Due to the overwhelming response by our faithful Notre Dame-supporting readers to Top ten Notre Dame Fighting Irish Bowl Games - part 1 we would like to continue our list of Notre Dame’s best bowl games of all time.
Lets start where we left off at number 11.
11. 1993 Cotton Bowl, Notre Dame 28 Texas A&M 3
Fourth Ranked Texas A&M and 5th ranked Notre Dame met in Dallas on New Years Day in the much hyped match up. It lived up to its high expectations. The game pitted an excellent Notre Dame Offense led by the triumvirate of RB Reggie Brooks, Fullback Jerome Bettis, and QB Rick Mirer. The fearsome Aggie defense led by linebacker Marcus Buckley was known as the “Wrecking Crew”. It was the Fighting Irish that did the wrecking that day on both sides of the ball. Notre Dame yielded only 165 yards and three points on defense and generated 439 total yards (290 yards rushing) on offense.
12. 1976 Gator Bowl, Notre Dame 20 Penn State 9
This game pitted famed coaches Dan Devine and Joe Paterno against each other. Notre Dame (9-3) were ranked fifth and Penn State (7-5) were tied for 20th in the nation. The deft Notre Dame offense was paced by TE Steve Heinkreiter (10 receptions, 76 yards) and RB Al Hunter (26 carries 102 yards). The punishing Notre Dame defense held the Nittany lions touchdownless and were led by linebackers Doug Becker (13 tackles) and Bob Golic (11 tackles).
13. 1970 Cotton Bowl Texas 21 Notre Dame 17
This game is considered one of the most memorable in college bowl history. This appearance was the first by the Fighting Irish since the “Four Horsemen” notched a victory in the Rose Bowl 45 years prior. More than 70,000 people crammed the stadium and millions more turned on their TVs to see this one for the ages. Notre Dame came into the Cotton bowl with a pedestrian 8-1-1 record and a defense ranked fourth in the nation. They faced a daunting challenge in Texas’s vaunted “Wishbone-T” attack. Despite a stellar effort by New Jersey-born Notre Dame QB Joe Theisman (17 of 27, 231 YDS, 2 TDs) and being 7 ½ underdogs the Irish could not stop a fourth quarter Longhorns comeback. The team unfortunately ran roughshod over the Irish with 331 yards rushing.
14. 2010 Sun Bowl, Notre Dame 33 Miami 17
The Fighting Irish faced historic rivals the Miami Hurricanes in the team’s first ever Sun Bowl appearance. “The Catholics” and “The Covicts” last met in 1990. It also marked Charlie Weiss’ first year as Notre Dame head coach, helming the team to a 7-5 record. The Fighting Irish jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Running backs Cierre Wood and Robert Hughes each rushed for over 80 yards in a solid offensive effort for the Fighting Irish. The game MVP was awarded to stand out Fighting Irish WR Michael Floyd for his six catch, 106 yards, and two touchdowns performance.
15. 2008 Hawaii Bowl, Notre Dame 49 Hawaii 7
The game was a recording breaking one. That is for Fighting Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen who set Notre Dame bowl marks in passing yards (406), passing touchdowns (5), completion percentage that may never be bested. The senior led the team to its first post season victory in 15 years. Golden Tate, the benefactor of Clausen’s otherworldly play, finished the game with 177 yards and three touchdowns.
16. 1983 Liberty Bowl, Notre Dame 19 Boston College 18
Thanks to the solid efforts of the running back tandem of Alan Pinkett (111 YDS, 2 TDs) and Chris Smith (104 YDs) as well as quarterback Blair Kiel (11/19, 151 YDs, 1 TD) the Fighting Irish upended Boston College despite the MVP award-winning play of Eagles star QB Doug Flutie (16/37, 287 YDs, 3 TDs).
17. 1984 Aloha Bowl, SMU 27 Notre Dame 20
The Fighting Irish entered this contest against SMU with a 7-4 mark. The squad coached by Gerry Faust lost to the Mustangs 27-20. Despite falling behind 17-0 at the half the Irish fought its way back to tie the game in the third quarter. But it proved too little too late. The game featured a worthy performance by Fighting Irish RB Alan Pinkett who notched 136 rushing yards on 24 carries. SMU however was embroiled in a scandal that resulted in the forfeiture of this game and thus a Notre Dame victory. Hey. A win is a win.
18. 1991 Orange Bowl Colorado 10 Notre Dame 9
No. 5 Notre Dame faced a formidable foe in first ranked Colorado who sought its first ever national championship. Well, in a sport that’s not skiing. Defense controlled the game for both squads as the Fighting Irish held Buffalo QB Darien Hagan to 29 yards passing and Colorado limited Notre Dame to a season low 123 yards. The Fighting Irish could have sealed the victory with a 91-yard punt return from Raghib “Rocket” Ismael which was called back for clipping.
19. 1996 Orange Bowl Florida State 31 Notre Dame 26
The Seminoles looked for a repeat victory against the Irish from a year ago in Orlando. In coach Lou Holz’s second to last season he was not going down without a fight. And fight the Irish did. The Irish in fact led well into the third quarter with a 17-14 lead well into the third quarter. The Irish could not handle the 4th quarter Seminole 17 point offensive onslaught as quarterback Danny Kannell threw 2 touchdowns in the last ten minutes.
20. 1999 Gator Bowl, Georgia Tech 35 Notre Dame 28
The Irish attempted valiantly to put an end to their 3 game bowl losing streak. This opportunity came in a non-BCS bowl game against Georgia Tech in Jacksonville on New Years Day. Fighting Irish QB Jarious Jackson (13/24, 150 YDS) and RB Autry Denson (130 YDs, 3 TDs) were no match for the Blackjacket offensive duo of QB Joe Hamilton (237 YDs, 3 TDs) and WR Dez White (4 catches, 129 YDs). The Notre Dame defense failed to contain the Yellow Jackets yielding 436 yards on 5 long scoring drives.
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