Wisconsin, Notre Dame reach agreement for football games in 2020 and 2021

Published: Aug. 14, 2017 at 3:28 PM CDT
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CHICAGO – The University of Notre Dame and University of Wisconsin have agreed to a two-year, neutral-site football series beginning in 2020.

The Irish and Badgers will play Oct. 3, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Sept. 25, 2021, at Soldier Field in Chicago. The contests will mark the first meetings between Notre Dame and Wisconsin since a three-game series from 1962-64.

The Irish and Badgers have played on 16 previous occasions, with Notre Dame leading the series 8-6-2. Notre Dame earned a 31-7 victory in the most recent meeting between the schools on Sept. 26, 1964, in Madison, Wisconsin, in Ara Parseghian’s debut as head coach for the Irish. The Irish and Badgers met for the first time on the gridiron on Nov. 10, 1900, when Wisconsin shut out Notre Dame, 54-0. The Badgers captured the first three all-time meetings (1900, 1904, 1905) with the Irish.

Neutral site matchups are nothing new to the Notre Dame-Wisconsin series. The 1904 and 1905 games were played in Milwaukee, while legendary Irish head coach Knute Rockne led Notre Dame to a 19-0 victory over the Badgers on Oct. 19, 1929, at Soldier Field.

Notre Dame has played 12 games at Soldier Field, most recently in 2012 when the Irish routed Miami, (Fla.), 41-3, in a Shamrock Series matchup. The Irish own an all-time record of 10-0-2 in the current home of the Chicago Bears.

Wisconsin has played three games at Soldier Field. In addition to the ’29 meeting with the Irish, the Badgers defeated Great Lakes in 1942 and Northern Illinois in 2011.

Interestingly enough, 2020 will mark Notre Dame’s first-ever appearance at legendary Lambeau Field, which is named after Curly Lambeau – former Irish player and eventual founder of the Green Bay Packers. Wisconsin has played just once in the stadium, last year’s 16-14 victory over No. 5 LSU.

The Wisconsin-Notre Dame meeting in 2020 will mark just the second major college football game in the history of Lambeau Field, and the second college game of any kind since NCAA Division III St. Norbert faced Fordham in 1983.

Notre Dame-Wisconsin Connections

“The Kangaroo Kicker” Pat O’Dea not only was Wisconsin’s first great football star but he also served as Notre Dame’s head football coach. He played for the Badgers from 1896-99 and was a two-time captain. O’Dea was named an All-American in 1899 and helped Wisconsin to a 9-2 record. He was named the fifth head football coach of the Fighting Irish in 1900, and remained in that role for two seasons (1900-01).

Wisconsin basketball coach Walter “Doc” Meanwell established the Badgers into one of the most accomplished basketball programs in the nation in the early 1900s, guiding UW to four Big Ten titles and three Helms Foundation national titles. Knute Rockne, then a young track and field coach and assistant football coach at Notre Dame, admired Meanwell and brought his Irish track squad to Madison. After Rockne took over for Jesse Harper as head football coach in 1918, he continued to coach track and kept in touch with Meanwell, making more visits to Madison.

As Rockne’s football success soared, he was in demand as a presenter on the sport at summer programs of various universities’ physical education departments. He eventually partnered with Meanwell to create the Rockne-Meanwell Coaching School, which had segments for both football and basketball coaches, as well as a program on physical training. From coast to coast, hundreds of high school, prep school, and small college coaches would gather to learn from the pair each summer.

Rockne and Meanwell also combined to publish the first authoritative guidebook on athletic training, injury prevention and treatment.

Harry Stuhldreher, quarterback of the Four Horsemen, immediately jumped into coaching after graduation from Notre Dame in 1925. He served as Villanova’s head coach for 11 seasons before accepting the Wisconsin head football coach and athletic director position in 1936.

Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame and legendary Green Bay Packer, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

Current Wisconsin athletic director and former Badgers head football coach Barry Alvarez was an assistant coach at Notre Dame from 1987-89. He was promoted (linebackers to defensive coordinator to assistant head coach) by Lou Holtz in each of his three seasons. The Irish went 32-5 in Alvarez’s three seasons and won the 1988 national title.

· The 2020 and 2021 games against Notre Dame are the only future regular season games for the Badgers currently slated to be played in NFL stadiums.