- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Notre Dame has played opponents currently in the SEC just 43 times, winning 26 of those contests. The Irish have never faced Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky or Mississippi State. They have faced Florida and Georgia just once apiece, with the Bulldogs being the only SEC team to boast a winning record against them. They have faced LSU the most, going 5-5 against the Tigers in 10 matchups.
With Saturday's SEC title game in Atlanta essentially serving as a play-in contest for the national championship game, with Notre Dame awaiting the winner, we take a look at the Irish's history against the nation's current best conference.
(All rankings are from the AP poll that week. Source: Notre Dame's 2012 media guide.)
Alabama, 5-1. The Irish and Tide have met six times, with the most recent game coming in 1987, when the No. 7 Irish beat the visiting 10th-ranked Tide 37-6. Two of these matchups have come in the postseason, with No. 3 Notre Dame topping No. 1 Alabama 24-23 in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, one year before beating the Tide in the Orange Bowl, 13-11. Notre Dame was No. 9 in that game, Alabama No. 2. The Tide's only win over the Irish was a 28-10 win in 1986, when they were ranked second overall and Notre Dame was unranked.
Florida, 1-0. The No. 18 Irish beat the No. 3 Gators, 39-28, in the 1991 Sugar Bowl.
Georgia, 0-1. The No. 1 Bulldogs topped the No. 7 Irish, 17-10, in the 1980 Sugar Bowl.
LSU, 5-5. These two have met twice in the postseason, with the No. 4 Tigers routing the No. 11 Irish, 41-14, in the 2006 Sugar Bowl, a year before returning to the scene to win the national title. The No. 15 Tigers beat unranked Notre Dame 27-9 in the 1997 Independence Bowl, too. Notre Dame is 3-1 against LSU at home and 2-2 on the road.
Mississippi, 1-1. The unranked Rebels beat the visiting No. 3 Irish, 20-13, in 1977 before falling in South Bend in 1985, 37-14.
Missouri, 2-2. Notre Dame is 0-2 at home against the Tigers and 2-0 on the road. Go figure. Both home losses (1972, 1978) came when a top-10 Irish team fell to an unranked Missouri squad (30-26, 3-0). The No. 3 Irish won at No. 18 Missouri, 24-7, in 1970 and again in their most recent meeting, a 16-14 victory in 1984, when they were ranked 19th.
South Carolina, 3-1. An unranked Notre Dame team lost the most recent meeting with the Gamecocks, falling 36-32 on the road to the No. 11 team in the country in 1984. Notre Dame won the three previous matchups — in 1976, 1979 and 1983 — with the 13-6 road win in 1976 coming as the only meeting between these two as ranked teams (Irish 12th, USC 19th).
Tennessee, 4-4. The No. 8 Irish won the most recent matchup, 41-21, in 2005, one year after a 17-13 road win against the No. 9 Volunteers. Both teams are 2-2 at home and on the road against each other.
Texas A&M, 3-2. A matchup this year would settle this Heisman debate, no? The first three of these meetings came in the Cotton Bowl, in 1987, 1992 and 1993. Both teams were ranked in all three matchups, with the Irish winning the last two. An unranked Irish team beat the No. 23 Aggies, 24-10, in 2000 before falling in College Station a year later, 24-3.
Vanderbilt, 2-0. The No. 24 Irish beat the visiting Commodores 24-0 in 1995 before winning in Nashville a year later as the nation's sixth-ranked team, 14-7.