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Notre Dame Football: The Shaky State of the Irish's 2014 Schedule

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Notre Dame Football: The Shaky State of the Irish's 2014 Schedule
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

While Notre Dame's partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference is viewed as a positive for both parties, one negative was tossed into the equation. 

When the university agreed to join the ACC in all sports aside from football and hockey, a scheduling agreement was reached that includes the Irish football program playing five ACC opponents per season, throwing a wrench into the 2014 schedule.

Prior to Notre Dame affiliating with the ACC, the 2014 schedule appeared as follows:

  • vs. Rice, Aug. 30
  • vs. Michigan, Sept. 6
  • vs. Purdue, Sept. 13
  • vs. Syracuse, Sept. 27 (MetLife Stadium) 
  • vs. Stanford, Oct. 4
  • at Temple, Oct. 11
  • at Navy, Nov. 1 (FedEx Field)
  • at Arizona State, Nov. 8
  • vs. Northwestern, Nov. 15
  • at USC, Nov. 29

That schedule was crumpled up like a paper wad and thrown in the trash can once the Irish's five ACC opponents were revealed; The Irish will play Louisville, North Carolina and Wake Forest at home, and will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., to face Florida State. 

With those teams added to the schedule, Notre Dame has exceeded the 12-opponent limit by two, meaning that two teams must be removed from the schedule. 

Before any discussion concerning paring the schedule commences, it should be understood that Notre Dame is intent upon keeping Navy, Stanford and USC on the schedule. 

The Irish have a historical contract with Navy, while USC and Stanford give the program its annual contest on the West Coast. 

The Irish initiated the effort to trim the schedule by attempting to cancel their road date at Arizona State, though the Sun Devils' administration wouldn't have it; athletic director Steve Patterson, after publicly voicing his displeasure with Notre Dame's intentions, released a statement confirming the teams' meeting in 2014 at Sun Devil Stadium. 

That now gives Notre Dame two games on the West Coast, which is an irregularity for the Irish. 

It is also an impossibility for Notre Dame to remove Temple from the schedule, as the two schools previously agreed upon a home-and-home exchange, with the Owls visiting Notre Dame Stadium this season. 

Because Arizona State refused to budge and with Temple being a fixture, Notre Dame will likely focus its efforts on eliminating Big Ten Conference teams, which has already begun, as the collective future of rivalries against Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State is up in the air. 

Notre Dame has already announced the cancellation of its contests with Michigan from 2015-17, meaning the Wolverines are a certainty on the 2014 schedule. 

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While their conference partner, Northwestern isn't a traditional rival, the Wildcats have become the most sensible option to part ways with, as well as Purdue likely joining the farewell festivities. 

In a utopian world, Northwestern and Purdue would amicably part ways with Notre Dame, bringing the Irish schedule to the NCAA-mandated 12 regular season contests. 

Should that scenario play out, the Irish's 2014 schedule would appear as follows (dates are to be determined for five games): 

  • vs. Louisville, TBD
  • vs. North Carolina, TBD
  • vs. Wake Forest, TBD
  • at Florida State, TBD
  • vs. Rice, Aug. 30
  • vs. Michigan, Sept. 6
  • vs. Syracuse, Sept. 27 (MetLife Stadium) 
  • vs. Stanford, Oct. 4
  • at Temple, Oct. 11
  • at Navy, Nov. 1 (FedEx Field)
  • at Arizona State, Nov. 8
  • at USC, Nov. 29 

It's not the ideal layout, as it throws Notre Dame from its typical 7-4-1 alignment (seven home games, four road games and one neutral site game). 

With the conditions of the schedule above, the Irish are forced into a 6-5-1 alignment. 

Now, many scheduling curveballs could arrive in the next calendar year, but the format provided above is the most likely scenario for Notre Dame in 2014. 

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