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Wisconsin and Notre Dame announce series in Green Bay, Chicago

Now it’s official.

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Oh, it’s on.

At a press conference at the Under Armour Brand House in downtown Chicago on Monday, representatives announced the Wisconsin Badgers and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will play two games at neutral NFL stadiums starting in 2020.

On Oct. 3, 2020, Wisconsin and Notre Dame will play at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Then on Sept., 25, 2021, the series heads south to conclude at Soldier Field in Chicago. These will be the fourth and fifth neutral-site games between the Badgers and Fighting Irish, as the teams played early in the 20th century in Milwaukee (1904 and 1905) and Chicago (1929).

“We at Wisconsin are honored to have the privilege to play a program with the rich tradition of Notre Dame,” Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez said on Monday, via a Facebook live broadcast of the press conference. “This has been a while in the works. It’s taken a while to put this together, but we’re very excited about it.”

Wisconsin, Notre Dame Announce Football Series

Wisconsin. Notre Dame. Two iconic NFL stadiums. Watch today’s big announcement live from Chicago.

Posted by Wisconsin Badgers on Monday, August 14, 2017

Wisconsin is on the losing side of the series against Notre Dame, holding a 6–8–2 record. However, the programs have not played against each other since 1964.

“I think this is going to be great for the game of football,” Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy said. “I think you have two storied college football programs playing in the two oldest stadiums—historic and iconic stadiums—in the NFL. And also, I think is the best rivalry in the NFL between the Bears and the Packers. We’ve played each other for almost 100 years now, and we’re exactly tied so it gives you a pretty darn good rivalry.”

Wisconsin will head back to Green Bay after 2016’s season-opening win against LSU, a victory the Badgers sealed with D’Cota Dixon’s late interception. The celebrations from the team and fans inside the stadium made for a memory that will not be forgotten in quite some time.

Murphy, who thanked both athletic directors for their efforts, also also noted in 2020 that the Whistling Straits golf course in Sheboygan, Wis., will be hosting the Ryder Cup the week before the Wisconsin-Notre Dame matchup. The Packers CEO also stated the new Titletown District around Lambeau Field should be finalized and open then as well.

“Particularly, Barry has been great to work with,” Murphy said. “This series would not have come about if it were not for Barry with his strong connections with obviously Notre Dame and Wisconsin and the great relationship we have with Barry with the Packers.”

Notre Dame president and athletic director Jack Swarbrick said NBC will broadcast the first game at Lambeau Field, with the Big Ten holding the rights to the Soldier Field matchup. As has been widely reported, Notre Dame will be the home team for the 2020 game in Green Bay and Wisconsin will be the home team in Chicago.

Alvarez said he will continue to look into these types of games in the future, but it won’t be an every-year occurrence. However, when asked about what the response will be from the student-athletes playing in these stadiums, the former Wisconsin head coach referenced the previous three seasons’ experiences.

“We’ve played now in Houston, in Dallas, Lambeau last year,” Alvarez said. “You can imagine the majority of our team is from the state of Wisconsin. They grew up watching the Packers and watching the Badgers. Every Sunday, they watch the Packers. For them to have the opportunity—in the spring we went up and practiced there, spent a day there to familiarize our team with the surroundings and the field, etc. To play a game there, the atmosphere turned into a college atmosphere and the excitement of it and the electricity and in the stadium was truly special for our athletes.”

Here are some fun Wisconsin-Notre Dame connections via a UW press release:

“The Kangaroo Kicker” Pat O’Dea not only was Wisconsin’s first great football star but he also served as Notre Dame’s head football coach. He played for the Badgers from 1896-99 and was a two-time captain. O’Dea was named an All-American in 1899 and helped Wisconsin to a 9-2 record. He was named the fifth head football coach of the Fighting Irish in 1900, and remained in that role for two seasons (1900-01).

Wisconsin basketball coach Walter “Doc” Meanwell established the Badgers into one of the most accomplished basketball programs in the nation in the early 1900s, guiding UW to four Big Ten titles and three Helms Foundation national titles. Knute Rockne, then a young track and field coach and assistant football coach at Notre Dame, admired Meanwell and brought his Irish track squad to Madison. After Rockne took over for Jesse Harper as head football coach in 1918, he continued to coach track and kept in touch with Meanwell, making more visits to Madison.

As Rockne’s football success soared, he was in demand as a presenter on the sport at summer programs of various universities’ physical education departments. He eventually partnered with Meanwell to create the Rockne-Meanwell Coaching School, which had segments for both football and basketball coaches, as well as a program on physical training. From coast to coast, hundreds of high school, prep school, and small college coaches would gather to learn from the pair each summer.

Rockne and Meanwell also combined to publish the first authoritative guidebook on athletic training, injury prevention and treatment.

Harry Stuhldreher, quarterback of the Four Horsemen, immediately jumped into coaching after graduation from Notre Dame in 1925. He served as Villanova’s head coach for 11 seasons before accepting the Wisconsin head football coach and athletic director position in 1936.

Paul Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame and legendary Green Bay Packer, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

Current Wisconsin athletic director and former Badgers head football coach Barry Alvarez was an assistant coach at Notre Dame from 1987-89. He was promoted (linebackers to defensive coordinator to assistant head coach) by Lou Holtz in each of his three seasons. The Irish went 32-5 in Alvarez’s three seasons and won the 1988 national title.