An annual source of hand-wringing among ACC media and fans alike, the conference is set to release the 2020 football schedule tomorrow— lagging behind its Power Five brethren for the umpteenth year in a row.
There is really no rhyme or reason to the ACC releasing schedules as late as it does, or with as little fanfare. The release sure seems to be made-for-TV programming on the new ACC Network, but instead it will be a press release sometime tomorrow.
Given that we know the league’s inter-divisional matchup rotation for the next 10-12 years, Notre Dame’s dates on the schedule, and have non-conference games scheduled in some instances 15-20 years in advance, it wouldn’t be difficult for the ACC to make this an event.
Alas, here we are.
We know the Heels’ four nonconference dates (in bold below) and their eight ACC opponents, as follows:
Home: Georgia Tech, Pitt, N.C. State, Virginia Tech
Away: Boston College, Duke, Miami, Virginia
Let’s see if there’s a way to deduce what a schedule may look like:
Sept 3 or 4- at UCF: Already on the schedule, though we won’t know whether its a Thursday or Friday night tilt until ESPN releases its early schedule in May. With Ohio State/Minnesota being announced as a Thursday night opener, I can see the Heels headlining the Friday night ticket.
Sept 12- vs. Auburn (in Atlanta): The “opening week neutral-site” trend extends into Week 2 this year. I don’t like it.
Sept 19- James Madison: I also don’t like the FCS opponent being the multiple-time national runner-up.
Sept 26- Pitt: There seems to be a tendency for the Heels to host the Panthers early in the season, and travel to Pittsburgh late in the season.
Oct 2/3- at Boston College: Carolina hasn’t had the misfortune of playing a conference game on a Friday night yet, and a sleepy one in Chestnut Hill seems to be a possibility. I could also see this game falling to November, but the league seems to try to knock out rotating non-divisional games earlier in the season more often than not.
Oct 10- at Miami: Another tough one to nail down, the Heels and Canes have not played in November since Miami joined the ACC.
Oct 17- BYE: The perfect time on the schedule for a bye, also the perfect time to spend a fall Saturday in Kenan Stadium. Irresistible force, meet immovable object.
Oct 24- Virginia Tech: I mean, this sets up nicely for the Heels. Getting the Hokies off a bye would be ideal.
Oct 31- at Virginia: Given the years of Scott Stadium PTSD, playing this game on Halloween makes all the sense in the world. You could convince me to flip-flop the two Virginia games, but doubt the ACC will saddle the Heels with three consecutive road games.
Nov 7- UConn: Where the nice streak of ‘no noon kickoffs’ goes to die. My biggest complaint about this season’s schedule is that it will have no “ACC/SoCon Challenge game” to break up rivalry games.
Nov 14- at Duke: This has been a Thursday Night game before (let’s not talk about the beginning of the end for Larry Fedora in 2016), so we could see the Heels get that treatment.
Nov 21- Georgia Tech: Tech kinda gets the shaft here— their nonconference is set in stone, and this falls between a visit from Notre Dame and a trip to Athens. Ouch.
Nov 28- N.C. State: 41-10 was just the beginning.
I made the effort to ensure that none of the ACC opponents had out-of-conference games already scheduled for the weekends I slotted them for, so the onus is on you, dear reader: tell me what I got wrong below!