Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 8, 2018*

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 53 of 55

54 OCT. 8, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED S ince the end of the 1993 college foot- ball season, different droughts can be pointed to in the on-field perfor- mance of the Notre Dame football operation. The most popular one recited is the lack of a con- sensus national title for 30 years now, easily eclips- ing the previous high of 16 seasons from 1950-65 — although even the 1964 unit won a share of the title with Alabama and Arkansas. Then there is the current 24-year streak of not even winning a major bowl while at least three-dozen other schools in that span have. In the 25 previous years from 1969-93, or when the Fighting Irish returned to the bowl scene in '69, they had won 10, the most in the country over that quarter-century run. A third element hit home during last week's preparation for Stanford: The showdown between the No. 7 Cardinal and No. 8 Fighting Irish marked the first time since Oct. 15, 2005 that two top-10 teams met in Notre Dame Stadium. The battle 13 years ago was No. 1 USC's dramatic last-second 34-31 vic- tory versus the No. 9 Irish in head coach Charlie Weis' debut season. Had it been truly that long? What stung even more is that Notre Dame had not won one of these top 10 versus top 10 matchups on its home field since another epic event — the Nov. 13, 1993 showdown with top-ranked Florida State in which the 31-24 Irish victory temporarily moved them to the top spot. Had it been that longer? Now, along the way Notre Dame did defeat No. 8 Michigan at home in 2004 (28-20) — but that was when the Irish were unranked after finishing 5-7 the year prior and then opening 2004 with a 20-17 upset loss at BYU. It had more of a frustrating effect. Same in 1998 when it opened with a 36-20 defeat of No. 5 Michigan, and then found itself down 42-3 at half- time the following week at Michigan State. Since the end of 1993, the Irish have actually won two top 10 versus top 10 matchups, but both were in the opponent's stadium. The first was in head coach Lou Holtz's final season in 1996, when No. 9 Notre Dame, on a 39-yard field goal by freshman Jim Sanson as time expired, won 27-24 at No. 6 Texas. (Alas, the No. 5 Irish lost at home the following week to No. 4 Ohio State, 29-16.) The second such win occurred Oct. 27, 2012, when third-year head coach Brian Kelly's No. 5 Irish de- feated No. 8 Oklahoma (30-13) in Norman. However, in the 24 seasons from 1994-2017, Notre Dame was 2-12 in such matchups prior to this year 's Stanford game, with the most recent such contest the 41-8 loss at Miami last Nov. 11 when the Irish were No. 3 and the Hurricanes No. 7. To put into context how long that 13-year drought in Notre Dame Sta- dium has been with a top 10 versus top 10 matchup, consider that under Holtz from November 1987 (when No. 7 Notre Dame defeated No. 10 Alabama 37-6) to the aforementioned Ohio State loss in 1996, the Irish had 11 such games on its home field, going 8-0-1 at one point during the seven-year stretch from 1987-93. The Stanford game was ninth-year head coach Kelly's debut in such a contest at home. It reflected to an old- timer like me how rare and extraordinary my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood years were when follow- ing the Irish. In the 20-year stretch from 1970-89, Notre Dame's football team van- quished its No. 1-ranked opponent seven times, and so did the men's bas- ketball program. College athletics has never seen such a stretch by the top two programs at a school in 20 years — and probably never will again. On three of those occasions, it resulted in a football national title with triumphs against No. 1 Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, No. 1 Texas in the 1978 Cotton Bowl, and No. 1 Miami dur- ing the 1988 regular season. My passion/intrigue in Notre Dame and its football history began in 1970 and now has been divided into two 24-year eras. The first were the mostly halcyon days from 1970-93 that included three national titles, three more near misses, a record 10 major bowl wins during that span, 11 top-10 finishes and a .747 winning percentage. The second 24-year era from 1994- 2017 featured no major bowl wins, two top-10 finishes and a more mod- est .616 winning percentage. The 2018 season to me was going to hopefully harken another new 24- year era, or continue the recent trend. Either way, time is bound to fly the same way, whether one is having fun with it or not. ✦ How Time Flies, Even Without All The Fun THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI Senior Editor Lou Somogyi has been at Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 1985. He can be reached at It's hard to believe that until the Stanford contest this year, the 2005 showdown with USC (above) was the most recent home game with both teams ranked in the top 10. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 8, 2018*