At 9:00 AM this morning, we learned Notre Dame’s new, updated 2020 football schedule, and the biggest surprise was that Western Michigan, not Navy, is the lone “out of conference” game for Notre Dame this fall. The annual Notre Dame – Navy game is just the latest loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Notre Dame and Navy have met 94 times in the history of the longest, continuous intersectional rivalry in college sports. That streak ends in 2020 just a year after Notre Dame’s sellout streak ended with Navy’s visit to Notre Dame Stadium in 2019.
Notre Dame joining the ACC for the 2020 season because of the pandemic somewhat forced Notre Dame’s hand here. The ACC’s rules for 2020 allow for just one out of conference game that must be played in a state with an ACC program. Notre Dame and Navy were set to play in the Marine Corps Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, for the first time in the history of the series. There is no ACC program in Maryland, though, so Notre Dame and Navy would have had to find a new venue and date for the game.
The date and location of Notre Dame – Navy in 2020 had been changed once before. The game was initially scheduled to be played the last weekend of August in Dublin, Ireland, for the third time in the series. That was scrapped early on during the pandemic when it was abundantly clear that international travel would be off the table for the 2020 season.
Keeping Western Michigan was the easiest solution for Notre Dame since the game was scheduled for Notre Dame Stadium in late September. No changes at all were needed to keep the Western Michigan game as Notre Dame’s only out of conference game for the year.
It’s unfortunate that Notre Dame will now not be playing all of their traditional, annual rivals in 2020 as Navy joins Stanford and USC as schedule losses this fall. Right now though, there isn’t a whole lot happening that is ideal around the country so just added it to the list reasons why everyone is ready for 2020 to be over already.
Some fans, who have grown tired of the Navy series, won’t be upset about the news; but I am not one of those fans. I am of the mentality that there isn’t a reason for Notre Dame to ever struggle with Navy and that the game should be maintained as long as Navy wants it to be. Its place in college football history is unquestioned.
Hopefully, this is just a minor setback in the history of the series and the two are able to play again in 2021. It would be even more ideal if that game was played in Marine Corps Stadium since that was going to be another interesting wrinkle in the history of the series.
We’ll have more on the full impact of Notre Dame’s new 2020 schedule to follow.