PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Commissioner Mike Aresco has announced the American Athletic Conference’s 88-game football schedule for the 2020 season, including the 44-game conference schedule.
The American will operate as an 11-team league in 2020. Each of the 11 teams in The American will once again play eight conference games. The top two teams in the final regular-season standings will meet Dec. 5 in the sixth American Athletic Conference Football Championship.
The 2020 season also will be The American’s first under the league’s landmark media rights extension with ESPN, which was announced in March.
“We are excited to announce our 2020 schedule as we enter the next phase of our longstanding relationship with ESPN,” said Aresco. “With the continued success our schools have had, I have no doubt that we will once again provide our fans, and ESPN, with compelling matchups throughout the season in both conference and nonconference play. We look forward to another outstanding season of American Athletic Conference football.”
The 2020 season begins with a marquee game between nationally ranked teams from last season as Navy takes on Notre Dame Aug. 29 from Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, That game will be at 2 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN as ESPN’s College GameDay originates from Dublin to kick off the season.
The Navy-Notre Dame contest will be the first of a minimum of 40 conference-controlled games that will be televised on ESPN’s primary linear networks (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU). Conference teams will play seven Friday games – six in prime time along with the annual Black Friday matchup between UCF and USF. A package of five Thursday prime time conference games on ESPN networks begins Sept. 24, when UCF visits East Carolina.
The American Athletic Conference enjoyed a remarkable 2019 season as four teams (No. 17 Memphis, No. 20 Navy, No. 21 Cincinnati, No. 24 UCF) finished in the top 25 of both the Associated Press and Amway Coaches’ polls to close the season. Only the Big Ten (six) and SEC (five) had more ranked teams than The American. The league’s winning percentage in nonconference games (38-17, .691) was better than those of both the Pac-12 and the ACC among other conferences, while The American went 30-2 against opponents from outside the power conferences and Notre Dame.
Some highlights of the 2020 schedule include:
A minimum of 40 conference-controlled regular-season games on either ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, including at least 20 games on either ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
A compelling slate of six Friday prime time games, and seven Friday games overall, on ESPN Networks, beginning Sept. 4, when UCF hosts North Carolina on ESPN. The Thursday-night schedule will include five key conference games, beginning with the Sept. 24 matchup between UCF and East Carolina.
A series of games available exclusively on ESPN+, the leading direct-to-consumer sports streaming service which has grown to 7.6 million subscribers in less than two years.
A total of 14 of The American’s 44 nonconference games will be against Power 6 opponents or Notre Dame. Teams from The American will play four games against opponents from the Big Ten, three each from the ACC and Big 12, two against the SEC and one against the Pac-12. The American has won 42 games against Power 6 opponents in the past five seasons.
Thirty-nine of the 88 games will involve at least one American Athletic Conference team that was ranked in the final top 25 polls of 2019. Four games will between two ranked teams from the conference, while two nonconference games will be between two ranked teams.
The American Athletic Conference Football Championship, which has been broadcast on ABC in each of the last five years, is scheduled for Dec. 5 and will be televised either on either ABC or ESPN. Tiebreaking procedures for participation in the championship will be determined in May at The American’s spring meetings.
Kickoff times and television designations for the first three weeks of the season, as well as the season-long weeknight games, will be finalized in May. The rest of the schedule will fall under the customary 12-day and six-day selection processes.