It was announced last week that Notre Dame and the ACC agreed to let Notre Dame participate as a member of the ACC for the 2020 season. The Irish used an NFL schedule-type release to inform the fans who the Irish would play, just not the exact dates or order of the games. The consensus after the schedule switch is that the schedule became easier for the Irish and they now have a clear path to the College Football Playoff. They will likely have to go through Trevor Lawrence, deemed the best player in college football, and Clemson twice to do so.
The big surprise on the schedule is the non-conference opponent, there were some rumblings that Navy would be the non-conference game this season, but this year their non-conference opponent is the Western Michigan Broncos from the Mid-American Conference (MAC). This comes as a surprise to some since the MAC is a smaller conference in the “Group of 5 Classification,” and have yet to make an announcement regarding their season. Another MAC school, Northern Illinois University, has already canceled their games against non-conference opponents Iowa and Maryland, which makes this a surprise that WMU is still on Notre Dame’s schedule.
Personally, I love where Clemson falls on the schedule. Initially, I was thinking since Clemson was already on the schedule that the game could have been moved to earlier in the season. However, they left the originally scheduled date, November 7, to play. The bye week after the third game is arguably the best spot to have their first bye week because it falls after what looks to be three tune-up games for the Irish.
The schedule’s toughest stretch at first glance is the weeks from November 7 through November 27. In that stretch Notre Dame plays, Clemson, Boston College, and North Carolina. This is a tough stretch because the ACC runs through Clemson, and North Carolina seems to be the trending in the right direction since Mack Brown took over as head coach. The Boston College game just became a whole lot more interesting as well. Former Notre Dame quarterback Phil Jurkovec just recently learned his transfer waiver was granted, and he will be eligible for Boston College this season.
This is a likable schedule with plenty of opponents that Notre Dame has seen over the last 5-to-10 seasons. Notre Dame, for the first time since the implementation of the “College Football Playoff”, has a clear cut path to said playoff as long as they take care of business. Notre Dame makes the ACC more competitive and also make it less top-heavy, as proved when Notre Dame was able to hang with Clemson during the regular season. This season is about taking that next step and getting over that Championship hump. Will Brian Kelly and Ian Book lead Notre Dame to their first National Championship since 1988? Only time will tell.