One of the craziest moments in this series occurred in a game at Notre Dame on Nov. 18, 1972 when there was snow inside the stadium.
The Irish scored a second-quarter TD to move ahead 6-0, but missed the PAT when a fan threw a snowball from the stands that shattered right in front of holder Brian Doherty and the snapped ball, thus breaking his concentration and leading to a fumble. It seemed insignificant once Notre Dame was ahead 20-3, but a late comeback led Miami to set up for a game-tying 46-yard field goal in the final minute.
It missed, but had the game ended in a 20-20 tie because of the errant PAT, 8-1 Notre Dame would not have received an invitation to the Orange Bowl. Maybe it would have been better had Miami made the field goal — because the Irish ended up losing 40-6 to Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Then again, that loss was an impetus toward the 1973 national title.
That brings us to our top 5 games.
5. Dec.1, 1973: Notre Dame 44, Miami 0
This was significant for several reasons. One, this game was the first 10-0 regular season finish under head coach Ara Parseghian in his 10 seasons with the Irish, and the first since 1949. Parseghian had 9-0 starts in 1964 and 1970, only to lose at USC. He took special pride in writing “10-0” on the game ball.
Second, it was played in Miami’s Orange Bowl, where exactly 11 months earlier the Irish experienced the Nebraska debacle but had come full circle.
Finally, long-time Irish assistant coach and Notre Dame mainstay Brian Boulac said that in Parseghian’s 11 seasons with the Irish, this was one of the most flawless performances against a quality team. Earlier in the year, Miami had upset Sports Illustrated pre-season No. 1 Texas (20-15) and took Oklahoma, which finished No. 2 to Notre Dame, to the brink before losing 24-20.
4. Nov. 24, 1967: Notre Dame 24, Miami 22
Sports Illustrated ranked defending national champ Notre Dame No. 1 in the pre-season, while Miami was No. 3. Both came into this season finale with two losses, but the Hurricanes had won six in a row and played excellent defense, led by Ted “Stork” Hendricks. They also had the Irish at home in the heat on a Friday night.
Notre Dame had a 13-3 deficit but rallied to take a 24-16 lead before Miami set up for the game-tying two-point conversion with about three minutes left. Linebacker Bob Olson deflected the pass to preserve the win and a final No. 5 ranking at 8-2. The game ball was presented to injured captain Rocky Bleier, who had torn his knee ligaments a week earlier.
Irish assistant Tom Pagna always treasured a quote by a Miami lineman afterwards: “In the fourth quarter, I was really hanging and figured they’re not used to the heat as I am. But they’d break the huddle, sprint to the line and bust a gut coming after you. I knew then why they were Notre Dame.”
3. Oct. 9, 1982: Notre Dame 16, Miami 14
During his 1981-85 regime at Notre Dame, head coach Gerry Faust was 1-4 against the Hurricanes, losing by an average of 28 points and never less than 18. But this victory against head coach Howard Schnellenberger’s rising superpower made him 4-0 (sound familiar?) in his second season and elevated the Irish to No. 9 nationally (sound familiar?).
With injured Miami quarterback Jim Kelly unavailable, No. 2 QB Mark Richt — now the head coach at Georgia — put the Hurricanes ahead 14-10 early in the fourth quarter with a perfectly placed 79-yard touchdown pass.
Still trailing 14-13 with 1:37 left, Irish quarterback Blair Kiel directed a 55-yard drive to set up Mike Johnston’s 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.
2. Oct. 20, 1990: Notre Dame 29, Miami 20
In the final chapter of the regular season series from 1971-90 that would be suspended because of too much animosity, the No. 6 Irish toppled the No. 2 Hurricanes.
Special teams steal the show with kicker Craig Hentrich booting a school record five goals and junior Raghib “Rocket” Ismail returning a 94-yard kickoff for a score to tie the game at 10. Ismail would also rush for 100 yards on 13 carries and become the fourth quarter “closer” against a vaunted Miami defense led by tackle Russell Maryland, the No. 1 pick in the 1991 NFL Draft. Ismail finished with a career high 268 all-purpose yards.
1. Oct 15, 1988: Notre Dame 31, Miami 30
Considered the greatest, most electrifying and exciting game in Notre Dame Stadium history, if not overall (see yesterday’s video), the Irish ended No. 1 and defending national champion Miami’s 36-game regular season unbeaten streak to make the entire nation proclaim, “Notre Dame is back!”
The Irish lost four straight to the mighty Hurricanes from 1983-87 while getting out-scored 133-20. On this day, they never trailed, but needed a two-point pass breakup by Pat Terrell in the final minute, and an on-side kick recovery by Anthony Johnson, to seal the verdict. Option specialist Tony Rice completed eight of his 16 passes for 195 yards, with four going to Ismail for 97 yards.