Notre Dame, Georgia agree to series

Notre Dame and Georgia announced Wednesday a home-and-home series for the 2017 and 2019 seasons, marking the first regular-season matchups between the storied programs.

The Fighting Irish will host the Bulldogs on Sept. 9, 2017, in South Bend, Indiana, before visiting Athens, Georgia, on Sept. 21, 2019.

"As our football schedules evolved with the start of our Atlantic Coast Conference competition in 2014, we had future games slated with top-drawer opponents in virtually all the major conferences," Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a statement. "One exception was the Southeastern Conference, so we are pleased now to be able to check that box.

"These will be two contests that will have great national appeal, in part because our only previous matchup came in a bowl game."

The schools have met just once before, with then-No. 1 Georgia beating then-No. 7 Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl 17-10 to claim the consensus national title.

Notre Dame's upcoming four-game series with Texas could be reduced to two games as a result of the Georgia schedule commitments. The 2017 and 2019 games in essence replace two of Notre Dame's games with Texas, but Swarbrick said he was hopeful they could reschedule those games with the Longhorns.

Four years ago, Notre Dame and Texas announced a four-game series starting in 2015 that also included games at Notre Dame on Sept. 5, 2015, and at Texas on Sept. 3, 2016.

In 2019, Notre Dame is scheduled to play at Georgia, at Stanford and at three ACC opponents. Notre Dame's scheduling philosophy has been to have six home games, a neutral site game and five road games, hence the need to drop the road game at Texas in 2019.

Notre Dame also has future home-and-home series with Purdue and Michigan State over the next decade. But because of the Irish's ACC scheduling commitments -- five games annually against ACC opponents -- it's unlikely the Fighting Irish will schedule more than two-game series against any teams with the exception of Navy, Stanford and USC, who they will play annually.

Wednesday's announcement comes two months after Notre Dame had acknowledged that it was exploring the prospect of playing Georgia in the future.

"Playing Notre Dame will be an honor and a great challenge for us," Georgia coach Mark Richt said in a statement. "I have a lot of respect for the job Coach (Brian) Kelly is doing there and I'm sure college football fans across the country will enjoy watching our two teams compete."

The 2017 meeting between the Irish and the Bulldogs will mark Notre Dame's first regular-season game against an SEC opponent since it beat Tennessee at home in 2005, which was the second of a home-and-home series between those two programs.

The Irish's past two games against SEC schools came in postseason play, with Alabama beating the Irish in the Discover BCS National Championship after the 2012 season and LSU topping them in the Nokia Sugar Bowl after the 2006 campaign.

"These are two very attractive football games against a Georgia program that also has impressive history and tradition," Kelly said in a statement. "Mark Richt has done an excellent job keeping that program at the forefront, both in the SEC and nationally."

Kelly had long spoken of the possibility of eventually playing Georgia, and Bulldogs athletic director Greg McGarity had alluded to as much in the past year.

"This series will generate an overwhelming level of excitement for our student-athletes and supporters," McGarity said Wednesday in a statement. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for Notre Dame and look forward to the start of this memorable experience."