Notre Dame: Future Football Schedule Analysis

By Kevin Kelley -
Notre Dame Stadium
Notre Dame will play five ACC football games per season. (Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE)

On Wednesday, Notre Dame announced that they are joining the ACC in all sports except football, where the Irish will remain independent.

In order to exit the Big East, the Fighting Irish must pay the conference a $5 million exit fee and provide 27 months notice. That means Notre Dame would join the ACC for the 2015 season. However, they could negotiate an earlier exit similar to what Pittsburgh and Syracuse did earlier this year.

As part of their agreement to join the ACC, Notre Dame will play five football games against ACC members each season. They plan to begin that scheduling format in 2014.

The agreement with the ACC will significantly alter Notre Dame’s future football schedules. Currently, the ACC’s plan is to have Notre Dame play every school in the conference at least once every three years.

With the Irish already having future scheduling agreements with Boston College, Miami (FL), Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Wake Forest, some of those games will remain while others may have to be shuffled.

Then there is Notre Dame’s preference to keep existing rivalries on their schedule, such as Navy, Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, and USC.

Let’s take a look at each season and see what changes could occur:


Notre Dame has 11 games scheduled in 2014, and two of those are against ACC teams Pittsburgh (home) and Syracuse (at East Rutherford, NJ). With only one opening on the schedule, two other games will have to be canceled or postponed in order to add three ACC games. Games that could be targeted for cancellation/postponement include Rice, at Temple, Purdue, and Northwestern.

This scenario is, of course, dependent on if Pittsburgh and Syracuse remain on the 2014 schedule.

Tentative 2014 schedule: Rice, Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse (at NJ), Stanford, at Temple, at Arizona State, ay Navy, Pittsburgh, Northwestern, at USC.


Four ACC games are on the schedule in 2015: vs. Wake Forest (Nov. 7), at Pittsburgh (Nov. 14), vs. Syracuse (Nov. 21), and at Boston College (date TBA). If those four remain, Notre Dame will only need one more ACC game. Their are currently 11 games on the schedule, so adding one ACC team could be the only move for the 2015 schedule.

The only possible issue is that Pittsburgh and Syracuse could play Notre Dame in 2014. In order for Notre Dame to play each ACC opponent every three years, the Irish can only play one school in back-to-back seasons.

Notre Dame opens the 2015 season at home against Texas in the first game of their four-game, home-and-home series. Texas opens again at Notre Dame in 2020, while the Irish visit Austin for the season opener in 2016 and 2019.

Tentative 2015 schedule: Texas, at Michigan, at Purdue, UMass, Navy, USC, Wake Forest, at Pittsburgh, Syracuse, at Stanford, at Boston College.


The Irish have 11 games tentatively set for 2016. Four of those are ACC foes: vs. Miami, FL (Oct. 8), vs. Pittsburgh (Oct. 29), vs. Boston College (date TBA), and vs. Syracuse (at East Rutherford, NJ). One more ACC game is needed, but three of the currently scheduled opponents are also on the schedule in 2015 and two of them are also on for 2014.

Other than Navy, every opponent in 2016 is from a BCS conference. If a game is to be postponed from the 2016 slate, look for it to be Purdue, Michigan, or Michigan State.

Tentative 2016 schedule: at Texas, Michigan, Stanford, at Michigan State, Miami (FL), Navy (site TBA), Pittsburgh, at USC, Boston College, Purdue, Syracuse (at NJ).


Notre Dame only has two ACC teams scheduled in 2017 (Miami and Syracuse) and nine games overall. That gives them three open spots for ACC teams, although the rotation could bump Miami and/or Syracuse.

Tentative 2017 schedule: Temple, Arizona State, Syracuse, at Miami (FL), at Michigan, Michigan State, Navy, at Purdue, at Stanford.


Boston College is the only ACC team on the schedule in 2018. With five other games scheduled, the Irish have plenty of scheduling flexibility this season.

Tentative 2018 schedule: Purdue, Boston College, at Michigan State, Navy (site TBA), at Northwestern, Stanford.


The Irish also have only six games currently slated for 2019. Again, Boston College is the lone ACC team. As we get this far out into Notre Dame’s schedule, it’s hard to predict which ACC teams they will play.

Tentative 2019 schedule: at Texas, at Purdue, at Boston College, at Michigan State, Navy, at Stanford.

Other Notre Dame Scheduling Notes

  • Boston College – As previously mentioned, the ACC wants Notre Dame to play each conference member every three years. That means the “Holy War” will go on, just not on an annual basis.
  • BYU – Notre Dame and BYU signed a contract to play six games through the 2020 season. The first is slated for Oct. 20, 2012 and the second for Nov. 23, 2013. That leaves four games to play between 2014 and 2020, unless the contract is canceled or modified. BYU beat writer Jay Drew said “Don’t be surprised if Notre Dame tries to get out of the four final games of the deal.”
  • Michigan – The Michigan-Notre Dame series is contracted through the 2031 season, with a break in 2018 and 2019. Expect this series to continue with some possible breaks.
  • Michigan State – The Spartans are also contracted to play the Irish through 2031. Like the Michigan series, it will likely continue but could see a break when there’s a scheduling conflict.
  • Navy – Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Wednesday that “…the tradition of playing Navy has very deep and important roots for the university.” Expect the Irish and Midshipmen to continue playing annually.
  • Purdue – As ESPN indicates, this could be one of the first opponents to be canceled. Purdue is currently scheduled through 2014
  • Stanford – “We’re still going to be in California every year and we’re still going to find a way to get into the Southwest” Swarbrick said on Wednesday. Expect the Irish to keep playing Stanford home-and-home.
  • USC – Since Notre Dame wants to be in California every year, they will continue to play USC.


  • The South Bend Tribune reports that Notre Dame will play three ACC home games in 2014 and two on the road. In 2015, the Irish will play two at home and three on the road. Thiswill likely be the rotation going forward (Even years: 3 home, 2 away; Odd years: 2 home, 3 away).

Comments (14)

Will ND play ACC team on a home and home basis or insist that the ACC home game be played at neutral site e.g. play Maryland at Byrd or at Fed Ex?

I have a really hard time believing ND will be making many trips into Wallace Wade Stadium (notwithstanding Alabama did it a year or two ago).

Notre Dame will have to make at least one trip to Provo, so Jay Drew is being a dough head again. Notre Dame’s contract with BYU is two separate two-for-ones. They might be able to negotiate out of one of them, but because BYU will have already fulfilled the 2 road games of one of those two-for-ones, then Notre Dame will have to come to Provo once during one of those years. I honestly don’t see Notre Dame dropping BYU though. BYU was to be their 11th game during most of those seasons anyway, so adding the ACC team gives them the even 12 games. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Notre Dame drop one of the two in-state schools and the occasional Big 12 school. The match-ups with BYU are flexible already due to the Irish’s future schedule considerations.

I’m not sure I understand this move to the ACC in all sports but football? If they was planning in moving it would have been great to see them an BYU in the Big 12.

Notre Dame will never drop USC or Navy from its schedule. I would be very surprised if they dropped Purdue permanently, as they have played the Boilermakers more than any other program and for the longest time uninterrupted, but there might be two-year hiatuses, as they’ve done with Michigan State (another long-time rival) before.

Michigan is currently signed through 2031, but that rivalry is nowhere near as longstanding as others–it was only renewed in the 1980s.

Stanford isn’t nearly as important as you make them out to be. Notre Dame will always look to play in a warm-weather location on Thanksgiving weekend, but before it scheduled Stanford in odd-numbered years, it played Miami regularly the year it didn’t travel to USC.

The biggest stumbling block in the ACC agreement is the need to rotate. I would love to see Notre Dame play Miami every year without exception. In fact, I think Notre Dame should try to keep Miami, USC, and Michigan on its permanent schedule. Navy will never go away, and that’s unfortunate. It has been a more competitive series lately, but I can imagine another 30-odd-year ND winning streak as well.

ND has rivalries with BC and Pitt already. I say play those 2 every year and play 3 other teams that you rotate by groups. Like FSU, Miami, Clemson and GT in one the Carolina schools in another and VT, UVA Maryland and Syracuse in another.

I don’t think the games with MSU in 2018 and 2019 will both be in East Lansing, and I doubt that Notre Dame already has five road games scheduled for 2019. My guess is that the 2019 game is supposed to be in South Bend, which makes more sense because the 2017 game is in East Lansing.

John is correct. Navy’s continual presence on Notre Dame’s football schedule is “unfortunate”. It’s a formula for mediocrity. I’m a U.S. Navy veteran who resents Michiana’s most-famous entity, the ND Fighting Irish varsity football team, sullying its reputation by marginalizing Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan and Northwestern in order to cater to such bleak programs as Navy, Army and Air Force. However, such obstinacy isn’t surprising from an administration that won’t install Jumbotrons, allowing spectators to behold the referees’ proficiency, in such a citadel of athletics.
Yours, Terrence Thomas DeShone of Elkhart Indiana 15 miles east of Notre Dame Stadium


There is a reason ND plays Navy every year. At the outbreak of WWII, so many ND students enlisted that the school was in danger of closing. Navy stepped in an opened their Navel Officer training school on campus thereby ensuring ND would survive. As a debt of gratitude, ND has offered to keep Navy on the schedule for as long as they wish. Just honoring a commitment. As a veteran yourself you should appreciate it.

As a 30 year Army vet, I enjoy the occasional game against West Point. I would think having ND on their schedule helps recruiting at the service academies. That can’t be a bad thing.

BTW, this is a lot better than the cupcakes the sec out-of-conference games; i.e. Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tenn., etc.

Mr DeShone….

Neither John nor you are correct in your assumption that Navy doesn’t belong on ND’s sked. It is not mediocrity,Terrence Thomas, but a touch of class and loyalty. Loyalty in honoring a commitment made more than 61 years ago for keeping ND open.

And yes, ND Stadium is a citadel of athletics. A citadel that I joyfully travel over 1300 miles, six or seven times a year to visit.

Terrence Thomas, I’m there to enjoy quality football, comradely, atmosphere and have a damn good time. I don’t need a Jumbotron to behold anybodies proficiency!


JOHN SAYS: I think the fact that ND, to my knowledge, has never played a dividison 2 or a FCS school in modern times speaks well of the university while other “Big Name” schools load up the first part of their schedule with many smaller division schools just to get started with a good record. Look out, there are several really good FCS schools (North Dakota State) that can play with the “BIG BOYS”.


I am also a veteran and and Dennis is 100% correct the debt Notre same has for navy will never be repaid enough in the eyes of our irish!!!if the school would have closed there was a small possibility the the doors would never have opened again at ND like I said it was a small chance but it was a true threat,So get used to it Navy will always be on ND scheduled.