There are two separate games between ACC and American Athletic Conference (AAC) opponents this weekend: the Virginia Cavaliers (0-2) travel to UConn (1-1), while our own Syracuse Orange (1-1) host the USF Bulls (2-0). Games between the conferences have been pretty common since 2013, since the two leagues share some geographic areas. But recent results have actually skewed in favor of the perceived “lesser” league.
The ACC is 5-6 against the AAC dating back to the start of 2015, and have lost six of eight dating back to last year’s East Carolina-Virginia Tech game (a road loss by the Hokies). Last bowl season, the conferences squared off in three separate matchups. The lone triumph was Virginia Tech’s three-point win over Tulsa. This year’s Group of Five darling Houston also ran past Florida State in the Peach Bowl in front of a national audience.
Looking at this year’s results, the jury’s still out on whether the ship has been righted or not. Wake Forest squeaked by Tulane 7-3 in week one, while NC State lost an exciting contest on the road to East Carolina, 33-30 in week two. This week, Syracuse is a double-digit home underdog to the “also receiving votes” Bulls. Virginia is a 4.5-point underdog against the Huskies on the road.
There are several more ACC-AAC matchups throughout the year too. Boston College hosts UConn in November, while Syracuse is on the road at PAWS ARF next week. USF and Florida State face off in week four, as do Virginia Tech and East Carolina. One of the looming “biggest” matchups of the year is a November date between early College Football Playoff contenders Louisville and Houston.
As you’ll notice, there are few guarantees in there, even for the ACC’s top teams like Florida State and Louisville. They’re up against tough opponents in those AAC matchups, and in a worst-case scenario, the ACC could wrap up the season with a pretty significant losing streak to the Group of Five’s best league.
Perhaps the tide can start turning this weekend. But until then, the American gets to hold one over on us a bit, even while most of its members angle themselves for inclusion in the Big 12 (if that league even bothers expanding at all, that is).