It’s Time Notre Dame Ends This Stupid Major Bowl Losing Streak

If not now, when will Notre Dame finally snap a losing streak that almost predates the birth of its current offensive coordinator?

Every Notre Dame fan knows about the streak. Every Notre Dame fan is tired of hearing about the streak. Notre Dame players and coaches are probably tired of hearing about it, too, even if some of them have only even known about it for a few months. Saturday marks the 28th anniversary of Notre Dame’s last major bowl victory, and it is way past time that Notre Dame ends this stupid streak.

Had you told any Notre Dame fan watching the Irish knock off Texas A&M on New Year’s Day 1994 in the Cotton Bowl that it would be the last major bowl victory for the Irish for almost 30 years, they’d have said you were crazy. Hell, 11-year old me watched that game at some relatives’ house, pacing around their living room, upset that the game was even close. But that is what Notre Dame football was then.

To think it’s been that long since the Irish tasted victory in a major bowl seems unfathomable even though it is very much a reality. It’s a reality that Notre Dame players, coaches, and fans get reminded of – often – by opposing fans, players, and coaches. It’s something that opposing coaches undoubtedly use against the Irish on the recruiting trail too. The college football media loves to throw it in Notre Dame’s face any and every available opportunity as well. In fact, brace yourself for all kinds of graphics, images, and “highlights” of the streak on Saturday when Notre Dame looks to finally snap it against Oklahoma State.

Doing so won’t be easy for Notre Dame. The Irish lost their head coach after the season, and even though there was a lot of staff continuity, new head coach Marcus Freeman is still making his head coaching debut in the Fiesta Bowl. In addition, Star players have opted out, and injuries in practice have started to mount. Nevertheless, this is still their best opportunity to do so for all working against Notre Dame to end the streak. The losing streak has been filled with matchups that either didn’t favor Notre Dame or were downright laughable.

  • 1994 Fiesta Bowl – Colorado was a top 5 team while the Irish were barely bowl eligible
  • 2000 Fiesta Bowl – Ran into a buzzsaw with a pair of NFL wide receivers for Oregon State
  • 2005 Fiesta Bowl – Year of Charlie Weis was a lot of fun but remember how bad the Irish DL was that year after the injury to Chris Frome?
  • 2012 BCS Championship – LoL
  • 2015 Fiesta Bowl – Brian VanGorder was on Notre Dame’s staff
  • 2018 Cotton Bowl – Clemson boat raced Notre Dame, then boat raced Alabama
  • 2020 Rose Bowl – Alabama had two top-10 picks at WR and a 1st round QB on top of all their other talent

*note the year listed is for the season

There were some other losses along the way, but you can see a trend here. Many of the losses in this streak came in games where the Irish were overmatched and needed to play perfectly to win or even have a chance. That’s not the case on Saturday. Oklahoma State is a good team with a great defense, but if you stacked them up against every single team that Notre Dame’s lost two in all of their major bowl appearances since that Cotton Bowl win over Texas A&M, they’re probably the weakest. Florida State in the ’96 Orange (’95 Season) and Ohio State in the ’16 (’15 season) are the only two teams Notre Dame’s faced in such games that were outside the top 4.

That is why this streak has to end now. Yeah, Notre Dame is being coached by a first-time head coach whose first game happens to come in a major bowl game against a top-10 opponent. And yeah, Notre Dame is down a few starters after Kyren Williams and Kyle Hamilton opted out, and then Josh Lugg got hurt in practice. But, they are still facing a team that struggles to score points and is known to turn the ball over with the best of them. So, if not now, when?

In 12 years as the head coach of the Fighting Irish, Brian Kelly couldn’t do it. In four tries, the closest he got was a 16-point loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2015 season. Marcus Freeman has an opportunity to do what Kelly never could in his first game as the head coach for Notre Dame.

There were better NY6 bowl matchups for Notre Dame this year than Oklahoma State. Pitt without Kenny Pickett (who opted out), for instance. The Michigan State team that Ohio State depantsed in November is another. That said, Oklahoma State is not the same kind of matchup that Notre Dame had in the past where you look and say, “well shit, Notre Dame is going to need the luck of the Irish and then some to win this game.”

Oklahoma State is a good team. Mike Gundy is a really good coach with an excellent track record in big bowl games. His team is also preparing to face Notre Dame without the architect of their 2nd ranked defense, with Jim Knowles headed to Ohio State and not coaching in the bowl. That’s a significant blow for the Cowboys. Sure, the players are all the same, and the playbook remains the same, but Knowles got the job at Ohio State for a reason. He’s damn good, and he will be missed a great deal by Oklahoma State on Saturday.

A win propels this team into the off-season and probably into the top-5 to start the 2022 season. It jump-starts the Freeman era that’s already been in overdrive. And it gives the Irish even more momentum on the recruiting trail as Freeman works to convince more and more elite prospects that he can do what Brian Kelly couldn’t – win a national championship. Starting his career by doing something else Kelly never did is a good way to make that a convincing argument.

It’s time – hell, it’s past time – that Notre Dame ends this damn major bowl losing streak and starts working on the next streak that needs to end – the national championship drought.

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  1. its time notre dame ends this stupid major bowl losing streak
    Nope. It wasn’t time. And it’s surely more stupid.

  2. Look guys, when Ian Book was first thrown in against Miami, he immediately threw a pick six. But he did not let that define his career. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand the purpose of collegiate sports!
    BGC 77 82

    1. If you think FBS college football is just one of a big list of “coolegiate sports”, you should really give your head a shake.
      Just try it.

  3. Wake Forest: Worst targeting call ever. And that’s quite a long list to top.
    And if Ian Book could get drafted, Sam Hartman should be a goddamn lottery pick !?!
    More career TDs than PIckett….and played in his bowl game.

  4. Fans here always want an overmatched ND to make the playoffs.
    Well, guess what the “reward” for that is? A very good payday, getting your ass handed to you, and adding one nto the streak.

    ND has a real chance against OK St. So that’s a great start.
    Amd they might now have a head coach who genuinely gives a shit, and can motivate everyone arounfd him.

    But to frame this game as a “long overdue” streak ending affair is nonsense. These players have nothing to do with ND being a sacrificial lamb thrown to the wolves in previous years.

    Play this game. Win this game.

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