Who Will Be NC State's Plus-One?

Brett Friedlander

Now that the SEC has voted to adopt a conference only schedule for the upcoming 2020 football season, any hope of cross-conference rivalry games between ACC and SEC opponents is not effectively gone.

So is the possibility of NC State keeping its highly-anticipated, high-profile home game against Mississippi State.

It was hoped that a cooperative effort between the ACC and SEC would be able to save those games.and that the ACC's decision on Wednesday to go with a "10-plus-1" format might force the SEC's hand into following suit.

But that didn't happene.

With SEC opponents no longer available, it's likely only a matter of time before the ACC drops the "and one" portion of its scheduling model and settles for a 10-game conference only plan. 

But in the event that the league stands pat with its decision to play one nonconference opponent, the Wolfpack must now begin a search for someone to play 

2020 NC State fb schedule update

The most logical replacements would be one of the other teams on the Wolfpack's original schedule.

Troy, in particular, would love to retain its home date against the Wolfpack -- especially since it has already had a game against Arkansas State postponed and also has SEC member Tennessee on its schedule.

But the guidelines set by the ACC on Wednesday prevent its teams from playing their nonconference game on the road, so even if they were so inclined -- which they probably wouldn't be -- coach Dave Doeren and his team wouldn't be able to make the trip to Alabama.

Liberty, on the other hand, would jump at the opportunity to come to Carter-Finley Stadium. The Flames, however, are an even less attractive alternative because of their school's mishandled response to the virus on its campus.

As an FBC program, Delaware would be an opponent of last resort.

With the SEC, along with the Big Ten and Pac-12 all out of play because of conference-only scheduling decisions, there aren't many options left.

Here are a few possibilities:

BYU: As an independent with scheduled games against Missouri of the SEC and Stanford of the Pac-12, the Cougars will likely be scrambling to fill open dates. The question is would they want to travel all the way to Raleigh to play. And would they want a return game in Utah somewhere down the line?

UConn: Also an independent, UConn has already had three games canceled with another one against Ole Miss of the SEC potentially on the chopping block. With UNC and Virginia already on the schedule, the Huskies would have no trouble adding another ACC opponent, especially if it would help them promote their brand on one of the ACC's ESPN-based television platforms.

Army: The Cadets have already lost one game, against Princeton, when the Ivy League canceled all athletic events until the end of the calendar year. State AD Boo Corrigan came to Raleigh from Army, so this matchup would be a natural -- especially since Corrigan would have the contacts to make it happen. 

Any MAC team: Virtually every member of the Mid-American Conference had a game against a Big Ten team on its original schedule and will be looking for someone else to play.

NC A&T: Yes, the Aggies are an FCS program and yes, their conference -- the MEAC -- has canceled its season. But A&T officials are determined to piece together a schedule and play, anyway. And as FBC teams go, the Aggies are more competitive than most.

West Virginia: This is the most interesting option of all, since the Mountaineers owe the Wolfpack a return date for the game that was washed out by Hurricane Florence in 2018. State played at Morganton last season, but because the schedules are set so far in advance the game at Carter-Finley probably won't be made up. Unless ... WVU has already lost a game against Maryland of the Big Ten and would have an opening if the Big 12 allows for nonconference competition.

If all else fails, there will be other ACC teams looking for an extra game. The Wolfpack could also play one of them in a nonconference matchup similar to the one UNC and Wake Forest played in 2019.

Regardless of who the Wolfpack would choose, it's almost a certainty that it would want to play its "plus-one" at home, where it could at least have some fans in the stands, and against a team its has a reasonable chance of beating to enhance its chances at bowl eligibility.

That is, of course, assuming there's a season at all -- which despite Wednesday's schedule announcement, is anything but a certainty.

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