By Matt Heinz @MattHeinz_Rant on August 14, 2014
Like every year, the Fighting Irish are on national television every week this season, but five games are especially important. Head coach Brian Kelly will get an experienced mobile quarterback to run his offense for the first time in his five years in South Bend. Everett Golson is back and the Irish begin their five-game ACC requirement in 2014, so the schedule will look different for the Fighting Irish. Here are the five must-watch games.
Arizona State has had this game circled for a couple of years now. Just like the last time the Irish came to Tempe in 1997, the ASU athletic department is not allowing fans to purchase a single game ticket, instead forcing them to buy a group or season ticket package. The Sun Devils will have one of the best offenses in the nation in 2014. QB Taylor Kelly, RB D.J. Foster and WR Jaelen Strong all will be in contention for first team All-Pac 12.
When the teams agreed to play every year in 1988, Stanford was considered an academic institution that happened to play football and ND won a National Championship that season. Since Jim Harbaugh arrived in 2007 the entire culture of Stanford football changed. They are the most physical team in the nation and don’t back down to anyone. Notre Dame leads the series 18-10 but Stanford has won four out of the last five.
This game has had a direct impact on the eventual national championships numerous times over the 85 games they have played. The winner gets the Jeweled Shillelagh trophy in what has turned into college football’s best intersectional rivalry. The Irish have won three out of the last four while USC previously had won eight in a row. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, Lane Kiffin is no longer the coach; the Trojans now have Steve Sarkisian at the helm.
The Seminoles and Heisman winning QB Jameis Winston are fresh off a National Championship run and don’t look to be slowing down any time soon. These two powerhouses squared off in 1993 in what was dubbed “the game of the century” when No. 2 Notre Dame defeated No. 1 Florida State and the Heisman winning QB Charlie Ward. Astoundingly, both teams ended up with one loss for the year but FSU was crowned National Champion even though they lost to ND.
The two winningest teams in college football have created quite a rivalry over the years. Michigan is 24-16-1 all-time against the Irish and has won four out of the last five. Irish fans had their hearts broken in the last minute by Tate Forcier, Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner recently. The lone Irish win during that stretch came in 2012 behind Manti Teo’s two interceptions. Sadly, this is the last time these teams will meet for a while.
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