USC under the lights, as home kickoffs are announced

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The University of Notre Dame announced home kickoff times for the upcoming 2013 season yesterday, the highlight being another prime time affair against USC. NBC will broadcast all six home games nationally, and will also handle the broadcast for the Shamrock Series game in Cowboys Stadium, where they’ll take on Arizona State.

The rest of the home slate includes traditional opponents Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State and Navy. Those opponents (minus the Midshipmen) might not be too traditional before long, as Notre Dame’s scheduling agreement with the ACC could put a halt to some of those arrangements.

Here is the 2013 schedule, updated with locked kickoff times (all times EST, home games in CAPS):

August 31 — TEMPLE — 3:30 p.m. — NBC
September 7 — at Michigan — TBD — ABC/ESPN (Night game)
September 14 — at Purdue — TBD — ABC/ESPN
September 21 — MICHIGAN STATE — 3:30 p.m. — NBC
September 28 — OKLAHOMA — 3:30 p.m. — NBC
October 5 — Arizona State — 7:30 p.m. — NBC (At Cowboys Stadium)
October 19 — USC — 7:30 p.m. — NBC
October 26 — at Air Force — TBD — CBS Sports Network
November 2 — NAVY — 3:30 p.m.  — NBC
November 9 — at Pittsburgh — TBD — ABC/ESPN
November 23 — BYU — 3:30 p.m. — NBC
November 30 — at Stanford — TBD — FOX

The biggest announcement in all of this is that it’ll be USC that plays at night at Notre Dame again while Oklahoma will play during the traditional afternoon slot.

For those hoping for a different outcome, I’d like to remind you of some comments from USC athletic director Pat Haden, who complained about this time slot the last time they played at night.

“We won’t get back until three or four in the morning,” Haden said back in April of 2011. “That could be a long week for our players.”

(Nevermind that ND-USC in Southern California has become a standing date for an evening kickoff, making the trip much harder for Notre Dame as they return west to east and flying through the night.)

Here are a few additional thoughts as the schedule comes into focus.

* Another night game at Michigan could be a really exciting early date on the schedule. It should also be looked at as Everett Golson’s chance at revenge after his horrible outing against the Wolverines last season.

The early date also likely means Michigan will be without one of its best defenders as linebacker Jake Ryan tore his ACL during spring workouts. A few weeks ago head coach Brady Hoke optimistically pegged Ryan’s return for mid-October.

* Getting out of the gates early for the Irish will be as important as its ever been. While getting Temple and new head coach Matt Rhule is a nice opener, from there it’s non-stop until a well deserved bye week after Arizona State.

Last year, the Irish struggled facing Purdue, who was breaking in new defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar. They’ll have that to contend with that when Rhule makes his Temple debut in South Bend and Darrell Hazell reboots the Purdue program. Getting tape on Rhule should be quite a challenge.

* Do yourself a favor now. Check and make sure you’re getting the CBS Sports Network. That’s who’s handling the Air Force game, and while the network has a fairly wide distribution platform, it’s still not on most basic cable packages.

* Maybe it’s just me, but I’m loving the season finale in California. It’s always incredible to see how many Notre Dame fans show up in Southern California for the USC game. Having been to Stanford a few times, it’s only a matter of time before that trip becomes just as mandatory for die-hard Irish alums as well.