Notre Dame is 1-4 in the Fiesta Bowl since 1989. Here's how each game went down
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — When No. 5 Notre Dame (11-1) and No. 9 Oklahoma State (11-2) kickoff at 1 p.m. EST Saturday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., it will be the sixth time the Irish have played in the Fiesta bowl.
The destination stared out most ideal for Notre Dame with a win over West Virginia to cap a perfect 1988 season and national championship.
Since then, however, not so much. Here’s a look back at Notre Dame’s previous five Fiesta Bowl appearances:
Jan. 2, 1989
No. 1 Notre Dame 21, No. 3 West Virginia 21
TEMPE, Ariz. — In a battle of undefeated teams, Notre Dame stamped an exclamation point on its 11th and most recent national championship, tripping up QB Major Harris and the Mountaineers at Sun Devil Stadium.
Harris had been a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1988, but separated his shoulder on the third play of the game, which hindered him the rest of the way. Notre Dame jumped out to a 16-0 lead on rushing touchdowns by South Bend native Anthony Johnson and Rodney Culver. Irish QB Tony Rice hit Raghib Ismail for a 29-yard TD as ND led 23-3 at halftime.
The win completed Notre Dame’s first 12-0 season.
Jan. 2, 1995
No. 4 Colorado 41, Notre Dame 24
TEMPE, Ariz. — The unranked Irish came into the game with a 6-4-1 record and were a controversial choice to play in this game opposite the talented Buffalos.
Notre Dame’s defense managed to hold Heisman Trophy winning running back Rashaan Salaam to just 83 yards rushing on 27 carries, but had no answers for quarterback Kordell Stewart who accounted for 348 yards of total offense as Colorado built a 31-3 second quarter lead.
Sophomore QB Ron Powlus threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns on 18 of 34 passing. Longtime Colorado coach Bill McCartney retired after the game.
Jan. 1, 2001
No. 5 Oregon State 41, No. 10 Notre Dame 9
TEMPE, Ariz. — After a 2-2 start to the season, which included a 27-24 overtime loss at home to No. 1 Nebraska, the Irish rallied behind QB Matt LoVecchio for seven straight wins — all over unranked opponents — to earn the matchup with the fifth-ranked Beavers.
Oregon State was favored by 3½ points, and led 12-3 at halftime before scoring 29 unanswered points in the third quarter to blow the game open. Beavers’ quarterback Johnathan Smith threw for 305 yards with TD passes to future NFL stars Chad Johnson (2) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Notre Dame’s only touchdown came in the fourth quarter, a 1-yard run by Tony Fisher. The two-point conversion failed and the Irish finished the season 9-3 and ranked 15th. Oregon State (11-1) finished No. 4, its highest final ranking to date.
Jan. 2, 2006
No. 4 Ohio State 34, No. 5 Notre Dame 20
GLENDALE, Ariz. — In a season that nearly saw the Irish knock off No. 1 USC in the “Bush Push” game under first-year coach Charlie Weis, Notre Dame had high hopes against the Buckeyes in a game that was closer than many seem to remember.
The Irish started fast, taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 20-yard run by RB Darius Walker. But Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. tied the game on a 56-yard TD pass from Troy Smith and then gave the Buckeyes a lead they would not relinquish on a 68-yard touchdown run on a reverse play.
Ohio State stretched its lead to 27-13 on a fourth quarter field goal, but the Irish weren’t finished. Darius Walker ran in 3 yards for his third touchdown of the night to pull to 27-20 with 5:27 left in the game.
Running back Antonio Pittman put the game away, however, on a 60-yard TD run at the 1:46 mark.
The 9-3 Irish finished ninth in the final AP poll and Ohio State remained fourth.
Jan. 1, 2016
No. 7 Ohio State 44, No. 8 Notre Dame 28
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Irish came within a whisker of making the College Football Playoff, but a game-winning Stanford field goal as time expired in the final regular season game relegated Notre Dame to the Fiesta.
The consolation prize was a date with another loaded Buckeyes team and future NFL star running back Ezekiel Elliott who would end up rushing for 149 yards and four touchdowns as Ohio State built a 38-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame suffered a major blow early when Butkis Award-winning LB Jaylon Smith left the game after Ohio State’s first touchdown in the first quarter with a torn MCL and LCL. Smith, a junior, was expected to be a top five pick in the upcoming NFL draft and would slip to the 34th pick of the second round by the Cowboys as a result of the injury.
As was the case a decade earlier, the Irish kept battling and Will Fuller’s 81-yard TD reception from DeShone Kizer made it 38-28 with 11:27 to play. The Buckeyes, however, managed to pad their lead with a pair of Sean Huernberger field goals.
Notre Dame finished the season 10-3 and ranked No. 11 in the final AP poll. Ohio State (12-1) ended up fourth.