Chicago Colleges: Notre Dame Fightin Irish

ND and Miami have a history

December, 10, 2010
12/10/10
10:21
PM CT

With Notre Dame and Miami getting ready to square off in the Sun Bowl on New Year's Eve, this generation of Fighting Irish and Hurricanes -- fans and players alike -- have some homework to do if they want to truly understand the mutual hatred this rivalry stirred up by the end of 1990.

The programs first played in 1955, with ND winning, 14-0. They met 20 more times before the most memorable quartet of all-or-nothing tilts from 1987-1990. Here's a quick refresher course:

1987: Miami left wreckage in its wake with a 9-0 record when Notre Dame (8-2) came to town. The Hurricanes outscored Florida and Arkansas by a combined 82-11 to open the season before No. 4 Florida State gave them a scare the following Saturday. The 10th-ranked Irish were skunked, 24-0, and then lost to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl to end the year 8-4. Miami finished 12-0 after beating Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to win the national title.

[+] EnlargeChris Zorich
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesNotre Dame defeated Miami during its title run in 1988.
1988: The Fighting Irish barely escaped No. 9 Michigan in the opener then cruised into Week 6 with a perfect record. In head coach Jimmy Johnson's final season, the Hurricanes were ranked No. 1 and on a 36-game winning streak. Lou Holtz's Irish were No. 4 in the country. This is where the hatred came to a head, as scuffle in the tunnel preceded the dogfight on the field. The Hurricanes scored a touchdown with 45 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 31-30 but failed on the two-point conversion. Miami quarterback Steve Walsh's pass was knocked down by Pat Terrell to ice what would be regarded as one of the best games in history. Notre Dame finished 12-0 after beating West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl to win its 11th national championship.

1989: Notre Dame was primed to defend its crown and ran into little resistance until 9th-ranked USC pushed the Irish to the wire. Holtz's defense tightened up after that, allowing only 36 points over the next four contests before the season final at Miami. In coach Dennis Erickson's debut season, the Hurricanes' only blemish was a 24-10 loss to Florida State in late October. The Miami defense, despite losing linebacker Randy Shannon, was devastating, going a 10-quarter stretch that year without allowing a touchdown. The Hurricanes thumped the top-ranked Irish, 27-10, and knocked off Alabama in the Sugar Bowl for another national crown.

1990: Coming off its national championship the previous year, Miami dropped its season opener against BYU by a touchdown. The Hurricanes rattled off four wins before traveling to South Bend on Oct. 20. The Fighting Irish were also 4-1, after losing to Stanford in the closing seconds in Week 4. With Raghib "Rocket" Ismail's 94-yard kickoff return for a score -- Notre Dame's only touchdown in the first half -- the Irish beat Miami 29-20 on a beautiful fall afternoon to end the series with a 15-7-1 advantage. Notre Dame would go on to finish 9-3, losing to Penn State late and to Colorado, 10-9, in the Orange Bowl.


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