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Notre Dame Football

3 Scheduling Scenarios for Notre Dame in 2020

July 10, 2020
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Some may call it a bad sign of things to come with the Big Ten announcing that they were going to a conference-only schedule this fall. Others would call it pro-active of the Big Ten to do everything they can to try and still have a football season in 2020.

I’d call it expected given how things have been trending in recent weeks.

Positive tests for athletes have shut down voluntary workouts at several schools and the amount of positive tests have gone up in states across America. Schools aren’t trying to pretend it’s business as usual when that’s not the case.

Notre Dame ended up losing a game with Wisconsin because of the Big Ten’s decision and that likely won’t be the only game they lose. The other Power 5 conferences are expected to follow with similar decisions that will take away other games as well.

That’s going to lead to a lot of adjustments with Notre Dame’s schedule. There shouldn’t be that much to worry about with the Irish finding opponents, though. ACC commissioner John Swofford has already talked about the ACC assisting Notre Dame as needed. The six games they have scheduled with ACC opponents are set if they are playing ball this season. If they need more, it sounds like they’ll get help there too.

This isn’t a surprise given Notre Dame’s value to the conference. (I wrote about it back in 6 Thoughts on May 6) So how might Notre Dame’s schedule work out with those six games locked in? Here’s how it could look.

Scenario one: The other Power 5 conferences decide to follow the Big Ten’s lead

This isn’t locked in, but it’s certainly trending there with the Pac-12 possibly the next conference to go with a conference-only scheduling model. That would take out Stanford and USC.

The SEC might not have a decision pending on going to conference-only this season, but it’s doubtful they will be the lone wolf if everyone else has made that choice. That would take Arkansas off the schedule.

That leaves the six ACC opponents plus Western Michigan and Navy. Navy is going to do everything they can to still play Notre Dame. Notre Dame will want to continue to play Navy if they can too. With Western Michigan, circumstances may lead them to needing this game. The MAC already lost a lot of guaranteed money from eliminated games with Big Ten programs and Western Michigan could greatly use the pay out that they would receive for playing Notre Dame.

From a financial standpoint, I’m sure Western Michigan will want to do everything they can to still play this game.

That makes eight games and leaves two more if Notre Dame is going to have a 10-game season to match the Big Ten. There are four potential ACC options to fill those two games.

Syracuse, Florida State, Boston College or North Carolina could all replace Arkansas on Notre Dame’s schedule. They are all supposed to be playing non-conference opponents that week. That would make nine.

Virginia has an open week on October 10 (Stanford week) and NC State has an open week October 24 (Notre Dame’s scheduled open week). Both of those options make sense.

Notre Dame could go that route or look into playing BYU, who has already lost two games against Big Ten opponents and would lose four other Power 5 games. BYU is supposed to play Stanford the same day Notre Dame is supposed to play USC, so there is a match there.

If Notre Dame doesn’t want BYU for that final week in November, Florida State is supposed to have their annual matchup with Florida. That would be an intriguing replacement.

There’s also the possibility of AAC teams looking to add games and if Notre Dame wants to beef up their strength of schedule after losing an opponent like Wisconsin, UCF or Cincinnati would fit as both teams should be ranked and have open dates on October 10, where there will be an opening for Notre Dame to schedule them.

Scenario one leaves a lot of options open for Notre Dame. Here’s how it could look for the Irish where they could have these as potential opponents.(Games currently scheduled are in bold)

Navy Sept 5

Cuse/FSU/BC/UNC Sept 12

Western Michigan Sept 19

Wake Forest Sept 26

TBD Oct 3

Virginia/UCF/Cincinnati/BYU Oct 10

Pitt Oct 17

NC State Oct 24

Duke Oct 31

Clemson Nov 7

Georgia Tech Nov 14

Louisville Nov 21

BYU/FSU Nov 28

Scenario two: all conferences decide to go to conference-only

This would take Navy and Western Michigan off the table as well as any other AAC games like Cincinnati or UCF. That would get Notre Dame down to six games again versus the ACC. This would lead to them needing help from the ACC to get three to four more games.

Virginia and NC State during their open weeks could fill two slots. The four programs mentioned that would be available to play during the week Notre Dame is supposed to play Arkansas would fill a third.

There are plenty of options to replace Western Michigan on the schedule from the ACC. Miami, North Carolina, Florida State, Boston College, or Virginia Tech have non-conference games that week and could be slotted there to play Notre Dame.

The opening week where Notre Dame is supposed to play Navy has Florida State, Miami, and Virginia Tech with non-conference games.

Here’s how it could look under this scenario (with already scheduled games in bold).

FSU/Miami/VT Sept 5

Cuse/FSU/BC/UNC Sept 12

Miami/UNC/BC/VT Sept 19

Wake Forest Sept 26

TBD Oct 3

Virginia//BYU Oct 10

Pitt Oct 17

NC State Oct 24

Duke Oct 31

Clemson Nov 7

Georgia Tech Nov 14

Louisville Nov 21

BYU/FSU Nov 28

Scenario three: five game home-and-home schedule with the ACC

This would make it all 10 games against the ACC and there is pretty much no way Notre Dame would not agree to this if it guaranteed them 10 games. (Sorry not sorry, Navy)

Joe Giglio, who has covered NC State football for a long time, reported this as a possibility today.

It would give the ACC fifteen teams and would allow the league to split into three groups. Who would be in those three groups is a mystery, but one would assume that Notre Dame would be included with former Big East teams like Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville. They make geographic sense as four who would be included with Notre Dame.

Would this mean that Notre Dame would be in contention for a conference championship in the ACC? Maybe, but who knows if this would be step one to full conference membership for them.

It’s pretty clear that there is a path for Notre Dame to play a 10-game schedule in all of these scenarios if the football season isn’t pushed back. We’ll find out about that in the next month or so, but we'll find out about a potential new schedule plan from the ACC and Notre Dame by the end of July.

 
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