Notre Dame (9-4) finished No. 21 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 24 in the USA Today coaches poll. As the Irish prepare to head into the 2014 season, they are looking at five teams on the schedule that ranked in each of the final polls. The season will kick-off on August 30 against Conference USA Champion Rice, as the Irish open at home for the seventh time in eight years. One week later, Notre Dame will play Michigan for the last time before the rivalry takes an indefinite break.
September will continue with the Irish heading to Indianapolis, IN for the sixth Shamrock Series game, where they will take on Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium. The game will be the last in the Notre Dame-Purdue series until 2020.
A bye week precedes the Irish’s first ACC game, which will be played against Syracuse in East Rutherford, NJ. The game is ND’s first match-up against Syracuse since 2008, when the Orange upset the Irish in South Bend 24-23.
October presents the Irish with their first test against a ranked opponent, when two time defending PAC-12 Champion, Stanford, rolls into Notre Dame Stadium for the first time since the memorable contest in 2012. The Irish stopped the Cardinal at the one-yard line in overtime to win the game 20-13.
The Fighting Irish will close out October playing back-to-back ACC games against North Carolina in South Bend and Florida State in Tallahassee. Notre Dame will be looking to snag the series lead, as the Irish and Tar Heels split a home-and-home series in 2006 and 2008. The contest against Florida State is also a highlight of next year’s schedule, as the Seminoles won the BCS National Championship in 2013, defeating Auburn 34-31. Notre Dame will follow up with a bye week on the last Saturday of October.
For the second straight year, the Irish will begin November playing Navy. The Irish will take on the Midshipmen at FedEx Field in Landover, MD, just a half hour from Navy’s campus in Annapolis. Notre Dame defeated Navy 30-0 at FedEx Field in 1998, the only previous meeting between the two teams at FedEx Field.
The following week Notre Dame will travel to Tempe, AZ to play PAC-12 South Champion, Arizona State, who the Irish defeated in the 2013 Shamrock Series game at AT&T Stadium. The Irish won their only meeting at Sun Devil Stadium.
The Irish will head home to take on Northwestern for the first time since the 1995 season opener. Notre Dame holds a 15-4 record against the Wildcats at Notre Dame Stadium.
The home finale will take place on November 22 against Louisville. Despite having developed a huge basketball rivalry in the Big East, the Cardinals and Irish have never met on the gridiron.
To wrap up the 2014 season, Notre Dame will spend Thanksgiving weekend in California for the 18th straight year. The Irish will be looking for their fourth win in the last five games against USC when they visit the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 29.
Stay tuned to gameday.nd.edu for updates throughout the off-season.