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Phil Steele’s 2013 ACC Football Strength of Schedule Rankings

The Eagles' 2013 schedule ranks among the top 36th nationally, the third toughest in the ACC.

Stephen Dunn

On Friday, Phil Steele released his toughest schedules of 2013. Somewhat surprising, at least to me, was that Boston College football's 2013 schedule ranked 36th nationally, placing the Eagles' 2013 slate as one of the more difficult schedules this coming season. I suppose non-conference matchups with Villanova, Army and New Mexico State are counter-balanced by games against four ACC programs -- Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech -- expected to vie for their respective division titles in 2013.

BC's schedule ranks as one of the more challenging not only nationally but also in the ACC. The Eagles' 2013 schedule ranked only behind Pittsburgh (24) and Virginia (27).

2013 ACC Strength of Schedule Rankings,

24. Pittsburgh Panthers
27. Virginia Cavaliers
36. Boston College Eagles
41. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
42. North Carolina Tar Heels
46. Syracuse Orange
48. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
55. Clemson Tigers
57. N.C. State Wolfpack
59. Virginia Tech Hokies
60. Miami Hurricanes
62. Maryland Terrapins
64. Florida St. Seminoles
77. Duke Blue Devils
98. Louisville Cardinals

Steele's SOS rankings are determined by his nine sets of power ratings, factoring in the home-road split. When you also factor in that BC is playing the fewest home games in the ACC in 2013, the Eagles' high ranking makes a bit more sense. I was also surprised to see Clemson so low -- with a non-conference schedule that includes both Georgia and South Carolina -- but the Tigers do have seven home games and are hurt by having to face the rest of the non-FSU Atlantic Division.

It also shouldn't come as much of a surprise that prognosticators are so high on Louisville this year, the Cardinals' last as a member of the American née Big East before backfilling for Maryland in 2014.

Phil Steele also ranked the schedules last preseason. Here's how the ACC stacked up a year ago per Steele's July 2012 rankings.

9. Miami Hurricanes
33. Maryland Terrapins
35. Duke Blue Devils
39. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
40. Syracuse Orange
41. Boston College Eagles
44. Virginia Tech Hokies
48. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
49. Clemson Tigers
51. Virginia Cavaliers
61. N.C. State Wolfpack
65. Louisville Cardinals
70. Florida St. Seminoles
76. Pittsburgh Panthers
86. North Carolina Tar Heels

Despite trading non-conference games @ Northwestern and Notre Dame for @ USC and ... Army?, Boston College's national ranking remains surprisingly constant year over year. Here's the delta between Steele's initial 2012 toughest schedules and 2013:

Program 2012 Record 2012 2013 Delta
Pittsburgh Panthers 6-7 (Big East) 76 24 -52
North Carolina Tar Heels 8-4 85 42 -43
Virginia Cavaliers 4-8 51 27 -24
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 7-7 48 41 -7
Florida St. Seminoles 12-2 70 64 -6
Boston College Eagles 2-10 41 36 -5
N.C. State Wolfpack 7-6 61 57 -4
Syracuse Orange 8-5 (Big East) 40 46 6
Clemson Tigers 11-2 49 55 6
Wake Forest Demon Deacons 5-7 39 48 9
Virginia Tech Hokies 7-6 44 59 15
Maryland Terrapins 4-8 33 62 29
Louisville Cardinals 11-2 65 98 33
Duke Blue Devils 6-7 35 77 42
Miami Hurricanes 7-5 9 60 51

While there isn't much change year-over-year for the Eagles, you can see the effect that moving from the Big East to the ACC will have on Pitt. The Panthers jump 52 spots this season into the top 25. Not great news for a team that finished sub-.500 its final year in the Big East.

The flipside is Miami, which drops from 9th nationally to 60th. The Hurricanes trade a non-conference schedule of @ Kansas State, Bethune-Cookman, Notre Dame and USF for Florida Atlantic, Florida, Savannah State and @ USF.