ACC Football: 10 Most Intriguing Non-Conference Games of 2020

Clemson at Notre Dame will be one of the most anticipated games of the 2020 season

The ACC has faced plenty of criticism in regard to scheduling over the past couple of seasons. With the league coming off a lackluster 2019 season, coupled with being one of the two Power 5 leagues playing an eight-game conference slate, ACC teams need to make hay in their 2020 non-conference matchups.

 

Fortunately, there are plenty of statement opportunities outside of league play. Not only do ACC schools play teams from the SEC, Big 12, and Big Ten, there are also showdowns with some of the elite Group of 5 programs. Plus, Notre Dame will have six ACC games this coming fall.

 

Of the ACC non-conference tilts, here are the 10 most interesting.

 

10. Temple at Miami, Sept. 5

The Owls are coming off an 8-5 season that ended with a loss to North Carolina in the Military Bowl. They'll open the season by going to Miami to face Manny Diaz, who was the Temple coach for 18 days before taking the Hurricanes job in December 2018.

 

9. Georgia Tech at Georgia, Nov. 28

The Bulldogs have wiped out the Jackets three years in a row, and the boys from Athens will be loaded once again. But Geoff Collins' team made improvements as the 2019 season went along, and the 2020 team should be much different by the end of November.

 

8. Louisville at Notre Dame, Nov. 21

It was evident in their 2019 season opener against the Irish that the Cardinals were considerably better than the 2018 version. Like Geoff Collins' Jackets, Louisville should take another step forward this fall in year two of Scott Satterfield, and the November game in South Bend will provide a big stage

 

7. Miami at Michigan State, Sept. 26

The Hurricanes and the Spartans have only played four times with the last meeting being a 26-20 Miami victory in 1989. New Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker is known for putting together quality defenses, and he will have his hands full with quarterback D'Eriq King, who transferred to Miami from Houston.

 

6. North Carolina vs. Auburn (Atlanta), Sept. 12

The Tar Heels open the season at UCF then head to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to play Auburn in Week 2. This game will be a battle of two sophomore quarterbacks in UNC's Sam Howell and Auburn's Bo Nix.

 

5. Florida at Florida State, Nov. 28

It's an even-numbered year, so that means the Gators will travel to Doak Campbell Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend. Expectations are high for Florida in Dan Mullen's third season, and new FSU coach Mike Norvell hopes that his system is running smoothly by the season's 12th game.

 

4. Florida State at Boise State, Sept. 19

But the Noles also have a couple of big tests in the month of September. They open with West Virginia in Atlanta, and after welcoming the Broncos to Tallahassee last year, FSU will play on the Smurf Turf in Week 3. Led by two sophomores, quarterback Hank Bachmeier and running back George Holani, the Broncos will challenge for the Group of 5's New Year's Six spot in 2020.

 

3. Virginia vs. Georgia (Atlanta), Sept. 7

In the Labor Day night game, the Cavaliers play Georgia in a not-so-neutral site game. The Cavaliers' coaching staff never saw quarterback Jamie Newman during his time at Wake Forest, but they most likely will in Game 1, as the former Deacon signal-caller is now at Georgia.

 

2. Penn State at Virginia Tech, Sept. 12

It seems bizarre that the two former eastern independents have never met up on the football field, but such is the case. That changes on Sept. 12 when the Nittany Lions invade Lane Stadium. The Hokies have a large number of starters returning from their Belk Bowl team, and Penn State will be in everyone's preseason top 10.

 

1. Clemson at Notre Dame, Nov. 7

In what will unquestionably be one of the premier college football games of the season, Clemson will make their second-ever appearance at Notre Dame Stadium. Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers are again considered one of the prime contenders for the national title and expectations will also be high for Notre Dame after compiling 33 wins over the past three seasons.

 

— Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, covering the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

 

(Top screengrab courtesy of YouTube)

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