How about this six pack of games featuring two Top 10 teams at Notre Dame Stadium?
Here comes another matchup between two Top 10 teams at Notre Dame Stadium.
Gotta admit, didn’t see this one coming as No. 9 Notre Dame (4-0) hosts No. 7 Cincinnati (3-0), but it is kind of nice. Gets the heartbeat going a little faster than say, Toledo and Notre Dame, doesn’t it?
Notre Dame Stadium has seen its share of games between two Top 10 teams. Some were a long time ago that will forever live in Irish football lore. Others, not that long ago. Like last season. Remember that one?
Saturday is the 19th time since 1959 – the first year of the Joe Kuharich coaching era –and the third time in the last four years that two Top 10 teams in the Associated Press poll play at Notre Dame Stadium. Here’s a quick look back at the top six contests.
6. No. 6 Notre Dame 26, No. 8 Purdue 14
(Sept. 24, 1966)
Nerves? What nerves? Sophomore quarterback Terry Hanratty and classmate Jim Seymour weren’t supposed to offer that much against the Boilermakers and All-American quarterback Bob Griese. Wrong.
Seymour caught 13 passes for 276 yards (still a single-game school record) and three touchdowns. Hanratty threw for 304 yards. The two Irish would later be featured on the cover of Time magazine in a season that saw Notre Dame go 9-0-1 and win a national championship.
This showdown opener was where it all started.
5. No. 8 Notre Dame 38, No. 7 Stanford 17
(Sept. 29, 2018)
Notre Dame’s offense hit another gear on this night, one that saw the Irish rack up 29 first downs, 272 rushing yards and 550 total yards and five touchdowns.
Four sacks from Jerry Tillery helped do it on defense.
Stanford simply had no chance.
This win gave the Irish the confidence and the swagger to steamroll through the rest of the regular season, which ended with their first appearance in the College Football Playoff. Following this game, Notre Dame went and played and won a night game at Virginia Tech. Following Saturday’s game, next up for Notre Dame is a night game at … Virginia Tech.
4. No. 4 Notre Dame 47, No. 1 Clemson 40 (double overtime)
(Nov. 7, 2020)
Imagine what this one would’ve been like with more fans in the stands. The global pandemic limited attendance to 11,011, and many of those wound up rushing the field after the Irish tallied 518 yards of total offense, which included a 23-carry, 140-yard, three-touchdown night from tailback Kyren Williams. Ian Book threw for 310 yards and Jonathan Doerer kicked four field goals as Notre Dame did the unthinkable – it beat Clemson as a fellow member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Clemson, and quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who didn’t play in this one because of COVID-19, would get their revenge in the league championship game, but for one night, Notre Dame was better.
3. No. 1 USC 34, No. 9 Notre Dame 31
(Oct. 15, 2005)
What became known as the “Bush Push” game that won it in the closing seconds wasn’t supposed to be that close. The Trojans came to town having won 27 straight games, including three victories over the Irish, each by 31 points. USC was way better, but ah, Notre Dame switched it up and wore green jerseys and the fuse was lit.
Tom Zbikowski’s punt return for a touchdown sent the stadium up for grabs. Notre Dame thought it had the game won after pushing (sorry) USC into a fourth-and-nine call deep in its own territory, but Matt Leinart worked some late-game magic.
How big was this one? It still has its own Wikipedia page. After this one, everyone thought the Irish were back. Turns out it was just a big tease.
2. No. 2 Notre Dame 31, No. 1 Florida State 24
(Nov. 13, 1993)
Another “Game of the Century” featured everything from the first installment of what became ESPN’s College GameDay to O.J. Simpson working the game as a sideline reporter. Lee Becton ran for over 100 yards and defensive back Jeff Burris scored a rush touchdown out of a fullhouse backfield. The Irish in one stretch ran off 24 unanswered points.
Face value of a game ticket was reportedly ... $27. It was the most-watched college football game in 12 years.
When Shawn Wooden batted down a Charlie Ward pass as time expired, you could feel the old press box shake and quake. Notre Dame was again No. 1, if only for a short time. Like, a week.
1. No. 4 Notre Dame 31, No. 1 Miami 30
(Oct. 15, 1988)
Forget 100 or 200 words on this one. A thousand or two or three aren't nearly enough to describe this one. You know the backstory – the vitriol between the two programs, heck, between the two head coaches. The pre-game dust-up in the stadium tunnel. The “Catholics vs. Convicts” T-shirts. The 30-for-30 documentary. The near-perfect fall weather in South Bend.
Truly a game for the ages.
So many swings of momentum and big plays and, honestly, controversial, plays. If this game had replay, Cleveland Gary’s late fumble likely gets overturned. But it didn’t, so it didn’t as Notre Dame held on at the end (thanks again, Pat Terrell) on its way to what is its last national championship.
Follow South Bend Tribune and NDInsider columnist Tom Noie on Twitter: @tnoieNDI