USF to face Notre Dame on Sept. 19, will play season opener with no fans

The deal with the Irish includes two future matchups, with one to be held at Raymond James Stadium
Will USF be celebrating in South Bend this September, as the Bulls did in 2011?
Will USF be celebrating in South Bend this September, as the Bulls did in 2011? [ MICHAEL CONROY | ASSOCIATED PRESS ]
Published Aug. 27, 2020|Updated Aug. 27, 2020

After days of waiting, USF didn’t just announce one game against Notre Dame. The Bulls announced three.

USF will travel to South Bend on Sept. 19, the programs announced Thursday. Both teams had holes in their schedules as other conferences and teams opted not to play this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bulls said they will play the Irish two more times (including once at Raymond James Stadium), but those future dates are still being finalized.

Additionally, the school announced no fans will be permitted at Raymond James Stadium for the Bulls’ Sept. 12 season opener against The Citadel, but it plans to allow a limited number of fans for its other four home contests “if state and local officials deem it appropriate.”

USF first-year coach Jeff Scott, who called the trip to South Bend the fulfillment of a personal “bucket list” item, credited the deal to Bulls athletic director Michael Kelly’s relationship with Notre Dame counterpart Jack Swarbrick.

“You can see who they’ve played in the past non-conference schedule — it’s a very, very small, short list,” Scott said. “I think this is just another example — No. 1,001 — of why we’re so fortunate to have Michael as the leader of our athletics program.”

Related: USF football reports no positive coronavirus tests for third week in a row

USF’s history with Notre Dame is brief but glorious. The Bulls scored a 23-20 upset over the Irish in South Bend in 2011, the day before former athletic director Lee Roy Selmon’s death.

The Bulls originally were set to host Nevada on Sept. 12, but the Mountain West canceled its fall season. Notre Dame was once scheduled to host Western Michigan, but that game was wiped away when the Mid-American Conference punted on its fall slate.

Scott indicated Thursday the Bulls have no plans to schedule a Sept. 5 contest, leaving USF with 11 regular-season games.

“I feel confident that our schedule is finalized as far as not adding any new opponents,” he said. “But as we’ve learned, I never would’ve thought six months ago that we’d be scheduling games four weeks before the game, either.”

In an open letter to USF fans Thursday afternoon, Kelly said season-ticket members will get top priority when single-game tickets for the remaining four home games become available.

He also indicated plans are being finalized to allow season-ticket buyers to be refunded for the 2020 season, or to defer their season-ticket purchases to 2021, when the Bulls host Florida.

No decision has been made on whether tailgating will be restricted or even allowed this fall.