Notre Dame Football: The Top 25 Bowl Games in Team History (2022)

Notre Dame Football: The Top 25 Bowl Games in Team History

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    Notre Dame, which lays claim to 11 national championships, has played in 30 bowl games, amassing a 15-15 record.

    While there have been a number of ugly moments in bowl games in the recent past, there is plenty of glory to be proud of.

    What are the best bowl games in program history?

    Find out as we count down the top 25 bowl games in team history.

25. 2007 Sugar Bowl

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    Irish fans would like to forget that this game ever happened, but the sad truth is that it did.

    Notre Dame was trounced by a superior LSU squad by a score of 41-14.

    The Tigers never even gave the Irish a chance, making for quite a dull contest if you were rooting for the boys in blue and gold.

    Despite the lopsided score, Notre Dame was still able to celebrate the fact that it qualified for a BCS game after being dominated by USC (44-24) in the final week of the regular season.

24. 1973 Orange Bowl

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    In Notre Dame's first ever Orange Bowl appearance, the Irish were dominated by a superior Nebraska squad by a score of 40-6.

    In essence, the game should have been won 40-0, but Notre Dame was able to score in garbage time against Nebraska's second and third string defenses.

Notre Dame Football: The Top 25 Bowl Games in Team History (1)

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23. 1995 Fiesta Bowl

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    The Irish donned the green jerseys for this game against the Colorado Buffaloes, a team that beat the Irish in dramatic fashion four years before in the '91 Orange Bowl.

    That wasn't enough motivation for Notre Dame, as the Buffs rolled to a 41-24 victory.

    The game was never in question with Colorado building a 31-10 halftime lead.

    Ron Powlus tossed a touchdown pass to Derrick Mayes early in the third, but that didn't faze Colorado as its defense contained Notre Dame down the stretch.

22. 2006 Fiesta Bowl

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    The 2006 Fiesta Bowl pitted Notre Dame against Troy Smith and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

    Like the '07 Sugar Bowl, the Irish were outmatched and outplayed, eventually losing by a final score of 34-20.

    Charlie Weis and Co. made it a seven-point game late in the fourth after a Darius Walker touchdown, but the Buckeyes responded with a 60-yard touchdown run by Antonio Pittman with a minute left in regulation.

    That score effectively sealed the win for Jim Tressel's squad.

21. 1984 Aloha Bowl

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    The 1984 Notre Dame squad, led by embattled head coach Gerry Faust, finished the regular season with a 7-4 record.

    The team earned an invitation to the Aloha Bowl at Hawaii's Aloha Stadium.

    Faust's squad was beaten by SMU 27-20, but the Mustangs would later be forced to forfeit the game after the Death Penalty scandal.

    That resulted in Notre Dame being awarded the victory, thus finishing the 1984 season with a 7-5 record.

20. 1981 Sugar Bowl

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    The 1980 season wound up being Dan Devine's last as head coach, but he led his Fighting Irish squad to a berth in the Sugar Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs.

    Those Bulldogs, led by running back Herschel Walker, proved to be the better team, winning by a final score of 17-10.

    The Bulldogs held a 17-3 lead late in the third quarter, but allowed the Irish back in the game after a 3-yard touchdown seconds before the conclusion of the quarter.

    However, the Georgia defense stiffened in the final stanza, giving the Bulldogs the victory and the 1980 National Championship.

19. 1983 Liberty Bowl

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    The 1983 Liberty Bowl matched Doug Flutie and the Boston College Eagles against Gerry Faust's Notre Dame squad.

    The Irish came out on top, winning 19-18.

    Allen Pinkett led the way for the Irish, amassing 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

    Quarterback Blair Kiel also had a very impressive and efficient game, completing 11 of 19 pass attempts for 151 yards and one score.

18. 1999 Gator Bowl

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    In Bob Davie's second season at the helm, the current ESPN announcer led his Notre Dame squad to a 9-2 regular season record.

    Those nine wins weren't enough to earn a trip to a BCS game, but the Irish received an invitation to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida against the 12th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

    The Irish eventually lost a close contest by a final score of 35-28.

17. 2008 Hawaii Bowl

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    Jimmy Clausen put on a clinic, completing 22 of 26 pass attempts for 401 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-21 Irish victory over the Hawaii Warriors.

    The game was never in question, as the Irish led 42-7 midway through the third quarter.

    After the final horn sounded, Clausen had broken Notre Dame bowl records for passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage.

    Those records still stand today.

16. 2010 Sun Bowl

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    In Brian Kelly's first season, the former Cincinnati head man led the Irish to a regular season record of 7-5, good enough for an invitation to the program's first ever Sun Bowl.

    The Sun Bowl executives got a dream matchup, pitting the Miami Hurricanes against the Irish, a rivalry that hadn't been renewed since 1990.

    Notre Dame exerted its will on the Hurricanes early, jumping out to a 14-point lead early on the way to a 33-17 victory.

15. 1996 Orange Bowl

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    In Lou Holtz's second to last season in South Bend, he led the team to a 9-2 regular season record and an invitation to the Orange Bowl.

    The Irish would take on Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles, a team Notre Dame had lost to the previous season in Orlando.

    It was a close contest through four quarters, as Florida State rallied to score 17 points in the fourth quarter on its way to a thrilling 31-26 victory.

14. 1970 Cotton Bowl

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    Ara Parseghian's 1969 Notre Dame squad, led by quarterback Joe Theismann, faced off against the Texas Longhorns in the 1970 Cotton Bowl.

    In what has come to be known as one of the greatest college football games ever played, the Longhorns did just enough to pull out a 21-17 victory over Notre Dame.

    The win gave Texas the 1969 national championship.

13. 1976 Gator Bowl

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    A season before Dan Devine led Notre Dame to a national title, he took them to the 1976 Gator Bowl against Joe Paterno and Penn State.

    The pieces of that '77 team were already in place during '76, but needed time to grow up and gel.

    Following Notre Dame's 20-9 victory over the Nittany Lions, defensive end Ross Browner and head coach Dan Devine couldn't avoid bringing up the team's chances at the 1977 national title.

12. 1991 Orange Bowl

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    In an absolutely thrilling contest, the Colorado Buffaloes edged the Fighting Irish by a final score of 10-9.

    Perhaps the most memorable moment of the 1990 season for Notre Dame, Raghib Ismail's 92-yard kickoff return touchdown that would have sealed the game for the Irish was called back.

    It remains a controversial call to this day.

    Because of the call going in Colorado's favor, the Buffs won the game and a share of the 1990 national title.

11. 1993 Cotton Bowl

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    Five years after Texas A&M dominated Notre Dame in the same bowl games, the two teams, once again, met in the 1993 Cotton Bowl Classic.

    The Irish were paced by an efficient ground attack led by Jerome Bettis and Reggie Brooks.

    They proved to be too much for A&M's "wrecking crew" defense in a convincing 28-3 Notre Dame victory.

10. 1971 Cotton Bowl

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    The 1971 Cotton Bowl was a rematch of the 1970 edition, but this time Notre Dame came out on top by a score of 24-11.

    All-American quarterback Joe Theismann recorded two rushing touchdowns and another through the air.

    The Irish were also helped by nine Texas fumbles, five of which were recovered by Notre Dame.

    It was the first bowl victory for Notre Dame in 46 years.

9. 1994 Cotton Bowl

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    In a rematch of the previous year's Cotton Bowl, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish clawed their way past a feisty Texas A&M squad for a 24-21 victory.

    Notre Dame had its hopes of winning a 12th national title ruined during a season-ending loss to Boston College.

    However, a strong showing against A&M might have been enough to claim the title.

    Despite coming out on top, it wasn't enough.

8. 1992 Sugar Bowl

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    Notre Dame was a surprise pick in the 1992 Sugar Bowl having finished the regular season with a 9-3 record and only being ranked 18th in the nation.

    The team was faced with the task of taking down a Steve Spurrier-coached Florida team that was ranked third in the nation.

    To the surprise of many, Notre Dame blew past the Gators 39-28 despite being outgained 511-433 and committing three turnovers to Florida's two.

7. 1990 Orange Bowl

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    After failing to beat Miami at the Orange Bowl during the 1980's, Notre Dame finally earned a victory in the Stadium near Miami, but this time it was over Colorado.

    The Irish rolled to a 21-6 victory, and believed they should have won the national title.

    However, that honor went to those Hurricanes who beat the Irish in November, Notre Dame's only loss of the season.

6. 1975 Orange Bowl

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    In Ara Parseghian's final game at Notre Dame, the Irish took down Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide squad by a score of 13-11 despite being 11.5 point underdogs.

    Notre Dame had a shot at the national title, but stumbled against USC to end the season, losing 55-24.

    Ara Parseghian claimed that the Orange Bowl victory was the best of his career.

5. 1979 Cotton Bowl

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    Commonly referred to as the "Chicken Soup Game," Notre Dame rallied for a stunning 35-34 come from behind victory over the Houston Cougars.

    With the Irish trailing 34-12 entering the fourth quarter, a flu-stricken Joe Montana led Notre Dame to 23 unanswered points, giving his team the victory.

    The game was played a day after the worst ice storm Dallas had seen in 30 years.

4. 1925 Rose Bowl

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    The 1925 Rose Bowl was Notre Dame's first ever bowl game.

    It was also the first time the team had played a game on the west coast.

    The game pitted two of the game's most legendary coaches in Knute Rockne and Glenn "Pop" Warner.

    Rockne's squad, led by the "four horsemen," came out victorious in a 27-10 win.

3. 1978 Cotton Bowl

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    Heading into this epic showdown, the Texas Longhorns possessed a No. 1 ranking, making them heavy favorites.

    Notre Dame running back Vagas Ferguson amassed 100 yards as Notre Dame rolled to a 38-10 victory, effectively sealing the 1977 national championship.

2. 1989 Fiesta Bowl

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    Notre Dame entered this showdown against the West Virginia Mountaineers ranked No. 1 on both polls with a flawless 11-0 record.

    The Irish opened up a 23-6 halftime lead on their way to an eventual 34-21 victory, giving them the 1988 national championship.

1. 1973 Sugar Bowl

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    In Notre Dame's first ever appearance in the Sugar Bowl, the Irish edged Bear Bryant's Alabama squad 24-23.

    It was the first national championship for the the program since 1966.

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