Northwestern finalized their 2018 schedule on Wednesday and when they did there was a bit of a surprise. Their 2018 home game against Notre Dame will be played at Ryan Field – not Soldier Field or some other larger venue. Notre Dame will be making the trip to the 47,310 capacity venue for the first time since 1976 on November 3, 2018.
While Notre Dame’s trip to Ryan Field will be their first in over 40 years next fall, the Irish are no stranger to Northwestern’s homefield. Notre Dame has played Northwestern on their home turf 23 times with a record of 18-4-1 in those contests.
There was speculation that this game would be played at Wrigley Field and was almost widely assumed that if wasn’t in Wrigley it would be in Soldier Field for a larger venue. Soldier Field holds 61,500 versus Ryan Field’s 47,310. By not playing the game at Soldier Field the two schools are sacrificing a lot of revenue but will be creating a crazy atmosphere on Northwestern’s campus. While the Wildcats routinely play major Big 10 powers on their home field, Notre Dame’s first trip to Ryan Field in over 40 years is going to be one hell of an environment. And one heck of a fun road game to attend for fans who can spend the rest of the weekend in Chicago.
Since Dan Devine lead the Irish to a 48-0 victory in Evanston in 1976, Notre Dame and Northwestern have played “home” games for the Wildcats twice but both contests took place in Solider Field. The most recent being the 1994 season opener in which Ron Powlus made his much anticipated collegiate debut by throwing four touchdowns prompting Beano Cook’s infamous Heismans (plural) prediction.
Can Notre Dame End The Streak?
Notre Dame will be looking for some revenge when the two square off next season. The Wildcats upset Notre Dame 43-40 in OT during its 2014 second half nose dive. The Irish jumped out to a 20-9 first quarter lead that afternoon, but couldn’t hold on to multiple leads throughout the game before finally falling on Senior Day.
Notre Dame has actually dropped their last two games against Northwestern. Gary Barnett led Northwestern into Notre Dame Stadium for the 1995 season opener and pulled off what looked like a monumental upset at the time. That Wildcats team, however, ended up winning the Big 10 and playing in the Rose Bowl in 1995.
And Can Notre Dame Avoid the Trap?
The November 3 contest between the two will fall the week after Notre Dame’s yearly contest with Navy. Hopefully the Irish won’t be suffering from the dreaded Navy triple option hangover. This one becomes even more of a trap game when you consider that Notre Dame will be hosting Florida State the following weekend in what figures to be one of the biggest games of the 2018 season.