Notre Dame Football Schedule 2023: Early Game-By-Game Thoughts

We’ve known the opponents for quite some time now but we haven’t known the official dates the games would all be taking place for Notre Dame football in 2023.  The football program announced the dates of the games that were still to be determined on Wednesday, doing so with the ACC’s release of their 2023 schedule.

Notre Dame opens the year against Navy in Dublin, Ireland before starting the home portion of their schedule a week later against Tennessee State.  Traditional rivals USC and Stanford both have their regular slots while Ohio State and Clemson highlight the biggest games against non-traditional foes.

Here is Notre Dame’s full schedule for 2023 along with a few initial thoughts on each game.

Week 0 - vs. Navy (Dublin, Ireland)

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Location

Aviva Stadium (Dublin, Ireland)

Series Record

Notre Dame leads 81-13-1

Setting the way-too-early stage

The third meeting between Notre Dame and Navy in Dublin was supposed to take place in 2020 before COVID wiped that out.  It’s a unique trip to start the year as Navy breaks in a new head coach for the first time since Ken Niumatalolo took over for Paul Johnson in 2008.  After dropping three-of-four in the series from 2007-2010, Notre Dame has won 10 of the last 11 meetings in the annual meeting.

Week 1 - vs. Tennessee State

USA TODAY SPORTS

Location

Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Series Record

First meeting

Setting the way-too-early stage

Notre Dame will officially cross their name off the short list of schools to have never played an FBS opponent when the Eddie George led Tennessee State Tigers help the Irish open their home slate.  After traveling back from abroad just a week earlier, this should provide a smooth transition to the regular part of the schedule for the Irish.

Week 2 - at North Carolina State

Oct 8, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; Notre Dame’s only previous trip to NC State came on this day when the game was played in the middle of a hurricane and the Irish tried to throw the ball 31 times. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Location

Carter-Finley Stadium (Raleigh, North Carolina)

Series Record

NC State leads 2-1

Setting the way-too-early stage

The first true road game of the year comes with an ACC trek to NC State.  The Wolfpack will be replacing Devin Leary at quarterback with transfer Brennan Armstrong who, when healthy in an offense that matched his skills, was incredibly productive at Virginia.  It’ll be just the second trip to Raleigh ever for Notre Dame – let’s hope there is no hurricane to deal with this time around.

Week 3 - vs. Central Michigan

Brian Kelly pleads his case with an official while Central Michigan head coach in 2006. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Location

Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Series Record

First meeting

Setting the way-too-early stage

This game was originally scheduled when Brian Kelly was still Notre Dame’s head coach as a “thank you” of sorts for what Central Michigan had offered him.  Central Michigan is coming off a campaign that saw them go just 4-8.  They’re coached by former Florida head coach Jim McElwain.

Week 4 - vs. Ohio State

Kyle Robertson-USA TODAY Sports

Location

Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Series Record

Ohio State leads 5-2

Setting the way-too-early stage

After opening 2022 in Columbus, Notre Dame welcomes the Buckeyes in this late-September affair. What helps for Notre Dame is that they’ll have four games to find themselves before the Midwest power makes just their third trip ever to Notre Dame Stadium.  The fact quarterback C.J. Stroud decided to enter the NFL draft will help Notre Dame’s chances against the always loaded Buckeyes.

Week 5 - at Duke

Nov 9, 2019; Durham, NC, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book (12) runs with the ball against Duke Blue Devils safety Michael Carter II (26) and safety Marquis Waters (10) during the second half at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Location

Wallace Wade Stadium (Durham, North Carolina)

Series Record

Notre Dame leads 5-2

Setting the way-too-early stage

Although not normally known for their football prowess, Duke is coming off a 9-4 season under new head coach [autotag]Mike Elko[/autotag] who coordinated Notre Dame’s defense back in 2017.  Although the Irish should be a favorite, this isn’t the gimme it may have appeared just a year ago.  In fact, Duke bested [autotag]Sam Hartman[/autotag] and Wake Forest 34-31 in 2022.

Week 6 - at Louisville

Notre Dame’s Tony Jones, Jr. runs in for a touchdown through the Louisville defense as the Cards fell to the visiting Irish 35-17. Sept. 2, 2019. Credit: USA TODAY SPORTS

Location

Papa John’s Stadium (Louisville, Kentucky)

Series Record

Notre Dame leads 2-1

Setting the way-too-early stage

Louisville could very well be benefiting by the old “addition by subtraction” theory in 2023.  Scott Satterfield left to take the head coaching job at Cincinnati.  Perhaps he saw the writing on the wall for his future at Louisville.  Regardless, former Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm has a track record of pulling big upsets and won’t likely make this easy for Notre Dame, especially with the look-ahead factor largely in play here for the Irish.

Week 7 - vs. USC

Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) runs the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Location

Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Series Record

Notre Dame leads 50-38-5

Setting the way-too-early stage

Regardless of how Notre Dame’s date with Ohio State goes in September, this one could be among the biggest games in college football all season.  USC returns Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Caleb Williams and should be a top 10 team in the country to start the year.  The College Football Playoff will almost certainly go through this game in one way or another.

Week 8 - Bye Week No. 1

[Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

Thanks to playing Week 0 this year, Notre Dame gets two bye weeks.  The first comes two-thirds of the way through the year, following Notre Dame’s home date with USC.  Freeman and the Irish beat BYU in the Shamrock Series last year coming off their only bye week of the season.

Week 9 - vs. Pittsburgh

Oct 13, 2018; South Bend, IN, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers tailback Qadree Ollison (30) is tackled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Khalid Kareem (53) in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Location

Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Series Record

Notre Dame leads 48-21

Setting the way-too-early stage

Playing Pitt seems to almost always turn into an unnecessary pain in the rear end for Notre Dame.  The Irish have taken six of the last seven against the Panthers but four of those wins were by a combined 12 points.  Pitt has seemingly finally found that next level under Pat Narduzzi in recent years and will feature former Notre Dame quarterback [autotag]Phil Jurkovec[/autotag] who transferred from Boston College this off-season (so be sure to check his thoughts on “Shipping up to Boston” on Instagram before kickoff).

Week 10 - at Clemson

Clemson running back Wayne Gallman (9) carries past Notre Dame safety Max Redfield (10) during the 4th quarter Saturday, October 3, 2015 at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium. Credit: USA TODAY SPORTS

Location

Memorial Stadium (Clemson, South Carolina)

Series Record

Clemson leads 4-3

Setting the way-too-early stage

Notre Dame’s biggest road test of 2023 comes the first weekend of November at Clemson.  Dabo Swinney saw the direction things were headed so went and got perhaps the biggest offensive coordinator on the market, Garrett Riley from TCU.  Depending how Notre Dame’s earlier games go with Ohio State and USC, this one very easily feature a couple of top 10 teams vying for a College Football Playoff spot.

Week 11 - Bye Week No. 2

Nov 5, 2022; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Marcus Freeman talks to defensive lineman Justin Ademilola (9) in the first quarter against the Clemson Tigers at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

In a season that sees Notre Dame get the rare two bye weeks, I’d have much preferred to see the Irish land one before either of the USC or Clemson games.  Instead, just two games remain this regular season so this hardly sets up for the traditional “stretch run”.

Week 12 - vs. Wake Forest

WINSTON SALEM, NC – SEPTEMBER 22: Drue Tranquill #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hits Sam Hartman #10 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons during their game at BB&T Field on September 22, 2018 in Winston Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Location

Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Series Record

Notre Dame leads 5-0

Setting the way-too-early stage

Sam Hartman gets to participate in Notre Dame’s senior day as he takes on the team he spent the previous five seasons with.  Coming off a bye and Wake Forest having a lot of replacing to do, you have to like Notre Dame significantly here.  How big of post-season destination will the Irish be playing for is the biggest question.

Week 13 - at Stanford

Nov 27, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Joe Alt (76) blocks Stanford Cardinal linebacker Jordan Fox (10) during the fourth quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Location

Stanford Stadium (Palo Alto, California)

Series Record

Notre Dame leads 22-14

Setting the way-too-early stage

Notre Dame will be looking for payback after their inexplicable home loss to a lowly Stanford squad in 2022.  Troy Taylor takes over for David Shaw this season.  Taylor, a former Cal starting quarterback, led Sacramento State to a 30-8 mark over the last four seasons in FBS competition and helped guide them to their first FBS quarterfinal appearance in program history.

Postseason: Bowl Destination TBD

Notre Dame Fighting Irish players pose with the Ash Verlander Champiojns Trophy after the game of the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl of an NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 30, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish held off the South Carolina Gamecocks 45-38. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

With Ohio State, USC, and Clemson all on the schedule and appearing to be top 10 worthy teams, it’s difficult to set the expectation for 2023 as the College Football Playoff for Notre Dame.  That said, the offense figures on paper to be the most talented and deepest its been in years, so perhaps winning a couple shootouts over marquee opponents and getting to college football’s final four isn’t out of question.

Story originally appeared on Fighting Irish Wire