- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wednesday's release of the 2014 ACC schedule means 11 of Notre Dame's 12 opponents next season have released their entire slates. The outlier? Rice, which opens at Notre Dame in 2014.
With that in mind, let's take a quick look at some early impressions of where the Irish fall in respect to their opponents' schedules next season.
Aug. 30, vs. Rice: This is the season opener, so all things will be equal when the Irish meet the defending Conference USA champions, though we do know the Owls will host New Mexico State before traveling to Texas A&M in the ensuing two weeks. Not too bad of an early-season nonconference gauntlet for Rice.
Sept. 6, vs. Michigan: The Wolverines open with Appalachian State, so the lead up to the grand finale with Notre Dame may have to wait another week as Michigan focuses on revenge for the 2007 fiasco. Michigan follows its trip to South Bend, Ind., by hosting some familiar Irish faces as Miami (Ohio) comes to town.
Sept. 13, vs. Purdue (Shamrock Series in Indianapolis): The Boilermakers host Central Michigan the week before, then host Southern Illinois the week after. Purdue won't leave the state -- and, really, its part of the state -- for the first month until it visits Illinois on Oct. 4. This is a far cry from its 2013 nonconference schedule, when it traveled to Cincinnati and hosted Northern Illinois (in addition to Notre Dame and Indiana State).
Sept. 27, at Syracuse (in East Rutherford, N.J.): Notre Dame will be returning from its bye, and the Orange will be coming off a home game against new Big Ten member Maryland before hosting Louisville (Friday, Oct. 3) and Florida State (Oct. 11) immediately after the Irish. If it's any consolation for Syracuse, it has had a good recent track record in Friday night home contests, and it routed a very good Cardinals team in 2012 at the Carrier Dome.
Oct. 4, vs. Stanford: The Cardinal play at Washington the week before this tilt, then host Washington State six days later on Friday night. If the physicality of the past two Notre Dame-Stanford games are any indication, that lost day of preparation for the Cardinal in the ensuing week could be a nuisance.
Oct. 11, vs. North Carolina: The Tar Heels won't exactly be cruising into Notre Dame Stadium, as the potential Coastal Division favorites will be coming off games at Clemson (Sept. 27) and at home against Virginia Tech (Oct. 4). They host Georgia Tech a week after their game against the Irish, too.
Oct. 18, at Florida State: For as difficult as Notre Dame's schedule is, this contest will actually be the Irish's first true road game. The defending national champion Seminoles will be coming off a trip to Syracuse, giving everyone a week to play the "common opponent" card before they host the Irish, a game that gives way to a bye (which gives way to a Thursday night tilt at Louisville).
Nov. 1, at Navy (in Landover, Md.): The Irish getting a bye before facing the Midshipmen is a big relief after the back-to-back games last year against Air Force and Navy, which left many players hurt. Navy, meanwhile, gets a bye of its own following this game, which comes after a home contest against San Jose State.
Nov. 8, at Arizona State: Stanford will be the common opponent to measure this time, as ASU gets the Cardinal on Oct. 18. As for this game, which stuck after former AD Steve Patterson threw some public shots Notre Dame's way, the Sun Devils host Utah a week before and travel to Oregon State a week after.
Nov. 15, vs. Northwestern: Home sweet home for the Irish after more than a month away. And, once again, we get to play the common opponent card! In this case, Michigan (which was such an accurate barometer last season). The Wildcats host the Wolverines the week before this tilt, then host Purdue a week after, giving those two teams a chance to measure a common opponent, too.
Nov. 22, vs. Louisville: Conspiracy alert! The Cardinals get a bye going into Notre Dame week. Bobby Petrino's crew will have closed out its inaugural ACC campaign on Nov. 8 at Boston College and then host rival Kentucky in the regular-season finale a week after its trip to South Bend.
Nov. 29, at USC: The ACC is trying to make this weekend an annual rivalry weekend among its 14 full members, and you probably won't hear much complaining from Notre Dame, which likes to close its regular season out West against a rival anyway. This time it will be against a Trojans team coming off a crosstown trip to UCLA a week earlier, a game that is sure to pack plenty of punch after consecutive Bruins wins and declarations about a changing of the guard in L.A. (USC, for what it's worth, will have gone to Stanford on Sept. 6 and hosted ASU on Oct. 4.)