Notre Dame Football: Future Opponent Wish List

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: (L-R) Grant Haley
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: (L-R) Grant Haley /

Many knock the Irish for being an Independent, but it does give them the freedom to schedule opponents without being tied to a conference. Here is a list of teams I would love to see on the Notre Dame football schedule in the future.

One of the greatest benefits Notre Dame football has by not being in a conference is the ability to play a wide range of opponents all across the nation. It allows them to maintain traditional games like USC and Michigan St. while also playing in the annual Shamrock Series at neutral sites.

Notre Dame does have an agreement with the ACC through 2037 where the Irish will play 4-6 ACC opponents per year. For the sake of this list, I won’t include any ACC teams, non-bowl game opponents the Irish have played in the last three seasons or any teams the Irish already have a future scheduled series with.

That means Texas, Georgia (2020) , Wisconsin (2020 & 2021), Arkansas (2020 & 2025), and Alabama (2028 & 2029) won’t make the list.

Fortunately, that leaves plenty of other great future matchups Irish fans would love to see.

Penn State

One of our writers put together a similar list a few months ago and included Penn State as well. Many believe if the Irish ever did join a conference, it would be the Big Ten, which makes sense geographically. If that ever happened, this would be a much more common matchup.

Penn State has been one of the hottest teams over the last two seasons, going 22-5 including a Fiesta Bowl win last year. The Irish haven’t played Penn State since 2007 and are 9-9-1 all-time vs the Nittany Lions. Two historic programs playing in South Bend and Happy Valley just seems right. This is a matchup I wouldn’t be shocked to see in the near future.


Notre Dame playing LSU outside of a bowl game?! I would love to see it too. The Irish have played LSU three times since 2007: the Sugar Bowl in 2007, Music City Bowl in 2014 and Citrus Bowl last year. I am all for Notre Dame scheduling more SEC opponents. It gives the Irish the opportunity to show they can hang with arguably the best conference in the nation. It could also be a great recruiting tool.

SEC oponents like Georgia, Arkansas, and Alabama are already on the future schedule. Playing LSU in a non-neutral site for once would make for an amazing atmosphere — in South Bend or Death Valley. This matchup has given us down-to-the-wire thrillers the last two meetings, and I’d like to see more of it.


This game would have been a much more exciting matchup during the Chip Kelly era. Oregon hasn’t exactly been the Pac-12 powerhouse in recent years, going just 11-14 over the last two seasons. With new coach Mario Cristobal looking to return the program to the explosive, faster-than-fast days of the Kelly era, a series with Notre Dame could make sense in terms of national exposure.

There isn’t much history between the two schools. The Irish have only played the Ducks twice: a 41-0 win in 1976 and a 13-13 tie in 1982. Rarely does Notre Dame play Pac-12 competition outside of USC and Stanford, with the last matchup being Arizona St. in 2013 and 2014. This game might not seem very exciting at the moment, but you’re lying if you don’t think this would be a great matchup in a few years after Oregon rights its ship.


Fun fact: I was today years old when I learned the Irish have never played Auburn. Interestingly enough, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick actually hinted at a ND-Auburn matchup in an interview last year, citing his great relationship with (former) Auburn AD Jay Jacobs. Unfortunately, Jacobs stepped down from that position on June 1, 2018.

I’m still not giving up hope. The Tigers do not have a Power-5 opponent scheduled for the 2025 season — even though the Irish are to play Arkansas that year. Who knows what these teams will look like seven years from now. If they both remain 9-10 win per season teams, then this would be an exciting possible Top-25 matchup.

Honorable Mentions

Florida: I really love SEC opponents I guess. The Irish have only played the Gators once, defeating them 39-28 in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.

Next. Michigan vs. Notre Dame Is The Hottest Ticket Of Week 1. dark

Oklahoma St: The Irish have played Oklahoma twice since 2012, but have never played football in the same stadium as that other Oklahoma team. An Oklahoma St. matchup would be a lot of fun.