- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Michigan State beefed up its future nonconference schedules Monday, announcing agreements with West Virginia and Alabama, and extending its series with longtime rival Notre Dame.
The school has signed contracts for a home-and-home series with West Virginia in 2014 and 2015, and a home-and-home series with Alabama in 2016 and 2017. Michigan State extended its annual series with Notre Dame through the 2025 season but will have breaks in 2014-15 and 2020-21.
The Spartans and Fighting Irish last took a break in 1995-96, when Michigan State played Nebraska and Louisville.
Michigan State will visit West Virginia on Sept. 13, 2014, and host the Mountaineers the following year on Sept. 19. The teams haven't met since 1942.
The Spartans make their first-ever appearance against Alabama on Sept. 3, 2016, at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama will visit Spartan Stadium on Sept. 2, 2017.
"Michigan State and Alabama haven't met on the football field yet, but historically there are some strong ties, dating back to the special relationship that Duffy Daugherty and 'Bear' Bryant forged more than 50 years ago," Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said in a statement. "That bond between the programs continues today, as Mark Dantonio previously served as an assistant coach under [Alabama head coach] Nick Saban here at Michigan State.
"With both Notre Dame and Alabama on the 2016 and 2017 schedules, there won't be a team in the country that plays a tougher nonconference slate."
The additions give Michigan State arguably the most challenging nonleague lineup in the Big Ten, which often gets criticized for soft nonconference scheduling.
Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michigan State beefed up its future nonconference schedules Monday, announcing agreements with both West Virginia and Alabama and extending its series with longtime rival Notre Dame.