The ACC released its 2021 football schedule on Thursday
The ACC continued a busy week of college football news with the release of its 2021 schedule on Thursday. Like all other conferences, the ACC is planning on a normal 2021 slate after a chaotic and unusual '20 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After playing with no divisions and a 10-game conference slate last year, the ACC is planning on returning to an eight-game schedule and divisions for the 14 teams. The impact of COVID-19 for the fall is unknown, but every conference in college football hopes for some level of normalcy in 2021.
What are the big takeaways, tidbits and things to know for the 2021 ACC season?
Here's what you need to know about the 2021 ACC schedule:
ACC Football: What to Know About the 2021 Schedule
Divisions are Back
The ACC played 2020 with 15 teams and no divisions. However, the conference format alteration won't stick around. The ACC is going back to its usual Atlantic and Coastal setup for the 14 teams next fall.
Notre Dame Won't Return as ACC Member
Notre Dame's one season in the ACC was a massive success. The Fighting Irish finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 mark before losing in the ACC title game to Clemson. While the 2020 campaign was a successful one, Notre Dame will return to life as an FBS Independent in '21.
The Fighting Irish Will Play 5 Games Against ACC Teams
Coach Brian Kelly's team is back to its usual allotment of matchups against ACC opponents in 2021. The Fighting Irish play at Florida State to open the season, play at Virginia Tech on Oct. 9, and host North Carolina on Oct. 30. In November, Notre Dame plays at Virginia on Nov. 13 and hosts Georgia Tech on Nov. 20.
Return to Eight Conference Games
After planning to play 10 conference games for all 15 teams last year, the ACC is shifting back to eight league matchups in 2021.
Five Straight Days of Games to Start Week 1
If you like college football, the ACC has a treat for you to start 2021. The conference has five straight days of games, beginning with Thursday, Sept. 2 when USF and NC State meet. North Carolina-Virginia Tech will be played either Thursday or Friday, but Old Dominion at Wake Forest is already slated for Friday, Sept. 3. A full slate is planned for Saturday, followed by Notre Dame at Florida State on Sept. 5 and Louisville versus Ole Miss in Atlanta on Monday night.
Nine of the 13 Weeks Have Games on Thursday or Friday
As of late January, the conference has games on Thursday or Friday in nine of the 13 full weeks of action. This includes the Black Friday showdown between North Carolina and NC State on Nov. 26, UCF at Louisville on Sept. 17, and North Carolina at Pitt on Nov. 11.
Rivalries Have Returned
Out-of-conference rivalry matchups were missed in 2020, but they are slated to return in '21. Kentucky-Louisville, Clemson-South Carolina, Florida State-Florida, and Georgia-Georgia Tech are all slated for Nov. 27.
Championship Game on Dec. 4
All conferences had to shift their title games back due to COVID-19 and scheduling in 2020. However, the plan is for those games to return to their normal slot in '21. The ACC is slated to play its 2021 conference title game in Charlotte on Dec. 4.
Here are some other tidbits by team to know about the 2021 schedule:
Boston College: The Eagles play three out of their final four games at home. A 3-0 start should be attainable with Colgate, UMass and Temple on tap before a home game against Missouri, followed by the ACC opener versus Clemson on Oct. 2.
Clemson: Dabo Swinney's team will be a heavy favorite in most of their games in 2021. The only exception is the opener against Georgia in Charlotte, North Carolina, which also happens to be one of the biggest non-conference games of the 2021 college football season.
Duke: The Blue Devils open with three home games over their first four contests, including the Sept. 18 date against Northwestern. The matchup against rival North Carolina takes place on the road (Oct. 2), while swing contests versus Virginia and Wake Forest are also away from Durham. Three out of Duke's last four games come at home.
Florida State: Mike Norvell has a tough schedule in his second year in Tallahassee. The Seminoles open with Notre Dame, catch Clemson and rival Florida on the road, while also playing the toughest crossover – North Carolina and Miami – from the Coastal Division.
Georgia Tech: With four home games over the first five matchups, coach Geoff Collins' team has a chance to get off to a fast start. However, the crossover (Clemson and Boston College) matchups aren't easy, and non-conference games against Notre Dame and Georgia await. Key swing games versus Duke and Virginia take place on the road.
Louisville: The Cardinals have a tough non-conference slate with games against Ole Miss (Atlanta), UCF and Kentucky. Coach Scott Satterfield's team has a favorable crossover (Virginia and at Duke) draw, but matchups against Florida State, Wake Forest and NC State come on the road.
Miami: Manny Diaz's third year begins with a huge non-conference showdown against Alabama in Atlanta, followed by games against Appalachian State and Michigan State. Virginia Tech, NC State and Virginia come to Coral Gables, but the most important ACC contest for the Hurricanes is the one in Chapel Hill against North Carolina.
North Carolina: The date of the opener (Sept. 2 or 3) against Virginia Tech isn't set as of late January. Coach Mack Brown's team has a favorable path to the Coastal Division championship. The Tar Heels get Florida State, Miami and Virginia at home, with Pitt and NC State joining the Hokies as the top road treks. A road date at Notre Dame on Oct. 30 is one of the top non-conference games of the year. The matchup against Wake Forest on Nov. 6 is a non-conference matchup for the second season in a row.
NC State: A crossover against North Carolina and Miami is tough, and NC State catches Boston College, Florida State and Wake Forest all on the road in 2021. A Week 2 date at Mississippi State will be interesting.
Pitt: The Panthers should go 3-1 in non-conference play, and the back half of the schedule features four home games over the last six contests. Clemson, Miami and North Carolina all come to Heinz Field in 2021. However, swing games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are on the road.
Syracuse: The schedule presents some opportunities for a fast start. Syracuse plays five of its first seven games at home, including must-win matchups against Rutgers, Liberty and Wake Forest.
Virginia: The road slate is challenging for coach Bronco Mendenhall's team. Virginia plays at North Carolina, Miami, Louisville, Pitt, and BYU in 2021. The Cavaliers also host Notre Dame on Nov. 13.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies catch North Carolina, West Virginia (road), and Notre Dame in the first five games of the season. Four out of the final five games – including contests against Miami, Virginia and Boston College – come on the road. Back-to-back games against Miami and Virginia to close out 2021 isn't easy.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons play their first three and four out of the first five at home in 2021. The Nov. 6 matchup against North Carolina is a non-conference game. Wake Forest plays only two out of its final seven games at home.
|Atlantic Division||Crossover Opponents|
|Boston College||Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech|
|Clemson||Georgia Tech, at Pitt|
|Florida State||at North Carolina, Miami|
|Louisville||Virginia, at Duke|
|NC State||at Miami, North Carolina|
|Syracuse||at Virginia Tech, Pitt|
|Wake Forest||at Virginia, Duke|
|Coastal Division||Crossover Opponents|
|Duke||at Wake Forest, Louisville|
|Georgia Tech||at Clemson, Boston College|
|Miami||NC State, at Florida State|
|North Carolina||Florida State, NC State|
|Pitt||Clemson, at Syracuse|
|Virginia||Wake Forest, at Louisville|
|Virginia Tech||Syracuse, at Boston College|
|Atlantic Division||Won't Play in 2021|
|Boston College||Duke, Miami, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia|
|Clemson||Duke, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech|
|Florida State||Duke, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech|
|Louisville||Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pitt, Virginia Tech|
|NC State||Duke, Georgia Tech, Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech|
|Syracuse||Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia|
|Wake Forest*||Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina*, Pitt, Virginia Tech|
|Coastal Division||Won't Play in 2021|
|Duke||Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Syracuse|
|Georgia Tech||Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest|
|Miami||Boston College, Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, Wake Forest|
|North Carolina*||Boston College, Clemson, Louisville, Syracuse, Wake Forest*|
|Pitt||Boston College, Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Wake Forest|
|Virginia||Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Syracuse|
|Virginia Tech||Clemson, Florida State, Louisville, NC State, Wake Forest|
* North Carolina and Wake Forest will play in 2021, but the game is a non-conference matchup and won't be counted in the conference standings.
(Top graphic courtesy of @ACCFootball)