It was your typical fall day in South Bend. There was a chill in the air, the leaves were autumn brown, and eighty thousand fans were expected to fill Notre Dame Stadium.
But there was something much bigger about this fall Saturday. It had even more meaning than traditional match-ups like Michigan and USC. This one was for all the marbles and a shot at the national title. The opponent on this day was Florida State.
The game was billed as the "game of the century" as it paired top ranked FSU and No.2 Notre Dame. The billing for this one was out of this world as even College Gameday made its way to South Bend, despite NBC having exclusive rights.
Not many people were giving the Irish a chance against the highly touted Seminoles who were lead by eventual Heisman winner Charlie Ward. The Seminoles were too fast, to string up front, and too talented for the Irish to defeat.
But as we know now, that was not the case at all.
The Irish were better on this November day, although that did not seem to be the case from the start as the Noles took their opening possession right down the field for a touchdown.
But Lou Holtz had prepared his kids for this for the past 2 weeks. He had told them that they did belong on the field with FSU, and that they could bring down the almighty No.1 team in the land.
Led by a defense that was constantly in Ward's face, and a running game that was paced by halfback Lee Becton's 122 yards, the Irish were able to build a 21-7 halftime lead. But as we all know the game got much closer.
Perhaps the one memory that many fans have of this game was the final play. When this game is talked about you always see the clip of the final play. A play that will go down in Notre Dame history for both good and bad reasons.
With 3 seconds left, down 31-24, the Seminoles were 14 yards away from possibly tying or winning the game. But as we know Ward scrambled out of the pocket and had his pass was knocked down by Irish DB Shawn Wooden. The fans stormed the field. The Irish were the new number one team in the nation.
This Saturday when the Irish take the field against Utah it will mark the 17th anniversary of that famous game. Their will certainly be a chill in the air, and those trees will be the color of fall, but the Irish are not anywhere close to being the same team as they were on that 1993 day.
On that day, the Irish claimed the #1 spot in the land. Since then they have failed to get back to the top spot in the nation. The 2002 squad started 8-0 and was as high as 4th when BC toppled them, and the 2006 squad was #2 early in the year before losing to Michigan.
On that fateful day in November the Irish were coming off a bye week after a 57-28 win over Navy the prior week. In 2010 the Irish are again coming off of a bye week, but still smarting from a home loss to Tulsa.
The landscape of college football has certainly changed since that day in 1993. FSU has seen its title hopes year in and year out elude them for seasons where they are just lucky to get a bowl game, and the Irish have won just one bowl game since the 1993 Cotton Bowl, that being a win in the Hawaii Bowl.
Certainly it can be said that things will probably never pan out to have both meet as the top 2 teams in the nation ever again, and many wonder if Notre Dame can climb back to the top of the college football mountain at all.
1993's game of the century will live on forever in the minds and hearts of college football fans, and for Notre Dame fans it makes the remember a better time. A time when they were No.1 again, albeit for a week, but still they were the top dog.
Nobody ever thought that 17 years later that would be the last time you could say that about a Notre Dame team.
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