Bowl bound (Part I)

Notre Dame has played 22 opponents in eight states and 15 bowls/venues. Five coaches have winning records in post-season competition.

(Editor’s note: All year references to bowls are the seasons in which they were played, not the date of the game.)

Ten coaches have led Notre Dame into bowl games, including interim head coach/defensive coordinator Kent Baer in Notre Dame’s 2004 Insight Bowl loss to Oregon State.

Five of the 10 men who have coached the Irish in a bowl game have a winning record: Knute Rockne (1-0), Ara Parseghian (3-2), Dan Devine (3-1), Lou Holtz (5-4) and Brian Kelly (3-2).

Gerry Faust (1-1) was .500 in bowl games while Bob Davie (0-3), Tyrone Willingham (0-1) and Charlie Weis (1-2) finished below the break-even mark.

After winning the 1924 Rose Bowl against Stanford under head coach Knute Rockne and led by the Four Horsemen, it would be another 45 years before the Irish would return to bowl competition. Notre Dame would go on to win 12 of its next 18 bowl games to raise its all-time bowl mark to 13-6 following the 1993 season.

Notre Dame lost nine bowl games in a row starting with Lou Holtz’s last two vs. Colorado (1994) in the Fiesta Bowl and Florida State (1995) in the Orange Bowl.

The losing streak continued through the Bob Davie (LSU, 1997 Independence; Georgia Tech, 1998 Gator; Oregon State, 2000 Fiesta) and Tyrone Willingham (North Carolina State, 2002 Gator; Oregon State, 2004 Insight) eras.

The streak reached nine under Charlie Weis (Ohio State, 2005 Fiesta; LSU, 2006 Sugar) before a Hawaii Bowl victory (2008) snapped the streak.

Notre Dame’s longest winning streak in bowl competition is five, which came at the end of the Ara Parseghian era and the beginning of the Dan Devine regime.

Parseghian won his last two bowls, both against Alabama, in the Sugar (1973) and Orange (1974) Bowls respectively.

Devine won his first three bowl games against Penn State (1976) in the Gator, Texas (1977) in the Cotton, and Houston (1978) in the Cotton.

Notre Dame has played 10 bowls in the state of Florida, eight in Texas, five each in Arizona and Louisiana, two each in Hawaii and Tennessee, and one in California and New York.

Notre Dame has played in 15 different “bowls” with the 2012 BCS national championship game in Miami Gardens. The Irish have been to seven Cotton Bowls, five Orange Bowls, four Sugar and Fiesta Bowls, three Gator Bowls, two Aloha/Hawaii Bowls, and once each at the Rose, Liberty, Independence, Insight, Sun, Champs Sports, Pinstripe and Music City.

Notre Dame has never participated in the Peach Bowl – a likely destination for the 2015 Irish.

Notre Dame has played seven teams multiple times in bowl games, led by Texas, Alabama, LSU, Colorado and Texas A&M, who have squared off against the Irish three times apiece.

Two-time opponents include Florida State and Oregon State. Notre Dame has played 15 teams once – Stanford, Nebraska, Penn State, Houston, Georgia, Boston College, SMU, West Virginia, Florida, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Hawaii, Miami and Rutgers.

Since returning to the bowl scene in 1969, Notre Dame has claimed three national titles with bowl victories. The first came in 1973 when Ara Parseghian’s No. 3-ranked Irish defeated No. 1 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, 24-23.

Notre Dame’s No. 5-rated squad defeated No. 1 Texas (1977) in the Cotton Bowl, 38-10, to leapfrog to the national title.

Lou Holtz’s 1988 squad entered the Fiesta Bowl ranked No. 1 against No. 3 West Virginia. The Irish completed their undefeated season and national title with a 34-21 victory.

In Notre Dame’s first 28 bowl games, it did not reach the 40-point mark. The highest output came in 1977 when the Irish won the national title with a 38-10 conquest of Texas. Notre Dame scored 35 points the next year in the Cotton Bowl against Houston and 34 in the national title-winning game against West Virginia in 1988.

But it was Charlie Weis’ 2008 squad that scored the most points in Notre Dame’s 34 bowl games. The Irish defeated Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, 49-21.

The Irish have been held to single digits in five bowl games. Notre Dame scored nine points in losing efforts against Colorado in the 1990 Orange Bowl, LSU in the 1997 Independence Bowl, and Oregon State in the 2000 Fiesta Bowl.

The lowest output came in 1972 against Nebraska in the Orange Bowl and North Carolina State in the 2002 Gator Bowl when the Irish scored six points in each.

In Ara Parseghian’s final game as head coach, Notre Dame jumped to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter against Paul “Bear” Bryant’s Alabama squad en route to a 13-11 Orange Bowl victory (1974). The two teams combined for just 489 yards total offense.

Notre Dame’s second lowest-scoring victory came against Boston College in the 19-18 Liberty Bowl win over Boston College and Doug Flutie in 1983. It was Gerry Faust’s only bowl victory with the Irish.

Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory in a bowl game is 28. The Irish defeated No. 1 Texas (1977), 38-10, while the 2008 Irish hammered Hawaii, 49-21. The 1992 Irish defeated Texas A&M by 25 (28-3).

The Irish have been on the losing end by wide margins in several bowl games. Six have been by at least three touchdowns: 40-6 to Nebraska (1972), 41-9 to Oregon State (2000), 42-14 to Alabama (2012), 41-14 to LSU (2006), 35-10 to Texas A&M (1987), and 28-6 to North Carolina State (2002).

With the victory over LSU in the 2014 Music City Bowl, Notre Dame evened its all-time bowl record at 17-17. It’s the first time since the 2010 Sun Bowl (vs. Miami) that the Irish have been .500 in bowl competition.

(Part II of “Bowl Bound” will cover the top individual performance by the Irish in bowl games.) Top Stories