The first casualty for Notre Dame in what figures to be at best a major 2020 schedule reconfiguration and, at worst, cancelation of the season, was the long-awaited and much-ballyhooed Wisconsin matchup in Lambeau Field in October. While Notre Dame has expressed interest in rescheduling the game in the future, logistics point out that it might not be possible until 2026 at the earliest.
Shortly after the news of the Big 10 moving to conference only schedules this year broke, thus canceling the game at Lambeau, Notre Dame’s PR department put out a short statement from AD Jack Swarbrick.
— Notre Dame Football PR Team (@NDFootballPR) July 9, 2020
While that’s great for 2021, the game at Soldier Field was not the headliner of the agreement between Notre Dame and Wisconsin. No offense to Bears fans reading this, but Soldier Field doesn’t have the allure of Lambeau – especially since it now looks like a spaceship from outside. I say this as an Eagles fan who would say the same thing about Lincoln Financial Field as well. Neither of those two is Lambeau Field.
It makes sense for Notre Dame and Wisconsin to try to reschedule that game, but to do so, the two sides will either have to wait until 2026, or Wisconsin will have to get out of a contract before then. The Badges out of conference schedule is fully booked through 2025.
The earliest the game could happen is 2022 since the Irish and Badgers are still scheduled for 2021 at Soldier Field, so let’s look at the future out of conference opponents Wisconsin has lined up started in 2022.
- 2022: Washington State, New Mexico State, Illinois State
- 2023: Washington State, Buffalo, Georgia Southern
- 2024: Western Michigan, South Dakota, Alabama
- 2025: Miami (OH), North Texas, Alabama
In looking at that slate, it’s tough to see a year that makes a lot of sense for Wisconsin. There’s no way Wisconsin will schedule Notre Dame and Alabama in the same year – no one would. So forget about 2024 and 2025.
That leaves 2022 and 2023. There are games there that Wisconsin could buy their way out of, but do they then want to play Washington State and Notre Dame before their Big 10 schedule? I wouldn’t if I were them. Washington State isn’t a powerhouse, but they are a solid program.
Reminder: Wisconsin’s two out of conference games other than Notre Dame in 2020 were Appalachain State and Southern Illinois.
There is also Notre Dame’s schedule to consider. Notre Dame has one open slot in 2022 and two in 2023, but in 2022 Notre Dame already has Ohio State, Clemson, USC, and Stanford lined up. It makes zero sense to try and squeeze in Wisconsin too. Those same four are on the 2023 schedule as well—no way Notre Dame considers adding Wisconsin to that murderer’s row.
That takes us to 2026. Wisconsin has Pitt and Western Illinois scheduled. Is Pitt and Notre Dame too much for Wisconsin before Big 10 play? Maybe. That Pitt series is a home and home though, so if they decide it is, well, then we could be waiting almost a decade for Notre Dame and Wisconsin to play at Lambeau Field.