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Things People Forget About Notre Dame Football: West-Coast Wins and Raging Against the (Hot Dog) Machine

In honor of July 4th, a hot-dog story must be told

Washington v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

This week in Things People Forget About Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football: a couple very weird wins against PAC-12 teams not named the USC Trojans, and a hot-dog anecdote to honor grilling traditions. People forget...

The Other UCLA Game

Notre Dame’s 2006 win over the UCLA Bruins is well-remembered, as most Irish fans can still recall Jeff Samardzija’s run-after-catch to win the game in the final seconds. A lesser-known W from the next season saw a very different (read: winless) Irish team clash with the Bruins out in Los Angeles and finally enter the win column in bonkers fashion. Highlights below:

Despite being outgained by a 2:1 margin in typical 2007 fashion (140 total yards for the Irish vs. 282 for UCLA), the Irish scored a 20-6 victory in this game thanks to an incredible six Bruin turnovers. A few other statistical tidbits from this trash fire of a game, which was unique only in that it saw the Irish survive while the Bruins were consumed:

  • 5th-year senior Maurice Crum, Jr. had a hand in four different turnovers in this game: including two interceptions, one fumble he forced and recovered, and a second he recovered and returned for a touchdown after it was forced by John Ryan.
  • Notre Dame’s only offensive touchdown of the game (itself an insane statistic considering multiple turnovers landed the Irish inside the Bruin 30), came after a grueling TWO-yard drive, after two straight rushing attempts by Travis Thomas resulted in no gain.
  • That drive was the second of the game to start inside the two yard line, coming after a Tom Zbikowski sack and recovery by Kerry Neal landed the Irish on the Bruin one. A sack and two incomplete passes later, the Irish attempted a field goal. Now that’s what I call a decided schematic advantage.

Notre Dame’s Invincible Defensive Line in...2009?

A couple years later, a much more talented but still ultimately futile Irish team played host to the Washington Huskies in what ended up being the best game of that season. What is most memorable about this game, apart from the 2009 norm of Golden Tate doing Golden Tate things, was the way the normally-porous Notre Dame defense ultimately saved the day. The Irish front stood tall on two different goal-line stands in the second half to limit the Huskies’ lead. The latter of these saw them actually hold on two consecutive series after a penalty gave Jake Locker and co. a new set of downs on the goal line.

That rare and remarkable defensive effort gave the Irish offense, which had been both extremely productive and infuriatingly tentative (530 yards of offense alongside horrific red-zone efficiency that saw the Irish kick three field goals inside the 20 and turn the ball over twice, once again in typical late-Weis fashion) a chance to finally find its footing and pull the game out.

Check out the full highlights from this underrated classic below:

Bob Davie’s Greatest Rivalry

In honor of recent hot-dog-related festivities comes an oldie-but-goodie Bob Davie anecdote. Coach Davie struggled with much during his tenure of the Irish, and during what was probably his nadir season in 1999 (the Irish went 5-7) he was fighting an even more fearsome foe than those on the field. From the vault of Blue-Gray Sky:

During my junior year in 1999, two of my female friends from Welsh Hall went off-campus to the 7-Eleven Store on the corner of Edison and Jefferson. They were shopping for snacks when they heard someone in the rear of the store banging on the hot dog machine (you know the kind - the multi-pronged device capable of cooking up nasty 7-Eleven nostril dogs at any time of day).

It turns out to be Bob Davie, who was having problems getting the little plastic door open.

According to my friends, when his last attempt to get the door open failed, Bob slammed his fist against the side of the machine and bellowed, “I swear, this whole town is trying to f—- me!”

This one is a well-known anecdote for Irish fans who remember the late 90s and early 2000s well, but for my fellow late millennial/Gen-Z members who may be new to the story: yes, it really was this bad, and this was just the beginning.