Back in 2010 Notre Dame and BYU agreed to a 6 game series as college football’s two most prominent independent institutions partnered to boost each other’s schedules. After Notre Dame’s agreement with the ACC six years ago though, half of the games ended up being canceled after just two had been played. The remaining game, however, has been up in the air for the last few years. According to the Daily Herald in Provo, it sounds like the game might after.
Speaking at BYU’s media day, Cougar AD Tom Holmoe sounded a little more than optimistic about the possibility of the game being played before 2021 as the original agreement called for.
“What we have coming is better than a check,” (Tom) Holmoe said.
Notre Dame and BYU played home games in back to back seasons in 2012 and 2013 – both Irish victories – at the start of the agreement. Notre Dame, however, has not yet repaid the favor with a home game for BYU. Should the two never end up squaring off in Provo, Notre Dame would simply need to cut a check to the Cougars this the reference to a check by Holmoe.
For it not to come to a check for BYU, the game will almost certainly have to be in 2021 with both the 2019 and 2020 Notre Dame schedules currently full with 12 games each. The 2021 schedule still has one open slot available on it.
The five ACC opponents in 2021 are Florida State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech. Yearly rivals Stanford, Navy, and USC take us to eight games. Toledo, Wisconsin, and Purdue make 11. FSU, Virginia Tech, Virginia, and Stanford are true road games with Wisconsin a neutral site home game at Soldier Field.
Adding in a true road game at BYU would give Notre Dame 5 true road games, 6 home games, and 1 neutral site home game. Would Notre Dame try to squeeze in another neutral site game with BYU to make room? They probably have some leverage here as any game against Notre Dame is likely more preferable for the Cougars than not having Notre Dame on their schedule at all. That said, a 6-5-1 breakdown isn’t a terrible mix depending on how the October games gets aligned.
As one of the only other major independent teams in the FBS, it would be nice to see Notre Dame and BYU make this game happen. Notre Dame hasn’t played at BYU since the ill-fated 2004 game that was moved to be the season opener to serve as a “tune-up” game before Michigan came to town the following week. The Irish would go on to lose 17-20 to start Tyrone Willingham’s third and final season in South Bend.
The only other time Notre Dame played in Provo was 1993 when Lou Holtz and Kevin McDougal led the Irish to a 45-20 victory. McDougal ended up suffering a shoulder injury in that game that caused him to the miss the USC game the following week. Paul Failla filled in for McDougal against the Trojans and guided the Irish to victory.
A potential 2021 schedule including BYU doesn’t offer too many opportunities for breaks in the action for the Irish. Toledo and Purdue could be good tune up opportunities, but depending on what Jeff Brohm does at Purdue, who knows what the Boilermakers will be like by 2021.
Adding BYU in a silo in 2021 wouldn’t greatly increase the difficulty of the schedule, but it would create a bit of a weird schedule where the Irish would be playing a lot of pretty good teams without too many elite opponents. That type of schedule could end up featuring as many as 11 opponents who qualify for a bowl game.
All that said, an October trip to Provo, Utah (since the game would have to be in October) to play BYU could be another game to add to our list of can’t miss road games for Notre Dame fans over the next five years.