Broncos and Irish Stay on Football Schedule for 2020
This week has been a challenge for several NCAA Division 1 conferences as they put the finishing touches on what could be an exciting 2020 football season.
After the Atlantic Coast Conference announced their plans with a 10-game conference schedule plus hosting a non-conference game in late July, the biggest news was for currently football-independent Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are in the ACC for almost all sports throughout the year (except for hockey in the Big Ten). In order to play in the conference, an agreement in September 2012 was announced that would allow the Irish to stay football independent as long as half of their schedule (six games) contained ACC squads beginning with the 2014.
On July 29th, the ACC announced that with the full conference schedule, Notre Dame would be allowed to compete for the conference championship for the 2020 season only. The Irish has never competed for a conference title before in school history. The non-conference games would also be a home contest.
The original Irish schedule had the normal six ACC games along with six games with usual rivals including Southern California (USC), Stanford and Navy. As the COVID-19 pandemic spread in the spring, universities and conferences began scrambling to prepare for the fall seasons after the spring season was scrapped. Both the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced early on that they were going to conference-only schedules, eliminating the Irish games against Wisconsin (at Lambeau Field in Green Bay), Stanford and USC. The Southeastern Conference later followed with a conference-only slate, eliminating UND's game with Arkansas.
The two remaining games from the original schedule were against Navy, a game that was set to be played in Ireland, and the home contest with the Western Michigan Broncos on September 19th.
On August 6th, the ACC and Notre Dame announced their full schedules with Western Michigan remaining on their schedule for this season. The Broncos will travel to South Bend and keep the September 19th date. It will be just the fourth meeting between the two schools that are separated by a 90-minute drive down US-131 and I-90. Their last contest was in 2010, with the Irish picking up a 44-20 victory at Notre Dame Stadium. The previous three contests have all been held in South Bend (1919 and 1920 were the other two meetings). The 20 points the Broncos scored ten years ago are the only points scored against the Irish in the series.
The Broncos schedule remains in flux still. The Mid-American Conference has yet to announce their plans for 2020 on the gridiron. As of now, Western is slated for 10 games in 2020. The season opener was originally with Colgate from the Division 1 Football Championship Subdivision. Colgate's conference, the Patriot League, cancelled fall sports in mid-July. Stony Brook filled the gap for just a few days until the Colonial Athletic Association (also a Division 1 FCS conference), announced their football season was cancelled. The other non-conference game that was schedule was a home contest with Syracuse, who is also part of the ACC. The Orange elected to play Liberty, an FBS independent.
Western's other non-conference game is a road contest with Cincinnati of the American Athletic Conference. The AAC announced August 5th that they have approved an eight-game conference schedule with non-conference games being up to the school's discretion. If the Broncos game is still scheduled, they would adhere to the AAC health regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Broncos open conference play October 3rd on the road against the Ball State Cardinals.