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The ridiculous college football history between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Auburn Tigers

Spoiler alert... there is no history.

Mike Rosenthal
Irish celebrate a win at Texas in 1996

A topic that has been brought up on several occasions across the college football landscape this offseason has been future matchups. People are putting in their selections for games they want to see in the future, and in particular, games that would see the first ever meeting between two schools. For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, there really aren’t too many programs that they haven’t faced in their 125+ years in existence. One does stick out like a sore thumb however... the Auburn Tigers.

A matchup between the Irish and the Tigers makes perfect sense today. Auburn is a member of the SEC and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has mentioned several times that he would like to add more SEC teams to the schedule — especially those that the Irish have yet to face. There is also the fact that both Auburn and Notre Dame are Under Armour schools, and while that may seem like a small detail, in the business world of today is most decidedly not.

Notre Dame versus Auburn... yeah, I like the sound of it.

There are really only two times that Notre Dame and Auburn are ever really mentioned in the same discussion outside of the schedule talk. Both, however, are of great deal of importance.

1993

NOTRE DAME V MICHIGA

We here at One Foot Down claim 21 national championships for the football team at Notre Dame (and so does Notre Dame albeit in a much quieter fashion). The last national championship was in 1993 via a win over the Florida State Seminoles in the regular season and a win over the Texas A&M Aggies in the Cotton Bowl. The 11-1 Irish had wins that season over the #1, #2, and #6 teams in the country.

Auburn fans feel like they have a similar claim for 1993 with an undefeated 11-0 season. The Tigers, however, were on probation and banned from postseason play. Auburn beat both the #4 Florida Gators and the #11 Alabama Crimson Tide during the regular season, and both of those teams faced one another in the SEC Championship game. Would the Tiger have been able to beat the Gators on a neutral field for a second time that season? The Gators eventually beat an undefeated and #3 ranked West Virginia Mountaineers team in the Sugar Bowl, 41-3. Would the Tigers have shot up to #1 if they did the same? We will never know because of Auburn naughtiness.

Needless to say, the 1993 season was a wild one for college football, and both the Irish and Auburn made huge statements that year — as well as gigantic impacts.

[Note to self: do more research on the 1993 season because OH MY GOD it was incredible]

1996

Just three years later, we have the most recent chance for the Irish to face the Tigers, and this is where it gets ridiculous. Notre Dame just finished an 8-3 season during the last season coached by Lou Holtz, and it was somewhat underwhelming. The Irish had wins over the #8 Texas Longhorns and #16 Washington Huskies, but the three losses overshadowed those wins by quite a bit. Notre Dame lost to the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes at home while ranked #5 in the country. They then had two overtime losses; the Air Force Falcons and the last game of the season vs the USC Trojans.

So yeah... it was a bit of a downer. Looking into this downer brought me to the Wikipedia entry for the season, and this entry (which is the whole reason I wrote this article):

Despite finishing the regular season 8-3, Notre Dame did not play in a bowl game. The Fighting Irish turned down an invitation to play the Auburn Tigers in the Independence Bowl, believing that Auburn was an unworthy opponent and that the Independence Bowl was an unworthy bowl destination.

Of course, I suppose turning down a bowl game during a transition period makes some sense — except it doesn’t. Notre Dame hired defensive coordinator Bob Davie to take over as its new head coach. In 1997 during Bob Davie’s first year, Notre Dame chose to go to the Independence Bowl after a 7-5 season to take on the LSU Tigers for the second time that year.

Independence Bowl

Instead, Auburn beat the Army Black Knights in the Independence Bowl in 1996.

NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE!

Let me just state, that even after Charlie Weis’s last year when the Irish chose to not go to a bowl game, I criticized the move. I fully believe in the motto: Go Play Your Bowl. For the Irish to put their noses in the air after an 8 win season is part of the very essence of why half the country hates and disrespects Notre Dame. Not playing in the Independence Bowl in 1996 was a missed opportunity in my opinion.

PLAY THEM

At some point this all needs to come to an end. Maybe that happens in a bowl game over the next 5 years as the bowl tie-ins that the Irish have with the ACC see a lot of SEC matchups. Regardless, Jack Swarbrick needs to get Auburn on the schedule at some point — maybe after the Alabama home and home series — I don’t know but it needs to happen.

Notre Dame and Auburn have such a weird history without ever playing, so just imagine what a game would look like in South Bend or in Jordan-Hare. Seems good to me MARK IT DOWN!

Notre Dame: 1993 National Champions

  • $28

Notre Dame ACTUALLY lays claim to 21 national championships. 1993 was the last one — celebrate it!

Navy and gold print on a super-comfortable gray tee.Premium, lightweight tri-blend crewneck (50% polyester, 25% combed ring-spun cotton, 25% rayon). Durable, yet ultra-soft. Unisex sizing with a snug fit. Men should size up; women should size down.

Designed by Nick Torres.

Screened in the USA.