Below is a ranking of top post-season outings by Irish players that highlighted the end of otherwise (relatively) disappointing campaigns for Notre Dame.
1.) Jimmy Clausen vs. Hawaii: 2008 Hawaii Bowl (2008 season) – Completed 22 of 26 passes (84.6% will be a difficult team record to break) and set additional Irish bowl records with 401 passing yards and five touchdowns in the 49-21 shellacking of the defenseless Warriors. On paper, Clausen's effort was easily the best bowl game performance in program history. ?
2.) Autry Denson vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech: 1999 Gator Bowl (1998 season) – Denson gained 130 yards and scored three touchdowns in his final game in a Notre Dame uniform but the 17th-ranked Irish (No. 22 in the final AP Poll) fell to the Yellow Jackets, 35-28 behind three touchdown passes from Georgia Tech QB Joe Hamilton. ?
3.) Golden Tate vs. Hawaii: 2008 Hawaii Bowl (2008 season) – Caught nine Jimmy Clausen passes for a program bowl record 177 yards and three touchdowns. ??
4.) Harrison Smith vs. Miami: 2010 Sun Bowl – Recorded six solo tackles including the game's best hit, but it was Smith's astounding three-interception first half that helped stake Notre Dame to a 27-3 lead at the break and 33-16 Irish victory to move to 8-5 on the season.
5.) Allen Pinkett and Chris Smith vs. Boston College: 1983 Liberty Bowl (1983 season) – The tailback/fullback duo gained a combined 215 yards on 46 carries (Pinkett scored two touchdowns) on a frozen field in Notre Dame's 19-18 win over Doug Flutie's Eagles. Smith is the father of former Irish linebacker Brian Smith. ?
One season later, Pinkett would gain 136 yards on 24 carries and add a 17-yard touchdown reception in a 27-20 loss to SMU in the 1984 Aloha Bowl. ?
6.) Manti Te'o vs. Florida State: 2011 Champs Sports Bowl -- Finished with 13 tackles, a forced fumble that led to a Zeke Motta touchdown and a half-sack of quarterback E.J. Manuel while also breaking up a pass. Notre Dame lost 18-14 after leading 14-0 at the end of the first half.
7.) Tony Furjanic vs. Boston College: 1983 Liberty Bowl (1983 season) – Earned Defensive MVP honors with seven solo tackles, an interception, and what turned out to be the game-saving break-up of a Doug Flutie two-point conversion attempt late in the contest.
8.) Michael Floyd vs. Miami: 2010 Sun Bowl – Snared six passes for 109 yards and two first half touchdowns, dominating highly-regarded cornerback Brandon Harris in the pair's one-on-one matchups.
9.) Stephon Tuitt vs. Florida State: 2011 Champs Sports Bowl -- Recorded just three tackles but add a quartet of quarterback hurries plus a sack as a true freshman. Tuitt had missed the season's final three contests with mono but returned to provide an outstanding effort in a backup role. His classmate, Aaron Lynch, recorded five tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a QB hurry as well in what was the rookie pairing's final game together.
10.) Tommy Rees vs. Rutgers in the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl Threw for 319 yards, completing 27 of 49 passes without an interception (or fumble) in a 29-16 victory over the Scarlet Knights. considering the way the 2014 season played out at quarterback, it's hard to imagine an Irish triggerman dropping back to pass 49 times without losing the football at least twice