in the first game of the season for both teams. It will be an ESPN Labor Day special at 8 p.m. Neither team traditionally plays an ACC rival that early in the year, so the timing is interesting. It is also the first game for two new head coaches: Al Golden at Miami Randy Edsall at Maryland.
Key non-conference matchups include Florida State taking on Oklahoma at home, Clemson welcoming defending champion Auburn to Happy Valley and Miami welcoming in Ohio State. All of those games are rematches, and all will take place on September 17.
We will have a complete breakdown of the local team's schedules in this StoryStream.