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ACC calls off Auburn-UNC game in Atlanta
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ACC calls off Auburn-UNC game in Atlanta

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In this file photo, Auburn plays UCF at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Jan. 1, 2018. Auburn was scheduled to return there to play North Carolina in a marquee non-conference matchup on Sept. 12, but the ACC's football season overhaul announced Wednesday eliminated the game.

The ACC has officially called off Auburn football’s matchup with North Carolina in Atlanta, as the conference announced plans Wednesday afternoon to play a more limited schedule this fall over concerns about spreading coronavirus infections.

North Carolina is now set to play an 11-game schedule this fall with only one non-conference game in the mix, which must be played either at North Carolina’s home stadium or within the confines of the school’s home state.

Auburn and North Carolina were originally scheduled to play Sept. 12 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as part of the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game.

Meanwhile, the SEC is moving closer to playing a similarly reduced schedule after a virtual meeting Wednesday between the conference athletics directors, Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated reported after the meeting. The SEC presidents are set to meet virtually Thursday.

The ACC’s move is official now, though, and has been publicly announced. The ACC’s season overhaul brings Notre Dame into league competition for the year with the Fighting Irish eligible to play in the ACC Championship Game.

Each school is allowed only one non-conference game played either in its home stadium or inside its home state — a caveat clearly designed to help protect rivalry games like Georgia Tech’s annual game with Georgia and Florida State’s annual game with Florida.

The caveat does allow a window of opportunity left for Auburn and North Carolina to play this year in North Carolina, but the game won’t be played in Atlanta.

When announcing the game, the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game touted its total team payouts average $5.2 million, which has seemingly been lost by Auburn and North Carolina without the neutral-site showdown being played.

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