Irish fan or not, if you’ve never seen a game in the shadows of the Golden Dome, you have done yourself a disservice. Situated at the southern shore of Lake Michigan, South Bend, Indiana is the home to perhaps the crown jewel of the Midwest, the University of Notre Dame. The Irish have seven home games in 2017, so of course I had to rank them based on 2 characteristics: Entertainment Value (EV) and Significance (S). Each characteristic was given a grade on a scale of 1-10.
(Side note: I decided to only rank the home games because I have not attended all of the campuses/stadiums where Notre Dame will be playing away games in 2017.)
1.) USC (October 21st) – EV: 10 S: 10
Notre Dame – USC is one of the premier college football rivalries. Despite some of the recent results of the match ups played in Los Angeles, the games have been close when the teams have met in South Bend. There’s a good chance that the Trojans will be ranked in the top 10 when they make the trip to South Bend this October. If all goes well for the Irish next season, this could shape up to be a high profile match up with College Gameday potential. Not that this game needed any additional hype.
2.) Georgia (September 9th) – EV: 10 S: 9
There is bound to be plenty of excitement on campus when the Bulldogs make their first ever trip to South Bend. The only previous match up between Notre Dame and Georgia was in the 1981 Sugar Bowl. This will be Notre Dame’s first match up against an SEC opponent in the regular season since the 2005 season. In recent years, the SEC has been viewed as the gold standard in college football. Every fan base wants to see how their team compares to an SEC opponent. Irish fans will find that out in the second game of the 2017 season.
3.) Temple (September 2nd) – EV: 10 S: 6
The most appealing thing about this game is the date. Not only is it the first game of the season, it is also the home opener. The Campus Crossroads project is being completed, Brian Kelly is on the hot seat, and Brandon Wimbush is now leading the Irish offense. After an underwhelming 2016 season, Irish fans are eager to see their team make some serious improvements in 2017. I expect Notre Dame to make a bold statement to start their 2017 season.
4.) Navy (November 18th) – EV: 8 S: 7
Notre Dame – Navy is another historic college football rivalry. This game is always fun (and frustrating) to watch. Sure, one’s appreciation for this game may waiver when Navy dominates time of possession and rushes for over 200 yards, but watching the two teams come together at the end of the game to sing each school’s Alma Mater reminds Irish fans of the importance of this great rivalry.
5.) NC State (October 28th) – EV: 7 S: 6
I’m sure we’re all very interested to see how these two teams match up outside of a hurricane. The NC State offense should be easier to contain without Matthew Dayes. Irish fans will be hoping for favorable weather conditions and some pay back.
6.) Wake Forest (November 4th) – EV: 4 S: 4
Mike Elko’s former team will make the trip up to South Bend to face-off against a (hopefully) much improved Notre Dame defense. The past few meetings between these two teams have ended in easy Irish victories. Let’s hope that trend continues.
7.) Miami (OH) (September 30th) – EV: 3 S: 4
Two words: trap game. Former Notre Dame assistant coach Chuck Martin leads the Redhawks into South Bend for Notre Dame’s third home game of 2017. Martin left to become the head coach at Miami (OH) after the 2013 season. The Irish will probably be heavily favored in this game, and they might be looking ahead to their first tough road test (at North Carolina) the following week.