1998 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

1998 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Conference Independent
Coaches No. 22[1]
AP No. 22[1]
1998 record 9–3
Head coach Bob Davie (2nd year)
Offensive coordinator Jim Colletto
Offensive scheme Option
Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison
Base defense 4–3
Home stadium Notre Dame Stadium (c. 80,012, grass)
1998 Division I-A independents football records
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
UCF           9 2  
#22 Notre Dame           9 3  
Louisiana Tech           6 6  
Northeast Louisiana           5 6  
UAB           4 7  
Arkansas State           4 8  
Navy           3 8  
Southwestern Louisiana           2 9  
Rankings from AP Poll

Season overview

With wins in their final five regular season games of 1997, the Irish started Davie's second season with confidence. Despite losing record-setting quarterback Ron Powlus, the Irish returned 14 starters, including tailback Autry Denson and three senior linebackers that were placed on the preliminary list for the Dick Butkus Award.[2] Powlus was replaced by Jarious Jackson who had played sparingly in 1997 but had amassed almost 200 passing yards in the time.[3] In Jackson's first start, against Michigan, he threw two touchdowns to lead the Irish, ranked 22nd, over the 5th ranked Wolverines. Denson added 162 yards and two touchdowns to give the Irish a 36–20 win.[4] The Irish moved to tenth in the rankings, however didn't stay long, as Michigan State, who led by 39 points at halftime, beat the Irish for the second year in a row.[5] Dropping back to 23rd in the nation, the Irish returned home to face Purdue. The Boilermakers handed the Irish their first loss in 1997 which dropped the Irish from the rankings, and the Irish looked for retribution in this game. With the Irish down two with less than two minutes remaining, Tony Driver, who was switched to cornerback in the offseason, intercepted a Drew Brees pass to set up the go-ahead field goal for the Irish. With the Boilermakers once again moving the ball, Driver had his second interception with less than a minute remaining to preserve the win for the Irish.[6]

The Irish won all four of their October games, including a win over Stanford,[7] a dominating win at Arizona State,[8] a last minute win over Army,[9] and a win over Baylor led by Denson's career high of 189 yards,[10] to move back into the top-15 in the rankings. In the next game, the Boston College Eagles were poised for the upset of the Irish. Down 30–26, the Eagles had the ball on the Irish four-yard line with less than a minute remaining. The Irish defense, however, held the Eagles for four downs to preserve the win.[11] The next week, led by Denson, who became the all-time leader in rushing yards at Notre Dame, the Irish shut-out Navy to increase their NCAA record winning streak over the Midshipmen to 35 games.[12] Once again ranked tenth, the Irish faced LSU in their final home game. Avenging their loss in the 1997 Independence Bowl, the Irish beat the Tigers on a late touchdown run.[13] With a potential BCS berth on the line, and without Jackson, who was injured in the final play against LSU, the Irish traveled to face rivals USC in their final regular season game. Playing two backups at quarterback, including true freshman Arnaz Battle, the Irish were dominated by the tough Trojan defense that caused five turnovers. Though the Trojans, led by freshman quarterback Carson Palmer, couldn't produce much offense themselves, they only needed two scores to defeat the Irish 10–0.[14] Missing out on a BCS bowl game, the Irish, who signed a deal early in the year that gave them a tie-in with the Big East Conference bowl games,[15] accepted a bid to play Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl. Wearing their alternate green jerseys for the first time since the 1995 Fiesta Bowl, the Irish got behind early to the Yellow Jackets with two long touchdowns. Though closing the gap to a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Irish couldn't move the ball on their last two drives and lost their fourth straight bowl game.[16] They finished the season with a 9–3 record and dropped to 22nd in the national rankings.[1]

After the season, seven players were taken in the 1999 National Football League (NFL) Draft. Among them were Denson, who left with multiple Notre Dame rushing records, Malcolm Johnson, who left with a Notre Dame record of six consecutive games with a touchdown catch, and most of the offensive line starters.[17] Also, offensive coordinator, Jim Colletto, was lured away to the NFL by Baltimore.[18]


Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
September 5 2:30 p.m. No. 5 Michigan No. 22 Notre Dame StadiumNotre Dame, IN (Rivalry) NBC W 36–20   80,012
September 12 8:00 p.m. at Michigan State No. 10 Spartan StadiumEast Lansing, MI (Megaphone Trophy) ABC L 23–45   74,267
September 26 2:30 p.m. Purdue No. 23 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN (Shillelagh Trophy) NBC W 31–30   80,012
October 3 2:30 p.m. Stanford No. 23 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN (Legends Trophy) NBC W 35–17   80,012
October 10 3:30 p.m. at Arizona State No. 22 Sun Devil StadiumTempe, AZ ABC W 28–9   73,501
October 24 2:30 p.m. Army No. 18 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN (Rivalry) NBC W 20–17   80,012
October 31 2:30 p.m. Baylor No. 16 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 27–3   80,012
November 7 12:00 p.m. at Boston College No. 13 Alumni StadiumChestnut Hill, MA (Holy War) CBS W 31–26   44,500
November 14 3:30 p.m. at Navy No. 12 Jack Kent Cooke StadiumLandover, MD (Rivalry) CBS W 30–0   78,844
November 21 1:30 p.m. LSU No. 10 Notre Dame Stadium • Notre Dame, IN NBC W 39–36   80,012
November 28 8:00 p.m. at USC No. 9 Los Angeles Memorial ColiseumLos Angeles, CA (Jeweled Shillelagh) ABC L 0–10   90,069
January 1, 1999 12:00 p.m. vs. No. 12 Georgia Tech No. 17 Alltel StadiumJacksonville, FL (Gator Bowl) NBC L 28–35   70,791
#Rankings from AP Poll.

Game notes


1 234Total
Michigan 3 1007 20
Notre Dame 3 31713 36
  • Source:


  1. 1 2 3 "Final Rankings" (PDF). Notre Dame Football Media Guide. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved February 19, 2008.
  2. "Football Prepares for 1998 Season". UND.cstv.com. August 12, 1998. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  3. "Game-By-Game Individual Statistics". UND.cstv.com. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  4. "Notre Dame Owns Second Half, Victory in Opener". UND.cstv.com. September 5, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  5. "Football Upset by Michigan State". UND.cstv.com. September 12, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  6. "Irish Win Thriller Over Boilermakers". UND.cstv.com. September 26, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  7. "Irish Handle Stanford". UND.cstv.com. October 3, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  8. Reisner, Mel (October 10, 1998). "Football Too Much for Sun Devils in 28–9 Win". UND.cstv.com. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  9. Ross, JR (October 24, 1998). "Notre Dame Edges Army, 20–17". UND.cstv.com. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  10. "Irish Run Over the Bears". UND.cstv.com. October 31, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  11. "Goalline Stand Equals Victory". UND.cstv.com. November 7, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  12. "Irish Sink Navy, 30–0". UND.cstv.com. November 14, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  13. "Notre Dame Downs LSU". UND.cstv.com. November 21, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  14. "Irish Blanked by USC". UND.cstv.com. November 28, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  15. "Fallout from the Big East / Notre Dame Bowl Deal Continues". techsideline.com. May 6, 1998. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  16. "Irish Can't Stop Georgia Tech, Fall in Gator Bowl, 35–28". UND.cstv.com. January 1, 1999. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  17. "Seven Notre Dame Players Taken in NFL Draft". UND.cstv.com. April 18, 1999. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  18. "Assistant Football Coach Heads to NFL". UND.cstv.com. February 5, 1999. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
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