Due to Notre Dame’s annual 5 game agreement with the ACC, along with the yearly rivalry games against USC, Stanford, and Navy, there is very little room to maneuver when it comes to scheduling. Jack Swarbrick has certainly added some new flavor to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football schedule with the Georgia series, playing Arkansas this year and in 2025, and upcoming games against Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Alabama. Personally, I am favor of removing Navy and Stanford as yearly opponents to allow the Irish the ability to rotate other teams onto their schedule. With that in mind, I took a look at three teams that I wish the Irish would schedule for a home and home series in the future.
Notre Dame and Iowa have faced each other 24 times, with the most recent meeting occurring in 1968. Although not many people talk about it, the Irish and Hawkeyes do have a storied history together on the football field. Iowa put itself on the map by defeating the Knute Rockne-led Irish 10-7 in 1921. Notre Dame steamrolled Iowa 41-6 in 1946 and 21-0 in 1947, both years that ended in National Championships for the Irish. In fact, these two teams met yearly from 1945-1961. Overall, the Irish lead the all-time series 13-8-4. While not among the traditional elite teams in the Big Ten, Iowa has certainly established itself as a consistent winner who routinely produces NFL talent. Notre Dame would most likely be treated to a night game in Kinnick Stadium, which is among the toughest places to play in the country. With Iowa only being about 300 miles to the west, this series would not place as large of a travel burden on the Irish as would a trip to Stanford at the end of the year. Furthermore, Iowa possesses one of the most rabid fan bases in the country and would certainly travel in droves to South Bend for a game. With the football tradition of both programs, this certainly seems like a match-up that should be happening on a fairly routine basis but hasn’t been for whatever reason.
Notre Dame and Oregon have almost no history together in football, with the Irish holding a 1-0-1 record against the Ducks. The most recent game occurred in 1982. Oregon would represent a way for the Irish to maintain a Pac-12 influence on the schedule during a period where Stanford was cycled off. Side note, the Stanford and Notre Dame series is currently set to run out in 2024. Oregon won ten or more games six times over the last decade, and a strong argument could be made that Oregon was the best team in the Pac-12 during the 2010s. Unlike many of Notre Dame’s opponents, these games would not hold any traditional pull but would present itself as a unique scheduling opportunity. While the Irish like to end the season on the West Coast, this game would most likely not be able to occur on the last weekend of the regular season due to the “Civil War” contest against Oregon State. One major reason I could see this game not being scheduled as a home and home is that no recruiting advantage presents itself by playing in Eugene. Oregon as a state did not produce any “blue chip” players in the 2020 class. However, by adding an opponent the caliber of Oregon, the Irish afford themselves the chance at a resume-boosting victory and the continued ability to vie for a College Football Playoff Berth.
My fun fact I learned for the day is that Notre Dame and Auburn have never faced each other on a football field, and I can’t fathom why. Despite the barnstorming tendencies of Notre Dame in the past, for whatever reason these two teams never crossed paths. Jack Swarbrick has made mention of his desire to schedule more SEC teams, and Auburn seems like an easy choice to add to future schedules. After experiencing the hype surrounding the Georgia-Notre Dame match up in recent seasons, I will gladly sign up for two games against Auburn. This game makes sense for both schools as Notre Dame must continue to create data points against teams in each conference, while Auburn has shown a willingness to play tough out of conference games in recent seasons. A victory against Auburn in most years would carry a ton of clout and allow Notre Dame to compare resumes with most anyone in the country. The Irish would have the added opportunity to showcase themselves to prospects in Alabama, a state which Notre Dame typically struggles to recruit in. Another potential driver of this match-up involves the business world as both schools are sponsored by Under Armour. Based on the sole fact these two teams have never met, I think this is the most likely series we will see the Irish sign up for in the future.
Let me know your thoughts on who you would most like to see the Irish play in the coming years!