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Notre Dame to Play 10-Game ACC Schedule, Compete for Conference Championship

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2020

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly watches in the first half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Notre Dame is independent no more—at least temporarily.

The ACC announced Wednesday that the Fighting Irish will join the conference for the 2020 season and play 10 games against ACC teams. Notre Dame will be eligible to compete for the conference championship as well.

ACC Football @ACCFootball

The 2020 Football Schedule Model has been announced. More info: https://t.co/D6iCbHIY1x https://t.co/dfhTqr4YTd

The move comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced Power Five conferences to amend their schedules for the upcoming year. The Big Ten was the first to announce a conference-only slate, and the Pac-12 followed the move a day later.

ACC teams will play 11 games, 10 of which will be against conference teams.

ESPN's Andrea Adelson reported July 24 that this idea was under consideration. Notre Dame has remained independent in football throughout its history, but a move to the ACC was the most sensible move for all parties involved.

Stewart Mandel @slmandel

For like 15 years, I've been getting some variation of "What will it take for Notre Dame to join a conference?" Turned out the answer was: Global pandemic.

The Fighting Irish already lost games against Stanford, USC and Wisconsin when the Big Ten and Pac-12 altered their schedules. Being an independent school when Power Five conferences are pulling up the drawbridge wasn't an advantageous position. Now, Notre Dame needs to find only one nonconference opponent to reach the 11-game threshold.

Adelson explained how welcoming Notre Dame as a member for football—the school is already affiliated with the ACC for all other sports—would allow the ACC to avoid a major scheduling headache as well.

Conference officials were looking at an approach that allowed teams to have one nonconference game to maintain annual rivalries. Had Notre Dame balked at joining the ACC for 2020, it would've potentially jeopardized the ability for Clemson (South Carolina), Louisville (Kentucky) and Georgia Tech (Georgia) to face off against their biggest rivals from the SEC.

The ACC will begin its football season during the week of Sept. 7-12, and the conference championship will be on either Dec. 12 or 19 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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