Doane University is a private university in Crete, Nebraska, a small town about 30 miles southwest of Lincoln. The Tigers’ football program competes in the Great Plains Athletic Conference in the NAIA, is unknown to almost every outsider, and has been holding a key piece of college football history for more than a century: Doane is the last team to play a current FBS opponent three times in one season.
In 1891, Doane played Nebraska three times, beating the Old Gold Knights (Cornhuskers wasn’t adopted as Nebraska’s nickname until 1900), once in Lincoln and one in Crete, and losing once in Crete. Several other pairs of teams met three times in one season prior to 1891 but, according to available records, no current FBS team has played any opponent, FBS or otherwise, three times in one season since then. It could happen in 2020.
Clemson and Notre Dame met twice in the 1970s but didn’t play again until the monsoon in Clemson in 2015, the third year of Notre Dame’s ACC scheduling agreement that guaranteed regular meetings. Their fourth matchup came in the 2018 College Football Playoff and the fifth was last weekend in South Bend. And their sixth and seventh meetings might happen in the coming weeks.
There are several paths to Clemson-Notre Dame Part 2, most notably: Clemson and Notre Dame win their final regular-season games (three and four games apiece, respectively) and meet in the ACC Championship. Even if Notre Dame loses one game and finishes tied with Clemson and Miami (FL) atop the ACC, it’s Notre Dame vs. Clemson; step one of the ACC’s three-team tiebreaker rule favors the combined head-to-win win percentage of those teams: Notre Dame (1-0), Clemson (1-1), and Miami (FL) (0-1).
There are also several paths to Clemson-Notre Dame Part 3, though they are far more complex because, among other things, we can’t predict the College Football Playoff rankings, unlike the simple ACC tiebreakers. Here’s the most likely path, in my opinion, to Clemson-Notre Dame Part 3:
Alabama wins out, earns the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State wins out, earns the No. 2 seed.
Clemson wins, earns the No. 3 seed.
Notre Dame wins its final four regular-season games, loses to Clemson in the ACC Championship, earns the No. 4 seed.
Elsewhere, the Pac-12 champion has at least one loss, the Big 12 champion has at least one loss, Wisconsin is a one- or two-loss Big Ten West champion, Florida is a two-loss SEC East champion, and the Group of Five (i.e. BYU and Cincinnati) isn’t seriously considered.
Clemson beats Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, and Notre Dame beats Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Clemson-Notre Dame Part 1: Week 10.
Clemson-Notre Dame Part 2: ACC Championship.
Clemson-Notre Dame Part 3: College Football Playoff National Championship.
Bet the farm on Clemson-Notre Dame Part 2. However, don’t bet the farm on the Nebraska-Doane streak ending at 129 years.