As an independent program, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has an interesting challenge with regards to scheduling. There aren't eight or nine games assigned to the Irish like teams in conferences get. Instead, Swarbrick must fill an entire 12-game schedule while ensuring a sufficient number of home games as well as competitive balance.
Add on Notre Dame's requirement to play five ACC games annually as a result of moving its other sports to the conference, and you have a 1000-piece puzzle that took Swarbrick until this week to complete.
Although many of Notre Dame's opponents, with dates, are known thanks to releases from opponents (and the diligent tracking at FBSchedules.com), the Irish do not formally release a season schedule until it is 100 percent complete. That finally occurred Friday, and Notre Dame can now begin preparations for next fall knowing the exact road it will have to navigate.
Because of pre-existing agreements, Notre Dame will only play four ACC teams instead of five in 2014. The Irish's four ACC games are at Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina and vs. Syracuse in East Rutherford, N.J. The fifth game (Wake Forest), originally scheduled for 2014, will be played in 2015. Swarbrick's announcement also included the release of the 2015 and 2016 schedules.
The season kicks off on Aug. 30 against Conference USA champion Rice, as the Irish open at home for the seventh time in eight years. A week later, Notre Dame will play Michigan for the final time before the rivalry takes an indefinite hiatus.
September continues with the Irish taking on Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in the Shamrock Series, the sixth straight season that Notre Dame will play an off-campus "home game." The teams last met in the capital of Indiana in 1984 at the Hoosier Dome. The game will be the last in the series until 2020.
A bye week is followed by the first of Notre Dame's four ACC games, in East Rutherford, N.J., against Syracuse. The game is the Irish's first against Syracuse since 2008, when already-fired coach Greg Robinson and the Orange upset Notre Dame in South Bend.
October offers no chance to breathe, as two-time defending Pac-12 champion Stanford rolls into Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since the memorable overtime contest in 2012 in which the Irish controversially stopped the Cardinal at the one-yard line to win the game.
|2014 Notre Dame Schedule|
|Aug. 30||Rice||Notre Dame Stadium||South Bend|
|Sept. 6||Michigan||Notre Dame Stadium||South Bend|
|Sept. 13||Purdue||Lucas Oil Stadium||Indianapolis|
|Sept. 27||vs. Syracuse||MetLife Stadium||East Rutherford|
|Oct. 4||Stanford||Notre Dame Stadium||South Bend|
|Oct. 11||North Carolina||Notre Dame Stadium||South Bend|
|Oct. 18||at Florida State||Doak Campbell Stadium||Tallahassee|
|Nov. 1||vs. Navy||FedEx Field||Landover|
|Nov. 8||at Arizona State||Sun Devil Stadium||Tempe|
|Nov. 15||Northwestern||Notre Dame Stadium||South Bend|
|Nov. 22||Louisville||Notre Dame Stadium||South Bend|
|Nov. 29||at USC||Los Angeles Coliseum||Los Angeles|
Notre Dame will then play back-to-back ACC games against North Carolina in South Bend and Florida State in Tallahassee. The Irish and Tar Heels split a home-and-home series in 2006 and 2008. The Seminoles defeated Notre Dame, 18-14, in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl, but the Irish won the only previous meeting between the schools in Tallahassee in 2002. Notre Dame will have its second bye week on the last Saturday of October.
For the second straight year, November begins with Navy. As is always the case with games with Notre Dame-Navy games in even-numbered years, the game will be held at a neutral site. The Irish and Midshipmen will battle at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., just a half-hour from Navy's campus in Annapolis. Notre Dame defeated the Mids at FedEx Field in 1998, 30-0, in the only previous meeting between the two teams there.
The following week brings a trip to the desert to play Pac-12 South champion Arizona State, who lost to the Irish this past season in a Shamrock Series game at AT&T Stadium. Northwestern then returns to Notre Dame for the first time since a stunning upset in the 1995 season opener that sparked the Wildcats' Cinderella run to the Rose Bowl.
The Notre Dame Stadium finale takes place on Nov. 22 against Louisville. Despite having developed a significant basketball rivalry in the Big East, the Cardinals and Irish have never met on the gridiron.
For the 18th straight season, Notre Dame will spend Thanksgiving weekend in California. The Irish will be looking to win for the fourth time in five games against USC when they visit the Los Angeles Coliseum on Nov. 29.
The only known kickoff times are for the Sept. 6 home game against Michigan and the Sept. 13 Purdue game in Indianapolis, which will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Start times for other home games, and likely the Navy game, will be announced in the spring. Away game times will not be determined until 12 days prior to the game.
The 2015 schedule includes home games with Texas, Massachusetts, Navy, USC, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. Road games are at Virginia, Temple, Clemson, Pittsburgh and Stanford, with a neutral-site game against Boston College at Fenway Park.
In 2016, the Irish host Nevada, Michigan State, Duke, Stanford, Miami (FL), and Virginia Tech, and will travel to Texas, North Carolina State and USC. There will be three neutral site games: vs. Syracuse (East Rutherford, N.J.), Navy (location TBD) and Army (San Antonio).
|2015 and 2016 Notre Dame Schedules|
|Sept. 5||TEXAS||Sept. 3||at Texas|
|Sept. 12||at Virginia||Sept. 10||NEVADA|
|Sept. 19||GEORGIA TECH||Sept. 17||MICHIGAN STATE|
|Sept. 26||MASSACHUSETTS||Sept. 24||DUKE|
|Oct. 3||at Clemson||Oct. 1||vs. Syracuse|
|Oct. 10||NAVY||Oct. 8||at N.C. State|
|Oct. 17||USC||Oct. 15||STANFORD|
|Oct. 24||Open Date||Oct. 22||Open Date|
|Oct. 31||at Temple||Oct. 29||MIAMI (FL)|
|Nov. 7||at Pittsburgh||Nov. 5||vs. Navy|
|Nov. 14||WAKE FOREST||Nov. 12||vs. Army|
|Nov. 21||vs. Boston College||Nov. 19||VIRGINIA TECH|
|Nov. 28||at Stanford||Nov. 26||at USC|