Pittsburgh head football coach Pat Narduzzi at the 89th Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl against UCLA, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, at the Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, Texas.

Ucla V Pitt Sun Bowl

Pitt, Wisconsin to open 2027 season in Dublin

Pitt and Wisconsin will play in the 2027 edition of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.

The programs on Tuesday jointly announced the game, scheduled for Aug. 28, 2027.

The series began under this branding when Georgia Tech beat Boston College 17-14 in Dublin in 2016.

Northwestern beat Nebraska 31-28 in their 2022 season opener in Dublin, and Notre Dame beat Navy 42-3 there to kick off the current season. Georgia Tech will face Florida State in Dublin in their 2024 season opener.

The Panthers will serve as the home team. Pitt has played on the Emerald Isle once before, beating Rutgers 46-29 in December 1989.

“What an honor it is for our Panthers to receive an invitation to play in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in Dublin,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said in a statement. “As a coach, you want the young men in your program to have impactful personal experiences, on and off the field.

“I am grateful our team will have the opportunity to play in this special game against a great opponent like Wisconsin.”

Meanwhile, it will be Wisconsin’s first time playing in Ireland. The Badgers’ only game outside the U.S. came in 1993 in Tokyo, a 41-20 win over Michigan State.

–Field Level Media

Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman prior to Notre Dame Fall Camp on Wednesday, July 26, 2023, at Irish Athletics Center in South Bend, Indiana.

No. 13 Notre Dame hits Ireland to tackle Navy

Quarterback Sam Hartman transferred with the intention of making an immediate impact for his new program. He gets that chance in a spotlight game in his debut for No. 13 Notre Dame against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.

Hartman spent five seasons at Wake Forest and left the Demon Deacons with a winning reputation and a stockpile of records, including the most touchdowns (110) and second-most yards (12,967) in Atlantic Coast Conference history. He led Wake Forest to bowl wins in each of the past two seasons.

Leaving the past for what he hopes are greener pastures in northern Indiana, Hartman has his sights set on leading the Fighting Irish to their seventh consecutive winning season after the team finished 9-4 in 2022.

“I guess I’m settled in, but I think I’m always learning,” Hartman said. “There is never a day when you’re not seeing a new look, seeing a new play. We always talk about a one-play, one-life mentality here. That’s the standard. That’s what I’m trying to grow on and figuring out how I can make this team the best it can be.”

Hartman’s veteran leadership comes in handy as he tries to work with a receiving corps low on experience.

Although he had just one reception in 2022, Tobias Merriweather is expected to be the No. 1 option, while running back-turned-receiver Chris Tyree and Jayden Thomas serve as supplemental targets.

Notre Dame offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Gerad Parker said Hartman has already done a good job of building a connection with his receivers.

“He’s done it in a way that has remained patient, but also aggressive and direct. … We all have as a staff,” Parker said. “Let these guys grow and develop and as they do, we can build trust with them and put them in positions to make plays.”

Unlike the Fighting Irish, the Midshipmen will be heavily relying on their running game, which centers around the triple-option.

However, that formation might have a different look under first-year offensive coordinator Grant Chesnut. Navy also has a new head coach in Brian Newberry, who had served as defensive coordinator since the 2019 campaign.

“We want to get off to a fast start,” Newberry said. “It’s hard to simulate what we do in practice. It’s hard enough to simulate what we do schematically, it’s even harder to simulate the speed at which we do it.

“The speed at which we play and the confidence with which our kids play at is gonna be extremely important.”

Fullback Daba Fofana served as the centerpiece of last season’s triple-option, rushing for 819 yards and six touchdowns on 186 carries. Quarterbacks Xavier Arline and Tai Lavatai were also strong on the ground, amassing 376 and 309 yards, respectively.

Despite the success in the running game, the Midshipmen settled for a 4-8 record in 2022. They have not had a winning season since 2019, when they went 11-2.

The Fighting Irish leads the series over Navy 81-13-1 and Notre Dame prevailed in 10 of the last 11 meetings. The Midshipmen last beat Notre Dame on Nov. 5, 2016.

Notre Dame beat Navy 50-10 in Ireland in 2012. Their meeting in 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett (8) passes against the Cleveland Browns during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Pittsburgh won 28-14. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers interested in playing game in Ireland

If the Pittsburgh Steelers were to get their way, the next European location for NFL games may be Dublin, Ireland.

Visiting Croke Park to speak about the Steelers’ “Global Markets Program” partnership with Ireland, director of business development and strategy Daniel Rooney said the team has a “long-term” goal of playing a regular-season game on the Emerald Isle.

“The first focus is to bring the Steelers to the people of Ireland,” Rooney said, per the team website. “We are going to try and reach all 32 counties. Our aspirations long-term are to play a game in Ireland. As we move through the process, we’ll be evaluating all options.”

The ties between the Steelers and Ireland run deep. The Rooney family founded the team, and former team executive and owner Dan M. Rooney served as President Obama’s ambassador to Ireland from 2019-12.

In 1997 Croke Park was the site of a preseason game between the Steelers and Chicago Bears, but Ireland has yet to host a regular-season game. The league has taken regular-season games to London, Toronto, Mexico City and Munich and will play two games in Frankfurt, Germany in 2023.

The Steelers took advantage of an expansion of the NFL’s “Global Markets” program, which awards teams marketing rights in foreign countries. The Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars were awarded rights to the Republic of Ireland in 2022; Pittsburgh also received marketing rights in Northern Ireland.

On the college football front, Northwestern recorded a 31-28 win over Nebraska last August in a Big Ten game in Dublin.

Florida State and Georgia Tech are scheduled to kick off the 2024 season in Dublin.

–Field Level Media

Aug 27, 2022; Dublin, IRELAND;  A general view of event branding on the pitch before the Aer Lingus college football series game between the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats at Aviva Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Moran-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State, Ga. Tech to open ’24 season in Ireland

Florida State and Georgia Tech will kick off the 2024 season in Ireland, both schools announced Wednesday.

The Aer Lingus College Football Classic will be held at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Aug. 24, 2024.

It will be the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams and a home game for the Yellow Jackets.

“I am so excited for our student-athletes, coaches, staff, administration and fans for this opportunity,” Florida State head coach Mike Norvell said. “When this idea was first presented to me, I was immediately intrigued by a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the people in our program.”

It will be the first time Florida State has played outside of the United States. Georgia Tech beat Boston College 17-14 at the same venue in 2016.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2020; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers linebacker JoJo Domann (13) tries to tackle Northwestern Wildcats quarterback Peyton Ramsey (12) during the second half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern, Nebraska to open ’22 season in Ireland

Northwestern and Nebraska will open the 2022 college football season in Ireland after the Cornhuskers’ plans to play there in 2021 were scuttled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northwestern will serve as the home team in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, set to be played Aug. 27, 2022, at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

“We are thrilled that our program will get to experience the beautiful Irish culture, while we continue to help grow the game of college football on a global stage,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said in a statement. “It’s an honor to be included in this once-in-a-lifetime event, and we can’t wait to have the Northwestern faithful join us in one of the world’s most amazing settings.”

The game will mark the first in a series of five games to be contested in the Classic in Ireland.

Nebraska’s game against Illinois in 2021, initially scheduled for Dublin, was instead moved to Champaign, Ill., on Aug. 28.

–Field Level Media