ACC Football: What we learned, top games and more in 2020 review

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It was quite a season of ACC football and here are some of the high (and low) lights. 

The ACC had one of the more exciting seasons in 2020. It decided not to cancel or postpone its season to readjust its schedule along with the SEC. The conference agreed to begin conference play with two changes; first, the ACC would play a conference-only, plus one schedule, and Notre Dame would be part of the conference for one season only.

The decision to begin in September allowed every team in the conference to play eleven games. Wake Forest, Miami, Pitt and Virginia Tech were four of several teams affected by COVID-19 this season. The Hokies were affected by COVID more than any team in the conference playing most of their games with a depleted roster and missing coaches.

In its only season playing in the ACC, Notre Dame laid claim to the regular-season title with an undefeated record, while Clemson won the Conference Championship game.

Games of the Year: 

September 7: Notre Dame 47-Clemson 40

Notre Dame and Clemson split their two games. Their first game, a 47-40 victory in South Bend, was not only the best in the conference, but it was also the national game of the year. Ian Book had his best game in an Irish uniform, throwing for 310 yards and running for another 67, and running back Kyren Williams ran for 140 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

October 10: Boston College 31-Pittsburgh 30

The Pitt v. BC match up was a sneaky entertaining game from early October. Jeff Hafley established himself as one of the better first-year coaches in the country, and Notre Dame transfer quarterback Phil Jurkovec threw for 358 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.

Eagles’ wide receiver Zay Flowers had 162 receiving yards three scores. The game was sloppy at times but still very entertaining.

Outstanding offensive player:

Phil Jurkovec, Boston College: 

Trevor Lawrence, Sam Howell or Ian Book are obvious choices here. All three quarterbacks had outstanding seasons for their respective programs. Also, all three were expected to have outstanding seasons for their programs. Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec came from nowhere to have a solid first season as a brand new program.

Jurkovec threw for 2,558 yards and 17 touchdowns. Most important, the redshirt sophomore kept the Eagles in most of the games they played this season. There was a talent gap against most of the teams BC played against, but Jurkovec never let that bother him.

Outstanding defensive player

Patrick Jones II, Pitt:

The Panthers are never short on pass rushers and this season was no different. However, Patrick Jones II stood apart from the rest. There was some question about how good the pass rush would be when Jalen Twyman opted out for the season. Jones and his bookend Rashad Weaver both had excellent seasons.

The Pittsburgh pass rush kept the Panthers in most of their games this season. It was Jones who paced Pitt with nine sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

The ACC sent two teams to the National Semifinal, Notre Dame and Clemson, with both teams losing. Here is more of what we learned about the ACC this season.

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