Blue and Gold Illustrated

Preseason 2016

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

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Page 70 of 99 PRESEASON 2016 71 a 3-0 halftime lead, but by the second half the sun (report- edly around 100 degrees on the field) was settling mainly on the Texas side while Notre Dame was in the shade. The Irish rallied to a 14-3 win versus the heated 'Horns. The 7-2-1 Irish would finish No. 3 in the country after defeating the Southwest Conference champ (Texas), Big 8 champ (Oklahoma), Pac-8 champ (USC), and co-Big Ten champ (Purdue), and also tied the Ivy League champ (Penn). 1971 AND 1978 COTTON BOWLS: HISTORY REPEATS From 1970-78, an underdog, one-loss Notre Dame outfit confronted unbeaten and No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl three times on Jan. 1 or Jan. 2. On Jan. 1, 1970, a dramatic 17-play drive by the Longhorns resulted in a touchdown with 1:08 left in the contest for a 21-17 victory to clinch the national title. Exactly one year later, No. 6 and 9-1 Notre Dame faced the Longhorns, who sported a 30-game winning streak. Led by quarterback Joe Theismann and the newly concocted "Mir- ror Defense" to hold in check Texas' vaunted wishbone, Notre Dame pulled off the 24-11 upset. Remarkably, the Irish almost vaulted from No. 6 to No. 1 because 10-0 and No. 2 Ohio State was stunned by 8-3 Stan- ford in the Rose Bowl. Then in the Orange Bowl, No. 3 and 10-0-1 Nebraska trailed LSU, 12-10 before a fourth-quarter TD drive by the Cornhuskers provided a 17-12 win and the program's first national title, with Notre Dame placing No. 2. Following the 1977 regular season, the 10-1 and No. 5 Fighting Irish faced a similar task versus 11-0 and No. 1 Texas. To win the national title, not only did the Irish have to up- set Texas in its home state, but they probably had to win by at least a couple of touchdowns for "style points" to impress the pollsters and leapfrog three other teams: No. 2 Oklahoma (Orange Bowl), No. 3 Alabama (Sugar) and No. 4 Michigan (Rose). The Sooners and Wolverines both ended up losing — with Lou Holtz's 10-1 Arkansas squad crushing Oklahoma 31-6 — while Notre Dame's stunning 38-10 demolition of Texas propelled the Irish all the way to No. 1. There were three eerie similarities between Notre Dame's Jan. 1 1971 Cotton Bowl victory and the one on Jan. 2, 1978: • In 1971, Notre Dame trailed 3-0 but exploded with three touchdowns in a span of 9:30 to take a 21-3 first-half lead. In 1978, the game was tied 3-3 when the Irish deto- nated with three touchdowns in a span of 7:28 to build a 24-3 first-half cushion. • In 1971, the Longhorns committed six turnovers (five fumbles and an interception), while Notre Dame had only two. In 1978, Texas again had six turnovers (three fumbles and three interceptions), while the Irish had one. • In 1971, Texas scored late in the first half to trail 24-11 at halftime. In 1978, it scored a touchdown on the last play of the first half to cut its deficit to 24-10 at the intermission. The difference was whereas the 1971 game had a scoreless second half, the 1978 contest saw the Irish add two more touchdowns. Style points do count. 1996: 'FOUL BALL' MAKES WALK-OFF HIT Twenty years ago, Holtz, then the Notre Dame head coach, was making the trip to Austin. He was 0-3 in the city as the Arkansas boss from 1977-83, and his No. 9 Irish were the underdogs to No. 6 Texas. With Notre Dame trailing 24-17 and the Longhorns in possession at their 36 with about six minutes left, linebacker Kory Minor tipped a James Brown pass that Lyron Cobbins intercepted to set up a TD drive capped by current Notre Dame running backs coach Autry Denson (24 carries for 158 yards) — on a fourth-and-goal from the 6-yard line — tak- ing an option pitch from Ron Powlus, also on the 2016 staff. The audacity of that play call and success carried over, with the Irish forcing a Texas punt on the next series and then setting up freshman kicker Jim Sanson for a 39-yard field goal on the game's final play. Sanson had been awful in such situations in practices, but then promptly drilled the kick perfectly through the uprights for the 27-24 win. "I say this affectionately, but I've nicknamed him — and the kids called him this all week — 'Foul Ball,' " Holtz said afterwards. "I told him he's kicked more foul balls than any placekicker in the history of the game." Prior to the game, Holtz said the law of averages would be with him. "God didn't put me on this earth to lose four times there," he said. "The odds are in our favor." Texas might feel the same way about their current 0-4 mark at home versus Notre Dame. ✦ Senior defensive lineman Isaac Rochell and the Fighting Irish easily throtteld the Longhorns 38-3 in South Bend last season — the largest margin of victory in the 11-game history between the two schools. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA NOTRE DAME VS. TEXAS: THROUGH THE YEARS Nov. 27, 1913: Notre Dame 30, Texas 7 Nov. 25, 1915: Notre Dame 36, Texas 7 Oct. 6, 1934: Texas 7, Notre Dame 6* Oct. 4, 1952: No. 19 Notre Dame 14, No. 5 Texas 3 Sept. 25, 1954: No. 2 Notre Dame 21, No. 4 Texas 0* Jan. 1, 1970: No. 1 Texas 21, No. 9 Notre Dame 17^ Jan. 1, 1971: No. 6 Notre Dame 24, No. 1 Texas 11^ Jan. 2, 1978: No. 5 Notre Dame 38, No. 1 Texas 10^ Sept. 23, 1995: No. 19 Notre Dame 55, No. 13 Texas 27* Sept. 21, 1996: No. 9 Notre Dame 27, No. 6 Texas 24 Sept. 5, 2015: No. 11 Notre Dame 38, Texas 3* * Home game; ^ Cotton Bowl

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