SOUTH BEND, Ind. — It was already a unique opening week for Marcus Freeman’s team, and now the second week is going to bring some history for the program.
That’s because of their opponent, who is coming to South Bend for a football game for the first time.
The Fighting Irish will host Tennessee State University at 2:30 p.m. central time after they defeated Navy 42-3 in their season opener at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, their first game in Ireland since 2012.
Notre Dame’s home opener is significant for two reasons: The Tigers will not only be the first Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team the Irish have ever faced but also the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) program they’ve played in football.
It’s a match-up that was set in April 2022 and will be the season opener for Tennessee State, which is under the leadership of third-year head coach Eddie George, a former Heisman Trophy winner and four-time NFL Pro Bowl running back.
“I’m truly, and we’ll make sure they (the team) are, grateful for the opportunity to be able to do this,” said Freeman of the chance to play Tennessee State. “They’re different universities but they’re both distinct in celebrating their own way. But I think the core values that both universities possess, they align.
“I think that’s a great opportunity and it’s going to be a great experience for both schools.”
It’s particularly special for Freeman, an Ohio State alum, to be across the field from George, one of the greatest players in the history of Buckeyes’ football.
“I grew up, obviously, in Ohio and watching Eddie George play for Ohio State and have gotten to know him throughout the years, really looking forward to this opportunity to go against him and his football team,” said Freeman. “There is talent. They’re a good team.”
Notre Dame showed some of what they could be in their season opener against Navy, dominating in a 42-3 victory. Sam Hartman, who transferred from Wake Forest, led the way by going 19-of-23 through the air for 251 yards and four touchdowns. The Irish defense also held the Midshipmen to just 169 total yards on the afternoon.