In the Fighting Irish's long and storied history there are still some big-time programs they have never faced on the gridiron
This week’s Notre Dame vs. Clemson matchup will be the third in a series that has seen two dramatic comebacks. The first in 1977 saw Joe Montana lead the Irish on a fourth-quarter resurgence en route to a national title. In the second in 1979, Clemson roared back from a 10-0 halftime deficit to win 16-10. Those two games are just part of a storied Notre Dame history that touches every major program in college football. Well, almost every program.
Since fielding it first team in 1887, the Irish have operated as an Independent, scheduling series with an unprecedented range of programs. Between the regular season and bowl games, Notre Dame has played nearly every big-time program in college football. Here are six that the Irish have never played.
Sports Illustrated noted that a booster told then head coach Frank Broyles in the early 1960s that if Arkansas was “tryin' to win a lot of ball games, it would be nice to have several Northwest Louisianas on [its] schedule." Broyles yelled, "Brother, you're so right." It’s doubtful this tongue-in-cheek exchange impacted Broyles scheduling decisions as coach and then athletic director, but the Irish and Razorbacks have never played.
If Auburn had not been on probation in 1993, there is always the possibility that its undefeated season could have culminated in a Sugar Bowl matchup with Notre Dame. That’s about the closest these two teams have ever come to playing each other.
To give you a little perspective here, Knute Rockne had already passed away before Boise State University was even formed. The Broncos’ success since joining the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in 1995 has been consistently stronger than the Irish during the same period. Thus, a matchup pitting college football’s biggest upstart program against its most storied would garner a lot of hype.
The first FBS program to lose 500 games had very little success before the arrival of head coach Bill Snyder. Since then, the Wildcats have consistently won and generally scheduled one tough non-conference opponent a year. That foe has never been Notre Dame.
Of the three major programs in Oklahoma, Notre Dame has lost to two of them, Oklahoma and Tulsa. It has never even taken the field against Oklahoma State.
Thanks to Notre Dame's recent scheduling partnership with the ACC this list will soon be whittled down by one. The Hokies will make their first-ever trip to South Bend in November 2016.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.