Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 27, 2020

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

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52 NOV. 27, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI I n 1996, the NCAA instituted overtime into college football to eliminate ties. While the move was seen as long overdue, no football program every benefited from deadlocks more than Notre Dame. A tie has helped the program achieve three different national titles. • The original "Game of the Cen- tury" between No. 1 Army and No. 2 Notre Dame resulted in a scoreless outcome in 1946. Entering the last day of the sea- son, Army had 72 first-place votes to Notre Dame's 38. But when the Black Knights barely defeated 1-8 Navy — 21-18 — when time expired on the Midshipmen (who had lost 28-0 to Notre Dame) in the shadow of Ar- my's goal line, and the Fighting Irish throttled No. 16 USC by a 26-6 count, the Associated Press poll put Notre Dame at No. 1 in the final ranking by a 104.5 to 52.5 count. • Twenty years later when No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State played to a 10-10 deadlock on Nov. 19, 1966 in East Lansing, the Irish actually went from a 37-27 ad- vantage in first-place votes to 40-10 the ensuing week (with No. 3 Ala- bama receiving seven). Head coach Ara Parseghian's Irish then solidified that placement with a 51-0 slaughter of No. 10 and Pac-8 champ USC that week to end the sea- son. Bowl games were not counted in the final poll back then, part of why Notre Dame didn't attend postseason events until 1969, after the AP de- cided a year earlier it would have a final vote following the bowl games. • Finally, in 1973, Parseghian's crew was saved by a tie in late No- vember again, but not directly this time. No. 2 Alabama and No. 5 Notre Dame were both unbeaten and agreed to play in the Sugar Bowl. The problem was No. 1 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan also had perfect records, and a victory by one or the other might have them playing for the national title in the Rose Bowl. In their final regular season game, the Buckeyes and Wolverines played to a 10-10 deadlock — which then elevated Alabama to No. 1 and Notre Dame to No. 3 and a showdown for the national title, which the Fighting Irish won. Of the 60 first-place votes cast that year in the AP, No. 1 Notre Dame had 33, Ohio State 11 — and Oklahoma 16. However, the Sooners were on probation, and likewise had a blem- ish with a 7-7 tie early in the year ver- sus USC, which had been defeated by both the Fighting Irish and Buck- eyes (in the Rose Bowl). ANOTHER 'WHAT IF' One could even argue that Notre Dame's most recent national title in 1988 was also aided in part by a deci- sion not to play for the tie. On Oct. 15 of that year, No. 1 Mi- ami had just scored a touchdown with 45 seconds left to pull within 31-30. Had Hurricanes head coach Jimmy Johnson opted to kick the ex- tra point for the tie, chances are he would have played 11-0 West Vir- ginia for the national title that season in the Fiesta Bowl, not Notre Dame. Instead, he went for the win and came up short when the two-point pass was batted away by safety Pat Terrell. The same principle applied 32 years later in this year 's Nov. 7 matchup with Clemson. Just like in 1988, the two teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 4 — and both times No. 1 had 36-game regular-season winning streaks. Only this time it was No. 4 that tied the score at the end, and now the game could be extended with a tie. With 1:48 remaining, trailing 33-26 and 91 yards away from pay dirt, fifth-year senior quarterback Ian Book steered a drive for the ages, connecting with senior slot receiver Avery Davis for the touchdown with 22 seconds remaining to cut Notre Dame's deficit to 33-32. Notre Dame was only 5-10 in over- time, and had not played any extra sessions since a 50-47 loss at Texas to open the 2016 campaign. Notre Dame's 47-40 win against No. 1 Clemson in double overtime was made possible by a remarkable 91-yard drive culminating in a touchdown pass from Ian Book to Avery Davis with 22 seconds remaining in regulation. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS TIE BREAKER Notre Dame's classic win over No. 1 Clemson improved its record to 6-10 in overtime games

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