SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Another Notre Dame rivalry game is biting the dust.
Purdue announced on Thursday it has joined Pittsburgh and Michigan on the list of teams that usually play the Fighting Irish on an annual or near-annual basis but won’t be any longer. Notre Dame’s annual game against Michigan State could be the next to fall.
Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick didn’t respond to a telephone message seeking comment, but he is expected to discuss future schedules on Friday. Senior associate athletic director John Heisler said the university wouldn’t comment until it is ready to release its full schedule, which should come “soon.”
Purdue said the teams, which have played annually since 1946 and 85 times overall, will meet in Indianapolis next season as part of the Shamrock Series home games the Fighting Irish play every season away from South Bend, and then not play again until 2020. Next year’s night game will be played Sept. 13 at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts.
Some Irish fans scoff at the notion of this being a rivalry game, since the Irish lead the series 57-26-2. But the Boilermakers have had some stunning upsets against Notre Dame, earning them the title of “Spoilermakers.”
The first occurred in 1950, after the Irish had won 14 of the previous 15 games between 1906 and 1949 and had won two national championships in three years. They were unbeaten in 39 games dating back to 1945 when Purdue upset the top-ranked Irish coached by Frank Leahy 28-14 in South Bend.
The Boilermakers have beaten the Irish three other times when they were ranked No. 1, including handing the Irish their only loss in 1954 when Len Dawson, then a sophomore, threw four touchdown passes. Purdue also beat top-ranked Irish teams coached by Ara Parseghian in 1965 and 1967. In 1968, top-ranked Purdue beat No. 2 Notre Dame 37-22.
But the Irish have beaten the Boilermakers six straight times and eight of nine.
The two schools end the annual game on a more pleasant note than the Michigan series, which also ends next season. The two schools announced in 2007 that they had agreed to play annually through the 2031 season. But on the field before last season’s game, Swarbrick handed Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon a letter informing him the school was canceling games after 2015.
The decision to end both series is the result of Notre Dame agreeing to play five games a season against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents when it joined the conference in most other sports. That also means Notre Dame will likely play ACC-member Pittsburgh once every three years. The Irish have played the Panthers 69 times.
Swarbrick has said the Irish are committed to playing a schedule of six home games, five road games and a Shamrock Series games, with five games against ACC opponents and annual games against Southern Cal, Navy and Stanford. That only leaves room for one more road game a season.
Brandon said before the Wolverines faced Notre Dame this season that it would be a long time before the Irish return to Ann Arbor for a football game, and over the summer Michigan coach Brady Hoke told a group of Wolverines supporters that Notre Dame was “chickening out” of the series.
The Boilermakers took a different approach, with Burke saying he and Swarbrick had “tried everything we could to keep the series going without interruption. But, between the Big Ten going to a nine-game schedule and Notre Dame’s affiliation with the Atlantic Coast Conference, it just didn’t work out.”
He did announce, though, the teams will play at Purdue on Sept. 19, 2020; at Notre Dame on Sept. 18, 2021; at Purdue on Sept. 14, 2024; at Notre Dame on Sept. 13, 2025; and at an undetermined neutral site in 2026.
“The series is important to both schools, and we are pleased that we are able to extend it through 2026,” Burke said.
Purdue also announced it will host Virginia Tech on Sept. 19, 2015, and travel to Blacksburg, Va., for a game Sept. 9, 2023. The school said it will play Eastern Kentucky in 2016 instead of 2017 and that it moved its 2016 game against Cincinnati back a week to Sept. 10. It also said it is in the process of finalizing an agreement for a home-and-home series against Missouri in 2017 and 2018.
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