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Fri-YAY Listicle: Some of My Favorite Notre Dame Football Underdog Victories

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Never tell me the odds

Notre Dame v Oklahoma Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Welcome, everyone, to the weekly One Foot Down listicle! Each week on Friday, Pat Rick and I will alternate providing for you all a listicle of the greatest/top/best Notre Dame Fighting Irish-related things we can think of. They might be more serious, but mostly they will probably be wacky (what else would you honestly expect from the two of us?). We are AMPED to provide these for you each week.

We’re Talking Underdogs

In this week’s edition of the listicle, I had the recent random thought of Notre Dame as underdogs and when they won some of those games. Some of those victories are always sweeter - when the talking heads and even Vegas will count the Irish out. But then the Irish way outdo the favorite to win the game many thought they would lose. It is quite satisfying to witness. Therefore, I wanted to break down some of my favorites. These are not in a ranking order, and they are not the only underdog wins in recent memory. There are others, but these are some of my favorites. Maybe peeps can let me know of others that you particularly enjoy on top of this list here.

Honorable Mention - 2015 ND vs. GT

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 19 Georgia Tech at Notre Dame Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This is an honorable mention and not completely on the list because the Irish were actually favorites by kickoff. But, going into the game, they were underdogs. Georgia Tech was supposed to have one of the best and most highly efficient offenses in the nation with the triple option they ran. They were dominating opponents, and our defense was supposedly no match for them. But, what the talking heads did not know or care to research was that the defense was truly the shining star of that 2015 team. They were so dominant, and they shut down GT’s offense (one of the two good things BVG ever did as DC). The final score, 30-22, was close, but that was due to a couple of garbage-time scores by GT. That was such a satisfying victory because no one thought the Irish would win and then they just smoked GT.

ND vs. UM 2018

NCAA Football: Michigan at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

What a glorious day. We all know how this went. An actual sea of green in the stands. Night game. Chris Finke Mossing those defenders for a TD. The defense stifling the Michigan offense. What a boss night. Michigan actually ended up as 3-point road favorites because you had everybody and anybody falling all over themselves about the “vaunted” and “elite” defense that Michigan brought to this game without actually ever playing a game as this defense. An absolutely awesome win.

ND @ OU 2012

Notre Dame v Oklahoma Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

You can’t really argue with the thought process behind the Irish being double-digit underdogs going in this game. The Irish had a propensity for not winning big games like this one, especially on the road in Norman, OK. It was a Top 10 matchup. The Irish were undefeated, but this was the gauntlet game. Well, they delivered. What a fun environment. A dominating win that came out of absolutely nowhere. People are still saying this is arguably Brian Kelly’s best win in his tenure at Notre Dame, and that take is a very strong one.

ND @ Tennessee 2004

Talk about kinda coming out of nowhere. The Irish went into Knoxville to take on the #11-ranked Volunteers. The Irish were having an okay season, not great. There were 5-3, and it was a strange season. They were not awesome, but they had wins over a Top 10 Michigan team. They had just lost to BC at home by one point. But, they rebounded to get an uncharacteristic, but awesome win on the road. As you see above, the winning TD came by way of Pick 6 by Mike Goolsby. He intercepted Jimmy Clausen’s brother, Casey, which just makes all of this even more hilarious. Ty Willingham would end up being fired at the end of this regular season.

ND @ USC 2010

Notre Dame v USC Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Irish went into the Coliseum having lost eight straight games to USC. In that era, it was tough to expect to beat USC. But, the Irish were underdogs in that game, and they came up with the victory. Led by the rushing attack of none other than Robert Hughes, the offense led by QB Tommy Rees stunned the Trojans that rainy night in Southern CA. It was finally a win over USC after so long and actually what jumpstarted a 7-3 record against SC during the Kelly era so far.

ND vs. Clemson 2020

NCAA Football: Clemson at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

This just happened so you all know why it’s on the list. Win over a #1 team (finally). Pure elation and just plain awesome.