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Vanderbilt football set to play Notre Dame in 2018

Who’s up for a trip to South Bend?

NCAA Football: Independence Bowl-North Carolina State vs Vanderbilt Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Commodores have a new non-conference opponent for 2018, and it’s a doozy. Vanderbilt will travel to Indiana on September 15 to face Notre Dame in what could be the biggest non-SEC game of the Derek Mason era.

The game fills Vanderbilt’s requirement to schedule a Power 5 Conference (or Notre Dame) opponent each season. Currently, the only other two games on the Commodores’ 2018 non-conference slate are home games with Middle Tennessee State and Tennessee State.

There’s no official word yet whether this game is a one-off or part of a series, but the safe bet is this is the start of a home-and-home arrangement that will bring the Fighting Irish down to Nashville in 2019 or beyond.

Mason’s 2018 Vandy team should be in good shape for a marquee non-conference showdown. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur will be a senior, and while Ralph Webb will be gone, Illinois transfer Ke’Shawn Vaughn will be eligible to take his snaps. Other underclassman standouts like Jared Pinkney, Kalija Lipscomb, Donovan Sheffield, Dare Odeyingbo, Josh Smith, and Joejuan Williams will all be hitting their primes as college athletes.

While playing Notre Dame in Indiana may take away an easy win for a program that needs all the help it can get in the march toward bowl eligibility, a game against the Fighting Irish is a huge selling point for both alumni and recruits. Mason has been doing work in Indiana recently, inking three-star prospects like Bryce Bailey and Cameron Tidd from the Hoosier State. With non-conference games against Purdue already on the roster, it’s clear the Vandy staff sees some value in the oft-overlooked state.

Here’s how the Commodores’ non-conference schedule looks for the foreseeable future:

Vanderbilt football non-conference schedule

Year Opponent
Year Opponent
2017 at Middle Tennessee
Alabama A&M
Kansas State
Western Kentucky
2018 Middle Tennessee
at Notre Dame
Tennessee State
2019 at Purdue
Northern Illinois
East Tennessee State
2020 Mercer
at Kansas State
Colorado State
2021 East Tennessee State
at Colorado State
2022 at Hawaii
Wake Forest
at Northern Illinois
2023 at Wake Forest
2024 at Stanford
Georgia State