Notre Dame Would Be In Great Shape To Fix The Schedule If The Pac 12 Doesn't Play
There continues to be rumor after rumor about what will happen with the 2020 college football season, or if there will even be one. The latest is that the Pac 12 could go the route of the Ivy League and cancel the season, or at the very least go with a conference only schedule.
Or perhaps its just the California schools that don't play, or don't play out of conference.
Either way, that would certainly have a significant impact on Notre Dame, who would lose its October 10th home game against Stanford and its November 28th road contest against USC. Assuming no other FBS conferences make similar changes, the Irish should be in good position to still play 12 games due to how the schedules shake out.
There are three things Notre Dame can do.
Notre Dame and Navy are set to square off on September 5th to start the season. The good news for Notre Dame is that Navy’s schedule works out nicely compared to Notre Dame’s for them to reschedule a game.
Due to Navy playing Army after the regular season is over for the rest of college football, the Midshipmen actually have two bye weeks this season. The first is the weekend Notre Dame was originally scheduled to play Stanford. The other is the same weekend of Notre Dame’s current bye.
That means Notre Dame could simply move Navy into one of those two slots and keep the other open as a bye week. That would free Notre Dame up to play another opponent in week one, and the options are plentiful.
RESCHEDULE THE WEEK 1 OPPONENT
The following FBS teams would need games in week one:
New Mexico State
Take BYU out of that conversation (see below). Notre Dame would have very attractive options with the first three programs.
Alabama was set to play USC on a neutral field and the Crimson Tide already have seven home games scheduled. That would make it easier for the leaders at Notre Dame to convince Alabama to travel to South Bend for an Irish home game. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide leadership might be willing to end their nine-year boycott of playing on the home campus of a non-conference opponent when they consider that Notre Dame Stadium won’t be at full capacity in 2020.
Michigan is another attractive option for Notre Dame. The Wolverines were slated to travel to Washington to kick off the season, so they already had a road game on the docket. If Notre Dame could convince Michigan to travel to South Bend it would make a lot more sense for both programs by limiting travel costs.
Michigan’s argument to play the game in their stadium would not hold up due to the fact they already have seven scheduled home games, while Notre Dame has just six. Notre Dame getting them at home would then give the Irish a seventh home game.
TCU was slated to play at California, so that should make it easier for Notre Dame to convince the Horned Frogs to travel to South Bend for a matchup. TCU hosts Prairie View A&M in week two and has a bye in week three, so that might make taking on a Notre Dame road game a bit easier to accept.
Playing Oklahoma State isn’t a matchup that I’d be overly concerned with trying to schedule as I don’t see what value it adds to Notre Dame.
The Irish could try to make the schedule even softer by picking up one of the three bottom teams (Hawaii, Colorado State, New Mexico State). New Mexico State might make sense since the Aggies are also an independent program.
FINISH THE SEASON WITH BYU
Notre Dame could schedule BYU in week one for the opener, but that would make filling out the reset of the schedule far, far more complicated. BYU was slated to play at Stanford the same weekend Notre Dame was scheduled to play at USC (Nov. 28).
It would make a lot of sense for both programs to simply replace their lost Pac 12 games with a contest against each other.
Supporting a fellow independent would be wise for the Irish, and Notre Dame still owes BYU a return trip. Making this easy change would finally get that off Notre Dame’s ledger and would allow the Irish to finish the season on the road in a state (Utah) that ranks in the bottom half of the county in COVID-19 cases as opposed to a state with the most (California).
Going about fixing the schedule in this manner would require the least amount of adjustments for Notre Dame and the programs involved, including Navy. It would be easy to make this change, and if the Irish could add BYU and either Alabama, Michigan or TCU it would not hurt their strength of schedule one bit.
This is what Notre Dame's new schedule would look like:
Sept. 5 - vs. Alabama/Michigan/TCU
Sept. 12 - vs. Arkansas
Sept. 19 - vs. Western Michigan
Sept. 26 - at Wake Forest
Oct. 3 - vs. Wisconsin
Oct. 10 - Bye Week
Oct. 17 - at Pittsburgh
Oct. 24 - at Navy
Oct. 31 - vs. Duke
Nov. 7 - vs. Clemson
Nov. 14 - at Georgia Tech
Nov. 21 - vs. Louisville
Nov. 28 - at BYU
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