It’s finally here. This game has been on everyone’s mind for a long time considering the ties between former Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez and Notre Dame and the fact that former Badgers starting quarterback Jack Coan is now the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish. Needless to say, there are #storylines aplenty for Saturday.
The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (1-1 overall, 0-1 Big Ten) and the No. 12 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0 overall) both travel to Chicago this week to do battle on the football field for the first time in 57 years.
FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff and ESPN’s College GameDay are both in Chicago broadcasting live from outside of Soldier Field for this Shamrock Series game and it’s pretty crazy to think that our Badgers are the center of the college football world this weekend.
It should also be mentioned that both teams will be wearing alternate jerseys for the game on Saturday. We, obviously, were all over the Badgers new “Forward” uniforms when they were released over the summer and our pals over at One Foot Down gave their thoughts on Notre Dame’s alternate duds.
We will update this post on Saturday morning with any late breaking news so you have all of the latest info about the Big Noon Saturday showdown.
How to watch/listen
TV: FOX, 11:00 a.m. CT, Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft
Streaming: FOX Sports App
Stadium: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
Weather: Chicago, Ill. (partly cloudy, extremely slight chance of rain)
Line: Wisconsin -6 (the line keeps moving more in favor of the Badgers!)
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Wisconsin and Notre Dame have faced off 16 times previously, but not since 1964, and will meet as ranked opponents for the first time.
- The Irish own an 8-6-2 lead in the all-time series, including a win in the teams’ previous meeting at Soldier Field, in 1929.
- The Irish are 9-0 in Shamrock Series games since it began in 2009. This is the first Shamrock Series game since 2018, which was played at Yankee Stadium against Syracuse.
- Saturday’s game marks Wisconsin’s fourth appearance at Soldier Field, and first since 2011, when the No. 7 Badgers rolled to a 49-7 win over Northern Illinois behind QB Russell Wilson, who threw three TD passes.
One purpose. One heart.— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) September 23, 2021
- Not in the game notes, but noteworthy nonetheless, this was also the last time that your site manager got arrested before a Wisconsin football game. After being stopped by CPD for drinking where I shouldn’t have and telling the cop I was “6-foot-2 on my tippy toes” one of Chicago’s finest asked me “how tall are you on your knees” and I, soberly*, responded with “I bet you’d like to find out.”
*disputed by everyone
- The 1942 matchup at Soldier Field between the No. 7 Badgers and Great Lakes — a team made up of players serving in the Navy and stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training Station near Chicago — is best remembered for giving rise to the nickname now synonymous with UW great Elroy Hirsch. Chicago Daily News writer Francis Powers wrote of Hirsch’s 65-yard touchdown run in the game: His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions, all at the same time; he looked like a demented duck — and the nickname “Crazylegs” was born.
- Wisconsin and Notre Dame were part of the Hockey City Classic doubleheader played outdoors at Soldier Field in 2013. The Badgers scored a 3-2 win over Minnesota after Notre Dame posted a 2-1 victory over Miami (Ohio).
- The Badgers and Irish are set to meet again at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field in 2026, a game originally scheduled for last season.
- ESPN College GameDay will originate from the site of a Wisconsin game for the 20th time, and the first time since the 2020 Rose Bowl Game.
- The Badgers have hosted College GameDay seven times in Madison, and the show also was on hand for UW’s last regular-season neutral site matchup, a 16-14 win over No. 5 LSU at Lambeau Field in Green Bay in 2016.
- Saturday also marks the fourth on-site appearance for FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff at a UW game since the show began traveling in 2019.
- Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst owns a 1-1 mark vs. Notre Dame, splitting his two meetings with the Fighting Irish during his time as head coach at Pittsburgh. Notre Dame emerged with a 29-26 win over Chryst’s first Pitt squad in a thrilling triple-overtime contest in 2012 before the Panthers scored a 28-21 win over the Irish in 2013.
- Head coach Brian Kelly tied Knute Rockne for the most wins in program history after securing his 105th win over Purdue on Sept. 18. (20 of these wins were removed by NCAA sanctions, which Notre Dame mentions in their game notes but doesn’t reflect it in the total lmaoooo.)
- Chryst, on the other hand, ranks No. 4 on the Badgers’ all-time coaching wins list with a 57-20 record.
- Wisconsin leads the nation in fewest rushing yards allowed this season, giving up just 33.0 per game.
- The Badgers have held the ball for better than 40 minutes in each game this season and lead the nation in average time of possession.
- After running for 121 yards in his Badgers debut, RB Chez Mellusi carried 20 times for 144 yards (7.2 ypc) a week later vs. Eastern Michigan, becoming the first Badger to record consecutive 100-yard performances in his first two games at UW since Corey Clement did so as a true freshman in 2013.
- TE Jake Ferguson’s 36 straight games with a catch surpassed Travis Beckum’s run of 33 straight games (2006-08) for the longest such streak by a UW tight end. He needs catches in his next two games to match WR Lee Evans’ school record of 38 consecutive games with a reception (1999-2003).
- Notre Dame LB JD Bertrand has 35 tackles through three games which is the most to begin a season for the Irish since Courtney Watson totaled 38 over the first three games of the 2001 season.
- Irish S Kyle Hamilton has three interceptions this season which is tied for second nationally and is tied for the NCAA lead with 1.0 interceptions per game.
- For former Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez, who retired in June, getting games lined up between the Badgers and Fighting Irish was a particularly important project that finally comes to fruition Saturday. Alvarez, who worked with Notre Dame A.D. Jack Swarbrick to arrange a two-game series at Lambeau Field and Soldier Field, spent three seasons on the Irish coaching staff from 1987-89 before taking the job as head coach at Wisconsin. Alvarez’s two seasons as defensive coordinator (1988-89) saw the Irish go a combined 24-1 and win the 1988 national championship.
- Notre Dame QB Jack Coan is a graduate transfer from Wisconsin, where he started 18 games at quarterback for the Badgers. That includes all 14 games in 2019, when he helped lead UW to 10 wins, the Big Ten West Division title and a berth in the Rose Bowl Game. Coan graduated from UW with a degree in Real Estate & Urban Land Economics last December.
- Wisconsin sophomore OLB Nick Herbig and Notre Dame sophomore DL Jordan Botelho were high school teammates at Saint Louis School in Honolulu, winning multiple state championships.
- Notre Dame wide receivers coach Del Alexander spent five seasons in the same position at Wisconsin, from 2007-11, when Paul Chryst served as the Badgers’ offensive coordinator. The pair also worked together for another two seasons (2003-04) at Oregon State, with Chryst serving as offensive coordinator and Alexander coaching the Beavers’ wide receivers.