Notre Dame-Boston College: Top Five Countdown
Notre Dame and Boston College have met 23 times in their football history, beginning in 1975.
Since the turn of the century, the series has been earmarked by hot streaks. The Eagles won six in a row from 2001-08 to knot the “Catholic Bowl” at 9-9, but the Irish have captured the last five meetings since 2009 to regain a 14-9 advantage.
From a national perspective, the football series tends to concentrate on two victories by the Eagles: the epic 41-39 upset of 10-0 and No. 1 Notre Dame in 1993 that ruined its national title hopes, and the 14-7 stunner in 2002 that ended the remarkable 8-0 start in 2002.
Notre Dame has posted some of its own memorable victories over the Eagles. Here’s our top five, with three of them occurring Nov. 7:
5. Sept. 15, 1975: Notre Dame 17, Boston College 3
The first meeting ever between the two programs was the head coaching debut of Dan Devine at Notre Dame. The game was moved from a later date to Monday night prime time on ABC, and the venue was in Foxboro, Mass. The Irish were rebuilding after losing 10 starters from offense and five more on defense, while upset-minded BC was a veteran outfit that closed 1974 with a six-game winning streak.
After a 3-3 halftime tie, freshman fullback Jim Browner scored on a nine-yard run and sophomore Al Hunter tallied from 24 yards. In his first college game, Browner rushed for 95 yards and was named offensive player of the game by ABC, while older brother Ross spearheaded the defense.
Devine and QB Rick Slager made the cover of Sports Illustrated the following week, when five days later Notre Dame traveled to Purdue and won 17-0. Two victories on the road in five days — something that will never again be matched by an Irish football team.
4. Nov. 7, 1992: Notre Dame 54, Boston College 7
The lone meeting when both were ranked in the top 10 — Notre Dame No. 8 and unbeaten Boston College No. 9 — also had two side stories.
One, many game clips for the 1993 movie “Rudy” were done during halftime, with the then capacity crowd of 59,075 providing the noise and ambiance.
Second, with Notre Dame leading 37-0 in the third quarter, a fake punt by Notre Dame’s Craig Hentrich that was run for a first down was taken by Boston College as rubbing salt into the wound. It would be a rallying point in the Eagles shocking the No. 1 Irish the following year.
“The Boston College Massacre” saw the Eagles avert the shutout with only 57 seconds left when tight end Pete Mitchell caught a four-yard pass from Glenn Foley (a deadly combination a year later).
Notre Dame outgained BC 576-176, with tailback Reggie Brooks rushing for 178 yards on 18 carries, highlighted by a 73-yard TD. Rick Mirer completed 13 of 18 passes for 180 yards with touchdowns to Lee Becton, Jerome Bettis and Jeff Burris.
3. Nov. 7, 1987: Notre Dame 32, Boston College 25
Trailing 17-6 at halftime and 25-12 in the third quarter, sophomore quarterback Tony Rice came off the bench to steer the comeback victory, replacing freshman starter Kent Graham.
Senior Tim Brown accounted for a career high 294 all-purpose yards, while junior Mark Green rushed for a career-high 152 yards (133 in the second half) on 23 carries. Green scored the game-winner from two yards out while carrying the ball the final eight times in the drive for 39 yards. The victory improved Notre Dame to 7-1 under second-year head coach Lou Holtz, and elevated it to No. 7 in the country.
2. Dec. 29, 1983: Notre Dame 19, Boston College 18
Notre Dame entered the Liberty Bowl as an underdog because it concluded its 6-5 regular season with three straight losses, and the team originally voted not to go. Meanwhile, electrifying junior quarterback Doug Flutie led 9-2 and No. 13-ranked Boston College.
But on this bone-chilling night in Memphis, Irish tailback Allen Pinkett rushed for 111 yards and two scores, while fullback Chris Smith added 104 yards on the ground. In his final game with the Irish, quarterback Blair Kiel completed 11 of 19 passes for 151 yards with a 13-yard score to freshman Alvin Miller.
The freezing conditions saw the two teams combine for three missed extra points, and linebacker Tony Furjanic broke up Flutie’s two-point conversion pass at 19-18. BC’s final drive into Notre Dame territory was snuffed when freshman corner Troy Wilson tipped away a Flutie pass on fourth down.
1. Nov. 7, 1998: Notre Dame 31, Boston College 26
In a thrilling back-and-forth contest, the Eagles led 17-14 at halftime before the Irish built a 31-20 cushion in the fourth quarter on the passing of Jarious Jackson (210 yards), the hands of Malcolm Johnson (six catches for 150 yards and a touchdown) and the running of Autry Denson (128 yards and two touchdowns), the current Irish running backs coach.
BC made a strong final push in the final 10 minutes with the passing of Scott Mutryn (318 yards) and the running of the nation’s No. 2 rusher Mike Cloud (141 yards).
In the final minute, Boston College drove to a first-and-goal at the Irish 4-yard line. Three straight thrusts into the line by Cloud took the Eagles to inches from the goal line. On fourth down, unblocked safety Deke Cooper knifed through the left side to dump Cloud for a two-yard loss. The No. 13 Irish improved to 7-1 with the win in Chestnut Hill, Mass., keeping alive major bowl hopes under second-year head coach Bob Davie.