Louisville defeats WKU 38-21

WKU fans cheer during Louisville's 38-21 win over WKU on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2019, at Nissan Stadium. (Austin Anthony/photo@bgdailynews.com)

One game – a scheduled Sept. 12 meeting at Indiana – was already removed from Western Kentucky’s 2020 football schedule when the Big Ten announced July 9 it would play conference-only schedules if fall sports were to take place, and a second game is now in question.

The ACC announced Wednesday changes to its football scheduling model to play 11 games, including 10 conference and one nonconference contest. The Hilltoppers were scheduled to play at Louisville on Sept. 26.

WKU declined comment on the matter at this time. Louisville did not have any additional information available on the schedule immediately following the announcement, a representative told the Daily News.

The new guidelines did state that all nonconference game opponents would be selected by the respective school and must be played in the home state of the ACC institution, and all nonconference opponents must meet the medical protocol requirements as agreed upon by the ACC. Louisville was also scheduled to play Murray State on Sept. 19 and Kentucky on Nov. 28. Both of those games were scheduled to be played at Cardinal Stadium.

Cameron Teague of the Courier Journal reported Louisville’s updated conference schedule would include Florida State, Miami, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest at home, and Boston College, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Pitt and Virginia away. The ACC said it would release week-by-week schedules and television selections in the future.

The ACC announced the season’s first games will take place the week of Sept. 7-12 and the 11 games will take place over a period of at least 13 weeks, with each team having two open dates. There will be one division, and Notre Dame – an independent program – will be part of the ACC’s 10-game conference schedule and be eligible to compete in the 2020 ACC Football Championship Game. Louisville was scheduled to play at Notre Dame on Nov. 21.

“Today’s decision was made after months of thoughtful planning by numerous individuals throughout the conference,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in the release. “The Board’s decision presents a path, if public health guidance allows, to move forward with competition. Our institutions are committed to taking the necessary measures to facilitate the return in a safe and responsible manner. We recognize that we may need to be nimble and make adjustments in the future. We will be as prepared as possible should that need arise.”

The ACC is the third Power Five conference to announce scheduling changes for the fall. Following the Big Ten’s decision, the Pac 12 also elected to play a conference-only schedule. Nonconference games scheduled by ACC teams will likely not be finalized until decisions on fall sports are made by the SEC and Big 12.

In a July 16 Zoom conference with reporters, WKU AD Todd Stewart said, at that point, if WKU were to lose a game, they would try to replace it, adding that he’s had conversations and would continue to have conversations with a number of schools in terms of filling dates should they open up. In the Zoom conference, Stewart said he’s a fan of the way things are with the traditional 12-game schedule, but added, “I am a fan of a football season being played under a different format, as opposed to no football season being played.”

The now-canceled game with Indiana was the first in a three-game series, while the scheduled contest with Louisville is the final of a three-game series, with the second being played at Nissan Stadium in Nashville last fall. WKU was supposed to receive $600,000 from the game against Louisville and $550,000 from the meeting with Indiana. In the July 16 Zoom conference, Stewart said Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson called him following the Big Ten’s announcement, and that the two planned to discuss details of the cancellation at a later time.

WKU is scheduled to host UT Chattanooga on Sept. 3 to open the season and also has a scheduled nonconference game at Houchens-Smith Stadium versus Liberty on Sept. 19. The Hilltoppers are scheduled to travel to Middle Tennessee on Oct. 3 to open the Conference USA portion of the schedule.{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.

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