Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame vs the ACC

July 24, 2020
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ISD’s Matt Freeman reported on Thursday evening that things are starting to clear up with Notre Dame’s schedule and it’s looking like, at least for this year, the Irish could be a de facto member of the ACC.

It would be a 10+1 scenario where Notre Dame would play 10 games against ACC opponents and have a shot at winning a conference championship. I guess unprecedented times lead to unprecedented scenarios and this would certainly fit that description.

How that schedule would break down will be interesting with six ACC programs already set, but there are intriguing matchups with Florida State, Miami, or North Carolina possibly on the table for Notre Dame. Although, I don’t think those matchups are necessary to know how the Irish matchup against the conference.

In the last three seasons, Notre Dame is 14-1 against the ACC in the regular season and they are 23-7 overall (.766 winning percentage) against the conference since the scheduling agreement started in 2014. Only one program has a better winning percentage against conference ACC conference opponents during that time and that would be Clemson.

Everyone knows that Clemson is the top dog and has run the ACC for the last five years. There hasn’t been a clear number two behind them and Notre Dame would be the obvious choice to emerge if this ends up as the agreed upon solution.

Notre Dame has recruited better than everyone else not named Clemson. They’ve signed more blue-chips (4 or 5-stars) than other ACC teams, including Miami and Florida State. They’ve played to that level the last three years by dominating most of the ACC competition they’ve faced.

And if we’re talking about all-conference level players, not something normally discussed when talking Notre Dame football, the Irish would be well represented on any preseason All-ACC teams.

Ian Book would be the second team quarterback behind Trevor Lawrence. The offensive line could be represented with at least three first team selections with Liam Eichenberg, Tommy Kraemer, and Robert Hainsey likely considered. When names like Boston College’s Tyler Vrabel and Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw are on the first team according to Athlon, I feel fairly confident that at least two of three Notre Dame fifth year seniors would make the cut.

Aaron Banks and Jarrett Patterson would probably find their way onto the second or third team. In other words, Notre Dame would clearly have the best offensive line in the conference.

Kyle Hamilton and Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah would be on the first team on defense. With the defensive line being so stacked in the conference, Notre Dame may only get edge defenders Daelin Hayes and Ade Ogundeji on the third team in the preseason, but they would be in contention for the second team as well.

It would be fair to say that Notre Dame would have at least four preseason first team All-ACC picks if they were included in that conversation. To give you an idea how that stacks up, Clemson has four first team All-ACC picks according to Athlon (excluding Justyn Ross, who has been ruled out for the season). Florida State has three. Virginia Tech has three. Miami has two. Pitt has two. Louisville has two.

If we’re going by ratings, SP+ has Notre Dame at 12 with Clemson at 3. North Carolina is 17, but no other ACC team cracks the top-20. 

If things end up moving to this 10+1 scenario, it will be an interesting glimpse into what it would look like for Notre Dame as a full-time member of the ACC. Most Irish fans already have a pretty good idea of how it should look, though, based on the last few years.

Clemson is the class of the conference and that is the one game Notre Dame will not be on equal footing in terms of overall talent, but there’s still a gap with the rest of the ACC and Notre Dame, which has proven itself out since 2017. There could be a few challenging matchups outside of Clemson, but there shouldn’t be any game where Notre Dame isn’t favored.

 
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