Remember these top five Notre Dame games at Soldier Field?
CHICAGO — An 11 a.m. local time start for a Notre Dame football game? That hasn’t happened very often, or very recently. Maybe not since the 1995 game against Texas back at Notre Dame Stadium has an Irish game started so early.
At least, on this side of the Atlantic Ocean (we see you, Dublin).
And a Notre Dame game at Soldier Field? That also hasn’t happened often, though the Irish tend to play those as if the stadium on the south end of downtown here is a home away from home.
Saturday’s early kick (noon EDT, FOX) between No. 12 Notre Dame (3-0) and No. 18 Wisconsin (2-0) is No. 13 all-time for Notre Dame at Soldier Field, which sits barely 100 miles from its South Bend campus. The Irish have never lost on Chicago’s lakefront, going 10-0-2 at a stadium that's been remodeled and renamed throughout the years.
Here’s a look at the top five Irish wins at Soldier Field.
1. Notre Dame 13, Northwestern 6
Nov. 22, 1924
Why go with a game played nearly a century ago? Easy. It was one win of 10 that season that continued to help craft the mystique of Notre Dame football. A month earlier in a win over Army, the term “Four Horsemen” was coined by sportswriter Grantland Rice. At season’s end, Notre Dame would win its first national championship.
Quarterback Harry Stuhldreher — one of the Horsemen — scored a touchdown and Elmer Layden — another Horsemen — returned an interception 45 yards for another score. Lose this one, and maybe Notre Dame is just another small school trying to find its way in big-time college football.
2. Notre Dame 41, Miami (Fla.) 3
Oct. 6, 2012
Notre Dame did a serious flex defensively in its most recent trip to the Chi. Miami had rolled up 86 points and 1,260 total yards its previous two games. The Hurricanes then managed only a field goal and 285 yards. Linebacker Manti Te’o led the Irish with 10 tackles.
Notre Dame rushed for 376 yards — its most since 2000 — and improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2002. A magical season that would end with a spot in the national championship game picked some serious steam on this Saturday night.
3. Notre Dame 7, USC 6
Nov. 26, 1927
Before this game became the greatest intersectional college football rivalry in the country, the Trojans would go only as far as Chicago to play the Irish. This was the teams’ first meeting in the Midwest one year after playing in Los Angeles. Charles Riley found Ray Dahman for the only Irish touchdown. Dahman also kicked the decisive extra point.
Attendance was officially listed as 99,573 but there were reports that as many as 123,000 took in this one at the massive concrete stadium that once carried a capacity well north of 100,000.
4. Notre Dame 42, Northwestern 15
Sept. 3, 1994
The legend of the quarterback who was supposed to win a pair of Heisman Trophies was born. Or something like that.
In his prime-time debut, Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Ron Powlus completed 18 of 24 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns for the third-ranked Irish. Brent Musburger went full-on Brent Musburger about the kid from Berwick, Pa., who’d missed the previous season with a broken collarbone.
The magic quickly faded as the Irish staggered to a 6-5-1 season.
5. Notre Dame 42, Northwestern 7
Sept. 5, 1992
Playing a Northwestern team under new leadership in first-year coach Gary Barnett, Notre Dame had some trouble getting in gear. The Irish led 14-7 at half, which gave Wildcat faithful hope that it indeed was the dawning of a new football era.
Then the Irish run game kicked in and that was that. Fullback Jerome Bettis pounded his way to 130 yards and a score on 19 carries. Tailback Reggie Brooks added 157 yards on only nine carries. Third-ranked Notre Dame rolled in its opener of a season that saw it go 10-1-1.
Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI