It’s a little early to be looking at the standings, with ACC teams having played at most two games so far, but Pitt’s Week 3 battle against Louisville could put the Panthers in pretty solid company.
After two weeks, four ACC teams have started 2-0, with one win in conference play and one win in non-conference action: Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame and Pitt.
This is Clemson’s bye week, and Notre Dame will not play — more on that later — meaning that only Miami and Pitt have a chance to start the season 3-0 on Saturday.
No. 12 Miami will face 0-1 Florida State at home on Saturday. That game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. on ABC. If the Panthers are victorious early in the day, Pitt fans can root to be alone in first place already.
They can also preview two of Pitt’s future opponents. The Panthers will visit Miami on Oct. 17 and Florida State on Nov. 7.
PUSHING IT BACK
Notre Dame is the latest ACC school to have issues with multiple COVID-19 tests within the program. The Fighting Irish have postponed their game at Wake Forest this Saturday after seven more players on the team tested positive this week. That made 13 players in isolation on the Irish squad, prompting the postponement.
Both teams have a mutual off date on Oct. 3, but the teams and the league wanted to give Notre Dame more time to get its situation under control and rescheduled the game for Dec. 12, the second game to be played that date, along with Virginia and Virginia Tech.
If you’ll recall, that’s the date the ACC Championship Game was supposed to be played. It can be pushed back to Dec. 19 if necessary.
Notre Dame’s opponent from Saturday, South Florida, has also shut its program down while it contact traces and tests its players.
TOUGH TO WATCH
Pitt will play on ACC Network for the third straight week, and a fourth one is in the cards, as the Panthers’ Oct. 3 home date with NC State will also be broadcast on the ESPN-run network.
When Notre Dame’s game was called off, ABC had a hole in its schedule that many suspected might get filled with the Top 25 matchup of the No. 21 Panthers and the No. 24 Louisville Cardinals. But that didn’t happen, as ESPN instead moved No. 13 UCF’s trip to East Carolina to that time slot.
That move makes sense for a couple of reasons. ESPN wants to have a full slate of games on ACC Network to keep viewership up on all of its channels. The same goes for SEC Network, which has the only other noon game between ranked teams: No. 23 Kentucky ay No. 8 Auburn.
ESPN and the ACC also already made agreements with the league’s cadre of regional sports networks to broadcast Georgia Tech at Syracuse (noon, AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh). Could those agreements be un-done? Probably. But that would be a much more complicated solution.
Instead, ESPN took the UCF game off ESPN+ and moved it to ABC, giving the Knights and the AAC a boost from their promised platform, but meeting all of the rest of ESPN’s obligations.
Of course, that’s little consolation for shut-out Pitt fans that are Armstrong or Comcast cable customers and don’t get ACC Network.
FANS IN THE STANDS
North Carolina’s 2020 season has taken an unexpected hiatus after last Saturday’s non-conference matchup with Charlotte was canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak among the 49ers.
The Tar Heels tried but were unsuccessful in finding a replacement opponent to play this coming Saturday during their scheduled off week, so they’ll spend back to back Saturdays at home.
But when they do return to the action at Kenan Stadium,, they’ll do so in front of fans, the school announced on Tuesday. North Carolina’s home games in October, which include an Oct. 10 game against Virginia Tech and an Oct. 24 game against NC State, will have an unannounced number of spectators, athletic director Bubba Cunningham said on Tuesday.
First, though, the 1-0 Tar Heels will visit 1-0 Boston College on Oct. 3. The Eagles have a non-conference home game this Saturday against Texas State (6 p.m., AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh).
FEELING THE PINCH
NC State announced on Thursday that the Wolfpack athletics staff will be taking COVID-19 related pay cuts and furloughs.
Staff members making over $200,000 annually will have salaries reduced by 20 percent. Those earning between $100,000 and $200,000 will have salaries reduced b 15 percent, while those making under $100,000 will be furloughed for 19 days.
“These are uncomfortable and very difficult decisions and I fully understand that actions taken will have a significant impact on individuals and families,” athletic director Boo Corrigan wrote on the school’s website. “This is not the byproduct of a lack of success, commitment, or passion of our entire staff, rather an excruciating reality we face as a department, and in higher education.”
Corrigan said that he expects NC State to lose between $25-$35 million.
On the field, the 1-0 Wolfpack will visit No. 20 Virginia Tech on Saturday. (8 p.m., ACC Network).
AROUND THE ACC
Duke (0-2) at Virginia (0-0), 4 p.m., ACC Network
No. 1 Wake Forest at Louisville, 8 p.m. Friday, ACC Network
No. 4 Pitt at No. 5 Notre Dame, 7 p.m. Saturday, ACC Network Extra/ESPN 3
Notre Dame at Louisville, 4 p.m., ACC Network
Pitt at Syracuse, 5 p.m. Friday, ESPNU
Pitt at Syracuse, 6 p.m. Saturday, ACC Network Extra/ESPN 3
No. 12 Pitt at The Citadel, 11 a.m. Sunday, ESPN Plus (subscription required)
No. 1 North Carolina at No. 7 Duke, 3:30 p.m. Sunday, ACC Network