Posted September 3rd, 2016
We’ve made it to the eve of the Texas football season. After 38 countdown posts we have just two more to go before Sunday’s showdown with Notre Dame. To help celebrate, we’re counting down five things today and tomorrow like we have since late July.
A few weeks ago a shirt made by Notre Dame backers surfaced listing the 9-2 advantage that the Irish have over the Longhorns. But what were the best and most memorable of those games?
Here are five Texas-Notre Dame games to remember:
5. Notre Dame 27, Texas 24, Sept. 21, 1996
A year earlier Notre Dame and coach Lou Holtz beat Texas 55-27 in South Bend. The next fall, with John Mackovic coaching the Longhorns, Texas trailed 17-14 at halftime in Austin and entered the fourth quarter tied at 17. Ricky Williams scored a touchdown to give the Horns a 24-17 lead, but Autry Denson scored a touchdown to tie the game at 24 and Jim Sanson hit a game-winning, 39-yard field goal as time expired as the No. 9-ranked Irish beat No. 6-ranked Texas 27-24. Texas was never ranked higher than that for the remaining Mackovic era. The Longhorns did go on to beat Nebraska in the first Big 12 Championship game, but a 23-point loss to Penn State in the bowl game and a 4-7 season in 1997 ended the Mackovic era. Notre Dame, meanwhile, went 8-3 and didn’t play in a bowl game.
4. Notre Dame 38, Texas 10, Jan. 1, 1978
Had Texas, coached by Fred Akers and led by Earl Campbell, beat Notre Dame in this Cotton Bowl game, they would have been the national champions. The No. 1-ranked 11-0 Longhorns entered the game having not played a close contest since beating Arkansas 13-9 on Oct. 15. In late November, Texas beat no. 12-ranked Texas A&M 57-28. Notre Dame was No. 5 in the country and 10-1 on the year. The Cotton Bowl would be the de-facto championship game as the Irish led 24-10 at halftime and shutout the Longhorns in the last two quarters en route to claiming the AP No. 1. Campbell, the Heisman Trophy winner that season, was kept out of the endzone and rushed 29 times for 116 yards.
3. Notre Dame 24, Texas 11, Jan. 1, 1971
This snapped the longest winning streak in Texas history. The Longhorns had won 30 straight games. After crushing Arkansas 42-7 on Dec. 5, Texas was the overwhelming favorite to claim sole possession of the 1970 NCAA Championship. But Notre Dame, who lost to Texas the year before (keep reading), and coach Ara Parseghian designed what was dubbed the “wishbone defense” and wound up beating the Longhorns. Notre Dame held Texas to just 3.9 yards per carry and just 216 yards rushing. Five lost fumbles for Texas and one interception pretty much doomed the Longhorns in this crushing loss.
But here’s the thing: Ohio State, the No. 2-ranked team entering the bowl season, lost to Stanford and Heisman trophy winner Jim Plunkett in the Rose Bowl. No. 3-ranked Nebraska beat No. 5 LSU in the Orange Bowl 17-12 and received 39 AP votes for the national championship. Texas, however, was the coaches’ poll national champion despite the loss, so the Longhorns claimed a share of the 1970 NCAA Championship. Or as San Antonio Express News Longhorn reporter Mike Finger calls it: the other one.
2. Texas 7, Notre Dame 6, Oct. 6, 1934
We’ve covered this game well. This is one of the most important wins in Texas football history as it put the Longhorns on the map nationally and began a revival of Texas football. The head coach of Texas was a former Notre Dame star Jack Chevigny.
1. Texas 21, Notre Dame 17, Jan. 1, 1970
Undefeated and No. 1-ranked Texas hung on to beat the Irish 21-17 and win coach Darrell Royal’s second national championship with the Longhorns. Billy Dale scored with 1:08 left in the game to give Texas the lead for good and the son of the defensive coordinator, Tom Campbell, intercepted Joe Theismann on the final Notre Dame drive to clinch the championship. Texas had won 20 straight games at that point as the wishbone offense charged by James Street, Jim Bertelsen, Steve Worster, Ted Koy, Dale and Charles Speyrer racked up 331 rushing yards against Notre Dame.