Should Clemson and Florida State play their football game in September or later in the 2016 year?



The ACC Football schedule has yet to come out for the 2016 season. The marquee game will again be Clemson vs Florida State. With both teams likely to be in the pre-season top 10, and viable playoff contenders, should the ACC schedule this game in September as they did in 2014 and 2012 or late October/November as they did 2013 and 2015?

Normally and without question I’d prefer to see this game played later in the year. I think having a nationally relevant game late in the season with playoff implications is good for the ACC.

This year I think that you can make the argument that maybe the ACC could schedule this game for September.

Already there is speculation about both Clemson and Florida State could make the College Football Playoff. Certainly if this game is played in late October/ November the chances of this are almost zero. Just ask Ohio State how that late November loss to Michigan State worked out.

Now if the game is September, assuming no other losses both could reach the the top 4 by the time playoff selection is made. Last year Alabama, Stanford, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame took September losses and found their into the playoff discussion by mid November.

Also I don’t think is a particularly good look for the ACC for the Clemson vs FSU to be relegated to 3:30 PM time slot. That happened last year because LSU/Alabama was the primetime game. In essence the ACC’s top game of the year wasn’t even the considered the biggest game of the day, and played the undercard to the LSU/Alabama game, Florida State did have loss going into the game, but it might not have mattered.

September may give the ACC a more exclusive television window and give the loser time to recover and get back in the playoff chase.

The issue with this is that the committee has shown no inclination to take a non-conference champion into the playoffs yet. No conference has had 2 playoff teams, and it hasn’t even been really close to happening.

In the end I don’t think you can take the chance the committee will see fit to have 2 have playoff teams from the same conference. Even two with pedigree of Florida State and Clemson playing strong OOC schedules with games against Auburn for Clemson, Ole Miss/Florida for Florida State. Louisville will give a credible opponent for each, plus the ACC Title game which has featured a top 25 Coastal opponent for 3 years in a row. Both are playing several quality opponents in 2016.

Even in down years Clemson and Florida State are top 15 teams 10 win type teams, so an early loss likely won’t turn into a non-top 25 season. An end of the year matchup will still be one of the top if not the top ACC game of the year.

There are some advantages to having an early season matchup, but I think this game needs to be towards the end of the year for the time being. The winner always gets a playoff bump, and a chance to impress the committee towards the end of the season.

Let’s hope the ACC sees it that way.

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