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Notre Dame Football: Irish Need To Stop Ending Every Season On The Road

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The last 25 years for Notre Dame football has seen some common themes. Losing on the road is certainly one of them.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Stanford Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish take great pride in being an independent in college football. This independence allows the Irish to schedule (almost) how they like, and put a footprint across the entire country throughout the season. A conference membership with the Big 10 or ACC would greatly reduce their ability to move outside of the region they reside.

Most analysts agree that it is an advantage for the Irish to be able to, for lack of a better phrase, schedule their way into the playoffs. The Irish have to battle against the theory of the “13th data point” each year, and the way the schedule mixes teams from Power 5 conferences, they do quite a good job at doing so.

And yet, as Notre Dame does a masterful job of scheduling a tough but manageable schedule most years, they do themselves a disservice each and every year - the last game of the regular season is always on the road.

The last time the Irish played their final regular season game at home was in 1993 against the Boston College Eagles. Obviously, that was a loss for Notre Dame and kept them from winning a national title.

Funny how so much of the Irish program leads back to that day in November in 1993. Since then, Notre Dame has ended every season on the road, and they have managed a horrific record of 7-16-1 in those 24 years.

Notre Dame’s Final Regular Season Game 1993-2017

YEAR OPPONENT RESULT COACH
YEAR OPPONENT RESULT COACH
1993 Boston College L HOLTZ
1994 USC TIE HOLTZ
1995 Air Force W HOLTZ
1996 USC L HOLTZ
1997 Hawaii W DAVIE
1998 USC L DAVIE
1999 Stanford L DAVIE
2000 USC W DAVIE
2001 Stanford L DAVIE
2002 USC L WILLINGHAM
2003 Syracuse L WILLINGHAM
2004 USC L WILLINGHAM
2005 Stanford W WEIS
2006 USC L WEIS
2007 Stanford W WEIS
2008 USC L WEIS
2009 Stanford L WEIS
2010 USC W KELLY
2011 Stanford L KELLY
2012 USC W KELLY
2013 Stanford L KELLY
2014 USC L KELLY
2015 Stanford L KELLY
2016 USC L KELLY
2017 Stanford L KELLY
TOTALS - 7W - 17L - 1T -

Editor’s Notes: In 2001, Notre Dame actually won their last regular season game against the Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette. It was rescheduled from September after being postponed due to the 9/11 attack.

7 WINS IN 24 SEASONS!

Seven wins in 24 seasons - ALL ON THE ROAD. Why does Notre Dame hamstring itself like this every year? Why is the trend and the new “tradition” being that Notre Dame ends up in California at the end of the season? The reasons are maddening:

  • Notre Dame wants to give its alumni a warm final game of the season.
  • So Notre Dame can recruit right away in California after the game.

AND THAT’S BASICALLY IT! It’s ridiculous.

  • Fans want wins. Most alumni have the money to buy a coat and come back home for the weekend - it’s usually Thanksgiving anyways.
  • Notre Dame owns a private jet- MAKE YOUR HIGHLY PAID COACHES GET OFF THEIR ASSES AND FLY TO THE RECRUITS. What possible difference does a few hours to a day make these visits?

It’s not like Notre Dame won’t be playing in California each year anyways - so why make it the last game? Why make it so much tougher for the program?

There are a few things that Brian Kelly is prophetic about:

  • Winning college football games is hard.
  • Winning rivalry games is hard.
  • Winning in November is hard.
  • Winning on the road is hard.

Why in the hell would Notre Dame want to check off all 4 boxes every year for their final game? Was the loss against Boston College in 1993 just too much to bear?

Jack Swarbrick gets a ton of praise nationally as being one of the most powerful people in college sports. He talks about “statistical analysis” each year when reviewing the football program, and yet it’s basically dogma now that the Irish end the season in California against the USC Trojans or Stanford Cardinal.

7-16-1 and Notre Dame continues this reckless course. If the scheduling practice was different over the past 25 years, perhaps the overall results would be the same, but I tend to think otherwise.

If 7 wins in 24 years isn’t enough to make Jack Swarbrick rethink this scheduling policy, than perhaps there really is no hope that things will change at all in South Bend. Notre Dame is an independent and is capable of creating more advantages to winning more football games each year, but instead, use reasoning based on the world in the 1970’s and 1980’s to guide its hand.

Lord help us.