Notre Dame football could become a conference champion in 2020 for the first time in the program’s 133rd season.
That’s the latest potential reality in a college football landscape filled with uncertainty after the ACC announced Wednesday afternoon a conference-wide plan that included Notre Dame for the 2020 season.
All 15 football programs in the ACC, including Notre Dame, will attempt to play a 10-game conference schedule with five games at home and five games on the road this season. The conference will also allow each program to play one non-conference game but with stipulations.
All non-conference games must be played in the home state of the ACC school and the opponent must meet the medical protocol requirements set by the ACC. That would seemingly eliminate Notre Dame’s scheduled game at Navy, but the Irish have not confirmed their non-conference opponent.
"We're excited about the opportunity the ACC has provided for our football program," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. "We look forward to announcing our full schedule in the near future."
The season’s first games for ACC teams will be allowed to take place the week of Sept. 7-12. Each conference team will have the opportunity to play its 11 games over a span of at least 13 weeks with two open dates.
The ACC Championship will be played on either Dec. 12 or 19 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. Because the conference will not be split into divisions this season, the game will include the top two teams based on highest in-conference winning percentage.
Notre Dame’s 10 ACC games will include home games against Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Louisville and Syracuse and road games against Boston College, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. Dates were not attached to those games in the initial release.
Unless Notre Dame can convince Navy to play in Indiana and not on Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5 or 6) as previously scheduled in Annapolis, Md., the Irish will be left with scheduled home games against Arkansas (Sept. 12) and Western Michigan (Sept. 19) to choose its one non-conference game. In theory, Notre Dame could scratch all three matchups and work out a deal with a different program.
If Notre Dame’s previously scheduled ACC games remain on the same dates, the four new games against Boston College, North Carolina, Florida State and Syracuse and the one non-conference game could potentially be played on the following weekends: Sept 12, Sept. 19, Oct. 3, Oct. 10, Oct. 24, Nov. 28 and Dec. 5.
The ACC week-by-week schedule and television assignments will be released in the future. All television revenue generated by the ACC, including Notre Dame’s NBC broadcasts, will be shared equally among all 15 schools.
Notre Dame will remain part of the ACC’s bowl selection process and become eligible for the Orange Bowl if it wins the ACC Championship but isn’t selected as a College Football Playoff team.
The ACC COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group also recommended minimum standards for each campus to follow as fall sports return. The group includes Notre Dame team physician Matt Leiszler. ACC leadership and its medical advisory group will meet on a weekly basis.
The minimum testing standards for football include weekly testing for all members of the football team and those in close contact with the team beginning the first week of competition. The tests must be administered within three days of the upcoming game.