Notre Dame clinches spot in ACC title game as conference makes scheduling changes

Sam Cooper
·3 min read

No. 2 Notre Dame has officially clinched a spot in the ACC title game.

As part of an array of scheduling changes announced by the ACC on Tuesday, Notre Dame will no longer play Wake Forest on Dec. 12, meaning the Irish’s game this weekend against Syracuse will be the team’s regular season finale.

No. 3 Clemson will also wrap up its regular season this weekend when it plays Virginia Tech. Clemson’s Nov. 21 game at Florida State was abruptly postponed, and Dec. 12 would have been the only available weekend to reschedule it. But the ACC has made adjustments so that its three championship contenders — Notre Dame, Clemson and Miami — will be evaluated “based on a nine-game conference schedule” as a way to “preserve the integrity of the ACC Football Championship Game.”

Playing beyond this weekend would have pushed Clemson and Notre Dame to 10 ACC games played. No. 10 Miami has not played since Nov. 14 due to COVID-19 issues. To get to nine games, the Hurricanes will play at Duke on Saturday and then host North Carolina on Dec. 12.

And based on the current standings and the fact that Notre Dame holds all relevant tiebreakers, Notre Dame has clinched a berth in the ACC title game.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (12) greets running back C'Bo Flemister (20) during warmup before an NCAA college football game against Pittsburgh, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (12) greets running back C'Bo Flemister (20) during warmup before an NCAA college football game against Pittsburgh, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The only way Miami can make it into the conference championship game is if Clemson loses to Virginia Tech this weekend and Miami wins its final two games. If Clemson beats Virginia Tech, the Tigers will play Notre Dame for the conference crown on Dec. 19 in Charlotte.

Got all that? And if games involving Clemson or Notre Dame are not played this weekend, the ACC “has the option to reschedule games on Dec. 12 as needed.”

Other ACC scheduling changes:

  • Wake Forest will now play at Louisville on Dec. 12 instead of hosting Notre Dame.

  • Florida State will host Duke on Dec. 12.

  • Florida State will travel to Wake Forest on Dec. 19.

Adjustments to COVID-19 testing

Each ACC team is now required to take PCR tests on Thursday “with a result prior to the visiting team traveling to the game locale.” Florida State has postponed its last two games, and both times the visiting team — Clemson and then Virginia — had already made the trip to Tallahassee.

For the Clemson game, the Clemson party traveled with a player who tested positive but the test result for the player was not known until arriving in Tallahassee. Last weekend, Florida State received its own test results — results that led to the game being canceled — after Virginia had already arrived.

“The Chief Medical Officers from each team will confirm results and attest that there is every expectation that the game will be played,” the conference said in a release. “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.”

Through the weekend of Nov. 28, 74 of the 85 games scheduled by the ACC have been played.

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