NBC officially announced the start times for all seven of the Notre Dame football games on the 2020 schedule they will broadcast in 2020 – six at Notre Dame and one off-site at Lambeau Field on Friday. Fans of the Fighting Irish should get used to some late nights this fall with three Notre Dame home games officially kicking off in primetime.
The three primetime matchups for the Irish include the Shamrock Series contest against Wisconsin on October 3 (at Lambeau Field), Stanford’s October 10 biannual visit to South Bend, and Clemson’s first trip to Notre Dame Stadium since 1979 on November 7. All three kickoff at 7:30 PM ET.
Only one Notre Dame game televised on NBC in 2019 was in primetime – Notre Dame’s 30-27 victory over USC on October 12.
Interestingly enough, three Notre Dame games will also kickoff in the 2:30 time slot in 2020 – another increase from most years for Notre Dame on NBC. Arkansas on September 12, Western Michigan on September 19, and Louisville on November 21 all get the earlier 2:30 kickoff.
That leaves just one of the seven home games in 2020 kicking off at the traditional 3:30 timeslot – Duke on October 31. As someone currently planning on running the NYC Marathon again this year on November 1, I am just thankful that there isn’t a primetime game the night before like there was two years ago when I ran it after staying up to watch Notre Dame beat Northwestern.
The three primetime kickoffs are sure to ruffle some feathers amongst the Notre Dame fan base. Primetime kickoffs are another one of those topics that generally triggers many in the old guard. Considering Notre Dame only reintroduced primetime games in 2011 for the USC game, three in 2020 is a bit excessive.
From a pure football standpoint, having the Clemson game at night could help Notre Dame a bit if the weather cooperates and delivers a dose of cold weather for a team from the south. The Wisconsin game was always going to be a night game considering it’s Notre Dame and Wisconsin’s first meeting since 1964, and the game is in Lambeau Field. These two games will likely define the 2020 season for Notre Dame.
Having Stanford as a night game in 2020 is a bit of a questionable call, though. The Cardinal have not been the same program they’ve been the last couple of years, and with the mass exodus of Stanford players that entered the transfer portal this off-season, it’s hard to imagine they will return to their recent status as an elite program in 2020. Notre Dame has beaten Stanford by 21 points in each of the last two seasons. Next year’s contest is now the third straight meeting between the two in Notre Dame Stadium treated to a primetime kickoff.
Depending on how Pitt’s season shakes out, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Notre Dame’s trip to Pittsburgh on October 17 gets a primetime kickoff. If it does, Notre Dame will play in primetime.