Three Opponents Notre Dame Should Schedule
Notre Dame’s 2020 and 2021 schedules are completely set, but from 2022 to 2026 the Irish have at least two open games left in each season. If it were up to me, there are three series I’d make a hard push for to fill those openings.
All-Time Record: Notre Dame leads 4-0
Last Meeting: Oct. 6, 2007 - Notre Dame won 20-6
Notre Dame has not played UCLA in over a decade, and I was surprised to learn the two programs with gold helmets have only played each other four times. This is a series that would make a lot of sense to me.
Notre Dame likes finishing the season on the West Coast, and what better way to do that than a season-ending game in the Rose Bowl? It would certainly be a blast for subway alums in southern California, who would get three straight years of the Irish in Los Angeles. It would also allow Notre Dame to play a game in a historic venue in front of a large number of talented West Coast players the staff would certainly want to impress.
Both programs have openings in 2022 and 2023. UCLA has a need for a road game the same year Notre Dame travels to USC, and has a need for a home game the year Notre Dame hosts USC, so that would fit perfectly for the Irish. The only drawback to that scenario is the Irish are signed to play Stanford at Stanford to end the 2023 season. Notre Dame could look to talk with Stanford about rescheduling that, or it could play UCLA earlier in the season.
As it stands right now, Notre Dame and Stanford aren’t signed to play beyond 2024. UCLA’s 2025 schedule is booked, but the Irish could also choose to replace the Cardinal with the Bruins, at least for a couple of seasons. I’m a proponent of the Notre Dame-Stanford rivalry and would like to see it remain a regular on the Irish schedule, but I don’t believe it has to be every single season like the Notre Dame-USC or Notre Dame-Navy series.
Playing Stanford six out of 10 years, and replacing the Cardinal with a Pac 12 team in the other four years wouldn’t be a bad idea at all.
All-Time Record: Series tied, 4-4.
Last Meeting: Nov. 11, 2005 - Notre Dame won 41-21
This is another series I’d like to see a bit more regularly. At least one home-and-home every decade between Notre Dame and Tennessee is something the two programs should absolutely push for. There are several reasons this series would make a lot of sense. There is some history with this series, and the 1990-91 games were epic.
Notre Dame is trying to recruit Kentucky more and the state of Tennessee has been good to the Irish in the past. Ever heard of Harrison Smith, Golden Tate or Alex Bars? A series with Tennessee certainly wouldn’t hurt recruiting in either state, and perhaps it could allow the Irish to make a bigger statement in Tennessee on the recruiting trail.
Getting a chance to play - and hopefully beat - a SEC team never hurts Notre Dame’s resume. Even when Tennessee is down, as it has been in recent seasons, it still stands out when you beat them, and it gives you a game to compare to other SEC teams when looking at College Football Playoff resumes. Tennessee is trending back up it would seem, so by the time the two programs played there’s a chance it would be a much bigger game from a national standpoint.
TCU HORNED FROGS
All-Time Record: Notre Dame leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Oct. 28, 1972 - Notre Dame won 21-0
Notre Dame and TCU discussed setting up a series back in 2016 but things fell through. I would like to see the two programs get back in touch, if they haven’t already done so.
The two previous games I mentioned were home-and-homes, but I don’t think Notre Dame playing in TCU’s 45,000-seat stadium does much for the Irish. What I envision with this series is Notre Dame getting a home game and the TCU home game being played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Notre Dame doesn’t get much action against the Big 12, and I’d like to see Notre Dame get into playing the Big 12 a bit more. Notre Dame has recently played Texas, and with Clemson, Ohio State, Florida State, USC and Texas A&M in upcoming seasons it wouldn’t make sense to then throw Oklahoma onto the schedule.
TCU makes a lot of sense. The Horned Frogs are a quality opponent, but usually aren’t an elite opponent. Scheduling TCU would add value to Notre Dame’s schedule, but it wouldn’t overwhelm it. Notre Dame already has plenty of top programs on the schedule in the coming years.
The biggest reason I like this matchup is its another chance for Notre Dame to get into Texas. The Irish travel to College Station to take on the Aggies in 2024, but a game in Dallas would get the Irish in front of talented Texas prospects yet again, and this time in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Anything that gives Notre Dame a greater chance at landing more top-level Texas talent the better.