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Notre Dame-Major Bowls: 10 To 1 Countdown

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Brian Kelly is seeking his first career major bowl win, and the Irish their first since 1993. (Angela Driskell)

10 Major bowl wins by Notre Dame in the 25 years from 1969 (when it ended its ban on bowls) through 1993. That was the most in the country over that quarter-century span. In the 24 years thereafter (1994-2017), the Fighting Irish have won zero major bowls.

9 Times prior to this year, and since ending the bowl ban in 1969, that Notre Dame has faced an unbeaten team in the postseason, just like it will with 12-0 Clemson this year. It is a remarkable 7-2 in such contests, with the most recent a 28-3 win versus 12-0 Texas A&M in the Jan. 1, 1993 Cotton Bowl.

8 Notre Dame will look to avoid an eighth consecutive major bowl loss since the 1994 season. Adding to the woe is the seven previous defeats have come by an average of 20 points, and in the last five since the turn of the century, the Fighting Irish led for only 2:57 out of a possible 300 minutes.

7 Previous Cotton Bowl appearances made by Notre Dame in its history. It is the single most-played bowl — major or otherwise — in school history and easily the one with the most victories (5-2). In no other bowl have the Fighting Irish won more than twice.

This featured victories versus No. 1 Texas in both the 1971 (24-11) and 1978 (38-10) Cotton Bowls, the latter to capture the national title. It also had the greatest comeback game in school history versus Houston in 1979 (35-34), and then back-to-back wins versus Texas A&M teams in 1993-94 that entered the contest with a combined 22-1 ledger.

6 Years since Notre Dame last had an opportunity to play for a national title in the postseason. Prior to that it had been 19 seasons.

5 Times Notre Dame entered a major bowl with an unblemished record in its 37-game postseason history. The others were the 1925 Rose Bowl (9-0), 1973 Sugar Bowl (10-0) and 1989 Fiesta Bowl (11-0) — outings where it clinched the national title in all three with victories — and the 2013 BCS Championship (12-0) loss to Alabama.


4 Consecutive appearances by Clemson in the five-year history of the College Football Playoff. Only Alabama, which has been in it all five years, has more. The Tigers own a 3-2 record in the CFP, winning it all in 2016, but losing 24-6 last year in the semifinal to the Crimson Tide.

3 Major bowls played previously in head coach Brian Kelly’s career, and he is seeking his first such victory. His Big East champion Cincinnati Bearcats were defeated by Virginia Tech 20-7 in the 2009 Orange Bowl. Three years later in the South Beach area again, his No. 1-ranked Irish fell 42-14 to Alabama in the BCS Championship. Finally, on Jan. 1, 2016, Notre Dame lost 44-28 to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

2 This is the second time ever Notre Dame will be playing in a major bowl as the No. 3-ranked team. The first occurred in 1973, when the Irish defeated No. 1 Alabama to win the national title.

That year Notre Dame won its first regular season game (Northwestern) and last regular season game (Miami) by the same 44-0 score — just like this year’s edition won the first and last regular season contests (Michigan and USC) by the same 24-17 margins. That was also the only other year it won a major bowl in December (Dec. 31).

1 Notre Dame’s first appearance in the Cotton Bowl will be this Dec. 29 in which the game will be at a different venue — AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Irish have played one other time in that stadium, but it was in the regular season, a 37-34 victory versus No. 22 Arizona State in the 2013 Shamrock Series.


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