Notre Dame might have Georgia on its mind, but the Southeastern Conference has been wholly absent from the Irish regular-season schedule for a decade.
Georgia’s 2017 trip to South Bend will mark Notre Dame’s first regular-season SEC opponent since 2005, when the Irish beat Tennessee, 41-21.
Notre Dame has only played current SEC opponents 44 times, a stark contrast to its history with the Big Ten (376 games), Atlantic Coast (193), Pacific 12 (147).
There might not be much recent history between Notre Dame and the SEC, but Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick is making a point to rectify that. Notre Dame has a four-game series with Texas scheduled for 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020, but Swarbrick told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy that he’d be willing to reschedule with the Longhorns to make room for Georgia.
Notre Dame-Georgia makes sense from a recruitment standpoint, too. The Irish have plucked stalwarts like Stephon Tuitt and T.J. Jones from the Peach State in the past and look to expand their presence in SEC territory.
“We're looking for matchups down the road that geographically make sense to us,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said in April, when a potential Georgia series was first discussed. “That Atlanta area, that SEC area — and Atlanta is a big area. We've hit Dallas, obviously, we know that's a great area for us. We're going to keep looking for geographical areas that make sense for us. We gotta look at geographical areas that we're recruiting, Atlanta's one of the areas that we gotta keep getting in.”
According to Notre Dame’s 2013 Media Guide, the Irish are 26-18 against current SEC opponents. Here’s how they break down:
||ND’s record vs.
||Years played (ND wins bolded, * denotes bowl game)
||1973, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1986, 1987, 2012*
||1970, 1971, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1997, 1997*, 1998, 2006*
||1970, 1972, 1978, 1984
||1976, 1979, 1983, 1984
||1978, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005
||1987*, 1992*, 1993*, 2000, 2001
Some notes that pop out of these numbers:
- Notre Dame has never played Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky or Mississippi State.
- Notre Dame’s first-ever SEC opponent was LSU in 1970, a game the Irish won 3-0.
- The Irish have an overall winning record against the SEC, but are just 3-5 against the conference in bowl games.
- Notre Dame is 18-13 against the original SEC teams (which excludes Missouri, Texas A&M, Arkansas and South Carolina).
- The 1970s and 1980s were big years for Notre Dame-SEC matchups. The Irish played current SEC schools 26 times in those two decades.
- Notre Dame is 3-4 against SEC opponents since the turn of the century.