When it comes to scheduling home and home series’ Notre Dame in my opinion has done admirably. Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio St, Texas A&M, Alabama, and Michigan are all blue blood programs (except for maybe one or two), and having them on the schedule speaks for itself. And while there is only one win against those four teams (so far) I think taking your chances against teams Iike that is why Notre Dame is still better than most programs in the nation. As we all know most teams would never have scheduled that quality and diversity (conference, location, etc) but the Irish have. Unfortunately with the way college football is headed, we can all see that this may not be the wisest of tactics moving forward. I can hear the moans and the boos and trust me I get it but this is the way the game is moving. Scheduling juggernauts year in and year out in the long run damages your chance to make the playoff. Even with the expansion to twelve teams, it makes more sense to try and go undefeated, stay as healthy as possible, get a high seed, and make a run in the playoffs. So with the shift in the college football landscape, you may see a dip in the quality of home and home, non-ACC affiliated games. Not to fear though, I believe I have found our solution! Well, at least it’s my solution. I have a few teams Notre Dame could schedule that wouldn’t be as daunting as maybe a Georgia, Alabama, or Ohio St but would also give us some great storylines and entertainment.
I know this first one is ironic considering Oregon beat Ohio St two years ago but I would say that last year’s week 1 result against Georgia balances that out. I also mean this as no slight to Oregon at all because they are what you could call a “new blood”. Historically not all that significant but they have had a few great runs since the mid-2000s. Being in high school for their time with Chip Kelly and the talent he had, that combined with the uniforms they were putting out, there was no team in any sport with more fans hopping on the bandwagon (except maybe the Miami Heat). Since then I have always wanted a shot at them. The Irish and the Ducks have met on the gridiron a whopping two times. Yep, two times - the Irish won their first meeting in ‘76 in South Bend 41-0, and in ‘82 they would tie 13-13 in Eugene. So there is little familiarity between these two programs. I think Eugene would be an interesting place to see Notre Dame play, and I think they are still a good enough team to where the games would be entertaining. The biggest thing for me would be to prove ourselves against another “2nd tier” program. Notre Dame has always been in the tier below Alabama and Georgia (sometimes Clemson) but everybody else was fair game in my head. The sometimes Clemson rule is evidence of that. When they dip their toe in the tier 2 pool Notre Dame has beat them. As I said at the top this is no slight but people- at times have talked up Oregon more than I believe they should have. It would be nice to get a gauge of where the two programs compare to each other. All around I think scheduling Oregon would be plus in many different categories for fans, players, and the university alike.
I’ll just say it now last year’s super regionals in baseball are what started his thought process. That combined with the fact that some of my earliest memories of Notre Dame football are playing the Vols in ‘01,’04, and ‘05. So it started to dawn on me that it would be great to play them in football again. They are on the upswing (so far) after being in the dumps for quite some time but that’s not the main reason I chose them. I respect (don’t like, but respect) how they and their fan base lean in, to being the villains. Beating them in super regionals was even sweeter because of the villainy behind the opponent. The only thing I’m not sure about is the opposing fan experience in Knoxville, which could possibly be a negative. I’ve been through there plenty of times and that aspect is beautiful but I have never been to a game. All in all, I think they fit the mold of interesting, and but not a massive juggernaut sitting there on your schedule.
As mentioned, I think Notre Dame has done quite well with these home-and-home series even given the changes coming to college football. I was deciding on whether or not to include Michigan and just say that 2033 is another lifetime. I think they are similar to Oregon in the sense of - I want a shot at them so bad, and I believe if given that chance Notre Dame could prove something. They’re one of those tier 2 teams and a rival as well. Texas A&M is another example as they are not quite the juggernaut everyone thought they may be. That may be by luck but either way, they’re on the schedule and I think it works well.
What do you think? As a national fan base I know we probably have a wide range of teams we want to play for one reason or another, is there anyone you’d love to see put on the schedule?