Northwestern returning to Wrigley Field in 2021, Notre Dame and Florida announce future series

Sam Cooper
·3 min read

A college football game is back on the schedule for Wrigley Field.

The longtime home of the Chicago Cubs is scheduled to be the home venue for Northwestern’s game against Purdue on Nov. 20. Northwestern was scheduled to host Wisconsin at Wrigley Field last fall, but the game was moved back to Ryan Field, Northwestern’s home stadium in Evanston, Illinois, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our program is thrilled to bring Big Ten football back to one of the most iconic venues in sports,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “This will be an incredible opportunity for our student-athletes and staff, and an unforgettable day for our university community. This would not be possible without the hard work of so many, and we sincerely appreciate the partnership of the entire Cubs organization to make it a reality.”

Northwestern has long been hoping for a return to Wrigley Field, especially after the university and the Cubs agreed to a partnership in 2013 that promised five future football games would be held at the historic venue. The partnership also allowed for other Northwestern teams to play at Wrigley, including lacrosse and baseball.

The Wildcats last played a football game there back in 2010 against Illinois. Memorably, only one end zone was used for the game because of the stadium’s tight configuration. Since then, though, the stadium has undergone renovations that include removable seats down the third-base line in order to “accommodate a football field NCAA officials would approve,” the Chicago Tribune reported in 2018.

Northwestern lost 48-27 to Illinois that day, but the game attracted a visit from ESPN’s “College GameDay” and drew a crowd of more than 40,000.

Because the MLB schedule could extend well into October, options were a bit limited for Northwestern. The Wildcats have home games against Iowa (Nov. 6) and Purdue (Nov. 20) on the schedule for November, and the school opted to move the Purdue game off campus.

The 2010 game was the first college football game at Wrigley since 1938 when the park was DePaul’s home field. Wrigley was also the home of the Chicago Bears from 1921 to 1970 until the franchise made the move to Soldier Field. There were also extended talks about Wrigley Field being the host for a future bowl game.

Illinois play against Northwestern during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs basebal team, in Chicago on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Illinois play against Northwestern during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs basebal team, in Chicago on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Florida, Notre Dame agree to home-and-home

In other scheduling news, Florida and Notre Dame announced an agreement for a future series.

Notre Dame will host the Gators in South Bend on Nov. 15, 2031, and the Irish will make the return trip to Gainesville on Sept. 11, 2032. The schools have only squared off one other time — the 1992 Sugar Bowl. In that game, Notre Dame won, 39-28.

In addition to Notre Dame, Florida now has future non-conference games scheduled against Miami, Texas, Utah, California, Colorado, Arizona State and NC State.

Notre Dame has a 29-20 all-time record against SEC opponents. The only SEC schools Notre Dame has not played are Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky and Mississippi State.

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