Earlier this week in a preview of Notre Dame’s 2017 campaign, we noted how holding serve on your home field is imperative toward a successful campaign.
In 2016 Notre Dame was 2-4 on its home turf, marking the fourth time since 1964 it finished under .500 there. The others were 1983 (2-3), 1984 (2-3) and 2007 (1-6).
A corollary to that is the recent alarming trend of first-time visitors to Notre Dame Stadium emerging victorious. Since the opening of the edifice in 1930, there have been 14 teams to achieve the feat, and five of them have occurred since 2009: Connecticut (2009), Tulsa (2010), South Florida (2011), Louisville (2014) and last year Virginia Tech.
The Irish will host three first-time visitors at Notre Dame Stadium this year: Georgia (Sept. 9), Miami (Ohio) (Sept. 30) and North Carolina State (Oct. 28). In each case, there is a notable side story.
• With Georgia — which is promising to bring a huge contingent numbering in five figures to the game — it is the Bulldogs' first trip to a northern state since Oct. 2, 1965, when they defeated Michigan 15-7 in Ann Arbor.
• Miami (Ohio) is coached by Chuck Martin, a Brian Kelly assistant at Notre Dame on defense (2010-11) before becoming his offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2012-13. Last year his Redhawks became the first team in NCAA history to go from 0-6 to 6-6 and earn a bowl bid.
• North Carolina State is 2-0 against Notre Dame after vanquishing the Irish 10-3 last season while playing in Hurricane Matthew. The Wolfpack will attempt to become the first team since Iowa from 1921-40 to begin 3-0 all-time against the Fighting Irish.
Going from the most recent meeting, here are those 14 first-time visitors who won at Notre Dame Stadium, which will debut with the $450-million Campus Crossroads construction project this season:
2016: Virginia Tech — The Hokies rallied from an early 17-0 and 24-7 hole, plus a 31-21 fourth-quarter deficit, to win 34-31.
2014: Louisville — Freshman QB Reggie Bonnafon (later moved to receiver) led the 31-28 victory, and the Irish missed a 32-yard field goal in the closing minute.
2011: South Florida — Bulls head coach Skip Holtz’s squad, which would finish 5-7, was aided by five Irish turnovers in the 23-20 win.
2010: Tulsa — Stunning 28-27 defeat saw the Irish eschew a short field goal attempt and throw an interception into the end zone in the closing minute.
2009: UConn — A 14-0 Irish lead was squandered in head coach Charlie Weis’ final home game, a 33-30 double-overtime defeat.
1982: Penn State — Eventual national champ Nittany Lions won 24-14 one week after Irish won at No. 1 Pitt.
1981: Florida State — First-year head coach Gerry Faust’s Irish drop to 2-3 after 19-13 loss to Seminoles.
1979: Clemson — Tigers with first-year coach Danny Ford rally to 16-10 win after Notre Dame built a 10-0 halftime lead.
1972: Missouri — A week earlier the Tigers lost 62-0 to Nebraska, but then upset No. 8-ranked Irish, 30-26.
1942: Michigan — The No. 4 Irish fall 32-20 to the No. 6 Wolverines in a renewal of the series after 33 years.
1940: Iowa — The 7-0 Hawkeyes upset of the No. 7-ranked Irish made them 3-0 all time against Notre Dame.
1934: Texas — Elmer Layden’s debut as Notre Dame head coach is ruined with a 7-6 loss to counterpart and fellow alum/first-year coach Jack Chevigny.
1933: Purdue — Two-time reigning Big Ten champs were coached by 1922-24 Irish lineman Noble Kizer in the 19-0 romp.
1931: USC — In Year 2 of the Stadium, the Trojans rally from a 14-0 deficit to win 16-14 and snap the Irish 26-game unbeaten streak.