The University of Notre Dame has afforded friend and foe alike numerous stirring, emotive, and heart-wrenching moments in the past 50 years. Of these, the moments that go for six tend to be particularly memorable.
As we brace for another autumn of pigskin and pork rinds, here are my top 25 touchdowns in University of Notre Dame history (in more-or-less no particular order):
25. Arnaz Battle vs. Michigan State (TD catch), Sept. 22 2002 - A dramatic 60-yard pass from Pat Dillingham that ended MSU's five-game win streak against ND.
24. Golden Tate vs. Pittsburgh (TD catch), Nov. 24 2009 - Though it was a loss, Tate nearly single-handedly brought the Irish back in this one. An 18-yard fourth-quarter catch (TD begins about 20 seconds in) from Jimmy Clausen cut Pitt's lead to 27-16.
23. Golden Tate vs. Pittsburgh (Punt return for TD), Nov. 24 2009 - Less than two minutes later, Tate returned a punt 87 yards, leaving the Heinz Field crowd stunned and silent. Pitt had the last laugh, however, holding on for a 27-22 victory.
22. Kyle Rudolph vs. Michigan (TD catch), Sept. 11 2010 - This Rudolph catch goes down as the second-longest pass-play in ND history, giving the Irish a 24-21 lead. Alas, UM would win this one 28-24.
21. Mike Goolsby vs. Tennessee (Interception for TD), Nov. 06 2004 - Same old story: Clausen throws for the ND score. Only problem here is that it was Tennessee's Rick Clausen, not ND's Jimmy Clausen, who tossed the pass that resulted in a 26-yard INT for six and an Irish upset of the Volunteers.
20. Adrian Jarrell vs. Michigan (TD catch), Sept. 15 1990 - With the Irish down 24-21, Jarrell's 18-yard catch capped a 76-yard drive led by freshman Rick Mirer and ND overcame a 200-yard effort by running back Jon Vaughn and a Wolverine squad adeptly led by Elvis Grbac.
19. Frank Jacobs vs. West Virginia (TD catch), January 02 1989 - Though this 3-yard TD pass from Tony Rice (TD begins about 7.30 in) helped punctuate a 1988 Irish national championship -- it's really the juke move Rice used on the 2-point conversion I remember most about this scoring drive.
18. Jeff Samardzija vs. North Carolina (TD catch), Nov. 04 2006 - This 42-or-so-yard catch netted Jeff the all-time ND career TD record (since eclipsed by Michael Floyd). Plus, I couldn't resist inserting a Chicago Cubs starting pitcher on this list…
17. Jerome Bettis vs. Penn State (TD catch), Nov. 14 1992 - Rick Mirer hits "The Bus" with what looked to be about a 4-yard pass -- though not much of the field was visible during much of "The Snow Bowl." With the game tied, Mirer would proceed to complete the game-winning conversion to Reggie Brooks.
16 & 15. Raghib "Rocket" Ismail vs. Rice (Kickoff return(s) for TD), Nov. 05 1988 - Freshman Raghib Ismail returns two kickoffs for a combined 170 yards; these first two career kicks returned for TDs would certainly not be his last.
14. Michael Floyd vs. Stanford (TD catch), Nov. 28 2009 - Although Floyd would catch a 46-yarder in the second half of this one, it's the 18-yard first-quarter score -- very reminiscent of Santonio Holmes' Super Bowl-winning catch -- that makes this list. Incidentally, Golden Tate caught three Jimmy Clausen TD passes in this one as well.
13. Ted Burgmeier vs. North Carolina (TD catch), Oct. 11 1975 - An unassuming 80-yard touchdown could never be more heralding of things to come. After ND's starting QB proved ineffective for much of the game, coach Dan Devine plugged in a lanky sophomore wearing #3 -- there was a little over 5 minutes remaining. The result -- besides the 80-yard TD to Burgmeier -- was the first of 36 career fourth-quarter comebacks for Joe Montana (5 collegiate, 31 professional).
12. Tony Rice vs. Southern California (TD run), Nov. 26 1988 - What option do you have? Tony Rice. The scoring was opened with a 65-yard Rice dash that saw him go for six virtually untouched. ND would win the game 27-10.
11. Reggie Brooks vs. Michigan (TD run), Sept. 13 1992 - How can you forget a touchdown that renders the runner unconscious? Brooks takes a pitch from Rick Mirer 20 yards; he spins, he avoids, he gets drilled at the goal-line -- and he falls limp into the end zone for six. A better run you may never see, however.
10 & 9. Tim Brown vs. Michigan State (Punt returns for TD), Sept. 19 1987 - Notre Dame's future (and currently final) Heisman Trophy winner scores twice on punt returns -- efforts of 71 and 66 yards, respectively.
8. Touchdown Jesus (1964) - "The Word of Life" by Miller Sheets celebrates each and every TD at Notre Dame Stadium.
7 & 6. Jerome Heavens vs. Georgia Tech (TD runs), Nov. 08 1975 - This game will always be remembered for something that happened in the closing seconds of the game. Few remember, however, that the game was decided early on by two fantastic rushes by halfback Jerome Heavens.
5. Lee Becton vs. Florida State (TD run), Nov. 13 1993 - This early '90s "Game of the Century" saw Lou Holtz's #2 Irish upset the #1-ranked Seminoles. Lee Becton scored on a superb 26-yard second-quarter off tackle. (Becton's TD run begins at about 4.10)
4. Pat Terrell vs. Miami (Interception for TD), Oct. 15 1988 - Terrell played a key role in the "Catholics vs. Convicts" game -- not only did he return a tipped pass for about 60 yards and a score (about 2 minutes in to the following clip), he also defined his career with an iconic batted pass of Steve Walsh's 2-point conversion attempt in the waning seconds (about 6 minutes in to the clip), as the Irish knocked off the #1 Hurricanes 31-30. (Full game recap here.)
3. Bob Gladieux vs. Michigan State (TD catch), Nov. 19 1966 - Another "Game of the Century" featuring Notre Dame, this one ended in bewilderment, controversy, and a 10-10 tie. MSU scored the first 10 points of the game. Halfback Gladieux's 34-yard catch from Coley O'Brien led to a 10-7 MSU lead at halftime.
2. Allen Pinkett vs. Pittsburgh (TD run), Nov. 06 1982 - Dan Marino and the #1 Panthers are upset -- in part -- by this 76-yard scamper by Pinkett.
1. Knute Rockne vs. Army (TD catch), Nov. 01 1913 - I'd be remiss not to include "the first" forward pass utilized by tiny Notre Dame to shock the heavily-favored Cadets. Gus Dorais threw for 243 yards, three touchdowns, and ushered in a new era in American football.
All schedule and final score info courtesy of uhnd.com.
The author is a lifelong Notre Dame Fighting Irish fan - of both athletics and academics.