A couple weeks before the start of training camp, we have one heck of a juicy scheduling rumor. According to the Chicago Tribune, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are reportedly discussing a potential series between to the two Midwest powers at… wait for it… Soldier Field AND Lambeau Field. The two schools haven’t played each other since 1964. Where do we sign up?
Notre Dame and Wisconsin would be a huge draw – especially in Soldier Field. The home of Chicago Bears sits almost perfectly between the two schools with alumni from both universities very prevalent in the Chicagoland area.
UPDATE: Reports are now that one game would be at Soldier Field and another would be at Lambeau Field. Notre Dame has never played at Lambeau Field.
Of all the Big 10 powers, Wisconsin is the one program that Notre Dame has not seen in recent years. While Notre Dame and Wisconsin have squared off against each other 16 times in history, they haven’t played each other since 1964. From 1962-64 the two schools played each year with Wisconsin taking two out of three from the Irish. During Ara Parseghian’s first year at Notre Dame, however, the Irish took down the Badgers 31-7. The two have not played since.
Overall the Irish hold a 8-6-2 advantage in the series with most of the damage coming at the hands of Knute Rockne, Elmer Layden, and Frank Leahy. The three head coaches combined for a 6-1-1 records against the Badgers from 1928 through 1943. Three of Wisconsin’s wins meanwhile came during the early years of Notre Dame football with the Badgers taking the first three contests between 1900-1905.
Notre Dame has its long time on-again, off-again history with Michigan. They’ve played Michigan State 78 times during their rivalry. The Irish have a history with Big 10 power Penn State from the days of the two being Independents together. Even after Penn State’s jump to the Big 10 though, Notre Dame was able to schedule a home and home with the Nittany Lions in 2006-2007. Notre Dame has even played Ohio State four times since they’ve last played Wisconsin though two of those contests came in the Fiesta Bowl (2005 and 2015 seasons).
That leaves just Wisconsin as the only power program in the Big 10 that Notre Dame has not seen in the last 10 years.
According the Tribune, an announcement is not imminent and there hasn’t been any indication of when a potential series might occur. From Notre Dame’s perspective, the Irish have an open date in 2020, but that schedule already features Stanford, USC, Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Louisville.
In 2021 there are two open dates currently, but that schedule features Florida State, USC, Stanford, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech.
Adding this game in 2022 or 2013 would be playoff suicide. Ohio State, Stanford, USC, and Clemson all appear that year. All four are also on the 2023 slate as well. The Buckeyes and Irish reached an agreement for a home and home in 2022-23 three years ago.
Starting to see the point? Notre Dame adding Wisconsin at Soldier Field in any future year will pose a challenge for the Irish with USC and Stanford scheduled every year and either Florida State or Clemson on every schedule form 2020-2024.
Notre Dame does get a slight reprieve in 2025 with Texas A&M the toughest third opponent outside of Stanford and USC. Of course, Stanford could return to pre-Harbaugh-Shaw days by then, but people have been saying that for the last six or seven years now.
Regardless of the potential challenging schedules, adding Wisconsin at Soldier Field and Lambeau Field would be a hell of a treat for fans of both schools and the college football community as a whole.
Notre Dame Undefeated at Soldier Field
Notre Dame has played at Soldier Field a total of 12 times and has never lost. The Irish sport a 10-0-2 record with their most recent appearance resulting in a 41-3 beatdown of the Miami Hurricanes in the 2012 edition of the Shamrock Series. Prior to the thrashing of the Hurricanes, Notre Dame beat Northwestern 42-15 and 42-7 in 1994 and 1992. Prior to that though, all other nine Notre Dame appearances in Soldier Field took place prior to 1942.
There was speculation the Notre Dame and Northwestern would play at Soldier Field in 2018, but it was announced recently that the contest would take place at Ryan Field – Notre Dame’s first trip there in over 40 years.