Notre Dame fans have been longing for a night game in Notre Dame Stadium for years with the last such event taking place in 1990 when Notre Dame hosted Michigan – a game in which Rick Mirer made his collegiate debut.
It will be interesting to see what the crowd is like for the first night game in over two decades. For too long the crowds inside Notre Dame Stadium have gotten quieter and quieter. Part of the reason for that has been the on-field product. With a night game and a team that could challenge for a BCS berth, there won’t be any excuse for there being anything other than a raucous atmosphere.
Will the crowd be as intense as it was when Michigan came to town in 1988 and the Irish were given a penalty because the crowd was too loud? That might be wishful thinking, but hopefully there will at least be a little bit more of an edge in the air that night.
Notre Dame and USC have played some great games in South Bend over the last few years (if you take out the clunker in 2007). There was the 2005 epic that will always be remembered for the Bush Push and then there was the 2009 game in which the Irish stormed back in the second half only to come up a few yards and a play short of forcing overtime.
Hopefully the 2011 game will deliver just as entertaining a contest although hopefully the outcome is a little better this time around. Based on where both programs ended 2010, that is certainly a possibility. After breaking USC’s 9 game win streak in the series last year in Los Angeles, Notre Dame will be looking to take down the Trojans at home for the first time since 1999.
Wednesday’s news is also another sign that athletic director Jack Swarbrick is doing all he can to put this program back in the spotlight. A prime time game with a high profile opponent such as USC is sure to draw a lot of attention – something I’m sure the folks over at NBC are appreciative of. Add that to the series he has set up with programs like Texas and Miami and it’s hard not to give him some credit.