Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 18 of 67 PRESEASON 2020 19 July when the Big Ten's and Pac-12's moves to conference-only decisions deleted Wisconsin, Stanford and USC. He could have declined the ACC's in- vitation, but that meant chopping off six more originally scheduled games. Kelly said twice in July his and Swarbrick's phones have been "ring- ing off the hook" with potential op- ponents. Notre Dame would not have been left with no one to play. In the end, the option to cobble to- gether an independent slate was too risky and less appealing than one full of ACC teams. It would have become harder when the SEC moved to league- only, negating Arkansas, and the Mid-American Conference canceled football this fall, wiping out Western Michigan. That would have left only Navy from the original schedule. "This is just an unprecedented and extraordinary year, and you recog- nize that going in," Swarbrick told ESPN in July. "Could we have con- structed a schedule without this? Yes, but given the uncertainties that ev- erybody faces, you couldn't exactly be sure what you have. "There was a greater level of con- trol and certainty if we could do this with the ACC than if we had just constructed the schedule ourselves." Notre Dame will split its NBC con- tact revenue — about $15 million per year in a normal season — with the rest of the ACC, while also receiving a full share of the ACC's television money. In 2018-19, the ACC distributed about $30 million per school. Notre Dame should end up with more broadcast rights revenue than it would have had it remained independent this year. "This simply — as it has been with other as- pects of the ACC-Notre Dame relationship — is a win-win," Swofford told ESPN. "We're in a difficult situation, all of us in this country and in sports, and in the ACC we're trying to find the best path. "… We're in it together. It was the best thing for the ACC, it was the best thing for Notre Dame, and that makes it pretty easy when you know that." Notre Dame is also eligi- ble for the ACC's Orange Bowl bid, which goes to the league's highest- ranked non-playoff team. THE NEW SCHEDULE The ACC unveiled an 11-game plan for this season: 10 league games and one non-conference contest. With previously scheduled games against Clemson, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Duke and Georgia Tech, Notre Dame needed only four new ones. The Irish will play at Boston College and North Carolina, and host Florida State and Syracuse. The non-conference game has been a fluid situation. According to multiple reports, it will now be AAC member South Florida Sept. 19 in South Bend. The Bulls last played Notre Dame in 2011 and won 23-20 in a game that featured nearly three hours of weather delays and five Irish turnovers. USF went 4-8 in 2019 and has a first- year head coach in Jeff Scott. He was previously Clemson's co-offensive co- ordinator and was on the Tigers' staff during their 2018 College Football Playoff win over Notre Dame. USF's offensive coordinator is 27-year-old Charlie Weis Jr. Ironically enough, the 2011 USF team was coached by another son of an ex-Irish coach, Skip Holtz. Notre Dame's initial plan was to play Western Michigan that same day in a game that was on the origi- nal 2020 slate. But the MAC's deci- sion took that game away and cre- ated the opening. Notre Dame and Georgia Tech are the only two ACC teams playing a non-conference opponent that could be classified as somewhat of a chal- lenge, though no one will give USF much of a chance against the Irish. UCF is playing at Georgia Tech. The other 13 are either playing Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams or Group of Five teams that would be guarantee games on a normal schedule – and in some cases were guarantee games on the original schedule. FBS newbie Liberty is play- ing three ACC teams. Conference USA opponents were a frequent choice. The terms of Notre Dame and USF's agreement are not yet known. The ACC's revised scheduling for- mat led to an occurrence not seen since 1926. Due to its rules for scheduling non-conference opponents, the Irish and Navy will not play this year, snapping the nation's longest-running intersectional rivalry at 93 straight meetings. All ACC non-league games must be played in the conference team's home state this year, the league ruled. That meant Notre Dame and Navy needed to play in Indiana instead of the scheduled lo- cation in Annapolis, Md., if they were to meet this year. Navy determined play- ing three straight games in South Bend was not practical and paused the series. ✦ Notre Dame and Clemson will meet in the regular season on Nov. 7 as previously scheduled and possibly again in the ACC championship game in December. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA Notre Dame's Schedule By The Numbers Notre Dame's conference schedule (still an incomprehensible word combination) contains a few oddities it has not seen in a long time. Here are some numbers that illustrated some of the new wrinkles this slate will bring. 39 Years since Notre Dame played a Friday game. The Irish lost to Miami on Nov. 27, 1981, and play at North Carolina 39 years to the date later. 4 ACC teams Notre Dame does not play this year: North Carolina State, Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech. 1953 Was the last time Notre Dame played a home game on Dec. 5 or later. 15 Years since a No. 1-ranked team came to Notre Dame Stadium. If Clemson remains undefeated heading into its Nov. 7 visit, the Tigers will be the first top-ranked team to play the Irish on the road since USC in 2005. 23-16 Is the best record for an ACC team other than Clemson over the past three years. Virginia Tech, Miami and Wake Forest each claim ownership to that mark. North Carolina State is 22-16, while Virginia is 23-17.

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