Notre Dame released the football schedules it will play in 2018-19, and they check pretty much all the boxes that Fighting Irish vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick has outlined.
First, four of the five Power 5 Conferences are represented, including Vanderbilt (2018) and Georgia (2019) from the SEC and Michigan (2018-19) and Northwestern (2018) in the Big Ten. The Pac-12 always is on the standard fare with mainstays USC and Stanford, while the ACC usually will have five because of Notre Dame’s partial football membership in the league. Only the Big XII is not on the slate.
With Notre Dame a football independent, Swarbrick has maintained that it is imperative the Irish have a broad representation on the schedule to provide the Playoff committee data on how it matches up in the Power 5.
Second, both schedules have seven home games, although one from each season could be moved to a different venue for a Shamrock Series outing.
Third, the bye week continues to appear in the middle of October, coinciding with fall semester break. That is deemed the ideal time to decompress a bit from both academics and football before taking on the second half of the slate. A second bye — which Swarbrick wishes he could do regularly — was added in 2019 because the opener at Louisville is on Labor Day (Sept. 2), thereby prompting an off Saturday five days later.
Fourth, some equilibrium was added with Ball State in 2018 and then New Mexico — coached by 1997-2001 Fighting Irish head coach Bob Davie — and Bowling Green in 2019.
Some other thoughts at large:
• The 2018 slate has a truly All-Academic feel with Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and Stanford on consecutive weeks in September, and Northwestern on Nov. 3. That quartet and Notre Dame are generally locks in any Graduation Success Rate (GSR) rankings, football or otherwise.
• When Notre Dame lines up against Florida State at home on Nov. 10, 2018, it will be the 25th anniversary of the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in 1993, almost to the day (Nov. 13 in 1993).
• Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh will attempt to become the sixth coach to defeat the Irish as head coach at two different schools. He vanqished Notre Dame while at Stanford in 2009 and 2010. The five previous to achieve the feat were Howard Jones (Iowa and USC), Johnny Majors (Pitt and Tennessee), Dennis Erickson (Miami and Oregon State), Nick Saban (Michigan State and Alabama) and Todd Graham (Tulsa and Arizona State).
• Get by Michigan in the 2018 opener, and the schedule is set up fairly well for a pretty good run. It also is the first time since 2000 Notre Dame opens a campaign with three straight home games.
• The 2019 schedule has road games versus Louisville (Labor Day), Georgia, Michigan and Stanford. Beyond USC, the home games versus New Mexico, Virginia, Bowling Green, Virginia Tech, Navy and Boston College are relatively uninspiring — although the Hokies did win at Notre Dame last year in their initial meeting with the Irish.
Sept. 1 — Michigan
Sept. 8 — Ball State
Sept. 15 — Vanderbilt
Sept. 22 — at Wake Forest
Sept. 29 — Stanford
Oct. 6 — at Virginia Tech
Oct. 13 — Pittsburgh
Oct. 27 — Navy (San Diego)
Nov. 3 — at Northwestern
Nov. 10 — Florida State
Nov. 17 — Syracuse
Nov. 24 — at USC
Sept. 2 — at Louisville
Sept. 14 — New Mexico
Sept. 21 — at Georgia
Sept. 28 — Virginia
Oct. 5 — Bowling Green
Oct. 12 — USC
Oct. 26 — at Michigan
Nov. 2 — Virginia Tech
Nov. 9 — at Duke
Nov. 16 — Navy
Nov. 23 — Boston College
Nov. 30 — at Stanford
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