Sporting News has made its ACC predictions for the 2020 season, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were slated for a second place finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Irish were picked behind Clemson, which means there would be an ACC title game rematch between the two programs. Notre Dame's Nov. 7 battle against Clemson was listed as the ACC's biggest game, and the Nov. 27 contest against North Carolina was ranked as the second biggest game.
In fact, Sporting News ranks the Notre Dame/Clemson matchup as the "Game of the Year" in college football
"Sporting News has billed this as its Game of the Year, and we'll hold by that because there is a decent both teams come in with undefeated records. Any time the No. 1 team comes to South Bend, there is a chance for one of those instant classics that both teams remember forever. With the Irish playing as a full ACC member, this is that moment."
Here is what Bender wrote about the Notre Dame/North Carolina matchup:
"Notre Dame travels to Chapel Hill the day after Thanksgiving, and there is an excellent chance this game is for a berth in the ACC championship game. The quarterback duel between Book and Howell is good. The coaching chess match between Kelly and Brown will be even better."
Bender said Notre Dame being in the ACC will be the league's biggest storyline. Here was his explanation:
"How will the Irish react to playing a full league schedule? Notre Dame is ranked No. 6 in SN's Preseason Top 25, and they have an experienced quarterback in Ian Book. The novelty of playing in a conference for the first time is one the leading storylines of the season, and Brian Kelly has led the Irish to a 33-6 record the past three seasons. The schedule is friendly leading up to November showdowns against Clemson (Nov. 7) and North Carolina (Nov. 27). What if Notre Dame uses the ACC championship to vault back into the College Football Playoff? It's one of the more interesting hypotheticals to think about from all angles."
There were four ACC players listed as Heisman Trophy contenders, and Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book was on that list, along with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Clemson running back Travis Etienne and North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell.
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