(Editor’s note: All year references to bowls are the seasons in which they were played, not the date of the game.)
TOP RUSHING EFFORT
The tour de force that was Jerome Bettis in Notre Dame’s come-from-behind Sugar Bowl victory over Florida (1991) remains the standard for the Irish in post-season play.
Bettis rushed for 150 yards on just 16 carries (9.3-yard average) and scored all three of his rushing touchdowns (3, 49 and 39 yards) in the fourth quarter as the Irish overcame a 13-0 second-quarter deficit to defeat the Gators, 38-28.
Notre Dame rushed for 324 yards, 245 of which came in the second half with Bettis accounting for 127 of them. Rodney Culver carried 13 times for 93 yards and Tony Brooks added another 68 yards on 13 attempts.
Bettis shares the Notre Dame bowl touchdown record of three with Autry Denson (Georgia Tech, Gator Bowl, 1998) and Darius Walker (Ohio State, 2005, Fiesta Bowl).
LSU’s Rondell Mealey holds the Notre Dame bowl opponent rushing record. His 34 attempts netted 222 yards in the 1997 Independence Bowl.
Hard to believe, but in 34 bowl games Notre Dame’s longest run is C.J. Prosise’s 50-yard touchdown last year against LSU in the Music City Bowl. Second is Bettis’ 49-yard touchdown run against Florida (1991).
LSU running back Leonard Fournette set a Notre Dame bowl opponent record with an 88-yard touchdown run in last year’s Music City Bowl. Fournette had 143 yards on just 11 carries (13.0).
A vast majority of Notre Dame’s big touchdown plays in bowl games have come through the air with Jimmy Clausen’s 69-yarder to Golden Tate against Hawaii in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl sparking the Irish to its most one-sided bowl victory.
It was one of three touchdowns by Tate, tying him for the Notre Dame record with Elmer Layden (1924, Stanford, Rose Bowl), Vagas Ferguson (1977, Texas, Cotton Bowl), Bettis, Denson and Walker.
THROUGH THE AIR
Jimmy Clausen holds the Notre Dame record of five touchdown passes in a game against Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl in 2008. Clausen also holds the mark for passing yardage with 401 against the Rainbows.
Passes intercepted? Think legend. Yes, Joe Montana was at the forefront of Notre Dame’s miraculous comeback against Houston in the Cotton Bowl (1978) as the Irish trailed by 22 with less than 20 minutes remaining.
In between scoops of chicken soup to nurse him back to health during the frigid game, Montana led three touchdowns drives to pull off the 35-34 victory. He also threw four interceptions and had five total, both Notre Dame bowl records.
Another surprise record belongs to Tony Rice, who was known more for his feet than his arm when it came to playing quarterback for the Irish. But in Notre Dame’s 34-21 victory over West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl for the 1988 national championship, Rice threw the football just 11 times, completing seven for 213 yards. His 19.4 yards per attempt and 30.4 yards per completion are Irish records.
Brady Quinn attempted (109) and completed the most passes (59) in three bowl appearances. But it’s Tommy Rees who holds the career bowl yardage mark with 683 in three games.
WHAT A KICK
Kyle Brindza holds the Notre Dame bowl record for field goals with five against Rutgers in the 2013 Pinstripe victory. His 17 “kicking points” also are a high.
It was Brandon Walker who kicked the most extra points (seven vs. Hawaii in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl) while John Carney booted a 51-yard field goal against SMU in the 1984 Aloha Bowl.
WHAT A RETURN
Notre Dame has returned two interceptions, a blocked punt, a fumble recovery and two kickoffs for touchdowns in bowl games.
Elmer Layden had 78- and 70-yard interception returns against Stanford in the Rose Bowl (1924). Al Hunter returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown against Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. The only other “true” kick return for a score came late in the Hawaii Bowl victory over Hawaii (2008) when Armando Allen scampered 96 yards.
Steve Cichy picked up Joe Belden’s blocked punt and returned it for a score, starting the rally that would become Notre Dame’s “miracle in ice” victory over Houston in the Cotton Bowl (1978).
Zeke Motta scooped up a fumble and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown against Florida State in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl.
Although he didn’t return any of his three interceptions for touchdowns, Harrison Smith set a Notre Dame mark for thefts against Miami in the 2010 Sun Bowl.
The longest punt return by a Notre Dame player in a bowl game came in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl when Michael Floyd returned one 41 yards.
Of course, the one that “got away” was Raghib Ismail’s 91-yard punt return against Colorado in the Orange Bowl (1990) that was erased by a block in the back penalty against Greg Davis, securing the Buffaloes’ 10-9 victory.
WHAT A CATCH
Derrick Mayes holds the Notre Dame record for touchdown receptions in bowl games with four. He had two in Notre Dame’s 41-24 loss to Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl (1994) and two more the next season in the 31-26 loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl (1995).
Jeff Samardzija holds the individual record for receptions (19) and receiving yards (207). He caught five passes for 89 yards in the 2004 Insight Bowl loss to Oregon State, added six catches for 59 yards in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State (2005), and had eight for 59 yards in the Sugar Bowl loss to LSU (2006).
• Kyle Brindza’s 32-yard field goal as time expired lifted Notre Dame to a 31-28 victory over LSU in the Music City Bowl (2014).
• Florida State out-scored Notre Dame 15-0 in the fourth quarter to lift the Seminoles to an 18-14 Champs Sports Bowl victory (2011). The go-ahead score came on a 15-yard pass from E.J. Manuel to Rashad Greene with 13:18 remaining. Dustin Hopkins added a field goal with 8:05 left.
• Joe Hamilton’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Dez White with 7:55 left broke a 28-28 tie as Georgia Tech claimed the Gator Bowl (1998).
• Danny Kanell’s three-yard pass to Andre Cooper with 6:09 remaining erased a five-point Notre Dame lead en route to a 31-26 Florida State victory over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl (1995).
• Kevin Pendergast’s 31-yard field goal at the 2:22 mark of the fourth quarter lifted Notre Dame to a 24-21 victory over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl (1993).
• Joe Montana’s eight-yard pass to Kris Haines as time expired – plus the extra point by Joe Unis – gave Notre Dame a 35-34 victory over Houston in the Cotton Bowl (1978) to complete 23-point run over the final 20 minutes.
• Bob Thomas’ 19-yard field goal with 4:26 remaining gave Notre Dame a 24-23 victory over Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl as the Irish were crowned national champions.
• Billy Dale’s one-yard touchdown run with 1:08 remaining gave Texas a 21-17 Cotton Bowl victory (1969) in Notre Dame’s first bowl appearance in 45 years.
Johnny Rodgers (Nebraska, 1972) scored three rushing touchdowns and added a 50-yard touchdown reception in the Cornhuskers’ 40-6 demolition of the Irish, who would bounce back for an undefeated national championship season in 1973.
Just as overmatched were the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl (1994) against Colorado in which Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam scored on runs of one, one and five yards in the Buffaloes’ 41-24 victory.
Notre Dame “limited” freshman Herschel Walker to 150 yards rushing on 36 carries. But Walker scored twice in Georgia’s 17-10 victory over the Irish in the Sugar Bowl (1980).
Doug Flutie won the 1984 Heisman Trophy. But as a junior, he fell to Notre Dame in the Liberty Bowl, 19-18. He completed just 16-of-37 passes, but accounted for 287 yards and three touchdowns in the icy Memphis conditions.
Troy Smith would win the Heisman in 2006. He got a jump on his candidacy by throwing for 342 yards and pair of touchdowns (19-of-28) in Ohio State’s 34-20 Fiesta Bowl victory (2005) as the Buckeyes totaled 617 yards total offense.