By Marty Gordon
Things are going to be a little different this fall for football in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) as COVID-19 has turned everything upside down.
This includes most of the conference teams including Virginia Tech having to alter their original schedule. Now, the Hokies have 10 games against ACC opponents including the temporary member, Notre Dame, who can play for a conference championship this fall.
Clemson will continue to be the top dog in the ACC, but Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Louisville and Florida State could make a lot of noise.
Clemson is the winner of five consecutive conference championships and two national titles over the past decade and will again be the favorite to make it to the championship game.
Seven ACC teams were included in Sporting News’ preseason poll: Pitt at 25, VT at 19, Miami at 17, North Carolina 12, Louisville 10, Notre Dame sixth and Clemson number one.
Clemson returns the preseason player of the year in Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who enters 2020 having completed 527-of-804 career passes for 6,945 yards with 66 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 30 career games (26 starts). He also has 967 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on 163 career carries.
Other players to watch are Travis Etienne, RB Clemson; Sam Howell, QB North Carolina; Marvin Wilson, DT Florida State; and Gregory Rousseau, DE Miami.
Key conference games to watch that could decide final records and standings:
Miami at Clemson, Oct. 10; Clemson at Notre Dame, Nov. 7; Clemson at Virginia Tech, Dec. 5; Florida State at Miami, Sept. 26; Louisville at Notre Dame, Oct. 17; Virginia Tech at Louisville, Oct. 31; N.C. State at UVA, Oct. 10; Clemson at Florida State, Nov. 21;
The late season matchups of Clemson at Virginia Tech and Clemson at Notre Dame could set up rematches in the ACC title game.
My predictions for the final records this season are as follows: Boston College 3-7, Clemson 9-2, Duke 5-6, Florida State 7-4, Ga. Tech 4-7, Louisville 8-2, Miami 5-6, North Carolina 6-5, North Carolina State 7-4, Notre Dame 10-1, Pitt 3-8, Syracuse 5-6, Virginia 6-5, Virginia Tech 8-3, Wake Forest 3-8.
The ACC Championship Game at this point looks to pit Clemson against either Notre Dame or Virginia Tech.