Michigan will be off the regular season docket after the 2014 season, the future slots with Michigan State and Purdue might not be annual anymore… but the show will go on with the Notre Dame-USC rivalry.
Notre Dame will attempt to defeat USC in back to back years this season for the first time since 1999-2001.
Begun in 1926, the Notre Dame-USC series has been played annually, other than a three-year hiatus from 1943-45 because of World War II and the necessity to limit cross-country travel costs.
The two schools have agreed to extend their classic intersectional series through at least 2023, as announced by USC’s athletic administration.
With Notre Dame required to play five ACC games per year starting in 2014, a new Pac-12 scheduling format for USC (including the first Pac-12 championship playoff game played last year), and the need by BCS-level schools to regularly play seven home games per season, there was a question of whether the traditional format of the Notre Dame-USC game would be able to continue. That inquiry was answered earlier this week.
“Not only are we pleased to be able to extend our storied series with Notre Dame, but we were able to keep the game on the traditional dates of Thanksgiving weekend in Los Angeles and mid-October in South Bend,” said USC athletics director Pat Haden.
Until John McKay’s arrival as the USC head coach in 1960, Notre Dame’s game with the Trojans was played in late November — home or away — most often as the regular season finale. McKay lobbied to have the game at Notre Dame moved to October, when the northern Indiana autumn is still relatively tame compared to the frost that often accompanies late November days.
The first such game at Notre Dame was played Oct. 14, 1961 (a 30-0 Notre Dame victory in the year prior to McKay’s first national title), and it has continued with that pattern ever since.
In addition to the five future ACC contests per year, the three annual games on the preferred list for Notre Dame remain USC, Navy (uninterrupted since 1927) and Stanford. The game with the Cardinal allows Notre Dame to visit California every year because the game there would be in odd-numbered years to complement the even-numbered visits to USC.
Notre Dame leads 44-35-5 in its series with USC and has won the last two meetings in Los Angeles. At home, it currently has a five-game losing streak to the Trojans, one short of the school record six it had versus Michigan State from 1997-2007. The last time Notre Dame defeated USC at home was Oct. 20, 2001 (27-16) during head coach Bob Davie’s last season with the Irish.