Notre Dame Football: The Irish's 5 Worst Bowl Games in History

Johnathan CaceCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2011

Notre Dame Football: The Irish's 5 Worst Bowl Games in History

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    Notre Dame has one of the most illustrious histories in college football. However, not all of the memories are fond ones.

    On multiple occasions, the Irish have fallen short of winning their bowl games. Thankfully, they've had more than enough happy memories to outweigh the bad ones.

    As much as it may hurt the faithful fans, here are the five worst in program history.

5. 1995 Fiesta Bowl

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    The Irish were 6-3-1 and unranked coming into this game, as opposed to Colorado’s 9-1 record, so they weren’t supposed to win it. Still, a 41-24 loss in a game that was over in the first half has to go down as one of the worst bowls in Notre Dame history.

    The score at the break was 31-10 Buffaloes. Kordell Stewart had a monster game, throwing for 205 yards as well as a whopping 143 on the ground. The Irish were able to hold Heisman winner Rashaan Salaam to 83 yards on 27 carries, but that was not enough to make this a close game.

4. 1991 Orange Bowl

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    It wasn’t how much the Irish lost by in this game, it was the way that they lost it. Colorado came in the No. 1 team in the country, but they were incredibly lucky to get there, winning the “Fifth Down Game” that year to advance to 9-1-1 by the end of the season.

    The final score of the game was 10-9 Buffaloes, but Notre Dame had a blocked extra point that prevented the game from going to overtime, and Raghib Ismail’s punt return for a touchdown with 43 seconds left was called back for a clipping penalty. This is possibly the most heartbreaking loss in program history.

3. 1973 Orange Bowl

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    No. 12 Notre Dame faced off against No. 9 Nebraska, but you would never guess that these two teams were so closely ranked based on the outcome of this game. The Huskers routed the Irish 40-6, and those six points came in the fourth quarter. It was 40-0 heading into the final quarter.

    Johnny Rodgers went crazy that game, going for 84 rushing yards for three touchdowns, and he even threw a 52-yard pass for a touchdown.

    The game was played in 1973, so most of the sting of that game has gone away, but make no mistake about it: If these two schools play again, the Nebraska fans will be rubbing this game in the face of Notre Dame.

2. 2007 Sugar Bowl

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    Notre Dame was an eight-point underdog coming into this game, and at the end of the first half, it looked like the game would at least be close, with LSU leading 14-7.

    Then, the second half happened.

    The Tigers scored the final 27 points of the game, and the Irish had less than 30 yards of offense and just one first down. They also gave up an incredible 577 yards of offense while getting less than 300 for themselves.

    This was really the beginning of the end for Charlie Weis’ coaching career at Notre Dame and was the ninth consecutive bowl loss. 

1. 2001 Fiesta Bowl

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    Oregon State was ranked fifth in the country, and many people thought No. 11 Notre Dame didn’t belong in this game because Virginia Tech was 10-1 and ranked sixth. The Irish’s performance in this game only added to the those angered by the selection.

    The Beavers exploded for 29 points in the third quarter and ultimately won 41-9. Notre Dame’s only touchdown came when they put in their reserves. And, to think, this game could have been even worse because State had a ridiculous 18 penalties for 174 yards.

    The Irish could only manage 155 yards of offense themselves, and they were held to 17 on the ground as compared to their average of over 200 per game.