Navy in Annapolis.
Athletic Coast Conference schools Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, and Georgia Tech on the road; Duke, Clemson, and Louisville in South Bend.
Arkansas and Western Michigan pending conference (and Notre Dame’s) decisions.
That’s what we know of Notre Dame’s 2020 schedule, but what we know is subject to change by the end of this month, if not this week, if not today.
And so it goes with sports in 2020…
Logically, Notre Dame will attempt to replace canceled games against Wisconsin (Oct. 3) Stanford (Oct. 10)—plus an October 17 bye—and USC (Nov. 28) with a pair or trio of eight remaining ACC programs.
Though conference’s entire schedule is likely to be reworked if the ACC (and others) officially follow suit with The Big 10 and Pac-12 in a Conference-Only format this fall, it is today relevant to take a look at the open dates—i.e., potential scheduling opportunities—between Notre Dame and each opponent not yet on the Irish slate.
Irish Illustrated considers both the draw (in parenthesis) and likelihood of each matchup assuming schedules aren’t completely reconfigured.
In a July 11 report by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Miami athletic director Blake James offered this note via email of a potential matchup with Notre Dame:
“We will work with the ACC on creating the best schedules possible for our programs. If the opportunity for a match up with ND is presented, we would be thrilled to have that game added to our 2020 schedule.”
Considering Covid-19’s impact relative to Florida vs. Indiana, it would logically be played in South Bend. The teams are set to play in both 2024 (South Bend) and 2025 (Miami).
The Draw: It was once the most-heated rivalry in the history of the sport…for just over four seasons, that is. Nothing gets either fan base’s blood boiling like the sight of these two helmets on opposite sidelines in the fall.
The Last Time: No. 7 Miami ambushed No. 3 Notre Dame in mid-November 2017, 41-8, ruining the latter’s College Football Playoff spot that appeared set in stone.
Dates of Interest: Sept. 26 (Michigan State game cancellation). Temple (Sept. 5), Wagner (Sept. 12), and UAB (Sept. 17, a Thursday) represent the Hurricanes non-conference foes. October 17 is a scheduled bye week.
SYRACUSE (N/A, but it seems likely, logistically)
The teams don’t meet again until 2022 (date TBD), that after playing in 2014, 2016, and 2018.
If already-scheduled games hold true, Syracuse and Notre Dame share open Saturdays on both Oct. 10 and Oct. 17, with Syracuse’s cancelled contest on Sept. 19 a potential window for Notre Dame as well should Western Michigan and the MAC choose the Conference-Only route.
The Draw: Strictly logistics, as the open dates between the Irish and Orange fit well as indicated below.
The Last Time: No. 3 Notre Dame humbled No. 12 Syracuse, manhandling the Orange 36-3, in mid-November 2018 at Yankee Stadium.
Dates of Interest: A Sept. 19 matchup against Patriot League foe Colgate has been cancelled. Syracuse faces non-conference opponents Western Michigan (Sept. 26), and Liberty (Oct. 17) with an open date on Oct. 10.
FLORIDA STATE (#2)
Change has not been kind to the Seminoles of late, now on their second coach in three seasons after Jimbo Fisher took his 2013 title, 2014 Playoff appearance, and 83-23 Tallahassee record west to College Station.
Notre Dame and Florida State are set to open the 2021 season on Labor Day evening in Tallahassee. Would the Seminoles travel north to South Bend in the oddity that is 2020?
The Draw: Is the allure gone? It might have dissipated a touch, but consider the following: the 2018 Senior Night ticket against the Seminoles in South Bend was a full $200 retail—the most expensive face value ticket in Notre Dame Stadium history.
The Last Time: Notre Dame overwhelmed a poor but still-talented Florida State team, 42-13 in the contest noted above.
Dates of Interest: West Virginia (Sept. 5), Samford (Sept. 12), and Boise State (Sept. 19) all remain scheduled as of today. Florida State’s bye week is Sept. 26 when Notre Dame is at Wake Forest. Of note: the annual Florida/Florida State game is scheduled for Thanksgiving Saturday.
NORTH CAROLINA (#3)
The Tar Heels are scheduled to travel to South Bend for an Oct. 30 matchup in 2021. Is this a road game opportunity for the Irish in 2020?
The Draw: Mack Brown. A top tier 1-2 QB-WR punch. Rejuvenation in Chapel Hill. It’s the program du jour—one purportedly on the rise—in the ACC.
The Last Time: Quarterback Ian Book made his first career start in Chapel Hill, a 33-10 victory over the Tar Heels in October 2017.
Dates of Interest: Sept. 4 (Friday) vs. Central Florida, Sept. 12 vs. Auburn, Sept. 19 vs. James Madison, and November 7 vs. Connecticut. North Carolina’s bye week is Oct. 31 when the Irish host Duke.
BOSTON COLLEGE (#4…or Last)
Former Notre Dame backup quarterback Phil Jurkovec’s landing spot, and thus, the battle for the Notre Dame Internet’s heart—and souls—could be intriguing.
The Draw: Intrigue abounds if Jurkovec is granted a waiver for immediate eligibility. If not? There is no remaining intrigue. Nor will there be. Possibly ever.
The Last Time: Notre Dame buried the Eagles 40-7 in South Bend on Senior Day 2019.
Dates of Interest: Similar to most on this list, the Eagles play non conference games on Sept. 12 (MAC) Sept. 19 (Big 12), and have open dates on Sept. 26 (Purdue) and Oct. 31 (Holy Cross of the Patriot League) due to cancellations.
VIRGINIA TECH (#4/#5)
The Irish and Hokies have already squared off three times in the last four years with a fourth in six seasons on tap for Oct. 9, 2021, in Blacksburg.
The Draw: From the Hokies standpoint, revenge for an opportunity lost last November. From Notre Dame’s point of view, Virginia Tech remains one of the more well-regarded programs in the ACC. Theoretically, a win over the Hokies could hold more post-season clout than the same against the Orange, Cavaliers, Wolfpack, and Eagles.
The Last Time: Notre Dame rallied to win, 21-20, with Ian Book doing the honors on third down from the Hokies’ 7-yard line with 29 seconds remaining.
Dates of Interest: Liberty on Sept. 5, a cancellation vs. Penn State on Sept. 12, Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt) on Sept. 19, North Alabama on Sept. 26.
Notre Dame is set to travel east for a November 13, 2021 matchup with the Cavaliers.
The Draw: Minimal, outside of the beauty of Charlottesville, and that’s not likely part of the equation for the sport’s usual travelers this fall. Notre Dame and Virginia was must-see TV last September, but the Cavaliers are in reload mode entering 2020 after an off-season talent drain.
The Last Time: Notre Dame rallied to take out the eighteenth-ranked Cavaliers, 35-20, behind a flurry of quarterback sacks and big plays in the second half last September.
Dates of Interest: Georgia (Sept. 7), Virginia Military Institute (Thursday, Sept. 12), Connecticut (Thursday, Sept. 19), Oct. 10 (Open), Oct. 24 (Old Dominion).
NORTH CAROLINA STATE (N/A)
After meeting home-and-home in both 2016-17, the teams aren’t scheduled to play until 2023 in Raleigh.
The Draw: Current Irish graduate transfer Nick McCloud would add a touch of sports writer (and game day) fodder. Not expected to contend for ACC honors, the Wolfpack’s projected win total per ESPN.com‘s FPI is between 5.3 to 6.7 (over a 12-game slate).
The Last Time: Then-rolling Notre Dame ran roughshod on No. 14 North Carolina State, winning 35-21 over a highly-touted, normally stout Wolfpack defense.
Dates of Interest: Sept. 12 (SEC and Mississippi State), Sept. 19 (Troy from the Sun Belt), Sept. 26 vs. Delaware, and an open date on Oct. 24, plus a visit from Liberty on Nov. 21.