The ACC released its full 2019 schedule on Wednesday and something interesting jumped off the page with regards to Notre Dame and its five ACC opponents next year. They all either have a bye week before their Notre Dame game or play a FCS opponent. Essentially, the ACC has given each of the five extra time to prepare for the Irish next fall. Neat.
Here’s a quick look at who each of the five faces the week before taking on Notre Dame.
- 9/2: vs. Louisville (Season Opener)
- 9/28: vs. Virginia (Old Dominion)
- 11/2: vs. Virginia Tech (BYE)
- 11/9: @ Duke (BYE)
- 11/24: vs. Boston College (BYE)
That’s umm, something. Of the five ACC opponents for 2019, only Virginia has to play anyone the week before they play Notre Dame. To be fair, Notre Dame also has extra time to prepare for Louisville since it is the season opener.
It’s interesting that the ACC decided to schedule this way since they originally decided to give Notre Dame a relatively easy slate of games when the games were originally announced years ago. Notre Dame misses out on Clemson, Florida State, Miami, or even NC State. None of the ACC’s current top power programs are on the 2019 Notre Dame schedule.
Notre Dame also gets four of their five ACC games at home this season as well after only facing two ACC foes in their home stadiums in 2018. That’s seven home games to three road games against the ACC in a two year period. Perhaps some at the ACC realized this and and wanted to level the playing field a bit.
In a vacuum, Notre Dame should win each of these games based on what they did in 2019 versus what each of these programs has coming back, but while they all will enjoy easy weeks before facing Notre Dame, the Irish have a much tougher gauntlet of games the week before their ACC games. Notre Dame plays:
- @ Georgia the week before hosting Virginia
- @ Michigan the week before hosting Virginia Tech
- vs. Virginia Tech the week before traveling to Duke
- vs. Navy the week before hosting Boston College
Of the five ACC opponents on the slate in 2019, Virginia Tech is the only one that Notre Dame played in 2018 as well. The Irish traveled to Blacksburg in October and blew out the Hokies 45-23. Notre Dame has played all but Louisville at least once in the last three seasons: Virginia (W, 2015), Duke (L, 2016), Boston College (W, 2017), and then Virginia Tech last last fall. Notre Dame last played Louisville in 2014.
While Notre Dame was 5-0 against the ACC during the regular season in 2018, they haven’t exactly dominated in these games since the agreement with the conference went into effect in 2014. Notre Dame is 18-7 in the 25 regular season games they’ve played against the ACC in the last five seasons. They are 18-8 when counting the 2018 Cotton Bowl loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoffs.
- 2014: 2-2 (losses to Louisville & Florida State)
- 2015: 5-1 (loss to Clemson)
- 2016: 2-3 (losses to Virginia Tech, Duke, & NC State)
- 2017: 4-1 (loss to Miami)
- 2018: 5-1 (loss to Clemson in Cotton Bowl)
This past season was in fact the first time that Notre Dame navigated its regular season slate of ACC unblemished. They came close in both 2015 and 2017 but lost a game in each season.
The 2019 set of ACC games certainly looks like the Irish can make it two years in a row without losing a regular season game to the ACC. If they take care of business next season, the fact that these five teams all either have a bye week or essentially have a bye week shouldn’t matter. On paper, Notre Dame should beat them all even though three of the five have beaten Notre Dame at least once in the last five years (Louisville, Duke, & Virginia Tech).
All that said, it is more than a little suspicious that ACC just so conveniently has given all five of their programs extra time to prepare for Notre Dame in 2019.