Just days away from the Barclays Premier League's opening day, we're here to see what sort of similarities we can draw between some top-flight English football teams and their college football analogs from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
... Wait, what's that? You don't have an EPL side to root for? Well now you certainly do.
Without further ado, and presented in alphabetical order:
Boston College Eagles = Swansea City A.F.C.
Boston College is on the outskirts of the ACC footprint, the only school as far on the fringes as our Orange. Swansea is in a whole different country than the rest of the league. Well, it's in the same sovereign state, the United Kingdom, but different countries because Wales... nevermind, crown-based politicking aside, it's out there.
Both teams are fully capable of playing a real quality football game and usually can come up with a solid campaign, however both suffer the same fate. Their local populace would rather support a different sport. At BC, hockey is king. In Swansea they're more likely to watch a rugby match.
Clemson Tigers = Arsenal F.C.
Tradition, loads of fans, beautiful, fluid football, yet always the bridesmaid, never the bride in recent years. No I'm not talking about Arsenal, I'm talking about Clemson. Both the Gunners and the Tigers have been extremely high-quality sides of late. Managers/coaches Arsene Wenger and Dabo Swinney both know how to put on a show and play some pretty football. Both teams have flattered to deceive in recent years, but don't tell either fan base that or you'll never hear the end of it.
Duke Blue Devils = Southampton F.C.
This one wrote itself. Team historically mired in mediocrity takes a chance on a coach, alters their system and starts turning a little bit of talent into a lot of result. Doing more with less has been the theme under David Cutcliffe for Duke. It has also become the trademark of the Saints. Southampton has one of the best youth academies in the game and continually restocks when everyone else seems to think they'll be down on their luck. With a lot of offensive turnover for the Blue Devils this season, we'll see if the same holds true for Duke.
Florida State Seminoles = Chelsea F.C.
One of the top squads in the league, but some parts of the fanbase (#FSUTwitter, various Chelsea fans) make them as hated by some as they are respected others. Perennially near the top of the table, both FSU and Chelsea have tasted championships very recently, but not without individual controversies surrounding a lot of what they do.
Always good, occasionally great. Is many pundits' hot pick to enter the elite of the league in 2015/2016. Can always be considered a trendy pick to vault up year after year, given various factors around location, talent and coaching. Sometimes they pull it off in notable fashion. Others, they simply peter out.
Nouveau riche. One of the top players in the table but only recently. Both the Cardinals and the Citizens came up to play with the big boys after the turn of the century and have molded into perennial contenders.
Louisville joined the party in 2005 with the Big East and haven't looked back. Similarly, City got their sugar daddy in 2008 after gaining promotion in 2002. You can see each of them sitting right near the apex looking to claim a piece of the title as soon as they can (something City's already done, and 'Ville has pulled off in the Big East).
Miami Hurricanes = Liverpool F.C.
The 80s were a great decade. Seven league titles, three Doubles, a Treble and two European titles. That was Liverpool's list of accomplishments from 1980-1990. Miami hung four National Championship banners from 1983 to 1991. Both are amazingly successful clubs with a heck of a pedigree, but they haven't won anything of note in over ten years. Liverpool's 2005 Champions League and Miami's 2001 National Title are the latest crowning achievements for fan bases who would make you think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread.
"Crystal Palace is a outside pick to do well in the upcoming season." "They will end up being crap." These statements have also, accurately summed up UNC football for as long as the game has been played. Palace made a few moves, but will ultimately end up somewhere in the mid-table. UNC hasn't made any big changes, but they sure as hell will end up in the middle of the standings... despite what the talent on the roster may indicate.
NC State Wolfpack = West Ham United F.C.
The NC State Wolfpack and West Ham United are two teams sitting in the main hub of the league that get lost in the shuffle. NC State is third to Duke and UNC when it comes to Research Triangle schools. West Ham doesn't have the fan base of Arsenal, Chelsea or Tottenham, but sits in East London, right in the heart of the league. Both teams will go about their business, may show signs of brilliance, but ultimately end up in the muddled middle of the league standings when all is said and done.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish = Manchester United F.C.
Geography be damned. Neither Notre Dame's fanbase, nor Manchester United's, has any remote ties to the actual cities the teams reside in. You're as likely to see a Notre Dame fan in Los Angeles as you are to see a United fan walking around London, going full-kit wanker.
Both teams have been home to some historic coaches, but have failed to impress since those folks left the field. Manchester hasn't been the same since the end of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, and Notre Dame hasn't tallied a national title since Lou Holtz left the sideline.
Pittsburgh Panthers = Aston Villa F.C.
In the words of TNIAAM's InvisibleSwordsman, both Pitt and Aston Villa did something great during the disco era. Pittsburgh took home the national title in 1976. Aston Villa won the domestic and European titles in 1981. Both have been mired somewhere in the West Midlands since that time. Additionally: Tim Sherwood may or may not be comparable to the Wannstache, with respect to coaching crazy.
Syracuse Orange = Newcastle United F.C.
Both Syracuse and Newcastle United have extremely loyal fan bases that love to tout their great history, yet the teams haven't done anything for ages. Syracuse's dominance during the "44" era and the 80s and 90s squads have left a sense of lasting pride for the SU faithful. However, they haven't found a way to do anything notable in the last two decades. Newcastle has to go back quite a few years, but they had a very dominant run in Cup competitions in the 50s as well as the First Division title back in the 1920s.
They also have the confusing managerial connection. Neither Mike Ashley, Newcastle's current owner, or Daryl Gross, Syracuse's former AD could be counted on by the fanbase to make a decision that made any semblance of sense to them. Both have been left in a state of befuddlement in these last years as to the direction of the program and the desire of the administration.
They're going to sit in the middle of the pack, cause some troubles for some and drop some points that they shouldn't. West Brom is a staple of the mid table in England. Virginia seems to toe the line each and every year between mediocre and bad, though even when "bad," there's always that chance the Hoos jump up and surprise someone.
Lately, Tottenham Hotspur have been that team that falls just outside the Top Four. They are always expected to contend for Champions League places. They usually seem to disappoint, and sometimes seem to find any way to get hosed out of the deal (See Chelsea, 2011).
These teams are equally capable of taking down the top in the league (Ohio St./Chelsea) as they are playing perhaps the worst game in CFB history (Wake Forest) or losing a home and home to Stoke or getting smoked by Newcastle... all in one season
Wake Forest Demon Deacons = Watford F.C.
They play in the virtual epicenter of their league, yet are nearly always an afterthought. Be it North Carolina or southern England, the teams simply fail to break through despite the advantageous placement inherent with their respective locations. Similarly, both teams will probably pose little-to-no threat to the top teams in the league. The relegation battle is on.
See a comparison you'd prefer instead? What more advice on choosing an EPL squad for yourself? Chat away in the comments below, and maybe even talk about the season opener coming up this Saturday.