Notre Dame and Florida set home-and-home football series for 2031-32

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame’s latest scheduled football series with a Southeastern Conference program has head coach Brian Kelly’s vision and athletic director Jack Swarbrick’s fingerprints all over it.

Even if it’s likely neither of them will be more than a bystander when it finally comes around.

On Tuesday, ND and the University of Florida jointly announced a home-and-home series between the two teams, taking place in 2031 and 2032.

The Nov. 15, 2031 Irish home game with the Gators will mark the first regular-season meeting and only the second game ever between the two teams. Notre Dame visits Florida on Sept. 11, 2032.

The only previous clash game came in the Jan. 1, 1992, Sugar Bowl, a 39-28 upset by the No. 18 Irish over No. 3 Florida.

The series falls in line with a scheduling philosophy Kelly and Swarbrick jointly endorsed after the beginning of the College Football Playoff Era, figuring that their 12-game schedules needed to have the same octane as the 13-game slates of many of the teams against which they’d be competing for playoff spots.

The ND-Georgia game, scheduled in 2014 and played in 2017, represented the first game in that commitment.

“It has to have this kind of strength of schedule for it to stand up, and we think it does,” Kelly said of the 2017 Irish schedule at the time.

“So those conversations were about, 'How do we best balance it without it being too strong of a schedule to sustain itself throughout the entire year?' And this game fit pretty good in that balance.”

Until the Georgia game, the Irish hadn’t played a regular-season game against an SEC opponent since a 2005 home game against Tennessee in Charlie Weis’ first season as ND’s head coach.

After the 2017 Georgia game, the Irish played Vanderbilt in 2018, at Georgia in 2019 and would have played Arkansas at home in 2020 had the COVID-19 pandemic not coaxed a shift to primarily all ACC opponents for ND.

In addition to the Gators, the Irish have future SEC scheduling commitments with Texas A&M (2024-25), Arkansas (2025) and Alabama (2028-29).

The only three SEC programs Notre Dame hasn’t faced are Kentucky, Mississippi State and Auburn.

Notre Dame fullback Jerome Bettis (6) runs 46 yards on a draw play and into the end zone for one of his three fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Irish defeated the Florida 39-28, Jan. 1, 1992, in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.