Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Prepare for the awkward goodbye tour.
Maryland's last ACC football schedule has been announced - or, more accurately, their opponents have been announced, given that the dates are still undecided. But the stops on the farewell tour are finally known: Boston College, Syracuse, Virginia, and Clemson all make their way to College Park to say their goodbyes; the Terrapins face trips to FSU, N.C. State, Wake Forest, and Virginia Tech. Again, as of yet no dates, but I have an odd feeling those FSU and VT road trips, plus the Clemson home game, will be late-season endeavors. The ACC can't want the optics that would be Maryland going out on a winning note. Luckily, all three teams have traditional season-enders - FSU-Florida, Virginia Tech-Virginia, and Clemson-South Carolina - so the last game has to be slightly easier.
I'm not really bothered about any of those games except, of course, State - a nice little going-away present delivered in Raleigh would be fun, especially if that's the season-ender the way it has been two of the past three years. And I'd say it'd be interesting to host Syracuse in their first ACC season, except for the fact that it's really not very interesting at all. I guess it's better than a trip up north, though.
Now, though, a note worthy of actual discussion: we now know the Terrapins full schedule, even if dates are still uncertain. Just so we can get a full schedule laid out, with the conference games assigned in relatively random order (again, dates/order are unannounced), it'll look something like this:
Aug. 31 - FIU (H)
Sept. 7 - ODU (H)
Sept. 14 - UConn (A)
Sept. 21 - West Virginia (in Baltimore)
? - Boston College (H)
? - Wake Forest (A)
? - Syracuse (H)
? - Virginia Tech (A)
? - Virginia (H)
? - FSU (A)
? - Clemson (H)
? - N.C. State (A)
Not a killer schedule, but then again this is the ACC, so it was never going to be a killer schedule. Out of that, you'd have to think Maryland would be favored against FIU and ODU (obviously), with a very good chance against UConn and a fighting chance against West Virginia. Of the conference foes, FSU is going to be tough, as always, but BC, Wake Forest, and Syracuse are all very appealing, and I'd say Virginia Tech, Virginia, and N.C. State are each fairly beatable themselves.
Of course, it's the ACC, which means that the story is the same every year: Clemson, FSU, maybe one other team (usually VT but probably not this season) and then everyone else. So no big surprises there.
But hey, there are six wins to be head on that schedule, so long as Maryland is what everyone hopes they are: a team that's a heck of a lot better with an actual quarterback. Put it this way: there's a very good chance that six of Maryland's opponents - FIU, ODU, UConn, Wake Forest, Boston College, and Syracuse - will have seasons ranging from mediocre to very bad. Maybe one or two of those last four will surprise, but they'll probably be low on the preseason ranking totem polls, and with pretty good reason. There's at the very least an opening, especially when you consider that West Virginia, N.C. State, and Virginia could all be pretty beatable as well.
I'm hardly excited about this grouping - hey, there's still a chance Maryland itself is pretty bad, too - but it's fairly encouraging, in the sense that if Maryland is a good enough team to make a bowl the schedule certainly won't stand in their way. That's decently good news for Randy Esdall, who still needs to get Maryland to the postseason to have a job in College Park next year. I'm not going to say that the schedule paves the way for it - it doesn't, because there's still a chance Maryland is quite bad itself - but it's certainly attainable.