It All Came Up Oranges For The Irish In Ara’s Last Game

1975_Notre_Dame_vs_Alabama_(Orange_Bowl)For the second straight year, unbeaten Alabama faced Notre Dame on New Year’s Day, with their national championship hopes on the line.

In the 1974 Sugar Bowl, the two teams came into the game with identical perfect records, and the Irish pulled out a dramatic 24-23 win to capture the No. 1 position. So when the Tide arrived in Miami for what proved to be an historic rematch, it had one big thought on its mind: Revenge.

The Irish, meanwhile, had another fine season, but an upset at the hands of Purdue and a second-half meltdown against Southern Cal in the regular season finale took them out of the championship picture. But with only those two losses on their record, coach Ara Parseghian’s South Bend eleven was looking to give him a rousing going away present in what was to be his final game.

And as it turned out, the ninth-ranked Irish totally dominated the crucial first half, building a 13-3 lead on the strength of a stalwart defense, a fumbled punt, and a penalty that enabled them to keep a second quarter drive alive for what proved to be the winning touchdown. The Tide rallied in the second half and put a plug in the Notre Dame offense, and a dramatic 48-yard catch and run from Richard Todd to Russ Schamun along with a two-point conversion brought them within two points with 3:13 to play in the fourth quarter.

But after the Tide’s defense forced a three and out and gave Todd a chance for a last minute miracle, his errant pass from the Notre Dame 38 was picked off by defensive back Reggie Barnett, and with but 68 seconds remaining on the clock the Tide’s fate was sealed.

Call it the luck of the Irish or the Bama Bowl Curse, but the result was the same, in one of the great Orange Bowl classics of the ages.

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