Notre Dame Texas A&M: 1993 Cotton Bowl Crushing

Notre Dame's dominant 28-3 win over Texas A&M in the 1993 Cotton Bowl capped a 10-1-1 season, silencing critics and showcasing future NFL talent.

When the Notre Dame Fighting Irish shut down the Texas A&M Aggies in the 1993 Cotton Bowl by a 28-3 score, the convincing victory was satisfying on multiple levels. For starters, the win gave the Irish a final record of 10-1-1 for the 1992 season and it gave Lou Holtz his fourth season with double-digit wins at Notre Dame. However, it also gave him the opportunity to silence critics of the matchup.

Third-ranked Texas A&M went 11-0 during the 1992 regular season and was hoping to play Florida State, their opponent in the previous year’s Cotton Bowl, to maintain their slim hopes of capturing a national title. The fifth-ranked Irish entered the game at 9-1-1 and were the preferred choice of the bowl committee, who had misgivings about the same two teams playing in the game again.

The Coaches

Closing out his seventh year in charge of the Irish program, Lou Holtz was returning to the Cotton Bowl and hoping for a better result than the 1988 clash, his first bowl matchup as Notre Dame coach. In that game, the Aggies pounded Notre Dame by a 35-10 score. In Holtz’s five previous bowl trips with the Irish, his squads had compiled a 3-2 mark.

R.C. Slocum was finishing up his fourth season as head coach at Texas A&M and had put together a 39-9-1 record leading into this contest. He had been the Aggies’ defensive coordinator for seven seasons before replacing Jackie Sherrill as head coach after the 1988 campaign.

The Key Players

Notre Dame was powered by the exploits of quarterback Rick Mirer, who would be drafted second overall in the 1993 NFL draft. The team’s running game also provided plenty of juice in the form of Reggie Brooks and Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis. Defensively, the Irish largely kept their opponents in check during the 1993 season and had three players selected by NFL teams just a few months later.

Corey Pullig had split time at quarterback with Jeff Grenger for Texas A&M during the regular season. However, it was Pullig who was behind center for this game after throwing for 866 yards up to that point. Running back Greg Hill missed the game after being one of four players suspended by the school. That put the bulk of the running attack on the shoulders of Rodney Thomas, who had rushed for 856 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. The Aggie defense was tutored by future Irish head coach Bob Davie and allowed the eighth-fewest points in college football that season.

The Game

Getting used to the raw weather and freezing temperatures may have been one reason why the first half had very few highlights. The Irish got the ball to start the game and spent the first six minutes getting to the Aggie Red Zone. That’s when Brooks fumbled a Mirer pitch, giving the Aggies the ball. They weren’t able to do anything and both teams continued to trade punts for the remainder of the quarter, each watching a trio of drives go nowhere.

The first hint of a score after that came when Texas A&M put together a six-minute, 12-play drive. That stalled out and ended with a 44-yard field goal attempt that fell just short. With just 1:32 left before intermission, the Irish offense finally kicked into gear as Reggie Brooks picked up a first down that put the ball at the Aggie 40. However, after two incomplete passes, the Irish faced third-and-10 with 45 seconds left. Mirer then found Lake Dawson on a short toss to the middle and Dawson maneuvered his way into the end zone for a 7-0 Notre Dame lead at the break.

Once play resumed, the Irish took control after holding Texas A&M to one first down on their opening drive. Notre Dame then put together a 64-yard drive, culminating with a 26-yard scoring toss from Mirer to Bettis toward the right sideline to make it 14-0.

That reception was just one of three passes that Mirer threw in the second half, with the Irish running game eating up much of the clock. That was especially true in the final quarter when the Aggies’ attempts to stage a comeback were stymied by only having the ball for three minutes.

In the latter stages of the third quarter, a Notre Dame scoring drive ended when Reggie Brooks fumbled at the Texas A&M four-yard-line, However, just two plays later, Pullig fumbled and the Irish recovered at the Aggie 11. Notre Dame needed just two plays to make it 21-0, with Bettis crashing the goal line on a one-yard run. Just after scoring, Bettis was drilled by A&M cornerback Patrick Bates, with the two having to be separated after Bettis took exception to the hit.

The Aggies’ only score of the game came on a 41-yard field goal in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. That tally had been set up by a 39-yard reception to split end Tony Harrison but the Irish defense tightened up to limit the damage.

Any hopes of Texas A&M further denting the scoreboard disappeared during a time-consuming 82-yard drive that ate up over nine minutes of clock. Bettis put a cap on the win by scoring one more time, on a four-yard run with just over five minutes left. What was especially notable about the 16-play drive was that every play was a run, with the Irish converting four times on third down.

The Aftermath

Multiple Notre Dame players made clear after the game that the perceived attitude of Texas A&M toward playing the Irish was a motivational tool for them. Up to that point, the Aggies’ loss served as their worst bowl defeat in school history.

In the final polls, Notre Dame moved up a spot to fourth, while A&M dropped to sixth in the coaches poll and seventh in the AP. Ironically, given the reluctance to have the same two teams playing consecutive years, the two teams ended up facing each other in the Cotton Bowl one year later.

Since the latter two contests, only two regular season clashes between the two schools have taken place. The next two meetings are scheduled for both the 2024 and 2025 seasons, with the first taking place on the Aggies’ home field in College Station.

Box Score & Player Statistics

Scoring Summary

1 2 3 4 T
Notre Dame 0 7 14 7 28
Texas A&M 0 0 0 3 3

First Quarter

Second Quarter

ND: Dawson 40-yard pass from Mirer (Hentrich kick) (0:36)

Third Quarter

ND: Bettis 26-yard pass from Mirer (Hentrich kick) (7:17)

ND: Bettis 1-yard run (Hentrich kick) (0:33)

Fourth Quarter

A&M: Venetoulias 41-yard field goal (14:27)

ND: Bettis 4-yard run (Hentrich kick) (5:03)



Team Statistics

Notre Dame Texas A&M
First Downs 28 11
Rushing 20 8
Passing 6 2
Penalty 2 1
Rushing Attempts 64 33
Yards Gained Rushing 308 122
Yards Lost Rushing 18 44
Net Yards Rushing 290 78
Net Yards Passing 149 87
Passes Attempted 18 18
Passes Completed 9 7
Interceptions Thrown 0 0
Total Offensive Plays 82 51
Total Net Yards 439 165
Average Gain Per Play 5.4 3.2
Fumbles: Number Lost 3-3 2-2
Penalties: Number-Yards 3-30 7-42
Punts-Yards 4-152 6-243
Average Yards Per Punt 38.0 40.5
Punt Returns-Yards 1-9 2-8
Kickoff Returns-Yards 1-13 5-98
Interception Returns-Yards 0-0 0-0
Fumble Returns-Yards
Time of Possession
Third Down Conversions 12-17 3-12
Fourth Down Conversions
Sacks By-Yards

Individual Statistics

Notre Dame

Player Att. Gain Lost Net TD LG
Brooks 22 121 6 115 0 13
Bettis 20 75 0 75 2 9
Mirer 13 67 12 55 0 11
Becton 5 26 0 26 0 13
Burris 2 8 0 8 0 5
Davis 1 8 0 8 0 8
Zellars 1 3 0 3 0 3
Player Att. Com. Int. Yds TD LG
Mirer 16 8 0 119 2 40
Failla 1 1 0 30 0 30
Bettis 1 0 0 0 0 0
Player No. Yds TD LG
Smith 3 38 0 15
Dawson 2 46 1 40
Miller 1 30 0 30
Bettis 1 26 1 26
Brooks 1 5 0 5
Griggs 1 4 0 4
Player No. Yds Avg. LG In20
C. Hentrich 4 152 38.0 42
M. Miller 1-9 1-13

Texas A&M

Player Att. Gain Lost Net TD LG
Thomas 20 74 24 50 0 15
Mitchell 1 12 0 12 0 12
Pullig 9 31 20 11 0 10
Carter 3 5 0 5 0 3
Player Att. Com. Int. Yds TD LG
Pullig 18 7 0 87 0 37
Player No. Yds TD LG
Harrison 3 59 0 37
Schorp 2 14 0 13
Mitchell 1 12 0 12
Groce 1 2 0 2
Player No. Yds Avg. LG In20
D. Davis 6 243 40.5 55
Williams 2-8 2-28
Kitchen 1-19
Henderson 2-51

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button