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Matching ACC football to their English Premier League doppelgangers: 2017 Edition

Time to compare football teams to football teams again.

Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League
2017
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

It’s that time of year again. We’re within hours of the kickoff of the English Premier League today and it’s time for our annual drawing of lines between the teams of the English top flight and the teams of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Arsenal just beat Chelsea on penalties to take home the Community Shield and the ACC is kicking off in a few weeks. What better time to revisit some comparisons between two beloved fanbases? We’ve done this before and again before, so let’s get to this before we kick off the EPL season.

In Alphabetical Order:

Boston College Eagles = Stoke City FC

Stoke and BC are the same, unfortunately. Both teams play grind-it-out, defensive ball and are perfectly happy with a 1-0 grind over Crystal Palace or 17-14 win over Wake Forest. The Eagles haven’t been pretty since Matt Ryan left. For their counterparts, every game’s a “cold and rainy weekday night in Stoke.” While you may find some flash on occasion from the Eagles, it’s as likely as the Potters putting on a passing masterclass.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson Tigers = Chelsea FC

Clemson and Chelsea are both coming off title runs, and have lost some pieces along the way. Still, they’ve each reached a level of rebuilding, not reloading. Now it just depends if the replacements can come close to the same levels of production. The Tigers’ offense loses most of its core playmakers. John Terry and Nemanja Matic left CFC, and Diego Costa’s leaving too. We’ll see if those departures can derail repeat bids.

Duke Blue Devils = Swansea City FC

Two teams that both seemed that they had a good stretch of solid work going on these past few years. Duke took a few years to build under David Cutcliffe, then eventually became Coastal contenders. Swansea City has been firmly a mid-table team since they came up in 2010-2011. But recent results have seen them both fade — this year may tell us if that’s for good.

Florida State Seminoles = Manchester City FC

A pair teams out in front, looking to walk the league. Both are back in the driver’s seat after finishing a bit behind where they thought they would last season. As always, FSU’s deep and talented. City is too, but big money spent on player acquisitions and a manager like Pep Guardiola haven’t panned out as planned. the ‘Noles may not have spent over $280 million like MCFC, but recent disappointments sting just as much.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets = Southampton FC

There are some solid parallels between the Ramblin’ Wreck and the Saints. The two squads have been very solid over the grand history of the league. However both had some hiccups in relatively recent years. Southampton spent a year down in League One last decade, but rebounded. Tech surprisingly dropped to 3-9 two years ago. They’re both back to the middle of the pack, and seem alright with their station in their respective leagues.

Louisville Cardinals = Tottenham Hotspur FC

Spurs and Louisville played bridesmaids last year while rivals took home titles. Tottenham chased Chelsea all year, and the Cardinals were mere feet from potentially altering the title landscape in 2016 with an October upset. Each club is very good, yet don’t garner the animosity of “top” teams. With some turnover at the top of the standings, is this the year things click?

Miami Hurricanes = Manchester United FC

Perennial powers dying to return to the height of their powers after extended hiccups. The U dominated college football for two decades, while Man U’s done similarly for much of the EPL’s existence. Recent dips have made them punchlines, but both have recently-minted coaches leading a resurgence. The Hurricanes have one of the ACC’s best defenses. United’s made key adds and is still eyeing Gareth Bale -- a move that would arguably make them the favorite, should they succeed.

NCAA Football: Sun Bowl-Stanford vs North Carolina Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina Tar Heels = Liverpool FC

Jurgen Klopp’s renowned gegenpress is analogous to Larry Fedora’s up-tempo attack at UNC, for the most part. And the teams’ relative standings in their leagues are as well. Despite resources outnumbering most clubs around them, there’s a constant sense of falling short of the talent on the roster. But at least in recent years, there’s been an identity installed that should help boost personnel’s effectiveness.

North Carolina State Wolfpack = Arsenal FC

Every year, we wait for Arsenal to break through in the Premier League, and every year they fail — pulling off just one second place finish from 2005-2017. Similarly, NC State has made a bowl game in 12 of the past 17 seasons, but just one year of double-digit wins (11 in 2002) to show for it. Is this the year for both? Arsene Wenger’s not spending to win, and you won’t see NC State going after five-stars. It could be more of the same in either case.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish = Crystal Palace FC

Crystal Palace didn’t finish 4-8, but a 12-21-5 record comes close if you divide by three. The Eagles also managed to pull the trigger on sacking a coach, while Notre Dame leaves a virtual dead man walking on the sideline in Brian Kelly. If you survey the list of London football clubs, CPFC seems like the one that’s not really “in” London like the rest. You could say the same about our friends in South Bend.

Pittsburgh Panthers = Newcastle United FC

Pitt and Newcastle have both spent recent seasons on the coaching change merry-go-round. The big difference is the level of success each has experienced with all of that change. Pitt’s stuck around .500, while Newcastle’s found itself relegated. But a year away and a real commitment to a manager now (Rafael Benitez) could have them back on track to look much more like Pitt’s relative stability.

Syracuse Orange = Huddersfield Town FC

This is more a stylistic pairing than a historic one. Huddersfield was promoted from The Championship last year, winning the playoff for the right to come up. Terriers coach David Wagner is an American who prides himself on the pressing style inherited from former boss Jurgen Klopp. Obviously, you can see the parallels between that up-tempo style and what Dino Babers has installed at SU. Win or lose, both clubs will at least find ways to entertain on offense this season, constantly pressuring opponents.

Virginia Cavaliers = Burnley FC

Why are you guys even here? Burnley stayed in the top flight this year by way of a miserable bottom of the table. Try as we might, it’s not that easy to relegate the Hoos’ football program to some far-off outpost like Conference USA. Both Burnley and UVA leaned on stronger defenses to get them through overmatched situations. Another poor result for either this season could be perilous.

Virginia Tech Hokies = Everton FC

Two teams consistently in the top half of the standings, and for a long time, relying on one coach to keep them there. For the Hokies, that was Frank Beamer. For the Toffees, it was David Moyes (2002-13). EFC may have taken a little more time to stick the landing on their coaching change, but stability has arrived once again. Tech, clearly, picked the right coach in Justin Fuente, heading back to the ACC title game in year one.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons = Watford FC

This is too perfect. Like Wake, Watford does a nice job of hanging around the bottom half of the standings, and occasionally surprising some folks. Each team utilized youth to succeed (relatively speaking) in 2016, and while some talent departs, last year’s depth and experience should do them wonders this time around. Just the same, it’ll be a struggle for either to finish with a winning record given the tough schedule at hand.


Thoughts on the lists? Complaints? Concerns? Let us know what you thought of the matches in the comments.