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Thursday, June 13, 2024

The deep-rooted history between Wisconsin and Notre Dame’s football programs

The long, complex rivalry between Wisconsin and Notre Dame football looks to continue in 2026.

The Big Ten released league football opponents for the 2024-28 seasons on Oct. 4. This competitive schedule for Wisconsin includes a Sept. 5, 2026 matchup against Notre Dame at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which will continue the teams’ storied football rivalry that spans more than a century.

The teams first met in Madison in 1900 when the Badgers secured a 54-0 win. Wisconsin continued this winning streak and defeated Notre Dame in their next two games in 1904 and 1905, leaving the Irish scoreless in all three matchups.

Wisconsin wasn’t greatly challenged by Notre Dame until their 0-0 tie in 1917, which was followed by great success from Notre Dame in the years to follow as they established a winning streak of their own.

The teams have periodically met ever since, having competed in 17 games in total. The Badgers have won six, the Irish have won nine, and two of the games ended in ties. 

The Badgers and the Irish last met in 2021 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, where Notre Dame defeated the Badgers 41-13. This game was significant in reviving the rivalry, as the teams had gone 57 years without playing each other.

The programs’ opposition is a result of their deep-rooted competitive matches and a product of those who have created a legacy within both programs, such as former Badgers head coach Barry Alvarez

Alvarez became the assistant football coach at Notre Dame in 1987. He coached the team for three seasons — the most notable being his 1988 season, where he led the Irish’s defense to a 12-0 undefeated season and national championship.

His last season with the Irish was in 1989, and Alvarez became Wisconsin’s head coach the following year. He held the title for 16 years from 1990 to 2005 and became the winningest coach in Badger football history, leading Wisconsin to 11 bowl games and winning eight of them. Before retiring, Alvarez spent 18 years — from 2004-21 — working as University of Wisconsin-Madison’s athletics director.

Today, a statue of Alvarez sits outside of Kellner Hall and Camp Randall Stadium with an inscription detailing his accomplishments with the Badgers. While the majority of his coaching history involved Wisconsin, his time being a coach for the Irish contributed to his career and influenced Notre Dame’s football program.

Like Alvarez, former Notre Dame and Badger quarterback Jack Coan was also involved with both teams. In 2021, after graduating from Wisconsin, Coan shocked Badger fans by transferring to Notre Dame to play one last season of college football. Coan was a highly regarded player who had a remarkable impact on both program’s teams, adding to the complex history of the rivalry.

The long, elaborate history of Wisconsin and Notre Dame’s opposition will continue in 2026 at Lambeau. The Badgers will have a chance to avenge their 2021 loss to the Irish.

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