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Creating the Perfect Notre Dame Football Schedule: Submission No. 2

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Eric didn't honor our ACC commitment. I, however, am a man of my word.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Schedule Submission No. 2

Navy (Neutral Site Game)

NC State

Michigan

Bye

@Ohio State

Miami (FL)

@Syracuse

University of Dayton

USC

@Texas Tech

@Pitt

Virginia Tech

@UCLA

Protected Rivals

USC, Navy, and Michigan. I talk below about nixing Stanford. We'll see BC regularly as part of the ACC so no need to bend over backwards for them.

Midwest Focus

I gave only 2 games with major Midwest schools.

Shamrock Series

I think this needs to go and be replaced by the annual Navy neutral site game.

Schedule Structure and Selection

Navy: This is a tradition I don't want to see go away, but that does not mean we ought not refine the terms of the series.  I think Notre Dame should establish a tradition of playing Navy at a neutral site as the first game of every year.  All the players are fresh and if those dreaded (albeit often overblown and misattributed) Navy game injuries occur, there is time for players to recuperate before the meat of the season.  Where that neutral site would be is immaterial in my view since this game would be played every year, we'd hit pretty much all geographic locations in fairly short order. For the purposes of this schedule, let's say we'll play it at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

NC State: Taking into account our agreement to play 5 ACC games, I put NC State on this list because the Wolfpack always seem to be competitive without being an overly difficult task at game 2.

Michigan: Chicken dances, called-back touchdowns on iffy calls - that's really how we want this series to stew for awhile?  Was it sweet to blank them in the last meeting?  You bet.  But I want that to happen every year. EVERY.  DAMN.  YEAR.  That can't happen if we don't play them.  From a strategic point of view, I tried to balance Notre Dame's shift from playing a schedule weighted toward Midwestern schools to a more eclectic national schedule by selecting the two biggest names in the Midwest in order to engage with the greatest number of fans between the Appalachians and Rockies.

Bye weeks are necessary and special things.

Ohio State: See the reasoning for Michigan above.  Here's the thing with Ohio State: home and homes are not going to happen with the SEC (well, except for Georgia) so we want the next best thing - which this year actually was the best thing - by playing arguably the best team north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Miami (FL): Again, keeping the ACC happy is a constraint, but it would be great if this game wasn't just filler.  A good Miami team would help rekindle a rivalry that captured the imaginations of college football fans for years.  At least that's what I was told seeing as I wasn't born yet during all that imagination capturing, but hey that makes me want to see it for myself all the more.

Syracuse: Another ACC game, another solid opportunity to hang a W.  Admittedly, there's a selfish reason for this pick.  As a New Yorker, I'd love to see the Irish come around the Big Apple more often.  Wherever this game is played, be it in the Meadowlands or Yankee Stadium, ND-Syracuse would draw a crowd and be a great time.  I'll take this opportunity to give my two cents about playing in baseball stadiums.  It's pretty dumb.  That weird Northwestern game in Wrigley a few years back when they could only play in one direction is a case in point.  A lot of the baseball venues out there are poorly equipped for football, and the the Raiders/A's stadium in Oakland, fails miserably in both departments (I never miss an opportunity to rag on Network Associates Coliseum).  The only exception I'll make is Yankee Stadium or any other stadium that has a meaningful history of hosting football games.  What constitutes a meaningful history?  Well I don't really know, but that's the beauty of being a sports fan: the opportunity for debate on topics just like that.

University of Dayton: OK calm down and let me explain myself.  In researching this article, I looked at a couple of the schedules for top 25 teams.  Guess what?  Most if not all have an FCS-level or a really low-caliber FBS opponent on their schedule.   Alabama will play Charleston Southern this year.  Oregon will play Eastern Washington.  The list goes on.  I really don't see the harm of Notre Dame having one and only one on its schedule given everyone else that's on it.  However, I think there is a very Notre Dame way of doing it.  There are 12 Division I Catholic schools with football programs.  Of these 12 only two (Notre Dame and Boston College) are FBS.  The other 10 (Dayton, Dusquene, Fordham, Georgetown, Holy Cross, Incarnate Word, Sacred Heart, Saint Francis, San Diego, and Villanova) are all FCS.  If Notre Dame were to add an FCS school to the schedule, why not do it in such a way that another Catholic institution gains exposure and an opportunity for some financial support?

USC: no explanation necessary.

Texas Tech: I wanted to get a Big 12 team on this list and initially I had Baylor.  Going back over the list, I remembered I was putting together an ideal schedule, not a boat ride down the River Styx.  Texas Tech seems like a team with good enough name recognition that would provide a good game, but one in which the Irish should be favored.

Pitt:

The essence of ACC filler

-2013 Notre Dame Football Team

Virginia Tech: An ACC game that most years should be a blockbuster match-up.  I figure that if we have to play 5 games within the conference, we might as well get our money's worth.  Make it senior day, and in the words of Carl Weathers, "baby you got a stew going!"

UCLA: With USC at home, it makes sense to finish off with a road trip to California, just like ND does now with USC/Stanford.  I'm not a huge Stanford rivalry guy.  I can see how some people want to make this out to be a great contest between two academically rigorous schools, but I just don't see it.  If that's the impetus for the rivalry, let the mathletes duke it out.  Don't get me wrong, Stanford-ND games have been great in recent history.  I was there in 2012 when we stoned them, and I've contributed a solid 600 views to the slow-mo Koyack catch video, but I just can't get into this one.  Maybe it's David Shaw's smug face that makes my stomach turn for the duration of these games that I can't stand.  I just have a feeling that we need to finish the year with a bang under the new playoff system and I see UCLA trending up and Stanford trending down in the "defining win" department.