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ACC confirms Notre Dame will play 10-game conference schedule, be eligible for league title game

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So much for there being no news coming on the ACC and Notre Dame front this week.

July 9, the Big Ten announced that it would be going to a conference-only schedule for football.  The Pac-12 announced a similar format the next day.  In between, ACC commissioner John Swofford indicated in a statement that he anticipated a decision on football by the conference’s Board of Directors in late July.  Tuesday, however, it was reported that a decision isn’t expected when the board meets Wednesday.  Instead, it may wait until after next Tuesday’s rather sizable NCAA meeting.

In the end, that report turned out to be inaccurate.  Very inaccurate, actually.  Late Wednesday afternoon, the ACC announced that its football schedule will consist of 11 games — 10 conference matchups and one non-conference tilt.  The season will commence over a span of several days, from Sept. 7-12.

Each conference school will have two bye weekends in a season that, if played, would be stretched out over 13 weeks.  Additionally, the non-conference game must be played in the ACC school’s home state.  That stipulation means that all three Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games will not be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as previously scheduled.  That trio of games includes Florida State-West Virginia, Georgia-Virginia and North Carolina-Auburn.  Notre Dame at Navy, Boston College at Kansas and Florida State at Boise State are affected as well, along with a handful of other games.

The kicker?  The ACC confirms that, for this season, Notre Dame will play a 10-game conference schedule.  And would be eligible to play in the league championship game.  That title game, incidentally, will be played in Charlotte either the weekend of Dec. 12 or 19.  It had been scheduled for Dec. 5.  The ACC also confirmed that the title game participants will be determined by the teams with the highest winning percentage in conference play.

The Fighting Irish would also be eligible to claim the ACC’s Orange Bowl berth, if it’s not in the College Football Playoff.

For both the ACC and Notre Dame, this is certainly a monumental development.

Notre Dame has never played in a conference championship game since it began playing the sport way back in 1887.  Why?  Because the Fighting Irish have been a football independent for every one of those 133 seasons.

The ACC becomes the first Power Five conference to formally release a 2020 schedule.  Below is said slate.  And, if that’s too hard to read, click HERE.

ACC reportedly won’t make a decision on football schedule this week

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It was anticipated that some significant news would be coming out of the ACC regarding football this week.  Instead, that scheduling can will be kicked down the road.  Again.

July 9, the Big Ten announced that it would be going to a conference-only schedule for football.  The Pac-12 announced a similar format the next day.  In between, ACC commissioner John Swofford indicated in a statement that he anticipated a decision on football by the conference’s Board of Directors in late July.

Thus, it was expected that an announcement from the ACC on its football schedule would be in the offing in the coming days.  Brett McMurphy, however, is reporting that a decision isn’t expected when the board meets Wednesday.  Instead, it may wait until after next Tuesday’s rather sizable NCAA meeting.

When the ACC ultimately decides on a football scheduling format, it’s expected to include 10 conference games and one out-of-conference matchup.  Additionally, there’s a chance that Notre Dame could be considered a member of the conference for one season, making the football independent eligible for the league championship game.  The Pac-12 will also reportedly play 10 conference games, albeit without one out of conference.

As for the SEC?  They too have been expected to make an announcement at some point this week.  Whether they follow the ACC’s lead remains to be seen.

The Big 12, meanwhile, could wait another two weeks or more before it makes a decision.

Justin Fields, Chuba Hubbard headline Maxwell Award preseason watch list

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#WatchListSZN continues unabated, with the Maxwell Award next up on the preseason junket.

Friday morning, the Maxwell Award announced its preseason watch list consisting of 90 college football players from across the country.  Presently annually to the Collegiate Player of the Year, the Maxwell Award is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the sport.

None of the three finalists from a year ago, LSU quarterback and 2019 winner Joe Burrow, Ohio State defensive end Chase Young and Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, are on this year’s watch list.  Burrow and Young, incidentally, went 1-2 in the 2020 NFL Draft.  There are, however, six semifinalists from a year ago.

The Big Ten leads all conferences with 15 watch listers, followed by the ACC (14) and SEC (13).  The AAC and Mountain West, with nine apiece, have the most for Group of Five leagues.  And the other Power Fives?  The Pac-12 posted eight, the Big 12 seven.

Four individual schools, Alabama, Indiana, Louisville and Memphis, had three players apiece on the preseason watch list.  Another 11 have two each: Auburn, Boise State, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and SMU.

Below is the complete preseason watch list for the 2020 Maxwell Award.

Report: Notre Dame would be eligible to play in ACC championship game this season

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Football-independent Notre Dame in a conference title game?  That actually could be a thing in 2020.

Since 2014, Notre Dame football and the ACC have had a scheduling relationship that sees the Fighting Irish face at least five teams from that conference each season.  In 2017, the two sides released future schedules through the 2037 season.  The university is also an ACC member in other sports as well.  So, yes, there is an extensive relationship between the two.

This week, the ACC is expected to finalize its plans — or, at least, its next step — for fall sports, including football.  According to Stadium.com‘s Brett McMurphy, the top scheduling model the conference is considering is 10 league games plus one non-conference game.  That would open the door for rivalries such as Clemson-South Carolina and Georgia Tech-Georgia to be played.

McMurphy also notes, though, that “[i]n this format if Notre Dame plays 10 ACC teams, results would count in ACC standings.” And, according to David Teel of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Notre Dame would be eligible for a spot in the ACC championship game.  According to the former report, it’s unclear if the Fighting Irish could earn the ACC’s Orange Bowl bid as that conference’s champion if they knock off Clemson win the league title.

All of this is pending the approval of the conference’s presidents and chancellors, of course.

Notre Dame has never played in a conference championship game since it began playing the sport way back in 1887.  Why?  Because the Fighting Irish have been a football independent for every one of those 133 seasons.

Because of the decisions by the Big Ten and Pac-12 to go to a schedule that consists only of conference games, Notre Dame has already seen three of its 12 regular-season games canceled (Wisconsin, Stanford, USC).  Six of their 2020 games, though, are already with teams from the ACC: Wake Forest, Pitt, Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Louisville.  They also have a game against an SEC foe in Arkansas.

Notre Dame was scheduled to open the 2020 season against Navy in Ireland Aug. 29.  However, that rivalry matchup has been moved to Annapolis and will be played either Sept. 5 or Sept. 6.  Under the reported ACC schedule model, that rivalry game would be able to take place.

2019 finalist Chuba Hubbard, 2018 finalist Travis Etienne two of the 76 Doak Walker Award watch listers

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If you’re a starting running back at the FBS level, there’s a fairly good chance you are part of the Doak Walker Award watch list.

Monday, it was the Bednarik Award kicking off watch list season.  Tuesday, the Davey O’Brien Award joined in.  A day later, the Doak Walker Award joined the burgeoning list of honors releasing their preseason watch lists.

This award, given annually to the nation’s top running back, features a whopping 76 preseason candidates.  Included in that are 2019 finalist Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State and 2018 finalist Travis Etienne of Clemson.  Last year’s winner was Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor.

Every FBS conference is represented on the list.  The Big Ten and Pac-12 lead the way with 10 apiece, followed by the ACC and SEC with nine each.  The other Power Five, the Big 12, landed five. Wih seven apiece, the Mountain West and Sun Belt led all Group of Five conferences.

Of the more than six dozen watch listers, 30 of them are seniors.  Another 28 are juniors while the other 18 are sophomores.

Below are all 76 running backs who make up this year’s Doak Walker Award preseason watch list.

Drake Anderson (So.), Northwestern
David Bailey (Jr.), Boston College
Max Borghi (Jr.), Washington State
Rakeem Boyd (Sr.), Arkansas
Gary Brightwell (Sr.), Arizona
Kennedy Brooks (Jr.), Oklahoma
Shamari Brooks (Sr.), Tulsa
Christopher Brown, Jr. (Jr.), Cal
Journey Brown (Jr.), Penn State
Spencer Brown (Sr.), UAB
Noah Cain (So.), Penn State
Jamale Carothers (Jr.), Navy
Stephen Carr (Sr.), USC
Michael Carter (Sr.), North Carolina
Andrew Clair (Jr.), Bowling Green
Elijah Collins (So.), Michigan State
James Cook (Jr.), Georgia
Jashaun Corbin (So.), Florida State
ReMahn Davis (So.), Temple
Travis Etienne (Sr.), Clemson
Demetric Felton (Sr.), UCLA
Alex Fontenot (Jr.), Colorado
Kenneth Gainwell (So.), Memphis
Tyler Goodson (So.), Iowa
Eric Gray (So.), Tennessee
Breece Hall (So.), Iowa State
Najee Harris (Sr.), Alabama
Javian Hawkins (So.), Louisville
Justin Henderson (Sr.), Louisiana Tech
Kylin Hill (Sr.), Mississippi State
George Holani (So.), Boise State
Chuba Hubbard (Jr.), Oklahoma State
Caleb Huntley (Sr.), Ball State
Mohamed Ibrahim (Jr.), Minnesota
Keaontay Ingram (Jr.), Texas
Deon Jackson (Sr.), Duke
Jermar Jefferson (Jr.), Oregon State
Josh Johnson (Sr.), ULM
Amare Jones (Jr.), Tulane
Lopini Katoa (Jr.), BYU
Wesley Kennedy III (Sr.), Georgia Southern
JD King (Sr.), Georgia Southern
Brenden Knox (Jr.), Marshall
Bryant Koback (Jr.), Toledo
Kobe Lewis (Jr.), Central Michigan
Vavae Malepeai (Sr.), USC
Kevin Marks (Jr.), Buffalo
Jordan Mason (Jr.), Georgia Tech
Kevin Mensah (Sr.), Connecticut
Dedrick Mills (Sr.), Nebraska
Elijah Mitchell (Sr.), Louisiana-Lafayette
Marcel Murray (Jr.), Arkansas State
Richard Newton (So.), Washington
Jaret Patterson (Jr.), Buffalo
Trey Ragas (Sr.), Louisiana-Lafayette
Miles Reed (Jr.), Hawaii
Ronnie Rivers (Sr.), Fresno State
Larry Rountree III (Sr.), Missouri
Mekhi Sargent (Sr.), Iowa
Stevie Scott III (Jr.), Indiana
B.J. Smith (Sr.), Troy
Isaiah Spiller (So.), Texas A&M
SaRodorick Thompson (So.), Texas Tech
Toa Taua (Jr.), Nevada
Corey Taylor II (Sr.), Tulsa
Xazavian Valladay (Jr.), Wyoming
CJ Verdell (Jr.), Oregon
Quardraiz Wadley (Sr.), UTEP
Gaej Walker (Sr.), Western Kentucky
Kenneth Walker III (So.), Wake Forest
Jaylen Warren (Sr.), Utah State
Nakia Watson (So.), Wisconsin
Zamir White (So.), Georgia
Charles Williams (Sr.), UNLV
Javonte Williams (Jr.), North Carolina
D.J. Williams (So.), Auburn