Historic Upsets and Wins: Memorable Moments in Notre Dame History

Notre Dame football

On a cold winter night in 1928, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish took on the heavily favored Army Black Knights in a game that would go down in history as one of the most remarkable upsets of all time. Despite being outmatched and outpaced, the Fighting Irish pulled off a stunning 12-6 win, solidifying their place as a powerhouse football program and setting the stage for a rich and storied history of unforgettable moments.

Since its establishment in 1842, the University of Notre Dame has been a symbol of excellence, both academically and athletically. Its football program, in particular, has become legendary, producing numerous All-Americans, Heisman Trophy winners, and National Championships. However, it is not just the team’s successes that have solidified its place in history, but also the historic upsets and wins that have captured the hearts of fans and cemented Notre Dame’s legacy.

One memorable moment in Notre Dame’s history occurred in 1913 when the Fighting Irish faced off against the Army Black Knights for the first time. At the time, Army was considered one of the strongest teams in the country, while Notre Dame was still establishing itself as a football powerhouse. In a thrilling game, the Fighting Irish pulled off a 35-13 victory, marking their arrival onto the national stage and gaining national recognition as a top contender.

Another notable upset occurred in 1924, when Notre Dame took on the University of Southern California (USC), then the reigning national champions. In this highly anticipated clash of titans, the Fighting Irish, led by legendary coach Knute Rockne, overcame a 17-point deficit to secure a 27-10 win. This win not only ended USC’s winning streak but also set the stage for Notre Dame’s dominance in the upcoming years.

However, perhaps the most famous and historic upset in Notre Dame’s history came in 1973 when they faced the University of Alabama, then the reigning national champions and a team that had not lost a game in over two years. Despite being heavy underdogs, the Fighting Irish shocked the world with a stunning 24-23 victory, cementing themselves as the best team in the country and sealing their place in history.

In addition to historic upsets, Notre Dame has also had its fair share of memorable wins. One of these unforgettable victories came in 1953 when the Fighting Irish took on the University of Oklahoma, then on a 47-game winning streak. Behind the leadership of coach Terry Brennan and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lattner, Notre Dame handed Oklahoma their first loss in five years, beating them 28-21 in a thrilling showdown.

Fast forward to 1988, and Notre Dame once again proved its resilience and determination in a showdown against the University of Miami Hurricanes, then ranked #1 in the country. The Fighting Irish, led by quarterback Tony Rice and receiver Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, overcame a 31-30 deficit in the closing minutes of the game to secure a 31-30 victory over Miami, a win that would earn them a National Championship title.

It is impossible to talk about historic moments in Notre Dame’s history without mentioning the iconic 1924 game against Army, known as the Win One for the Gipper game. In the midst of a close game, Knute Rockne gave an inspiring speech, urging his players to play for the memory of former teammate George Gipp, who had passed away. The Fighting Irish went on to win 12-6, solidifying their legacy and giving birth to one of the most famous speeches in sports history.

Over the years, Notre Dame’s football program has continued to flourish, producing countless memorable moments and upsets. From the legendary Four Horsemen, to Joe Montana’s game-winning drive against the University of Houston in 1979, to the incredible upset against Clemson in 2020, Notre Dame’s history is filled with historic wins and upsets that have shaped the program into what it is today.

Notre Dame’s football program has a rich and storied history, filled with countless memorable moments and historic upsets that have solidified its place as one of the most iconic programs in college football. From the early days of pulling off improbable wins against powerhouse teams, to the more recent victories that have kept the Fighting Irish at the top, Notre Dame’s legacy will continue to live on through its unforgettable moments and wins.


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