ACC football announces 2020 schedule update, opponents for FSU, Miami

The conference has scrapped divisions this year while adding Notre Dame as a full member for the season.
Florida State running back Jacques Patrick (9) runs against Notre Dame in the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind.,Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Florida State running back Jacques Patrick (9) runs against Notre Dame in the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind.,Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) [ PAUL SANCYA | AP ]
Published July 29, 2020|Updated July 29, 2020

The ACC ended weeks of indecision Wednesday when it announced a complete overhaul to its football schedule —one that scrapped divisions, could preserve non-conference rivalries like Florida-Florida State and led Notre Dame to temporarily end a century of independence in an effort to salvage something from an autumn overflowing with uncertainty.

The highlights of the plan, announced by the league’s board of directors:

Every team will play a 10-plus-one model. That’s 10 conference games (up from the traditional eight) and one non-conference game (instead of four). The out-of-league game must be played in the same state as the ACC program by a team willing to meet the conference’s medical protocols.

“The plan to play an 11-game football schedule and, in our case, making an accommodation for our long-standing game against Florida is very positive,” Florida State athletic director David Coburn said.

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Those 11 games will take place over 13 weeks to provide more flexibility. Week 1 has been pushed back from the first week of September to Sept. 7-12. The conference championship will still be held in Charlotte, N.C., but delayed a week or two, to either Dec. 12 or 19.

Teams will all play in the same division — no Coastal or Atlantic — with the two teams with the best winning percentages in conference games qualifying for the league title game.

Specific schedules will be decided later, but the league did announce the matchups.

FSU will host Clemson, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pitt and Virginia. The Seminoles will travel to Miami, Duke, Louisville, North Carolina State and Notre Dame.

Miami will host Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia and the ‘Noles. The Hurricanes will visit Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

Longtime football independent Notre Dame will extend its partial membership with the ACC into a full-time membership for the season. The Irish will play 10 ACC games and be eligible for the conference title game.

Related: Five non-pandemic questions as UF, FSU, USF and Miami prepare for next football practice phase

All TV revenue will be split evenly among the 15 schools. That includes Notre Dame’s NBC contract from its home games.

“Today’s decision was made after months of thoughtful planning by numerous individuals throughout the conference,” commissioner John Swofford said. “The board’s decision presents a path, if public health guidance allows, to move forward with competition. Our institutions are committed to taking the necessary measures to facilitate the return in a safe and responsible manner. We recognize that we may need to be nimble and make adjustments in the future. We will be as prepared as possible should that need arise.”

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Swofford better be ready fast.

Shortly after the ACC announced its plans, Sports Illustrated reported that the SEC was zeroing in on a 10-game, conference-only schedule that could be finalized as soon as Thursday. If that happens, it would eliminate four important SEC-ACC rivalries —FSU-UF, Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech and Louisville-Kentucky —that the ACC’s model tried to protect.

Regardless, the ACC’s update scraps FSU’s high-profile opener against West Virginia in Atlanta on Labor Day Weekend and officially wipes out the Seminoles’ $4.25 million payout. It also eliminates FSU’s Sept. 19 trip to Boise State.

UCF will also have its schedule altered by Wednesday’s news. The Knights can no longer host North Carolina on Sept. 3, and their Sept. 18 trip to Georgia Tech has been jeopardized, too.

Miami athletic director Blake James said the Hurricanes’ lone non-conference foe will be either Temple, Alabama-Birmingham or Wagner —three of the team’s previously scheduled opponents. Miami’s game at Michigan State was previously canceled when the Big Ten cut all of its non-league games.

James said the full schedule will come in the following days and weeks, with the understanding that an 11-game season may never materialize.

“I think we all recognize it’s probably very aspirational,” James said.