Conflicting Reports on Impact of Notre Dame – Stanford Series with ACC Expansion

While there seems to be no doubt the the series will continue, how it counts towards Notre Dame's ACC obligation is still unclear.

The ACC officially added Stanford, Cal, and SMU on Friday as part of the latest NCAA expansion. Notre Dame was instrumental in the move, as Jack Swarbrick said weeks ago that Stanford shouldn’t be left out of a conference after the Pac-12 folded. The question now for Notre Dame is how the yearly Notre Dame – Stanford rivalry game will count on the Irish’s schedule.

There were some conflicting reports on how the game would be counted on Friday with regard to Notre Dame’s contractual obligation to play five ACC games a year.

Brian Murphy reported that Stanford essentially would be in the rotation to play Notre Dame like every other ACC school, and when it was their turn to play the Irish, the game would count as one of the five. The two schools could then schedule each other in other years as an out-of-conference game.

However, Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic said that based on her talks with Stanford’s AD, the game would always be an out-of-conference game and that Stanford would play 8 ACC opponents each year in addition to Notre Dame.

The big takeaway is that the series appears not to be in jeopardy moving forward. The ideal scenario for Notre Dame would be the one outlined by Murphy, where the game counts as one of the five ACC games when it’s Stanford’s turn in the Notre Dame/ACC rotation. That would give Notre Dame the flexibility to schedule another game outside of its ACC obligation.

Other than 2020, when pandemic-related schedule changes canceled the Notre Dame – Stanford game, the two have met yearly since 1997 and have met all but three seasons since 1988.

Notre Dame holds a 22-14 lead all-time in the series, with The Cardinal gaining ground during the tenure of Brian Kelly when Notre Dame inexplicably lost 6 of 11 contests during his 11 seasons in South Bend. Marcus Freeman didn’t get off to a great start in the rivalry either, with Stanford registering one of the season’s biggest upsets last year in South Bend. The two square off again this fall when Notre Dame travels to the Farm to end the 2023 regular season.

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