After years of Notre Dame playing keep-away from any conference in college football, they have committed to being apart of the ACC for the 2020 season. Notre Dame is no stranger to the ACC conference, as the school has an agreement to play six schools from the league every season. Notre Dame is part of the ACC in other sports such as basketball and has been affiliated with the conference for a handful of years now.
Notre Dame is a staple in college football, but they are also an Independent team that does not need the financial protection that a conference offers a school. They march to the beat of their own drum and have parlayed their worldwide fan base into a $15 million contract with NBC that has been in place since 1991, which gives people the ability to catch almost every game. It was agreed that Notre Dame will share their broadcast revenue with the ACC conference for this season.
This move is due to most conferences switching conference-only schedules. The Irish would presumably go back to an independent schedule when the smoke clears from COVID-19. It should be noted that zero players on the 2020 Notre Dame football roster have tested positive for COVID-19, and zero players have opted out.
This move has major implications for Notre Dame and their chances of getting to the College Football Playoff. The only underlying issue is that if they are to be in that position, they will most likely have to beat Clemson twice and win the ACC conference, which is no small task. If a team from the ACC makes it to the College Football Playoff and it isn’t Notre Dame, then they are eligible for the ACC’s automatic bid to the Orange Bowl, a bowl game they should have played in last season over Virginia a team they beat in South Bend.
There are no divisions in the ACC conference this season, and the championship game will be determined by the two highest in-conference winning percentages. The season will take place over 13 weeks consisting of 11 games and two bye weeks. Ten of the games will be in-conference with one non-conference game for each team to be played in the home state of the ACC team. That means Notre Dame would still get six home games this season.
The new additions to the schedule are Florida State, North Carolina, Syracuse, and Boston College. The other remaining six ACC opponents that were previously scheduled will remain on the schedule. There has been no announcement made as to who Notre Dame will schedule for that non-conference game, but it is evident they would like to keep their matchup with Navy in that slot if possible.
This is going to be an interesting season, but Notre Dame does have a clear cut path to the College Football Playoff. This will be the biggest test of the Brian Kelly era and an opportunity for this Notre Dame team to etch their name in the history books.