The ACC announced a new format and new matchups for the potential (hopeful) upcoming 2020 Football season on Wednesday afternoon. Schools will play 10 conference games, with one additional game against a non-conference opponent. The season is set to start the week of September 7-12 and finish either December 12th or 19th in Charlotte with the ACC Football Championship game.
Virginia’s schedule got a big shake up, and they are supposed to face these teams this season under the new setup:
Things have changed dramatically, so here are five takeaways on the new season.
That road slate, woof.
Virginia was already supposed to play Clemson, Miami, and Virginia Tech this season, so no HUGE surprises there. The addition of Florida State and Wake Forest don’t make things any easier, and I can’t say I’m a huge fan of making the trip down to Florida TWICE in the season, let alone at all, as their COVID-19 numbers are aggressively bad.
Playing Miami in Miami for the second straight season is kind of a bummer, but Virginia gets Duke at home for the second straight season instead of taking a trip to Durham.
Clemson is once again the favorite (by a long shot) in the ACC, and the Hoos will still get their rematch of the 2019 ACC Championship Game.
The Cavaliers beat Florida State in Charlottesville last season in one of the most exciting games of the year, and the Seminoles will be under new leadership with Mike Norvell taking over for Willie Taggart as head coach.
Virginia’s game in Blacksburg will obviously determine if the Commonwealth Cup gets to stay nice and happy for another year with its new National Championship trophy friends. Tech will look a little different in the secondary, however, as star cornerback Caleb Farley announced his decision to opt out of the season.
All this said, however, what even are road games in the year 2020? The likelihood of fans attending is low, so the advantage will be minimal.
The Tar Heel state is practically relocating to Charlottesville as the Hoos will face Duke, North Carolina, and NC State at home to go with a trip to Wake Forest. As mentioned above, the game against the Blue Devils was supposed to be in Durham, but scheduling apparently necessitated the swap.
Virginia’s game against North Carolina will be one of the more anticipated games of the season as the Tar Heels bring back sophomore quarterback sensation Sam Howell, along with several key members of a team that outperformed expectations last year.
And NC State? Well, the Wolfpack have been making snide comments about how easy it would be to play in the Coastal for awhile, so now’s the time for them to show out. NC State is scheduled to face all seven Coastal teams in Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. That’s more Coastal teams than Virginia got (no Pitt! No Georgia Tech!) on the schedule.
Wake Forest isn’t expected to be as good as they were last season, but they bring back the ACC leader in yards per game receiving (111 yards) in Sage Surratt. Regardless of the roster, expect head coach Dave Clawson to have the Demon Deacons ready to roll.
Who will be the non-conference opponent?
Virginia has all-but officially lost Georgia from the schedule with this announcement as the Hoos will have to play a non-conference opponent in the commonwealth of Virginia for their plus-one game.
Per the ACC release, non-conference opponents will be, “...selected by the respective school, must be played in the home state of the ACC institution, and all non-conference opponents must meet the medical protocol requirements as agreed upon by the ACC.”
Virginia had a trip to ODU on the schedule already, and that’s a good game to keep. It’s unlikely to get a non-conference Power 5 school to travel to Virginia for the 11th game, so likely opponents include ODU, Richmond, or William & Mary.
Please, just don’t play Liberty.
Notre Dame, ACC Member
As part of the deal, Notre Dame will be participating in the 10-game ACC schedule format. The Irish are set to face Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, Syracuse, Boston College, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pitt, and Wake Forest.
Some are annoyed that the conference is offering a life-line to the part-time, independent-rolling school, but the ACC will get something in return. As part of the set up, Notre Dame will throw their TV money from the games broadcast on NBC into the pot, and that pot (along with the TV money generated by the rest of the full-time members) will get split evenly among the 15 institutions. Seems fair!
Will this even happen?
This is obviously the overarching question as we all look at the data and numbers returning around the country. It still feels like a long shot, but for now we’ll get excited to have something to talk about.
Wear a mask, don’t go to parties, and be responsible.