Notre Dame played its first home prime time again in over 20 years last fall when they hosted rival USC under the lights of Notre Dame Stadium. Turns out Notre Dame fans won’t have to wait another 20 years for a home night game – we won’t even have to a full year with the annual showdown with Michigan slated to kick off at 7:30 local time.
Last year’s USC game, the first home night game for Notre Dame since 1990, was seen as a huge success for Notre Dame everywhere but on the scoreboard and at the time athletic director Jack Swarbrick said that Notre Dame would use the experience to determine if they would add more night games in the future. Looks like Swarbrick and the athletic department determined that it made sense for more home night games for the Irish.
Notre Dame pulled out all of the stops last year when they held their first home night game in over two decades. They introduced new helmets, played music over the PA for the first time ever to get the crowd going, and hosted an impressive list of recruits all of which made for an incredible weekend in South Bend. That was until the team came out flat and the crowd died out early, but that’s neither here nor there at this point.
Notre Dame and Michigan also played in the first night game ever at Michigan Stadium last year – a gut-wrenching, last second loss by Notre Dame that feature a furious fourth quarter comeback by the Wolverines. The two last played under the lights of Notre Dame Stadium in 1990 when Notre Dame knocked off Michigan in the first home game of the career of Rick Mirer.
Michigan has now won the last three meetings against the Irish – all last minute wins in games in which the Irish held the lead late in he fourth quarter before surrendering last second touchdowns to Michigan. Those three straight losses will make this year’s contest even more important for Brian Kelly as he looks to notch his first win against Michigan while preventing Brady Hoke from starting 2-0 against the Irish.
Notre Dame will open it’s season with a trip to Dublin to face off against Navy and then hosting Purdue before the Wolverines come to town.
A week later when Notre Dame and Miami square off in the annual off-site game, the Irish will once again be playing in prime time with another 7:30 ET kickoff.