College Football
Why USC should be willing to end longtime rivalry with Notre Dame
College Football

Why USC should be willing to end longtime rivalry with Notre Dame

Published May. 29, 2024 5:49 p.m. ET

USC is set to have a tough schedule in its first season in the Big Ten, but its difficult slate of games extends beyond conference battles.

The Trojans take on LSU in Las Vegas and Notre Dame at home to bookend the regular season, adding two games against teams who'll likely be ranked in the preseason top 25. As a rumor recently emerged that USC actually tried to get out of its game against LSU, Colin Cowherd believes it would've been a smart move for the Trojans to cancel that matchup if they could have.

In fact, Cowherd thinks USC should go one step further with its approach to building its out-of-conference schedule. 

"USC's going to have on its schedule Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and only the best of the Pac-12 — Oregon, Washington, UCLA," Cowherd said on "The Herd." "I'm going to ask a question, why do they have to keep playing Notre Dame? ‘But Colin, the history!' Oh, give me a break. College football punted on history last year. They disbanded the only Power 5 conference West of the Rockies. Punted it into the ether. Every man for himself, so spare me on the history."


The USC-Notre Dame matchup has historically been one of the best rivalries in college football since the first time the two teams played in 1926. Both teams have met nearly every year since then, only missing battles between 1943-45 due to World War II and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many of those matchups have had implications on the national championship picture as well, with each team delivering blows that ended the other's title hopes on numerous occasions. The rivalry has also featured some of the sport's most iconic games, such as the "Bush Push" in 2005. Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 49–37, with five ties.

So far, the USC-Notre Dame rivalry has been safe from getting canceled due to conference realignment. Even though Notre Dame is an independent, its annual matchup rivalries with Michigan and Michigan State have ended in recent years, in part because of the Fighting Irish's scheduling agreement with the ACC. 

Why it is time to end the USC-Notre Dame CFB rivalry

Cowherd's reasoning for USC to end its annual matchup with Notre Dame, though, is for reasons beyond just conference realignment. 

"Think about what top programs in college football have to face," Cowherd said. "These are the big dogs, with the most talent like Alabama, Georgia, Texas, you've got to get through your conference schedule. Oh wait, they just added Texas and Oklahoma Sooners to the brutal SEC and USC, UCLA, Washington and Oregon to the Big Ten. Then, if you can get through that, you have a conference championship game, and you might have to play one of those teams again. And then, we're going to have a 12-team playoff, so you're going to have to play four more of those teams, potentially. 

"You think I want to add a Notre Dame to that? It's actually a respectful move."

In addition to LSU and Notre Dame, USC will take on Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska, which were each ranked in Joel Klatt's post-spring top 25 rankings. It also has matchups against Wisconsin and Washington, which figure to be formidable opponents. 

USC-Notre Dame certainly wouldn't be the first historic rivalry to end in recent years. In addition to Notre Dame's matchups with Michigan and Michigan State, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State is set to join the many other annual rivalries that have ended because of conference realignment.

That's why Cowherd doesn't have an issue with advocating for USC to end its rivalry with Notre Dame, unless it puts the ball in the Fighting Irish's court. 

"You can grasp, hold and just keep pulling at history," Cowherd said. "But if I was USC, I'd be like, ‘Nah, been there done that. If you want to join the Big Ten, Notre Dame, then we'll play you.'"


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