On Tuesday, the ACC announced some rather significant changes to the remainder of its 2020 football schedule. Additionally, the conference has implemented some new COVID-19 protocols for its teams.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the ACC announced that it would essentially be capping the regular season at nine games for conference title contenders Notre Dame, Clemson, and Miami. That means Clemson’s game against Florida State will not be made up, and the Tigers retain their bye on the weekend of Dec. 12. On top of that, Notre Dame will not play Wake Forest on that date either, thus instituting a bye for the Fighting Irish.
“Following a recommendation from the conference Athletic Director football subcommittee, the league’s Athletic Directors have voted to preserve the integrity of the ACC Football Championship Game by evaluating each of the three teams in contention (Clemson, Miami and Notre Dame) based on a nine-game conference schedule,” the ACC said in its statement. “As a result, Clemson and Notre Dame will conclude the regular season this weekend.
“Wake Forest, which was scheduled to play Notre Dame on Dec. 12, will now play at Louisville. Florida State will play host to Duke on Saturday, Dec. 12, and Florida State will travel to Wake Forest on Dec. 19.”
The Hurricanes, on the other hand, will not get an off week prior to the conference championship game. The Hurricanes will play North Carolina on Dec. 12 to get to nine ACC games.
This news means that Notre Dame has punched its ticket to the ACC Championship Game, and it creates multiple clinch scenarios for Clemson. The Tigers need to beat Virginia Tech this weekend or have Miami lose to Duke in order to secure their spot in the championship game.
Beyond shuffling the schedule, the ACC will also be implementing some new protocols for teams traveling to road games. Now, teams must administer PCR COVID-19 tests on Thursday and have those results back before traveling to the location of their game that weekend.
“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 league said in its press release. “The Chief Medical Officers from each team will confirm results and attest that there is every expectation that the game will be played.”
The ACC Championship Game will still be played on Dec. 19 in Charlotte, North Carolina.