Notre Dame football reportedly working to add USF to 2020 schedule

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The opening in Notre Dame football’s 2020 schedule for a non-conference opponent could be filled by South Florida.

Irish Illustrated first reported late Wednesday night that the Irish will host the Bulls in Notre Dame Stadium on Sept. 19, the date previously occupied by the MAC-canceled matchup with Western Michigan.

A Notre Dame athletic department spokesperson Thursday could only confirm that Notre Dame is working to add an 11th game to its 10-game ACC schedule. The spokesperson could not confirm the USF report specifically.

The Irish may need to finalize details before an agreement becomes official. Hardly anything regarding the football season is certain right now as Notre Dame’s preparation for its home opener against Duke on Sept. 12 was put on pause as five more players tested positive for COVID-19 this week and six others were placed in quarantine through contact tracing.

The Irish didn’t practice Wednesday, canceled practice for Thursday and won’t resume practice until the medical staff recommends it. The Irish will test players again Friday following tests on Monday and Wednesday.

When Western Michigan dropped off Notre Dame’s schedule as a result of the MAC canceling its fall season on Aug. 8, an ACC official told the Tribune that Notre Dame didn’t have to replace its non-conference game and could opt to play only 10 games.

As a member of the American Athletic Conference, USF has been working to secure a schedule with up to four non-conference games in addition to eight conference games. Only one non-conference game has remained on the schedule: at Florida Atlantic on Sept. 26.

USF head coach Jeff Scott told reporters Saturday that he was optimistic about new games being finalized within the next week. Scott, a former Clemson offensive coordinator, was hired by USF in December to take over a program that finished 4-8 last season.

USF won the only previous meeting between the two teams in 2011. The Irish lost their home opener to the Bulls 23-20 after two weather delays.

USF started its 23-20 victory over Notre Dame in 2011 with cornerback Kayvon Webster, right, returning a fumble for a touchdown. The Irish will reportedly reunite with the Bulls this season for a game at Notre Dame Stadium on Sept. 19.