Notre Dame is gearing up for the program’s 30th bowl appearance, one that's shaping up to be far more intriguing than most Fighting Irish fans could have expected just a few weeks ago. Miami, a fierce rival of decades past, will square off against ND with the same 7-5 record in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas.
Here’s a look back at the Irish’s first 10 bowl games to whet your appetite:
1925 Rose Bowl
Under famed coach Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen visited the West Coast with a 9-0 record to take on Stanford and coach Pop Warner. ND stomped the Cardinal en route to a 27-10 victory for the school’s first national championship. It was the first of four national titles secured by a bowl win.
1970 Cotton Bowl
Taking on a No. 1-ranked Texas squad (10-0), the eighth-ranked Irish (8-1-1) lost 21-17. The Longhorns took home the title, but Notre Dame moved up three spots in the final Associated Press poll.
1971 Cotton Bowl
In Round 2, Texas was on a 30-game winning streak and again ranked first in the nation. The 9-1 Irish were fifth in the United Press International poll and tagged sixth by the AP. The Irish thumped Texas 24-11, but finished behind national champion Nebraska.
1973 Orange Bowl
Nebraska throttled the Irish for a 40-6 win. Cornhuskers quarterback Johnny Rogers rushed for a touchdown and threw for a 52-yard TD to Frosty Anderson to help put up a 20-0 halftime lead. Rogers added two more rushing scores in the second half, vaulting Nebraska to fourth in the final AP poll.
1973 Sugar Bowl
Notre Dame finished the '73 season with a 10-0 record to face off against Alabama (10-0), ranked No. 1, in an epic clash on New Year's Eve. It was the first meeting between the two schools, pitting ND coach Ara Parseghian against Alabama legend Paul "Bear" Bryant. The third-ranked Irish, led by QB Tom Clements, escaped with a 24-23 win. Notre Dame's defense held the Crimson Tide to negative yardage in the first quarter. The Irish's Al Hunter returned a kick 93 yards for a score in the second quarter for a 14-10 lead. After exchanging TDs in the third, Alabama pulled a trick play -- a halfback pass from Mike Stock to reserve QB Richard Todd for a long score and a 23-21 advantage. Bill Davis missed on the extra point and ND answered on its next drive with a field goal. Alabama then stalled and punted deep into Irish territory. Parseghian gambled on third and long with a two-tight end set and Clements connected with receiver Robin Weber for 36 yards with 2:12 remaining to preserve the upset and boosting ND to No. 1 in the final AP poll.
1975 Orange Bowl
Alabama entered the game second in the AP poll with an 11-0 record. Notre Dame, coming off an embarrassing 55-24 loss to USC, was ninth at 9-2 but eked out a 13-11 victory in Parseghian's swan song, which crushed Bryant's title dreams again. Running back Wayne Bullock, extremely ill at the time, gutted out his final game in a ND uniform and scored on a 4-yard run. Sophomore Mark McLane added another from nine yards out. Parseghian announced his retirement earlier in December and finished with a 95-17-4 record -- just 10 fewer wins than Rockne.
1976 Gator Bowl
Notre Dame, with first-year coach Dan Devine at the helm, had an 8-3 record heading into the December tilt with Penn State (7-4). The Irish won, 20-9, in large part to Outland Trophy winner Ross Browner's play at defensive end. The Nittany Lions had a 3-0 lead after a Tony Capozzoli field goal. Al Hunter rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns for ND, and Dave Reeve connected on two 23-yard field goals. Linebacker Doug Becker had 13 tackles to pace ND. Safety Jim Browner broke up three passes, had an interception in the Irish end zone and recovered a fumble that set up a field goal.
1978 Cotton Bowl
For the fourth time, Texas was atop the AP poll at 11-0 coming into the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2. The Irish, who turned down other bowl invitations to get another crack at the Longhorns, were fifth at 10-1 and went on to claim a 38-10 victory. Texas boasted Heisman-winning running back Earl Campbell and Outland Trophy recipient Brad Shearer. Notre Dame had Lombardi and Maxwell winner Ross Browner and Walter Camp winner Ken MacAfee. Campbell had 1,744 yards on the ground that year. Texas QB Randy McEachern fumbled early, setting up a 47-yard FB by Notre Dame's Reeve. Texas matched ND on the next drive. In the second quarter, Terry Eurick crashed over the goal line from 6 yards for the Irish and a couple minutes later quarterback Joe Montana was leading another charge after a Texas fumble. Eurick bulled in from 10 yards and a 17-3 lead to put the game out of reach.
1979 Cotton Bowl
Both ranked just inside the top 10, Notre Dame topped Houston 35-34 in what was dubbed the "Chicken Soup Game." On a freezing day in Dallas, Montana had the flu but led the Irish back in the second half after downing a bowl of chicken bouillon. Notre Dame scored the first 12 points, but Houston rattled off 20 unanswered in the second frame with the wind at its back. Houston had a 34-12 lead in the fourth quarter and Montana finally took the field with 7:37 remaining. A furious rally was capped by a TD pass to Kris Haines as time expired.
1981 Sugar Bowl
Top-ranked Georgia (11-0) met a 9-1-1 Irish squad on New Year's Day and broke Irish hearts with a 17-10 victory. Bulldogs QB Buck Belue was 0-for-11 passing with just over two minutes to play. Herschel Walker made up for the passing game's futility, but Georgia faced a third-and-7 at midfield. Belue dropped back and completed his only pass of the day -- a 7-yarder to Amp Arnold -- that allowed Georgia to run out the clock and earn a national title.