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Notre Dame Football: Irish’s Remaining Schedule Is The Program’s Toughest Slate in Almost 90 Years

Games against 1-loss Trojans, Wolfpack and Middies on deck to close out grueling 2017 schedule

USC v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

While the Notre Dame Fighting Irish’s remaining schedule is not the toughest six-game stretch the program has even endured, you’d need to go back nearly 90 years to find one more daunting.

The Irish’s remaining opponents — USC Trojans, N.C. State Wolfpack, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Miami-Florida Hurricanes, Navy Midshipmen and Stanford Cardinal — are a combined 31-7 (.815). (They’re 28-7 if you remove the Pack, Deacons and Hurricanes’ wins versus FCS teams.)

This prompted Jim Small to ask if this was the “most difficult stretch in ND history?

The 1928 Irish hold the distinction of having the toughest opponent slate in the past 100 years. I figured I’d start there — and they did not disappoint.

Here are the Irish’s final six games that year:

  • A 13-0 loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, who entered the game 2-0. The Jackets finished the season 10-0.
  • A 32-6 win over the Drake Bulldogs, who were 3-0 before kickoff. The Bulldogs finished 7-1.
  • A 9-0 win over the hapless Penn State Nittany Lions, who entered the game with a 2-2-1 record. They’d finish the season 3-5-1.
  • A 12-6 victory over the Army Black Knights (then known as the Cadets). The Army squad was 6-0 before that game, which was played in Yankee Stadium, and finished 8-2.
  • A 27-7 loss to the Carnegie Tech Tartans, the Irish’s first loss at Cartier Field in 23 years. The Tartans were 6-0 before heading to South Bend and finished the year at 7-1.
  • A 27-14 defeat in Los Angeles by the USC Trojans, who were 8-0-1 entering the game. The win elevated their final record to 9-0-1.

When Notre Dame played them, the Irish’s opponents were 27-2-2 (.903).

So what was the 1928 opponents’ record with six games remaining, just as the Irish are right now?

  • Tech was 2-0.
  • The Bulldogs were 2-0.
  • The Lions were 2-1.
  • The Cadets were 3-0.
  • The Tartans were 2-0.
  • The Trojans were 3-0.

Their combined record was 14-1 (.933).

The 1956 squad also faced a difficult schedule — but it wasn’t worse than the 2017 incarnation. The last six teams they faced — Oklahoma Sooners, Navy Midshipmen, Pittsburgh Panthers, North Carolina Tar Heels, Iowa Hawkeyes and USC Trojans — went 42-14-4 (.766) on the year. The teams were a combined 29-10-1 (.737) before Notre Dame played them and 14-6 (.700) entering the sixth-to-last week of the season.