College football returns to the Power Five this weekend

Without the Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC playing, this week’s slate of games within the Power Five conferences will be thin, but interesting nonetheless.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy looks to pass during a football game between Iowa and Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, September 14, 2019. The Hawkeyes retained the Cy-Hawk Trophy for the fifth consecutive year, downing the Cyclones, 18-17.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

It’s time to rejoice, because college football officially returns to the Power Five conferences this weekend – sort of.

With Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences electing to postpone their respective football seasons until the winter or spring, only three members of the Power Five stand to play this fall.

The herd is even thinner with regard to this weekend’s slate of games. Only the ACC and Big 12 will kick off their football seasons this weekend as the SEC will wait until Sept. 26 to start play.

Fortunately, even with only two of the Power Five constituents playing, there is still plenty to get excited about this weekend.

College football fans’ mornings will start with a familiar sight as ESPN’s College Gameday will still be traveling and putting on a show this year. The nation’s premier college football pregame show will travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, ahead of Wake Forest’s opening game against Clemson.

The ACC will be playing a 10-game conference schedule this year along with one additional nonconference game. Meanwhile, the Big 12 will allow its teams to play nonconference games ahead of the start of conference play on Sept. 26.

This season will also mark the first time the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team will play within a conference. With the Big Ten and Pac-12 postponing play, and the ACC and SEC going almost exclusively conference-only, Notre Dame was left with no choice. The Fighting Irish elected to join the ACC for this season and return to their independent status at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year.

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That means Notre Dame’s traditional matchups with USC, Navy, and Stanford won’t happen this year. Instead, the Fighting Irish will take on formidable ACC foes like Clemson, North Carolina, and Louisville.

The Fighting Irish will kick off their season against Duke on Sept. 12 at 2:30 p.m. on NBC.

Another interesting storyline developing in the ACC this fall is surprisingly coming from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. After finishing the 2019 season with a 7-6 overall record following a win over Temple in the Military Bowl, the Tar Heels are looking to take the next step in 2020.

Former Texas head coach Mack Brown is returning for his second season as head coach of the Tar Heels. His impact on the program can’t be exaggerated. Prior to Brown’s arrival, North Carolina hadn’t produced a winning season since 2016.

Also returning to the program is quarterback Sam Howell, who many experts consider to be a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. In 2019, Howell ranked 14th in the nation in total passing yards, throwing for 3,641 yards. Howell’s 38 passing touchdowns were also good for the FBS true freshman passing touchdowns record.

Howell, Brown, and the Tar Heels kick off their season against Syracuse at 11:00 a.m. on the ACC Network.

The Big 12 will certainly yield some interesting storylines in 2020 as well. Three teams are ranked in the AP Top 25 to start the season: Iowa State, Texas, and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma will take on Missouri State, Texas will meet with UTEP, and Iowa State will host the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in Week 1.

Iowa State is an 11.5-point favorite in that game. The Cyclones will also be the only Division I football team to play in the state of Iowa this fall as Northern Iowa’s Missouri Valley Conference also postponed its fall football season.

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