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If you could pick 2 plays over the history of ND Football.....

  • ... that you could "reasonably" change the result, which would they be.

    Some(among many others) to consider:
    - Derek Brown catches the ball that landed in his bread basket vs stanford 1990 as time expired
    - Dave Gordon's FG, or better yet Pete Bercich's drop for an all but Interception
    - 3rd and 44
    - Tiger Clark's pick 6 as the first half ended vs Miami 1989
    - Devon McDonald falling on the ball at the Miami 7 instead of trying to advance it
    - the Bush Push
    - Jonas's fumble
    - Dayne's fumble
    - Mirer's pick vs PSU in the waning minutes vs PSU in 1990
    - Jeremy Gallon's 65 yard reception vs Michigan last year

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  • I think you missed a big one.

    Greg Davis called for a block in the back on Rocket Ismail punt return for a TD vs. Colorado in 1991 (I think).

  • Play No. 1 would definitely be either Gordon missing the field goal or Bercich intercepting the pass prior to the FG. In that situation, my guess is No. 1 and 11-0 Notre Dame could have played unbeaten Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, where I think it would have clinched the national title. Or maybe the Fiesta would have liked an ND-FSU rematch. I don't think ND would have gone for that.

    No. 2 is Craig Fertig to Rod Sherman on 4th-and-8 from the Irish 15 with 1:33 left. He made a superb pass when it looked like he was about to be sacked, and All-America DB Tony Carey slipped at the last second. It cost No. 1 and 9-0 ND a perfect season and consensus national title (the Irish did get the MacArthur Bowl for a share of the four major outlets recognized by the NCAA).

    Another extremely play I'd mention is USC QB Paul McDonald getting sacked by Jeff Weston with about 30 seconds left and losing a fumble — only to have the official rule it an incomplete pass. That helped set up USC's game-winning FG with two seconds left to end an 8-game Irish winning streak.

    Others might remember Michael Harper's "Phantom TD" to beat ND, 17-13, in the closing seconds of USC's 1982 victory. But that year, the Irish had already turned down a bowl invitation and finished 6-4-1.

  • Jonas fumble and 65 yard pass.

    Would have put them at 10-2 and probably would have taken Michigans spot against VT, which was a winnable game. Huge step in terms of progress. Might have even beat USC if we went into the game undefeated, which would put us at 11-1. Don't think we could have beaten Stanford either way but you never know.

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    5 Time POTW--Gringo Mafia Director of Guerrilla Warfare

  • I would go with Gordon missing that fg or Bercich making the pick first, then the bush push and the other two USC games Lou listed above because they were terrible childhood memories,lol.

    Two time Poster of The Week, 2011 and 2013.

  • I knew Lou and others woul help fill in the 60s and 70s "blanks" that I just am unaware of. And yes, I thought of the Rocket clip. But I dont consider that one important b/c it in no way was at a time when we had a shot at the title. All the others did have meaning(except for daynes fumble), even if some were earlier in the season.

    This post was edited by coachcft 23 months ago

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  • Coachcft, rather than the Bush Push, the do-over, and bigger play, I would pick is the mind numbing blown coverage by Ambrose Wooden on the 4th and 9 pass. Had he been close enough, or aware enough, even a pass inteference call is a win.

    The Bercich drop was the killer play in that BC game, although, there was a phantom penalty on ND during the kickoff return that improved BC's field position by 15 yards and set up what was a very makeable field goal. Fact is BC controlled the game for all but most of the 4th quarter.

  • coachcft,

    I wonder, though, whether, Notre Dame might have received a split of the national title had Rocket's return counted.

    The national title was split between Georgia Tech and Colorado, which had a loss and a tie — plus the infamous "Fifth-Down Game" against Missouri in which the officials mistakenly gave the Buffaloes an extra down that helped win the game.

    Georgia Tech, which had one tie, was kind of grudgingly given a share of title because the ACC was weak back then (no Florida State, no Miami), and seen almost like a BYU in 1984.

    Thus, I'm not sure it would have been far-fetched to believe ND might have been given a share of the title had Rocket's return counted. It could have been the first team to win it with two losses (LSU became the first instead in 2007).

    Think about it: Had the return counted, ND in 1990 would have defeated: 1) co-Big Ten champs Michigan and Michigan State (Sparty on the road), 2) No. 2-ranked and defending national champ Miami, which crushed 10-1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl, 46-3, 3) won at SEC and Sugar Bowl champion Tennessee, 4) defeated USC at USC, and 5) vanquished Big-8 champ Colorado.

    That's four victories over "BCS conference" champs (Michigan, MSU, Tennessee and Colorado), with three of them away from home, at USC, plus the pre-eminent power from 1983-94 in Miami.

    Had you had to match up ND's resume with Georgia Tech's, the Irish would have been far superior.

  • nice call on ambrose wooden, but i think that play falls a smidge outside the "reasonable" domain, b/c I guess I feel that was something that THEY did, I'll give them credit.

    BETTER call on the Jeremy Sample phantom penalty. He did nothing on the ONE time we pinned BC back and ditn yield a good return... this time on their own 10 yard line... that "play" goes unnoticed

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  • I agree logically Lou, but it wouldnt have happened. That was the peak of anti-Lou in the AP.

    Plus, we HAD our chances at home on Senior Day ranked #1 vs Penn State.

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  • Unbelievably, you all missed the big one. It would absolutely be the field goal with which Boston College beat us in 1993. If that kick went awry, the Irish would have had Holtz's 2nd national title. Of course, depending on which set of rules you play by, he actually did win in either '89 or '93, but he got no credit for it. With that kick missing, we would have been 12-0 for the year, and Lou might be president of the school (okay, that's a bit of a stretch).

    You all make very good references. I think the '93 game was the most important, because it might have prevented the slide that began in that game and still hasn't stopped. Other references would all have been nice to win, but no other would have had so potentially a grand effect on the future as that ill fated day versus the Eagles.

  • Mr. Rice,

    Define "you all missed the big one." Most of the early posts in the thread have the Gordon field goal, and it is definitely No. 1 for me.

    The program has never been the same since then ... although I do believe a fall was imminent given the way recruiting was hitting a downswing in 1991 and 1992. The 1990 class with Bryant Young, Aaron Taylor, Jeff Burris, Tim Ruddy, Lake Dawson, Jim Flanagan, Oliver Gibson three-year players Jerome Bettis and Tom Carter, and many, many others, including QB Kevin McDougal, carried that program for a couple of years. Once the well dried up with that group, it's been a tough climb to get back.

  • It's not realistic to think that field goal would have made all that much difference for the future. However, as a rather pathetically obsessive Irish fan, I don't need to be realistic!!!

    You're certainly right about my missing the Gordon references. Moments after the kick, I wiped his memory from my mind. He was, is and always shall be persona non grata to me.

    The truth, of course, is that I just didn't remember his name, and when I didn't see references to the game in which he kicked, I made the mistake of quickly rummaging through the posts without even thinking that was the game folks were calling out.

    Most assuredly, my bad. Fortunately, it doesn't hurt that much because I'm so often wrong.

    Thanks for correcting me. You're great to have on a sight.

  • Mr. Rice,

    I'm only wrong about a couple of times per hour (more when my wife is around), so I've got you beat.

    The first game where I was really into ND football was the 24-11 upset of No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl, so I barely missed another all-time and somewhat overlooked stinker, the 1970 loss at USC, 38-28, that ended up costing the then 9-0 Irish the national title. It seems to be less remembered than the 1964 loss at USC, also at 9-0, and then Miami 1989 or BC 1993.

    I do remember watching that 1970 game in a monsoon, and seeing No. 7 go back time after time trying to desperately rally his team. It was a day where literally every bounce went the other way. ND had eight turnovers and USC none. I don't know if there have been many games in ND history with that kind of turnover margin.

  • Old Joe only threw for 526 that game. I nearly died several times in that game. However, my first real Irish related injury was in '74, during the "comeback." Kicked a bamboo table, got my ankle caught in the rails, went tumbling over the table still stuck in it, and ended up on crutches for two months. I still hold it personally against every Trojan I meet.

  • Now that is some kind of funny!

  • Great post and great reply. I guess in a way that game really started my fanhood of ND as I was born in 1983. I was too young to recall the first Nat Champ but I do recall that play very well.

    I rewatched the Youtube video recently and the commentators discuss how the punter cannot kick the ball to Rocket. Boy, they sure were right. There really wasn't a lane for him to run to but somehow he shook a couple tackles and then he was gone. That was the type of play would have lived on forever if it counted. Given the circumstances, Rocket's legacy as a great player and the magnitude of the situation it really was a great play.

    Would have loved for that play to be a play ND is remebered by for a good reason, instead of a clipping call.

  • While the implications may not have been quite as large as some of the others discussed, one of the plays I've always wanted back was Rob Leonard's 27-yard field goal attempt at the end of the 1991 Tennessee game. For those who don't remember, #5 ND led the #13 Volunteers at home 31-7 before a furious Tennessee comeback saw them take a 35-34 lead over the Irish. With four seconds left, Leonard entered the game to try the field goal, as Craig Hentrich had gone out with a knee injury earlier in the game. Unfortunately, the butt (yes, the butt) of Tennessee's Jeremy Lincoln ended up catching enough of the ball to send it off course and handing the Vols an improbable victory. The following week, a totally demoralized Irish team was thumped by Penn State, 35-13, and then struggled to beat a four-win Hawaii team to end the the season. Finally, and on a positive note, all of this culminated in the legendary "Cheerios" win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl, but that season might have been more. Would it have been a national championship? Probably not; both Miami and Washington finished undefeated and beating Penn State was no sure bet even with a win over Tennessee, as they finished third. Still, the combination of losing at home after blowing a 24-point lead and then having a makeable field goal missed because of an opposing player's posterior makes this one of the more gut-wrenching losses in Notre Dame history. Man, would I love to have that Rob Leonard attempt over again.

    This post was edited by brawlinghiberni 23 months ago

  • One more to add to my growing pantheon of, "may not have changed the season, but sure hurt like hell," was Tony Rice being stuffed on his attempted two-point conversion which would have beaten Penn State in Happy Valley in 1987. On the flip side, I guess maybe karma repaid the Irish with their win, also on a two-point conversion, five years later in the "Snow Bowl."

  • My top 5

    1) Rocket's PR for a TD in the 1991 Orange Bowl.

    2) David Gordon's FG would've sailed wide at the end of the 1993 BC game.

    3) Matt Leinart's 4th and 9 pass would've been deflected by Ambrose Wooden.

    4) Fertig's TD pass in 1964 to beat ND in the Coliseum would've fell incomplete.

    5) In 1992, Michigan's FG is wide and ND wins 17-14 instead of having the 17-17 tie. An 11-1 ND would've played for the title.

    This post was edited by simm 22 months ago

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    My luck w/the Irish 20-6...GO IRISH!!!

  • Simm,

    Probably Lou Holtz's most talented overall team, especially from an NFL perspective, was that 1992 team, and I think it would have beaten anyone in the country by the end of the year.

    However, with a 10-1 regular season and a 33-16 loss at home to Stanford in October, I don't think the Irish would have been selected to play in the national title game. Alabama was 12-0 and won the first SEC playoff game. Miami was 11-0 and the defending national champ. They were matched up in the Sugar Bowl to play for the national title, and a 17-point loss at home by ND would not have that trumped that. Those were the 1-2 teams in the nation.

  • Agreed, they were the clear #1 and #2 team. FOr the last 30 years, there have been about 5 instances where it was clear, without debate who should be playing in the "national chamionship game". That was one of them. And without much explanation, Stanford and Bill Walsh drubbed us that year.

    As for the RO Leonard kick, I thought about it. But again, a title wasnt on the line. With one one earlier that year to Desmond Howrd's catch in the MIchigan game, and MIami and Washingtpn sitting undefeated with us looking in from the outside, we stood with little hope. But the collapse that started with seconds remaining in the first half with a blocked chip shot returned for a TD, we had little chance at anything...other than just avoiding the embarrassment of being the owners of an all out collapse.

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  • 1. Gordon's knuckle ball field goal. I was only 9 but it still hurts me to this day.

    2. The Bush push game. I felt for 10 seconds that Notre Dame had indeed finally returned. When the clock hit 0:00 it was pure elation for 10 seconds. I still wished one coach on the ND sideline would've called timeout before the sneak. Weis called a great game on offense. I remember on a few different occasions Quinn sneaking it up the middle for some 4-5 yard gains on 1st and 2nd down plays. I've never seen that before or since. Fasano's fumble after the long gain at SC's 25 cost us and DJ Fitzpatrick missing the 35 yard field goal, that would've extended the Irish lead to 6 late in the 4th.

    I will never understand how on USC's 4th and 9 play, how the ball seemed to disappear right through Ambrose Wooden's body. The coverage was there.

    Corey Mays delivered one of the best hits I can remember in Notre Dame history, on Leinart's scramble toward the pylon," the play before the Bush push". According to the laws of physics, Leinart should've made it into end zone. Corey May's shear will and determination won over those laws on that play.

    I think it's interesting to look back on the 2005 regular season. After Notre Dame lost to SC, Texas finished the season 12-0 and was a lock for the National Title game. Notre Dame went on to run the table in the regular season. Only 2 other teams finished the 2005 regular season with one loss, Penn St and West Virginia. Penn St. was ranked one spot below Notre Dame at number 10 in the rankings, when they were upset by the Wolverines (same week as #9 Notre Dame lost to SC). West Virginia just shot into the rankings at number 18 that week. If Wooden knocks that ball down... if the ball bounced in the field of play, instead of out of bounds on Corey Mays goal line stand on Leinart.... If the Notre Dame Defense could have stonewalled the"Bush Push" ....... Notre Dame would have played Texas in the BCS National Title Game... Kind of hard to Imagine.
    Would Notre Dame have won? Probably 1 out of 10 games played against Vince Young and Texas. I was born in 1984. ND and SC in 2005 was one game.... One game that could have brought Notre Dame Football back from the dead. That "one game" or "one play" was the most important moment in Notre Dame football since Gordon's kick knuckle balled through the uprights in 1993. I just hope whenever the next time, that one play or one game arises again, whether it be 2, 5, or however many years from now. I hope the "Loyal Sons" in the future can find a way to "WAKE UP THE ECHOES" and I'll be there to see it when it happens.

    This post was edited by arahop 23 months ago