News has been changing by the day surrounding the college football season. Notre Dame and its new scheduling issues have been one of the many problems COVID-19 has produced.
However, it is starting to look more like the ACC is stepping in to bring Notre Dame in as a full member for 2020. If that's the case, Notre Dame is primed for a conference title run.
Notre Dame To The ACC
This isn't set in stone yet and this is all conjecture at this point. But Bryan Driskell published some rumors and reports that Notre Dame could be making the move.
"There have been multiple reports, rumors and speculation about Notre Dame and the ACC joining forces in 2020 as the conference and the Irish look to navigate through the COVID-19 situation.
Last week, Irish Breakdown posted a report from Brett McMurphy of Stadium about Notre Dame joining the ACC for the 2020 season. Talking to sources close to the program has provided more information.
From reports, it seems like Notre Dame could play in the Coastal division and keep the three games previously scheduled against Atlantic Division opponents. It would be the easiest transition without having to reshuffle everything. Again, questions still remain around everything. But if this was to move forward as reported, Notre Dame would likely have the ability to play in the conference championship. The top ACC team that doesn't make the playoff also goes to the Orange Bowl. It is unclear if Notre Dame would be included in that as well.
Clearly there is a ton of uncertainty around all of this, but it makes the most sense. Luckily for Notre Dame, they are a step above everyone but Clemson in the ACC.
ACC Title Run
Looking through the ACC shows a lackluster conference with some potential, but they deserve their reputation. The Coastal has also been a bit of a disaster over the last few years. The Coastal has had seven teams that represent them in the conference championship in seven years. Furthermore, it is just a group of subpar teams.
Virginia was the best in the coastal last season and they lost their star quarterback, Bryce Perkins, and star corner, Bryce Hall. North Carolina is on the rise and has a young stud QB in Sam Howell. However, they are likely still a year away but proved they can catch anyone slipping. They lost to Clemson last season by missing a two-point conversion at the end of the game.
The rest of the ACC outside of Clemson is a bunch of teams with potential but they have never proved it. Miami brought in another transfer QB in D'Eriq King from Houston. King had 50 touchdowns in 2018, then he redshirted himself after a disastrous start in 2019 under the new Houston coach, Dana Holgorsen. Manny Diaz has proven himself as a defensive coordinator but has a long way to go in the Miami rebuild as their head coach.
Looking at the rest of the teams is more of the same. Virginia Tech, Pitt, Duke, and Georgia Tech shouldn't scare anyone. Georgia Tech no longer runs the triple option, Pitt has given Notre Dame problems but they still lack an offense and Virginia Tech fans were kind of happy about rumors their head coach, Justin Fuente may leave last offseason.
It is also tough to strike fear in the hearts of Notre Dame fans when looking at ACC opponents. Notre Dame played five ACC teams in 2019. They won by an average score of 34-14. Only one game was a one-score game against Virginia Tech and that was a fluke. It was a poor game by the offense with multiple turnovers and they still pulled out the win.
The only team that stands in their way comes to South Bend.
Notre Dame - Clemson
This heavyweight matchup has been at the front of everyone's minds when the 2020 schedule was released. With a regular-season game at home and a likely rematch in the conference championship, Brian Kelly has the opportunity to finally show up against an elite team.
Beating a team twice isn't easy to do. Notre Dame also gets them at home which gives the Fighting Irish a solid advantage. Clemson isn't afraid to step up in big moments and this will be a battle-tested team when they come to South Bend.
The biggest question, once again, can Ian Book and Brian Kelly perform in a big game. Kelly teams have failed to show up on multiple occasions and Ian Book is building a history of disappearing against better teams. If Notre Dame fails to show up against Clemson twice, it would be a new low for Brian Kelly.
If Notre Dame loses a hard-fought game against Clemson, it would be acceptable. Clemson is one of the very best in the country. However, if Clemson runs them off the field twice, it would cement Notre Dame into a good not great team under Kelly. More so, Notre Dame winning less than 11 games with this schedule would be a massive disappointment. On paper, they will be better than everyone but Clemson and will likely only play Navy out of conference.
Notre Dame is in the perfect position to beat up a weak conference and for the first time in their 132 year history play in a conference championship.
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