Hope is alive for at least a few college football games to be played. Every week, we’ve been getting more information on how each conference is opting to proceed with the 2020 season. In the last couple of days, full schedules have been released.
Here’s what conferences have decided. The ACC will play a 10-game conference schedule with one non-conference game, with one big addition – Notre Dame will be part of the ACC for the 2020 season. Three Power Five conferences – the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC – will have a 10-game, conference-only schedule, while the Big 12 will play nine conference games, plus one non-conference opponent.
Many FBS teams are still scheduled to start their seasons Labor Day Weekend, but some conferences have pushed their start date back. The Big Ten will kick off games on September 5, the ACC will begin September 12, the Pac-12 on September 19, and the SEC on September 26, with the Big 12 still pending.
Naturally, with many changes being made, some “can’t wait to watch” games will be lost, but still remaining are some “can’t wait to watch” matchups.
Game Lost: Notre Dame vs Navy
I’d like to take this moment to send my condolences to fans of the Fighting Irish and Midshipmen. A Notre Dame season without Navy on the schedule is jarring, to say the least. This is perhaps one of the longest-running rivalries in all of college football. Initially set to take place in Dublin, Ireland, it was then pushed to be played in Annapolis, Maryland, due to the pandemic.
These two teams have met every year since 1927; that’s 93 consecutive years the Fighting Irish have played the Midshipmen. Notre Dame holds a 77-13 record overall dating back since 1927 and has won the last three matchups by an average of 21 points. Navy has defeated Notre Dame just once (in 2016) in their last nine meetings. This game may not have been the most competitive, but it’s about tradition and no other sport has as much tradition as college football. Losing this game is a reflection of just how unprecedented 2020 has been.
To take its place, Notre Dame will instead play Western Michigan at home on September 19 as its lone non-conference opponent. I can’t say I hate this matchup. It’s definitely no rivalry, but it’s good to see MAC teams get spots filled. The last time these two teams met was 2010 and before that, 1920. Surely, Notre Dame will be at least a two-touchdown favorite. The Broncos will be replacing quarterback Jon Wassink, running back LeVante Bellamy and leading receiver Giovanni Ricci, three key players that placed them top 25 in total offense. Meanwhile, Notre Dame will now be looking to contend for the ACC title and is the second favorite (+700) behind Clemson (-400).
Date Change: Michigan vs Ohio State
Along the lines of tradition, the rivalry game between the Wolverines and Buckeyes will not be played on the last Saturday of the regular season. With the new schedule changes, the Big Ten Big Game is set for October 24. The last time this matchup was played outside of November was back in 1933.
Why this matters – the regular season will conclude on Saturday, November 21. If needed, the Big Ten is leaving November 28 open for rescheduled games, with the championship game scheduled for December 5. One could also interpret this as the conference’s confidence in having a complete season and the need to push its biggest conference game up just in case. Perhaps these schedules were made with the assistance of algorithms or what not, but it is an interesting move nonetheless.
Aside from this contest holding title game implications, regardless of when it is played, it’ll be a big one for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and his future with this team. The Wolverines have not defeated the Buckeyes since 2011. Since Harbaugh took over as head coach in 2015, Michigan has taken a bit of a beating. In their last five meets, Michigan has lost by 29, 23, 11, 3 and 29 points, for an average losing margin of 19 points. The Wolverines have lost as 9-point underdogs in 2019, 4-point favorites in 2018 and 1.5-point favorites in 2015.
Ohio State currently sits at +320 to win the national championship, second behind just Clemson at +250. Michigan just barely cracks the top 15 at +5000 to win it all, behind teams like Texas A&M, Penn State and Auburn.
Needless to say, I can’t wait to watch to see if it will be another beating from the Buckeyes.
Game Lost: Texas at LSU
Would you really have expected me to write this without mentioning this game? I know it wouldn’t have had the same pizzazz without Joe Burrow but this was Texas’ year, the year the Longhorns were going to do some damage and leave their mark on the season. With the SEC making the move to conference-only, this is one game lost as a result.
Even without Burrow, LSU was projected to be a 5.5-point favorite and -210 on the moneyline. If Texas went into Death Valley and came out the victor, it would have been an early catapult. The potential was there for the Longhorns to head into their Week 5 matchup against Oklahoma as an undefeated team, having South Florida as their opener, followed by LSU, UTEP and Kansas State.
The Big 12 has yet to release dates and finalized plans for the 2020 season but I know for a fact the Big 12 will be a great conference to watch. Oklahoma State is a team I’ll still be high on with quarterback Spencer Sanders leading the charge, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what Spencer Rattler can do over at Oklahoma.
Other games I’m looking forward to this season: Clemson vs Notre Dame on November 7, North Carolina vs Notre Dame on November 27, any game with Texas A&M (Kellen Mond could shine), Arizona State at Oregon, and let’s be honest – any and all games. If we do have college football, I will cherish every second.
Games I’m sad will not be played: Penn State at Kent State – quarterback Dustin Crum was going to shock the world! I’m sure of it (only half joking); Ohio State at Oregon; Penn State at Virginia Tech; South Carolina vs Clemson.
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