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Author Archives: Duranko

Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl History

Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl History

ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA……… The bowl season was ruled by four bowls: Cotton Bowl Rose Bowl Sugar Bowl Orange Bowl Sure there were other bowls, but they were merely ladies-in-waiting, the handmaidens to the Cotton, Rose, Sugar and Orange. It was in a galaxy far, far away but New Year’s day had a set pattern. The Cotton Bowl started off the day, followed by the Rose Bowl, which often ended with another Big Ten Team succumbing to the Pac 8 or Pac 10 just about the time the sun succumbed to the San Gabriel mountains. Night fell and ...

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Notre Dame – Ohio State Series History

Notre Dame - Ohio State HIstory

Ohio State and Notre Dame have played a mere five times, somewhat perplexing given the schools’ prominence and domicile in contiguous states. Notre Dame’s series with Ohio State ties for shortest with Minnesota of the “Original Big X” (Actually 12). Notre Dame has played Big 10/12/14 newcomers Rutgers and Maryland 5 and 2 times respectively. STOCK UP ON NOTRE DAME FIESTA BOWL GEAR! Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2016 Fiesta Bowl Bound Snap Long Sleeve T-Shirt – Navy $32.99 But the series did open with a bang. It was a strange time for Notre Dame, during the interregnum between Rockne and ...

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Duranko’s Digest: What Did we See in Palo Alto?

Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A late Stanford rally, initiated with 30 seconds to go, was capped off by Conrad Ukropina’s 45 yard field goal, earning Stanford a 38-36 win over the crestfallen Irish, seeing the Cardinal snatch victory from the nearly clenched jaws of a defeat by the Irish. Yes, if it seemed like November 20, 1993, and if you had flashbacks of David Gordon kicking the game winner for Boston College, you were not alone. Group therapy works best for losses like this. AN ODD FIRST QUARTER Stanford took the opening kickoff and matriculated the ball down the field for a 7-0 lead. ...

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Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See in Fenway?

Photo: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame’s beat Boston College 19-16 to move to 10-1, before heading to Palo Alto for the titanic season finale against Stanford. The green-clad Irish offense punched holes in the vaunted and top-ranked Boston college offense for 447_yards, but wasted multiple red zone opportunities, squandering a sure thing as if they were Bill Buckner in ’86. Turnovers and Drops Deshone Kizer and Will Fuller decided to have their season’s worst performance on the same evening. Kizer threw three horrific, undisciplined interceptions, two of them on knuckle-headed decisions in the shadow of BC’s goal post. Perhaps some day, unless Brandon Wimbush ...

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Notre Dame Boston College Rivalry History

Notre Dame - Boston College Rivalry

Though natural rivals as the two most prominent Catholic colleges playing Big Time Football,  it took quite a while for the Boston College-Notre Dame series to take root. Part of the reason may have been that Boston College felt that Notre Dame stole Frank Leahy back to South Bend. Frank Leahy  had coached at Boston College, spectacularly, in ’39 and ’40, and was a glistening 20-2 for a .909 winning percentage, the greatest in Boston College History.  Nevertheless, when Notre Dame came calling it was a swift and easy decision for Frank Leahy to return to his, and Rockne’s,   alma ...

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Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See Against Wake Forest?

Romeo Okwara - Notre Dame DE

A somnambulant, diffident Notre Dame team did just enough to beat young, eager Wake Forest 28-7, to move to 9-1. The win completed the second unbeaten home slate under Kelly, with the other in 2012. That feat had not been accomplished since Bob Davie’s relative home masterpiece in ’98. Notre Dame’s Offense A week after physical, skill and artistic domination of Pat Narduzzi’s Pitt Panther defense, the Notre Dame offense mustered only two sustained drives and punted 5 times while forcing only 3 Wake Forest punts. The Demon Deacons garnered a repugnant 8 tackles for loss and three sacks. The ...

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Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See Against Pitt?

Torii Hunter - Notre Dame WR

Notre Dame, with the usual and perplexing ebbs and flows, moved to 8-1 with a 42-30 win over the Pitt Panthers. The Irish start was as easy as 1-2-3. Prosise around left end Prosise up the middle Flag pattern to Fuller for a touchdown The Irish defense kept Pittsburgh bottled up and moved to a methodical 21-3 lead at halftime. Pitt inducted Jimbo Covert into its Hall of Fame at halftime and assembled the Panther Legends: Iron Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Johnny Majors, Bill Fralic, Dan Marino and Jackie Sherill.   Cool story, bro! Pitt won the battle of the archives, ...

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Notre Dame – Pitt Rivalry History

Jeff Samardzija and Notre Dame made a statement against PItt in 2005 but since then every Pitt-ND game has been a battle.  Photo: Andy Altenburger // Icon Sportswire

Pitt first appeared on Notre Dame’s schedule in 1909. The rivalry was a natural. Relative proximity. Same independent status. Further, as Western Pennsylvania became settled with immigrants destined to work in coal mines and steel mills, many of the workers were from Catholic countries and families, and they were well aware of the significance of playing their new country’s pre-eminent Catholic University. Of course, Notre Dame was interested in poaching Pitt’s private preserve of football talent. Playing Pitt’s Panthers would increase Notre Dame’s exposure in this talent rich area. The Pittsburgh area yielded two of Notre Dame’s seven Heisman trophy ...

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Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See Against Temple?


Notre Dame fashioned another thrilling fourth quarter rally to defeat pesky, resilient, tenacious Temple 24-20. Temple played up to Notre Dame’s level rather than Notre Dame playing down to Temple’s. Temple played as if: They had confidence from already beating a Power Five team, as in Mount Nittany’s Llions They were looking for the first victory over a Top Ten team since right after VE Day and VJ Day in ‘45 It was the biggest game in their football history They were coached by a guy, Matt Rhule, who along with Justin Fuente of Memphis and Jeff Brohm of Western ...

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Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See Against USC?

Jaylon Smith - Notre Dame LB v. USC

Somewhere, Rock and Howard Jones smiled.  This is what an epic, rivalry game look like.  Legacy fulfilled. Offense, Defense, Special Teams, thrills, agony, expected stars and surprise heroes. Football games are compartmentalized into four clock quarters.  This one had four “emotional” quarters, measured not by Longines but by the peaks and valleys  in the psyches of the Notre Dame fan. 1ST Q-HERE WE GO AGAIN! “Starting Fast” was a prerequisite for Irish victory. Or not. It was Troy who started fast, a Kessler bomb to Juju the cornerstone of an effortless Trojan drive.  USC 7- ND O, only 3:07 elapsed. 2D ...

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Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See Against Navy?

Jaylon Smith - Notre Dame LB

After the second consecutive slow start, Notre Dame exercised functional control over Navy and completed discharge of its moral imperative, defeating Navy 41-24. The win over Notre Dame’s longest continuous and only perpetual rival moved the Irish to 5-1. It was Kelly’s 50th victory as Notre Dame head coach, tying him with Dan Devine for fifth place among Irish head coaches. Niumatalolo started fast; Redfield didn’t The Navy strategists had studied the Georgia Tech film and Navy’s first drive was the most successful, aided and abetted by an eager but impatient Max Redfield and what may well be a declining ...

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Duranko’s Digest: What Did We See vs. Clemson

Photo: Matt Cashore / USA Today Sports

For Clemson it was a Perfect Storm. It had been 38 years since a Notre Dame football team last visited Clemson, 17 days since the Tigers took the field against Louisville. 17 nearly pristine plays by Clemson, aided and abetted by bewildered Irish misfeasance (Special Teams), malfeasance (Defense) and nonfeasance (Offense) helped Clemson fashion a 14-0 lead with a mere 6:17 having elapsed. The Fighting Irish fought back gamely and ended a mere yard away from a two point conversion that would have sent the game into overtime. It was short and so were the Irish. Clemson 24-Notre Dame 22. ...

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