ACC sked changes see ND lock up spot in finale


The ACC announced a series of scheduling changes Tuesday that allowed Notre Dame to clinch a spot in the ACC championship game Dec. 19.

In addition, the ACC has changed its testing procedures, requiring teams now to have a PCR test administered on Thursdays so they can receive their results before traveling for games.

Among the biggest scheduling changes to note: Both Notre Dame and Clemson now will have an open date Dec. 12, a week before the ACC championship game in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Irish had been scheduled to play Wake Forest, while the Tigers did not have a game scheduled for that day. Though Florida State wanted to play Clemson on Dec. 12 after their game was postponed, the Tigers did not want to go back to Tallahassee to play. As a result, the ACC decided it would evaluate the three teams in contention for the championship game — Notre Dame, Clemson and Miami — on a nine-game conference schedule.

Because the Irish hold all tiebreakers, they secured their spot in the game. Notre Dame, which is playing as an ACC football member for this season only, plays Syracuse on Saturday. If Clemson beats Virginia Tech on Saturday, it would secure its spot in the ACC championship game. If Clemson, Notre Dame or Miami cannot play this weekend, the ACC has the option to reschedule games on Dec. 12, as needed.

Other scheduling changes that have been made: Duke will play at Florida State on Dec. 12. That game was supposed to be played in Durham, North Carolina, this weekend, but was postponed because of the coronavirus issues with the Seminoles. Instead, Miami will play at Duke.

Wake Forest will play at Louisville on Dec. 12, and host Florida State on Dec. 19.

As for the testing, the ACC needed to make a change after two straight games involving Florida State were postponed the morning of kickoff because test results were not in hand before travel. It happened first with the Clemson game, when the Florida State medical staff did not agree it was safe to play because Clemson traveled with a player who unknowingly had the coronavirus. Clemson tested before leaving for Tallahassee and did not receive those results until after it had arrived. Then last weekend, Virginia traveled to play Florida State, only to have that game canceled because the Seminoles did not get their test results back before the Cavaliers arrived in town.

Florida State had a positive test result, and as a result of contact tracing, other positives and roster attrition, had only 44 players available.

In the release, the ACC said under the new testing protocols, “The Chief Medical Officers from each team will confirm results and attest that there is every expectation that the game will be played. 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.”

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