1988 Notre Dame vs. Miami football game

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Catholics vs. Convicts
1 2 3 4 Total
Miami 0 21 0 9 30
Notre Dame 7 14 10 0 31
Date October 15, 1988
Season 1988
Stadium Notre Dame Stadium
Location South Bend, Indiana
Attendance 62,602
United States TV coverage
Network CBS
Announcers Brent Musburger and Pat Haden

The 1988 Notre Dame vs. Miami football game, colloquially known as "Catholics vs. Convicts",[1] was played on October 15, 1988. The two teams were undefeated when they met at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame won the closely contested game 31–30.

The name "Catholics vs. Convicts" was seized on by the press after two Notre Dame students and friends Joe Frederick and Michael Caponigro created and sold t-shirts carrying the slogan prior to the legendary matchup between the two teams at Notre Dame Stadium.[2]

The game[edit]

The two teams met on October 15, 1988 in South Bend, Indiana, with both teams being undefeated. Miami, the defending national champions, came in ranked #1 holding a 36-game regular season winning streak while the Irish were ranked #4. The game, which was preceded by a pregame fight between the two teams in the entrance tunnel, was named by USA Today as one of the greatest college football games of the period 1982–2002.[3]

After a closely contested game, Miami scored a touchdown with 45 seconds left to pull within one point of The Fighting Irish, 31–30. Rather than kick the extra point and likely end the game in a tie, Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson decided to go for two, later reasoning that "We always play to win." However, Steve Walsh's pass was batted down by Pat Terrell, and Notre Dame won 31–30.

Notre Dame would finish the season 12–0, beating #2 USC 27–10 on November 26 in the last game of the season and #3 West Virginia in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl 34–21 on January 2, 1989 to win the national title. Miami won the rest of its games and finished #2 behind Notre Dame in the polls.

Many still question the accuracy of a Cleveland Gary fumble on the 1-yard line, which they allege was an incorrect call. With Miami trailing 31–24 and facing a critical fourth-and-7 from deep in Irish territory midway through the fourth quarter, Walsh connected with Miami running back Cleveland Gary streaking across the middle of the field inside the Irish 5-yard line for an apparent first down. He caught the football, turned, was tackled and fumbled the football as he hit the ground. Notre Dame inside linebacker Michael Stonebreaker recovered the football. The referees ruled the play as a fumble, as Notre Dame took possession at the 2-yard line where the ball was recovered. After the game, Johnson was adamant that Gary was down before the ball came loose and Miami should have retained posession. Later, video replays as well as the referee's formal apology, showed Gary retaining possession to the ground.

In a 2005 poll conducted by the University of Notre Dame, the 31–30 win over Miami was voted the Greatest Victory in Fighting Irish history by a landslide.[4]