Holy War (Boston College vs. Notre Dame)

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Holy War
First meeting September 15, 1975
Notre Dame 17, Boston 3
Latest meeting November 10, 2012
Notre Dame 21, Boston 6
Next meeting November 21, 2015
Trophy Ireland Trophy
Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl
Meetings total 22
All-time series Notre Dame leads, 13–9
Largest victory Notre Dame, 52–20 (1997)
Longest streak Boston College, 6 (2001–2008)
Current streak Notre Dame, 4 (2009–present)

The Holy War is an American rivalry between the Boston College Eagles and University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, a technical nonconference rivalry in college football, but in most sports an Atlantic Coast Conference rivalry. The series derives its name from the fact that the Eagles and the Fighting Irish represent the only two Catholic universities in the United States which still compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the highest level of competition in American college football.

Series history[edit]

Although football at both universities dates to the 19th century, the series itself is relatively young. Boston College and Notre Dame first met on the gridiron on September 15, 1975, in a game held at Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts. Since then, the two schools have met a total of 20 times, including a match-up in the 1983 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. An annual series was held from 1992–2004 and after a two-season hiatus the rivalry has resumed for the 2007–12 seasons and it will continue for the 2015–16 and 2018–19 seasons. Notre Dame leads the series 13–9.

The future of the series had been in question for several years after Boston College left the Big East for the ACC and the Big East asked Notre Dame to add at least three Big East schools each year to its football schedule, but on June 8, 2010, it was announced that the series would continue.

While the "Holy War" moniker dates to the first contest between the two schools in 1975 and has become popularized in the sports media,[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] the rivalry has also acquired a number of other nicknames over the years. These include the "Vatican Bowl", the "Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl", and the "Jesuit Invitational". Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Notre Dame alumna, referenced the rivalry using the "Holy War" moniker during a 2006 commencement address at BC's Alumni Stadium.[10]

Game results[edit]

Boston College victories Notre Dame victories
# Date Location Winner Score
1 September 15, 1975 Foxborough, MA #9 Notre Dame 17–3
2 December 29, 1983 Memphis, TN Notre Dame 19–18
3 November 7, 1987 South Bend, IN #9 Notre Dame 32–25
4 November 7, 1992 South Bend, IN #8 Notre Dame 54–7
5 November 20, 1993 South Bend, IN #12 Boston College 41–39
6 October 8, 1994 Chestnut Hill, MA Boston College 30–11
7 October 28, 1995 South Bend, IN #15 Notre Dame 20–10
8 November 9, 1996 Chestnut Hill, MA #19 Notre Dame 48–21
9 October 25, 1997 South Bend, IN Notre Dame 52–20
10 November 7, 1998 Chestnut Hill, MA #13 Notre Dame 31–26
11 November 20, 1999 South Bend, IN #25 Boston College 31–29
12 November 11, 2000 South Bend, IN #11 Notre Dame 28–16
13 October 27, 2001 Chestnut Hill, MA Boston College 21–17
14 November 2, 2002 South Bend, IN Boston College 14–7
15 October 25, 2003 Chestnut Hill, MA Boston College 27–25
16 October 23, 2004 South Bend, IN Boston College 24–23
17 October 13, 2007 South Bend, IN #4 Boston College 27–14
18 November 8, 2008 Chestnut Hill, MA Boston College 17–0
19 October 24, 2009 South Bend, IN Notre Dame 20–16
20 October 2, 2010 Chestnut Hill, MA Notre Dame 31–13
21 November 19, 2011 South Bend, IN #24 Notre Dame 16–14
22 November 10, 2012 Chestnut Hill, MA #4 Notre Dame 21–6
23 November 21, 2015 Boston, MA
Series: Notre Dame leads 13–9

Notable moments[edit]

Since their first meeting in 1975, the Fighting Irish and the Eagles have generated some memorable moments in only 32 years. The teams played each season from 1992 until 2004. Over the course of 18 games, here are some of the more memorable ones:

1983 Liberty Bowl – Notre Dame 19, Boston College 18
Meeting at the 1983 Liberty Bowl in Memphis Notre Dame and the Eagles engaged in a tight and taut contest — a wikt:harbringer. Despite Doug Flutie throwing for 287 yards and three touchdowns, BC found itself on the short-end of a 19–18 loss. The Eagles were down 19–12 at halftime and, after a Flutie TD pass to Scott Gieselman in the third quarter and a missed extra-point, BC had an opportunity to win late in the game. On fourth down with 1:08 remaining, a Flutie pass fell incomplete for a Fighting Irish win.
1992 – Notre Dame 54, Boston College 7
In the first game of the revived series, a highly ranked BC team entered the game with high expectations and the goal of reaching a major bowl game. The Fighting Irish ended this hope with a crushing 54–7 victory, still the largest in the series. The game was punctuated—and the rivalry fueled on BC's side[citation needed] – by a successful fake punt called by Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, early in the third quarter with his team already ahead 37–0. Also, the crowd scenes from the final game of the 1993 film Rudy were shot during halftime of this game.
1993 – Boston College 41, Notre Dame 39
The Eagles knocked off the No. 1 Fighting Irish in 1993 at Notre Dame on a last second, 41-yard David Gordon field goal — dropping Notre Dame to No. 4 in the rankings and eventually foiling their hopes of finishing No. 1. Boston College held a 38–17 lead with 11:13 left in the game, but the Fighting Irish fought back. The Stadium rocked as the Fighting Irish completed a 22-point comeback. But in the end, Gordon kicked a field goal for the winning score. It was BC's first-ever win over the Fighting Irish. For their effort, the Eagles made the November 29, 1993, Sports Illustrated cover.[11]
1998 – Notre Dame 31, Boston College 26
Although the Eagles stood at 3–5 coming in, the Eagles came close to beating then-No. 13 ranked Notre Dame. Down 31–20 with 9:23 left in the game, Eagles senior quarterback Scott Mutryn threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Anthony DiCosmo. After a failed two-point conversion, the BC defense prevented a Notre Dame score. The Eagle offense then marched all the way to the Fighting Irish 4-yard line with only seconds remaining on the clock. Running back Mike Cloud was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on the first three downs, and on fourth down Notre Dame safety Deke Cooper tackled Cloud in the backfield to save a 31–26 victory for the Fighting Irish.
1999 – Boston College 31, Notre Dame 29
The Fighting Irish came into the game in a must-win situation in order to avoid its first bowl-ineligible season since 1986, while the Eagles entered on a three-game winning streak and had its best mark after 9 games since the 1993 campaign. The Eagles came out firing and withstood an early pair of touchdowns by Tony Fisher and Julius Jones, countering with touchdown passes by Tim Hasselbeck as the game was tied at 17 at the break. Hasselbeck would put the Eagles ahead for good with a 1 yard sneak in the third quarter and another touchdown toss early in the fourth. But the Fighting Irish showed no quit with their season on the line, as Jarious Jackson hit Fisher for a nine-yard score. However, a missed extra-point by Jim Sanson proved to be crucial. After Jones' 67-yard punt return for a score, the Fighting Irish were forced to go for the two-point conversation—and failed. The Fighting Irish would get the ball back once more with 2:18 left on the clock, but on the second play of the drive, Jackson's pass was intercepted by Pedro Cirino, assuring Notre Dame would stay home for the holidays.
2002 – Boston College 14, Notre Dame 7
BC went to Notre Dame Stadium to face No. 4-ranked Notre Dame, who were clad in their green jerseys for the first time in three years and for the first time at home in 17 seasons, and the team from Chestnut Hill brought back some ghosts of 1993 to Notre Dame. Notre Dame fumbled eight times and back-up quarterback Pat Dillingham threw two interceptions. BC walked out with a 14–7 win, its first over a top-5 team since beating the No. 1 Fighting Irish in 1993 on the very same field.
2003 – Boston College 27, Notre Dame 25
Notre Dame and BC staged another dramatic battle in 2003. As usual, the game came down to the final seconds. With the Eagles holding a 24–6 lead, the Fighting Irish fought back in desperate need of a win to maintain some chance of a bowl bid. Notre Dame's Nate Schiccatano blocked a BC punt late in the game and Carlos Campbell ran it 25 yards for a touchdown with 3:34 left and a 25–24 Fighting Irish lead. On the ensuing Boston College possession, the Eagles marched down to the Fighting Irish 8-yard line where kicker Sandro Sciortino booted in a chip shot with 38 seconds left and a 27–25 BC win.
2004 – Boston College 24, Notre Dame 23
Trailing 20–7 at halftime, Boston College mounted a comeback led by quarterback Paul Peterson, who threw for 383 yards on the day. With 54 seconds left, Peterson hit Tony Gonzalez for a touchdown and a 24–23 win. A missed extra-point by ND kicker D. J. Fitzpatrick in the first half would account for the difference in the game. It was Notre Dame's fourth straight loss to BC and its fifth in the previous six meetings.
2007 – Boston College 27, Notre Dame 14
Entering the game ranked as the #4 team in the country and on the verge of a National Championship, the 6–0 Eagles, led by standout Matt Ryan, played virtually flawless football for four quarters. After mounting a 20–0 lead in front of a near silent Notre Dame crowd, BC relinquished a pair of touchdowns to make it 20–14. An ineffective Jimmy Clausen had been replaced by Evan Sharpley, which appeared to ignite the Notre Dame offense. BC countered with a touchdown from Ryan to WR Kevin Challenger to solidify the victory. BC would go on to finish 11–3 on the season, while Notre Dame finished a paltry 3–9.
2008 – Boston College 17, Notre Dame 0
In 2008 the Fighting Irish made their first trip to Boston in 5 years where The Eagles recorded their first shutout in the series' history. The Eagles 17–0 win was BC's 6th straight against Notre Dame and tied the series record at 9 wins apiece. Fighting Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen, threw 4 interceptions, including two to safety Paul Anderson (one of which was returned 76 yards for the Eagles' first touchdown of the day). Chris Crane added a TD pass to wideout Ifeanyi Momah to secure a victory. Notre Dame struggled on offense, failing to advance the ball past BC's 22-yard line at any point.
2009 – Notre Dame 20, Boston College 16
Notre Dame notched its first victory against BC since 2000, in a close game that had 5 lead changes. Jimmy Clausen threw for two touch touchdowns to Golden Tate, the second putting the Fighting Irish ahead for good. Notre Dame intercepted Boston College quarterback Dave Shinskie, with the final interception coming from linebacker Brian Smith with 98 seconds left in the game.


The Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl is a trophy, in the form of a large cut-crystal bowl, given to the winner of the Boston College-Notre Dame football game. It is named after the legendary Frank Leahy, who was the head coach at both schools. The award is presented to the winning team at the conclusion of the game by members of the Notre Dame Club of Boston.

The Ireland Trophy, created by the Notre Dame student government in 1994, is presented annually "as a token of goodwill, camaraderie and friendly rivalry" to the winner of the game.

Future had been in question[edit]

After the 2012 season, the Irish became partial member of the ACC, in all sports except football, where they remained independent. Although, as part of the deal to become an associate member in the ACC, the Irish are contracted to five games against ACC opponents every season. With these new obligations, the scheduled 2015–2018 games needed to be amended. BC was originally supposed to host in 2015 at Alumni Stadium, but instead a game was scheduled at Fenway Park, with the Irish hosting the neutral site location in their ongoing Shamrock Series.[12] On October 21, 2014, Notre Dame's future games with ACC schools through 2025 were announced. The Fighting Irish will visit Boston College on September 16, 2017, and the Eagles will return to Notre Dame on November 23, 2019. The teams also will play on dates to be announced in 2022 at Notre Dame and in 2025 at Boston College.[13]

Ice hockey[edit]

Main article: Holy War on Ice


  1. ^ Armstrong, Kevin (October 24, 2007). "Flying under the radar". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  2. ^ Strow, Eric (April 7, 2007). "The Holiest Rivalry". The Fanatic Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  3. ^ "CBS Sportsline". CBS. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  4. ^ "The week ahead: First place on the line in the Big Ten, ACC". CNN.SI. November 7, 1998. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  5. ^ Michael Hiestand (November 2, 1992). "Games Worth Watching". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  6. ^ "Daily News Sports". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  7. ^ "Holy War (screenshot)". boston.com. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  8. ^ "BC Wins Battle, Evens "Holy War" (screenshot)". New England Cable News, NECN.com. Retrieved 2008-12-03. 
  9. ^ Longley, Ron (November 9, 2007). "Patriots a good measuring stick for these Bills". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2008-12-33.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  10. ^ Commencement Address at Boston College
  11. ^ November 29, 1993, Sports Illustrated cover
  12. ^ http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/10171445/notre-dame-fighting-irish-visit-fenway-park-alamodome-future-shamrock-series-games
  13. ^ http://www.theacc.com/#!/news-detail/acc-notre-dame-announce-football-playing-dates-through-2025-2014-10-21