A Look Back: Notre Dame – Miami Rivalry

Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Carlo Calabrese (44) holds the Hyundai Sun Bowl trophy after Notre Dame defeated the Miami Hurricanes 33-17 at the Sun Bowl. (Photo: Matt Cashore / US PRESSWIRE)

With Notre Dame and Miami set to square off in this year’s edition of the Shamrock Series this weekend in Chicago, today we’ll take a look back at the history of the Notre Dame – Miami rivalry.

Irish, Hurricanes Split First Meetings

Notre Dame and Miami met for the first time in 1950 when the 5th ranked Terry Brennan led Fighting Irish traveled to Miami and beat the 15th ranked Andy Gufstafson led Hurricanes 14-0.  The two schools wouldn’t meet for a second time for another five years when the Hurricanes enacted some revenge on the Irish with a 28-21 victory.  The ’60 contest between the schools was the first of just four meetings where both teams came into the game unranked.  In all 20 other games between Notre Dame and Miami, at least one of the schools has been ranked and in seven of those games both teams walked into the stadium ranked within the top 25.

Ara and Devine Dominate Miami

In 1965 and again in 1967, Notre Dame made the trip to South Beach to take on the Hurricanes on their home turf marking four straight road games to start the series.  The Ara Parseghian led Fighting Irish took 6th placed rankings with them twice into Miami but left with a scoreless tie in 1965 before coming back to South Bend victorious 24-22 in 1967 facing an unranked Hurricanes squad in both instances.

In 1971 Notre Dame and Miami began a yearly matchup starting in, of course, Miami,  that lasted 20 years with just one break through the 1990 meeting in South Bend.  During the early stages of this two decades long home and home series, the Irish dominated with Parseghian and Dan Devine coached teams compiling an 11-0-1 record against the Hurricanes from ’71 through Devine’s final season as head coach of the Fighting Irish in 1980.

During this span of dominance by Notre Dame, the Irish sported a top 25 ranking in all but two contests while the Hurricanes came into all 12 matchups unranked  and under the guidance of six different head coaches.  Three of Notre Dame’s victories during this time were of the shutout variety – 17-0 in ’71, 44-0 in ’73, and 20-0 in ’78.

Faust Struggles at hands of Schnellenberger and Johnson

Gerry Faust struggled against many teams while he was the head man in charge of the Fighting Irish and Miami was certainly not any different.  After his predecessors went on the imprressive 11-0-1 run from 1965-1980, Faust led Notre Dame teams limped to a 1-4 record at the hands of Miami and their new head coach Harold Schnellenberge.  Schnellenberger had actually taken over controls of Miami for the 1979 and 1980 games – two lopsided Notre Dame wins under Dan Devine – and by 1981, he had Miami headed in the right direction.

From 1981-1985, Schnellenberger’s squads tormented Notre Dame as Miami ascended into the nation’s elite while Notre Dame fell from the glory years of the 60’s and 70’s back into the mediocrity that Ara Parseghian had pulled the Irish out of after taking over the reigns of the Fighting Irish in 1964.

The low point of the Miami rivalry for Notre Dame came in Faust’s final season when the 4th ranked Hurricanes routed unranked Notre Dame 58-7 while later being accused of running up the score.  Faust’s lone win vs. Miami came in 1982 in the form of a 16-14 victory in South Bend.  Other than that two point win, Faust’s teams fell 15-37, 0-20, 13-31, and of course 7-58 for an average margin of defeat of  nearly 28 points.

Irish fans under the age of 30 may be too young to remember the success of the Holtz years.

Lou Holtz Brings Back Irish

When Lou Holtz took over as the head coach at Notre Dame, he immediately restored some toughness and put some fight back into the Fighting Irish and that was evident in his first meeting with Miami.  The final outcome might not necessarily show that the Irish were back, but a year after getting drubbed 58-7, 10th ranked Notre Dame played 2nd ranked Miami tough despite being shut out 24-0 in 1987.

A year later, however, Notre Dame got off to a hot start to the season and brought a #4 ranking into its showdown with then #1 ranked Miami in Notre Dame Stadium – a game which is still talked about over 20 years later as one fo the greatest ever played in the House that Rock built – dubbed the Catholics vs. Convicts.

Catholics vs. Convicts

On top of having completely different fortunes on the field during the early and mid 80’s, Miami and Notre Dame could not have been any different off the field thus Miami was deemed the convicts while Notre Dame with its religious affiliation was dubbed the Catholics.  T-shirts were made and the media ran with the term as the hype for the 1988 showdown grew.

The hype was not just effecting the fans and media though.  A deep seeded hatred was growing between the teams as Notre Dame began to believe it could play with Miami while the Hurricanes looked at the Irish as a team they had largely been kicking around for the better part of the decade.  That hatred boiled over in pre-game warmups in scene that can be described much, much better by Rocket Ismail than myself…

The game itself did not fail to live up to the hype –  rare feat given how much hype there was for this one. For a detailed account of one of the all time greatest games played inside Notre Dame Stadium, check out our post on Notre Dame’s 31-30 upset of Miami on their path to the ’88 national championship.

Notre Dame – Miami Gets too Intense

After the 1988 victory by the Irish the rivalry between Notre Dame and Miami got intense… really intense.  In 1989 #1 ranked Notre Dame traveled down to Miami where the Hurricanes returned the favor from a year before by upsetting the top ranked Irish and ending their school record 27 game winning streak.  The game for me will always be remembered for the awful 3rd and 43 that the Irish surrendered on a deep bomb to Randall Hill.  How that conversion was allowed, I still don’t know.

A year later Miami traveled to South Bend ranked 2nd in the country to face Lou Holtz’s 6th ranked squad in what was, at the time, the last game scheduled between the two teams.  At the time, Notre Dame had said that it was just the natural progression of adding other opponents of national presence, but it has been widely believed since then that the animosity between the two teams led to the rivalry becoming “too intense” to the point that the schools decided against renewing at the time.  Notre Dame would win the final contest between the schools thanks in large part to a 94 yard touchdown return by Rocket Ismail.

Notre Dame Routs Miami in Kelly’s First Bowl

Twenty years after the final regular season meeting between Notre Dame and Miami, the two schools would meet again in the 2010 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on New Year’s Eve.  Notre Dame came into the game riding high after finishing the 2010 season on an improbable three game winning streak highlighted by an upset of the then top 10 ranked Utah and then a season ending victory over USC that ended a 9-game winning streak by the Torjans in the yearly rivalry.

The game had plenty of hype with lots of references to the classic games from the late 80’s and early 90’s, but unfortunately in this case, the game didn’t nearly live up to it with Notre Dame running away with this one early.  Notre Dame led 30-3 after three quarters before letting off the gas a little in the fourth quarter with Miami adding a couple late touchdowns.

Extending the Rivalry

After a series of talks that apparently began in In July of 2008 when reports surfaced that Miami was interested in booking a game with Notre Dame for one of the neutral site games, now referred to as the Shamrock Series.  Then in early 2009, the Miami Herald reported that the two schools were in talks about a potential home and home series along with a third neutral site game.   Notre Dame associated athletic director John Heisler was quick to temper excitement over the report though before AD Jack Swarbrick kept hope alive for the series.

Finally, in July of 2010, five months before the two schools would met in the Sun Bowl, dates for the long awaited renewal of the rivalry were released with the first contest coming during the 2012 season in Chicago at Solider Field with a home and home series to be in 2016-17.  Miami will travel to South Bend in October 2016 for the first time since the 1990 season for the contest while the Irish will make the trip to South Beach for their first regular trip since 1989 in November 2017 to end the regular season.

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  1. James Cavil 2 years ago

    Lol!! Yea right. If the Miami fans weren’t the dickwads they are this rivalry would still be going strong. GTFO!!!

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  2. fifolo 4 years ago

    Take the home-paid ND officials out the the equation and this becomes a very once sided series.

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  3. JC 5 years ago

    Amen Frank,

    However, as I view it, the ND – Miami rivalry really got out-of-hand on the last visit to Miami in 1989. Miami fans were way beyond the pale when they chose to spit on our players entering the the field of play.

    No question in my mind at the time, the boiling point of this series had now reached it’s unfortunate apex. Miami’s fans definately imploded the series with their extreme repulsive (“too intense”) act. Renewal of the series was no longer an option for them.

    Hopefully today, lessons have been learned on proper fan behavior.

    Here come the Irish!

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