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ACC Football: Return to pre-pandemic schedule for 2021 season

ACC footballACC Football returns to divisional play in 2021, and Notre Dame goes back to being an independent.

The schedule for the fall was released on Thursday. It looks like the pre-pandemic schedules of yesteryear, with eight conference games – six in division, one permanent crossover opponent and one rotating opponent from the opposite division – and four non-conference games.

The league membership also elected to play the 2021 season as it was originally scheduled and as a result, there are several repeat site games from 2019 and 2020.

Notre Dame, which competed as a full ACC football member last year, returns to independent status and will play five non-conference games against ACC competition, beginning with a road game at Florida State on Sunday, Sept. 5.

The Fighting Irish will also play road games at Virginia Tech on Oct. 9 and at Virginia on Nov. 13, while hosting North Carolina on Oct. 30 and Georgia Tech on Nov. 20.

The ACC will kick off the 2021 schedule on Labor Day weekend with games on Thursday (Sept. 2), Friday (Sept. 3), Saturday (Sept. 4), Sunday (Sept. 5) and Monday (Sept. 6). NC State faces USF in Raleigh on Thursday, Sept. 2, and Virginia Tech will play host to North Carolina in the first conference matchup of the season on either Thursday, Sept. 2 or Friday, Sept. 3.

Wake Forest plays host to Old Dominion on Friday, Sept. 3.

ACC teams will play in two neutral site games in Atlanta on the opening weekend as part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff series at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Miami faces defending national champion Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 4, and Louisville takes on Ole Miss on Monday, Sept. 6.

Clemson and Georgia – two teams that finished in the top 10 last year – will meet in the Duke’s Mayo Classic in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4.

With 13 playing weekends, the 2021 schedule includes one open date for each team, and at least one conference contest scheduled each week, except for week two.

The ACC’s non-conference schedule continues to be the most difficult in the country. In addition to 23 games against Power 5 opponents (including Notre Dame), the ACC will play 13 non-conference games against teams ranked in the final 2020 AP Top 25 poll.

All 14 teams play at least one Power 5 non-conference opponent, while nine teams – Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech – play two.

For the second time in the last three years, North Carolina and Wake Forest will meet in a non-conference game on Nov. 6.

The 2021 ACC Football Championship Game will return to the first Saturday of December (Dec. 4) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, and feature the winner of the Atlantic Division vs. the winner of the Coastal Division.


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