LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- No dates. No times. No television information.
At least the Atlantic Coast Conference has a plan for how it hopes the 2020 football season will unfold during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Notre Dame joins the ACC party (an excellent thing).
The divisions are scrapped for a 15-team league race that will send the top two finishers to the title game in Charlotte. (I also prefer that, considering the imbalance in the Coastal and Atlantic divisions).
Ten ACC games, split between home and road. Teams can schedule an 11th, non-ACC game -- as long as it is played in the home state of the ACC school, creating the opportunity for the Kentucky-Louisville game to survive at Cardinal Stadium.
Louisville will apparently shed North Carolina State, Clemson, Murray State and Western Kentucky, the first four games on the original schedule. The Cardinals have added Georgia Tech, Miami and Pitt.
Initial forecasts, like the one from ESPN's football power index, put Scott Satterfield's team at 8-4 on the old schedule.
What is the revised prediction for an 11-game run?
Put me down for 7-4.
The Cards figure to be underdogs against Notre Dame and Kentucky. They'll be solid favorites against Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Syracuse.
That leaves six swing games.
Time to rank all 11 by degree of difficulty.
1. Notre Dame, road -- The Irish are ranked in the Top 11 teams in the country by five pre-season magazines. Phil Steele says they have the third-best offensive line in America. They're 13-0 at home the last two seasons. It won't be Brian Kelly's best team but it won't be a team you'll enjoy playing in South Bend.
2. Kentucky, home -- The gap between the programs should not be as large as it has been on the field the last two seasons, but until the Cards prove they can limit the Wildcats to less than 8.6 yards per play (2018) or 12.4 ypp (last season), they're the underdog in this rivalry.
3. Pitt, road -- The Cardinals have not played Pitt since 2015 but they were beaten for the fifth time in six games by the Panthers that day. Pitt returns every important piece from a defense that ranked No. 15 in the nation last season.
4. Miami, home -- The Hurricanes were picked second (twice), third (twice) and fifth (once) in the five pre-season publications I've purchased.
The Hurricanes scored only 41 points in their final three games last season after scoring 52 points in a 25-point victory Nov. 9.
The problem is those 52 points came against Louisville. There's already heat on Miami coach Manny Diaz, who has tied his future to quarterback D'Eriq King, a talented transfer from Houston.
5. Virginia Tech, home -- It's hard for me to be gaga against the Hokies after watching their uninspired performance against Kentucky in the Belk Bowl on New Year's Eve. But Justin Fuente has 18 starters back from a group that beat Miami, North Carolina and Pitt last season.
6. Virginia, road -- Louisville has won four of six games against its crossover division rival since joining the ACC in 2015 but four of the six games have been decided by seven points or less. Bronco Mendenhall is an excellent coach, but Bryce Perkins is the most difficult quarterback to replace in the league.
7. Florida State, home -- This game is as difficult to forecast as any on the U of L schedule. The Seminoles had better talent than they showed under Willie Taggart. Mike Norvell, the coach FSU recruited from Memphis, should fix some of the problems but he does not have a proven quarterback. Some believe that a promise to start from Game One explains why 4-star recruit Chubba Purdy flipped from Louisville to FSU to be the Seminoles' QB.
8. Boston College, road -- The Golden Eagles have a new coach (Jeff Hafley) and still have one of the best running games in the ACC with David Bailey, moving in for A.J. Dillon. They've averaged nearly 41 points against U of L the last three seasons and beaten the Cardinals twice. Beware.
9. Wake Forest, home -- Dave Clawson has done excellent work in Winston-Salem, but the Demon Deacons lost eight starters on offense, including do-everything quarterback Jamie Newman. The trend line is not favorable.
10. Georgia Tech, road -- The Yellow Jackets are in season two of a rebuild as challenging as the one that Scott Satterfield faced at Louisville. Geoff Collins junked the triple-option running game that put 542 yards and eight touchdowns on Louisville in 2018 for an offense that passed the ball on 38 percent of its snaps. Collins needs more time.
11. Syracuse, home -- It's hard to believe the Orange won 10 games in 2018. They were a consensus pick to finish last in the Atlantic Division because of a defense that allowed 31 points and 464 yards per game last season. Gotta win this one.
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