Notre Dame and Miami are still over a week away from their meeting in Chicago, but folks are already starting to get nostalgic about the 1988 game. Yes, the 31-30 Fighting Irish victory in South Bend that was so garishly dubbed the "Catholics vs. Convicts" game.
Sure, there's the Cleveland Gary fumble and Steve Walsh's batted pass to discuss. Certainly thoughts of the Irish and Hurricanes' glory days run hand in hand for two programs that ruled part of college football's yesteryear. For the Irish, 1988 was the "Good Old Days," as they won in that year their most recent title and were sitting atop of the college football world. Meanwhile, the 'Canes would put two more quick titles in the books in the three season following 1988, before trouble, a title and then all sorts of turmoil.
However, when you really look back at the game, the most telling thing, in 2012, is just how far removed the world of college football is from that day in October of 1988. The Hurricanes have gone from an independent power and a Big East monster to settling in finally as a middling ACC team. Notre Dame has gone from the top of the world in 1988 to a team that's gone well over a decade without a win in a major bowl.
The positive thing, as folks look to draw parallels, is that Notre Dame appears to be clawing its way out of the massive abyss into which it had tumbled. The Irish are undefeated and playing defense that would impress the old guard.
Revisiting the old game is an exercise in nostalgia and nothing more. Next week's game is going to feature rosters full of players that were not born in 1988. It will feature athletes that grew up seeing just one national title between the two squads involved, and it's taking place in Chicago, not South Bend or the Orange Bowl.
The history buffs out there will have plenty to discuss; especially regarding the 1988-1990 series played between the teams. For those of us living in the here and now, what we have here is a chance for Notre Dame to get to 5-0 or for the Canes to hit 5-1—or if they lose this weekend, 4-2. We'll get to see Manti Te'o and the Notre Dame front seven take on the explosive Hurricanes skill players.
This game won't be "Convicts vs. Catholics" part anything. What we've got are two groups of young men set to play a football game. Nothing more, nothing less.