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Notre Dame Versus The SEC

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Quarterback Malik Zaire led Notre Dame to a 31-28 win over LSU in the 2014 Music City Bowl.
Photo by Bill Panzica

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This week’s announcement that Notre Dame and Arkansas will play a two-game football series — at Notre Dame Sept. 12, 2020, and at Fayetteville on Oct. 4, 2025 — helps check another box on a scheduling priority under Fighting Irish vice president /director of athletics Jack Swarbrick.

As mainly a football independent, despite partial membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Notre Dame’s selling point to the Football Playoff Committee is to show itself against Power 5 Conference representatives.

• The ACC is easily covered with an average of five ACC meetings scheduled from now through 2037.

• The Pac 12 goal is met with annual meetings versus USC and Stanford.

• The Big Ten was/is taken care of for the next decade with contests against Michigan State (2016-17 and 2026-27), Michigan (2018-19), Purdue (2020-21 and 2024-25), Ohio State (2022-23) and Northwestern (2018).

That leaves the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference (SEC).

Getting both of those leagues on at the same time to supplement the other three members of the Power 5 on the slate will be virtually impossible, but getting at least one is feasible.

In recent seasons, the two marquee names in the Big 12, Oklahoma and Texas, dotted the Irish slate, with the Sooners in 2012-13 and the Longhorns in 2015-16.

Now, it’s the SEC’s turn, with Georgia first in 2017 and 2019, Arkansas in 2020 and 2025 and Texas A&M in 2024-25, with possible plans to fill in other gaps in between as well. In 2025 Notre Dame will have the unusual distinction of playing SEC teams in back-to-back weeks, hosting the Aggies on Sept. 27 and then visiting the Razorbacks Oct. 4.

With the addition of Arkansas, a common question this week has been what is Notre Dame’s history against the SEC.

In the record books, it will tell you the Irish are 27-18.

In reality it is 19-13, with eight of those 32 games (25 percent) played in bowls, where the Irish are 4-4. The discrepancy stems from how three current SEC members — Missouri, South Carolina and Texas A&M — played Notre Dame when they weren't members of the SEC.

The Fighting Irish were 2-2 against Missouri from 1970-84 when the Tigers were in the Big 8, 3-1 versus South Carolina from 1976-84 when the Gamecocks were independent, and 3-2 versus Texas A&M from 1987-2001 when the Aggies were first in the Southwest Conference before later joining the Big 12.

Subtracting that 8-5 total is how the actual record versus the SEC is 19-13. Here's the breakdown:


LSU — 6-5

Notre Dame’s first meeting with an SEC school was in 1970 when it hosted that year’s league champ LSU in a 3-0 Irish victory. Notable in that defensive slugfest is the two quarterbacks were future NFL MVPs in Joe Theismann and Bert Jones.

The two teams have not had met in the regular season since 1998. LSU also has a 2-1 edge in bowl games, although the Irish won the most recent, 31-28 in the 2014 Music City Bowl.


Alabama — 5-2

Notre Dame was an astounding 4-0 against Bear Bryant’s Crimson Tide from 1973-80, including vanquishing 11-0 Alabama teams in the 1973 Sugar Bowl (24-23) for the national title and then the following year in the Orange Bowl (13-11) in Ara Parseghian’s final game as head coach.

The two teams had home-and-home series in 1976 and 1980, and then 1986-87.

They squared off again for the national title on Jan. 7, 2013, with Alabama this time dominating in a 42-14 triumph.


Tennessee — 4-4

Until Georgia this season, the Volunteers were the most recent SEC team to play the Irish home and home in 2004-05, both Notre Dame wins.


Vanderbilt — 2-0

Notre Dame won the home-and-home series played in 1995 (41-0) and 1996 (14-7), with defensive coordinator Bob Davie the acting coach in the first game when Lou Holtz was recovering from in-season surgery.


Mississippi — 1-1

The Rebels stunned Notre Dame in game 2 of 1977 (20-13), but the Irish went on to win the national title.

The return game at Notre Dame in 1985 resulted in a 37-14 win, Gerry Faust’s final victory as the head coach.


Florida — 1-0

Ranked No. 3 in the nation, the 10-1 Gators were stunned by the reeling 9-3 Irish (39-28) in the Jan. 1, 1992 Sugar Bowl.


Georgia — 0-1

Although the Bulldogs were out-gained in total offense 328-127, they won their first and still lone national title with a 17-10 conquest versus then No. 7 and 9-1-1 Notre Dame on Jan 1, 1981, also in the Sugar Bowl.

The four SEC teams Notre Dame has not played are Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Mississippi State, although Arkansas also used to be in the SWC.

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