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Notre Dame to Open 2024 Season on ABC in Prime Time

Notre Dame

Notre Dame will kick off the 2024 season in prime time against Texas A&M, it was announced on Tuesday, May 14. The highly anticipated Aug. 31 lid lifter on the road at Kyle Field in College Station is set for 7:30 p.m. ET and will be nationally broadcast on ABC. Additionally, ESPN’s College GameDay will be on site. College GameDay visited South Bend last season for Notre Dame’s matchup against Ohio State. The show also traveled to Durham, NC the following week for the Irish’s game against Duke.

The season-opening game against Texas A&M marks the fourth consecutive year that Notre Dame will open its season away from home at night. And it is the sixth time in the last nine seasons that the Irish will begin the season on the road at its opponents’ home field in prime time. Last year, Notre Dame squared off against Navy in Dublin, Ireland at 7:30 p.m. local time.

A Notre Dame Ratings Boost

It should come as little surprise that the Irish find themselves slotted in prime time in Week 1 of the season. Notre Dame consistently ranks first or second in viewership in this specific situation. With any luck, positioning Notre Dame in a slot that will attract viewers could be a win-win for the network and for the program if the Irish can defeat the Aggies to start the season.

Notre Dame will be facing Texas A&M for just the sixth time and the first since a loss under coach Bob Davie in 2001, the last time the program visited College Station. The two schools first met in 1987 at the Cotton Bowl, which was won by Texas A&M 35-10. Two additional Cotton Bowl meetings followed—both won by the Irish—in 1992 and 1993. Each team added a victory in a home-and-home series in 2000 and 2001. The Aggies won the last meeting in 2001 at home, 24-3, following a 24-10 Notre Dame victory in 2000 at Notre Dame Stadium.

Marcus Freeman Looking to Spoil Mike Elko’s Debut

The intriguing matchup to begin Irish head coach Marcus Freeman’s third season also marks the first game for Mike Elko as Texas A&M’s head coach. Elko was defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Texas A&M from 2018 to 2021. After that, he was the head coach at Duke for two seasons. He went 16-9 in two seasons with the Blue Devils after inheriting a program that went 10-24 in the three years prior to his arrival. Before his stint at Texas A&M, Elko was the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame in 2017.

“Our players have been grinding through the off-season and spring workouts,” Elko said in a press release. “Facing an outstanding opponent like Notre Dame will require that same type of effort and attitude each and every day to be prepared to play our best.”

Freeman, like Elko, was also a one-year defensive coordinator for the Irish in 2021. He was promoted to head coach after Brian Kelly’s departure to LSU. Both Freeman and Elko are entering their third season as head coaches. The Irish are 19-7 in two seasons under Freeman, and a perfect 2-0 in bowl games.

Will Duke Transfer Riley Leonard Be Ready to Go?

Adding another interesting storyline to the Week 1 matchup is Notre Dame’s projected starter at quarterback, Riley Leonard. A Duke transfer, Leonard played for Elko and transferred to Notre Dame this offseason. Leonard has undergone two ankle surgeries since joining the Irish, however. While he is the projected starter for the Irish, his status is uncertain.

Leonard is a dual-threat quarterback. He accumulated a 13-8 record with Elko at Duke and enjoyed his best season in 2022, throwing for 2,967 yards. He threw 20 touchdowns to just six interceptions that season. Leonard also ran for 699 yards and 13 touchdowns. In an injury-riddled season in 2023, Leonard threw for just two touchdowns and 1,102 yards. All told, he completed 95 of 165 pass attempts. He threw three touchdowns and was picked off three times.

It is in Notre Dame’s best interest to head to College Station for the prime-time matchup with Leonard healthy. The transfer signal-caller is the most experienced quarterback on the Notre Dame roster, having started 21 games in his collegiate career.

 

Notre Dame
Photo courtesy: GREG SWIERCZ / USA TODAY NETWORK

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