Notre Dame Football: What would a hypothetical Big Ten schedule look like?
The permanent opponents
Choosing three permanent opponents for the Notre Dame football schedule becomes a relatively easy task with the additions of Stanford and USC.
The three permanent opponents make the transition to conference play palatable. After over a century of Notre Dame football, the Fighting Irish can ensure that they will continue to play traditional rivals as well as newer rivals.
USC is the obvious first choice for a permanent opponent. Aside from World War II when travel was restricted and a global pandemic, the Fighting Irish and Trojans have met annually since 1926. Perhaps, the Trojans will travel to South Bend in November for a change.
Stanford is the second choice for a permanent opponent. The Cardinal were not traditionally a major rival for the Fighting Irish until 1988. Stanford and Notre Dame have played annually since that year except for 1995, 1996, and 2020 (COVID-19). At times, the 2 programs mirror each other in their desire to win on the field and in the classroom. This makes the team’s natural fits as permanent opponents.
A few teams could fit for the third and final permanent opponent. Most fans will likely clamor for Michigan. Purdue, Michigan State, and Northwestern also fit well. The Fighting Irish have played 38, 84, 65, and 47 times respectively. Notre Dame played the Wolverines the least of these four opponents.
Additionally, if Notre Dame and Michigan were permanent opponents, the Wolverine schedule would also include Michigan State and Ohio State as permanent partners. Purdue as the third and final opponent makes the most logical sense. The teams are in-state rivals who play frequently. Scheduling is not exciting but most realistic.