Notre Dame’s perfect annual football schedule – Jahanagahi

Notre Dame’s perfect annual football schedule

Fall of freshman year of college (that’s old enough to vote this September) one of my floormates saw me playing NCAA Football on PlayStation 2 while passing and we got to talking a bit. Although a Michigan fan has told me he liked doing the dynasty mode on the game with Notre Dame because he was able to make his entire schedule.

Since it’s one of the odder NFL traditions to me today, schedule release day (hey, we already know every opponent our favorite teams will be playing!), I thought it’d be a good time to discuss what Notre Dame’s optimal schedule would be annually. Here is what I came up with in terms of opponents.

1 of 12: USC

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Let’s get the easy one out of the way. Notre Dame and USC are polar opposites in their perceived lifestyles but are perfect college football rivalries. The only issue ever with this game is that USC doesn’t come to the midwest beyond late October ever. It stays for good.

Related – Notre Dame-USC through the years

2.One Service Academy

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I know what many of you will say – how can you get rid of the Notre Dame-Navy game? I understand the tradition and the reason for it being played but beyond the players standing for each others alma maters after the game, does anyone actually get excited for the Navy game unless they’re attending? Obviously Notre Dame’s connection with Navy is deeper than the other service academies but could there be a way that Notre Dame plays Navy say four times in six years and then has a game with Army or Air Force in the other two seasons and repeats that?

Related – Longevity the story of Notre Dame-Navy rivalry

3 and 4 of 12: Big Ten Rivals

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In order to maintain its football independence Notre Dame signed their “friends with benefits” deal with the ACC nearly a decade ago now that called for almost half of Notre Dame’s games to come against ACC foes. What that meant is that Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue always being on the schedule was no longer.

I get that having all of Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue on the schedule annually today is nearly impossible to pull off but what about adding Northwestern to that list (Notre Dame has actually played Northwestern more than Michigan all-time) and have two games against Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Purdue each fall?

Related – A look back at Notre Dame and Michigan State’s 10-10 tie

5 of 12: Old Rivals

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Notre Dame has played Pitt 69 times historically, making the Panthers the fourth most played opponent of the Fighting Irish all-time (USC, Navy, Purdue). I don’t need to see Pitt on the schedule annually, but could one of Pitt, Georgia Tech, or Penn State be on the schedule annually? That would mean regular games played in the states of Georgia and Pennsylvania which certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing for recruiting.

Related: Notre Dame all-time results vs. ACC opponents

6 of 12: Fringe Rivals

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Notre Dame and Stanford could play for 100 years and I still wouldn’t get behind the Cardinal as being a true rival of Notre Dame’s. I get why they play but does the Notre Dame trip to a 3/4 empty Stanford Stadium every other year get the blood flowing for anyone? really?

Boston College loves to hate Notre Dame while the Eagles are an afterthought for most Irish fans (yeah, besides the ’93 and ’02 things, I get it). I like the games enough against both to not do away with them forever, in fact I wouldn’t mind seeing Boston College be more of a regular. In my perfect world it’d be one or the other every year for Notre Dame.

Related: Notre Dame all-time vs. Pac 12 opponents

7 of 12: An ACC Power

There was nothing better in college football than Notre Dame and Miami from 1988-1990. Those days are hard to imagine returning but the history between Notre Dame and Miami is rich enough to be on the schedule regularly instead of only as a part of Notre Dame’s ACC rotation.


Florida State and Notre Dame have only met 11 times to the 27 the Hurricanes and Irish have played but plenty of memorable games have been played in that 11 game span. In an effort to play teams that make sense logistically and from a historical perspective how fun would an annual contest with either Florida State or Miami be, assuming both of them finally get their respective business together again.

Then again, it’s not all that bad seeing both struggle either now is it?

Clemson has been one of college football’s best programs for a decade now and a nice new little rivalry with Notre Dame is growing. Seeing one of Florida State, Miami, or Clemson annually would be great for all parties.

Relive it! Best photos of Notre Dame knocking off No. 1 Clemson in 2020

8 of 12: MACtion

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I’m not dumb enough to want Notre Dame’s only game against a non Power Five opponent to be against a service academy. Much like the Big Ten does, I wouldn’t mind seeing Notre Dame give a game annually to a midwest program from the MAC. It wouldn’t mean much for Notre Dame but does a game against Marshall, UNLV, or New Mexico like we’ve seen in recent years do any more?

9 of 12: One SEC Program

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Love it or hate it the SEC is the standard in college football. How do you become the standard? Not by running away from it, that’s for certain.

One game a year against an SEC team. I always prefer games to be played on college campuses instead of NFL venues but if it had to be in a neutral site stadium it’d be better than not happening at all. It doesn’t have to be Alabama or Georgia every year but I’m also not just asking for it to be Vanderbilt either (although Nashville is excellent).

One game against the SEC feels like a must.

Notre Dame all-time results vs. SEC opponents

10 of 12: Additional Big Ten

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I’m by no means a Big Ten football fan but am certainly an observer. Even if it’s not the Big Ten teams already mentioned there is something about taking on other Power Five programs from the midwest that I enjoy. The history with those mentioned above run deep but even the ones that lack the history would be fun and beneficial.

Notre Dame all-time results vs. each Big Ten opponent

11 of 12: Other Group of Five

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Already we’ve covered two games annually for Notre Dame to play against Group of Five programs. One against a service academy (usually Navy) and one against a MAC team isn’t too much to ask. The final would be against any other Group of Five program that is out there. Appalachian State want to make the trek to South Bend? Want to hammer things out and see Notre Dame travel to BYU? This allows for that.

12 of 12: Annual Power Five Wildcard

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The basis of the schedule makes sense traditionally to me but locking yourself into every single game or having very little leeway doesn’t mean for as much fun.

Some years it may be more than one SEC team that shows up on the schedule while in others maybe a home-and-home with a non-traditional rival like Oregon or someone of the sort would be too intriguing to pass up.

The possibilities are endless even if some are more interesting than others.



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