Skip to main content

The ACC just made a brilliant move to protect its national championship chances

We're always making up the rules as we go in college football, but especially so in 2020. And in that spirit, the ACC made a brilliant adjustment on Tuesday.

The three ACC teams still in contention for the league championship -- Notre Dame, Clemson and Miami -- will now be evaluated on 9-game conference schedules, not 10. As a result, the Notre Dame-Wake Forest and Clemson-Florida State games have now been canceled. The Irish, 8-0 in conference play, have now officially clinched a berth in their first and only ACC Championship; 7-1 Clemson clinches a berth with a win at Virginia Tech. In the event of a Clemson loss, Miami can win their way in with wins over Duke and North Carolina. (Notre Dame hosts 1-8 Syracuse on Saturday.)

Here's what this move really does:

1. By cancelling Notre Dame, Clemson and Miami's Dec. 12 games, it allows those three teams to effectively enter a bubble starting Dec. 6, thereby giving them the greatest chance possible of playing the ACC Championship.

2. It avoids the no-win situation of the ACC "forcing" Clemson to return to Tallahassee a second time for a game Dabo Swinney and company clearly don't want to play.

3. It protects all three teams' resumes by removing the possibility of a season-altering upset. Beating Wake Forest and/or Florida State was never going to put Notre Dame and Clemson in the Playoff, but losing to them might.

"Should a game(s) involving Clemson, Miami or Notre Dame not be played this weekend, the ACC has the option to reschedule games on Dec. 12 as needed," the ACC said.

As a result, this is now the ACC's schedule for the final two weeks of action.

Thursday, Dec. 10
Pitt at Georgia Tech (previously announced)

Saturday, Dec. 12
Virginia at Virginia Tech (previously announced)
North Carolina at Miami (previously announced)
Duke at Florida State
Wake Forest at Louisville

Saturday, Dec. 19
ACC Football Championship Game, 4 p.m., ABC (previously announced)
Georgia Tech at Miami (previously announced and if Miami is not in the FCG)
Florida State at Wake Forest

Additionally, after two straight seasons where Florida State has had a game canceled on Saturday morning, the ACC has changed its protocols to where both sides will agree to move forward before the visitors get on the airplane:

"Each team will be required to have a PCR test administered on Thursday with a result prior to the visiting team traveling to the game locale. The Chief Medical Officers from each team will confirm results and attest that there is every expectation that the game will be played. While the Medical Advisory Group has not identified evidence of virus transmission during competition, this adjustment will mitigate the chances of unnecessary interaction between team members and outside individuals that are inevitable during travel."

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.