Notre Dame Football: 5 Biggest Wins in Program History

Saturday's upset of No. 1 Clemson was huge, but still not significant enough to make this list

Notre Dame garnered one of its biggest wins in recent years with its 47-40 double-overtime victory against then-No. 1 Clemson last Saturday. Was it one of the greatest in Irish history? Not quite for a program like Notre Dame. To give you a little perspective, here are the five biggest wins in the program’s history.

 

5. Notre Dame 24, Alabama 23 (Sugar Bowl)

Dec. 31, 1973 – New Orleans

Third-ranked Notre Dame met No. 1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and the two teams played one of the greatest college football games of all time. They matched each other score for score until Irish kicker Bob Thomas booted a 19-yard field goal to take the lead with 4:26 to go. The Crimson Tide pinned Notre Dame deep in its own territory, but quarterback Tom Clements hit tight end Robin Weber with a long pass for a first down that allowed the Irish to run out the clock. With the victory, Notre Dame head coach Ara Parseghian secured his second national title.

 

4. Notre Dame 51, USC 0

Nov. 26, 1966 – Los Angeles

After tying No. 2 Michigan State 10-10 the week before, sportswriters and coaches agreed that it was one of the greatest games ever played, but disagreed on whether the top-ranked Irish deserved to be the consensus national champion. This whipping on the road of 10th-ranked USC the following week ended the controversy and both the AP and Coaches polls awarded the national title to Notre Dame.

 

3. Notre Dame 38, Texas 10 (Cotton Bowl)

Jan. 2, 1978 – Dallas

Notre Dame lost to Ole Miss earlier in the season. Then head coach Dan Devine named Joe Montana as the starting quarterback and the Irish won the rest of their games, earning a Cotton Bowl berth against No. 1 Texas. Powered by Heisman Trophy-winning running back Earl Campbell, the Longhorns had beaten all but two of its opponents by at least two touchdowns and the Cotton Bowl was expected to be a coronation of the national champion. And it was... just not for Texas. Notre Dame converted five Texas turnovers into scores and never trailed. The win and losses by No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 4 Michigan vaulted the fifth-ranked Irish to the national title.

 

2. Notre Dame 31, Miami 30

Oct. 15, 1988 – South Bend, Ind.

The Irish had last four straight to the Hurricanes, but entered their matchup against the top-ranked defending national champion 5-0 and ranked fourth. While the game is remembered for being dubbed "Catholics vs. Convicts," Notre Dame took a 31-21 third-quarter lead and held on to win. The Irish went undefeated and won the national championship having beaten the best opponent they faced all season.

 

1. Notre Dame 27, Stanford 10

Jan. 1, 1925 – Pasadena, Calif.

Legendary coaches Knute Rockne and Pop Warner faced off in Notre Dame's first bowl game. The Irish and its Four Horsemen backfield methodically beat Stanford in a contest that put the program on the map nationally. It was also Notre Dame’s last bowl game until 1970 as the Irish had a no bowl policy during that period because the national champion at that time was named before the bowls so the games were simply exhibitions.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

 

(Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah photo courtesy of @NDFootball)

Include in Acu Data Feed: 
Exclude from Acu-data Feed

More Stories: