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Notre Dame Football

Instant Reaction | Notre Dame's New ACC Opponents

July 29, 2020

While it may still be hard to get fully excited until the season kickoffs in September, news that Notre Dame will be part of the ACC conference race in 2020 certainly feels like it’s worth getting hyped about.

While we don’t know the dates of each game quite yet, we do know who Notre Dame’s 10 ACC opponents will be. In addition to the already scheduled Clemson, Duke, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Pitt, and Wake Forest, Notre Dame has added North Carolina, Boston College, Syracuse, and Florida State.

We don’t know the status of Notre Dame’s plus one yet, which every team in the ACC will get in order to play one non-conference opponent, but what we do know is that the Irish will not play Navy on the road. One of the stipulations in the ACC scheduling is that games need to be played in the home state of an ACC member school. There is no ACC member in the state of Maryland.

If Navy isn’t headed to Indiana to play the Irish, then it’s likely Notre Dame will play their already scheduled home game against Arkansas or look to add another opponent for a home game.

That extra game is probably not going to be as challenging as playing North Carolina, who should be the second best offense Notre Dame faces after Clemson. They are eighth in returning production, which includes quarterback Sam Howell, who finished 10th in the nation in pass efficiency as a true freshman.

Throw in a strong backfield and a dynamic receiver in Dynami Brown and there is no doubt they will present some challenges for Clark Lea and the Irish defense.

Florida State should be an intriguing match up. Like every year, they aren’t lacking when it comes to top end talent and have five players in PFF’s current top-50 for 2021 NFL Draft prospects. Defensive tackle Marvin Wilson is a beast and cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. is one of the better cover men in the ACC.

They have question marks on the offensive line again (what’s new?) and James Blackmon has been average at quarterback. It will be interesting to see if new coach Mike Norvell can get that offense humming like he had it at Memphis, but it might not be a quick fix.

And it’s Florida State in South Bend! 1993 was a long time ago, but these two programs playing each other will always bring up fond memories of that game for Irish fans.

Syracuse and Boston College are both programs who are projected towards the bottom of the conference. Syracuse has to do some rebuilding on both sides of the ball (106th in returning production) and Boston College lacks the overall talent on their roster to compete with the top of the conference.

If Phil Jurkovec is ruled eligible for BC, that would add some spice to that game even if he won’t exactly be throwing to a lot of future pros. Even though their offensive line is considered to be one of the better ones in the ACC, they were dominated by Notre Dame’s banged up defensive front last season.

Even with the additions of UNC and FSU, Notre Dame should be favored in every game they play this season minus Clemson. And if the season plays out that way with only one loss to Clemson, it would mean Notre Dame would face Clemson again in an ACC championship game. (Miami plays Clemson on the road, so the chances of them running the table in the conference are...not good).

Of course, we have to get to the games first and hope they can play them all, but it’s exciting to know there is a plan in place now. That plan makes Notre Dame a full ACC member in football for this one season and perhaps only this season.

Things are already weird in the world right now so hopefully Notre Dame fans can embrace the weird and see if the Irish can win a conference for the first time ever.

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