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Boston College vs. Notre Dame
BC logo Notre Dame logo
Teams Boston College Eagles
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Originated 1975
Series Notre Dame leads 10-9
Trophy Ireland Trophy, Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl

Boston College (9)
1993 1994
1999 2001
2002 2003
2004 2007
Notre Dame (10)
1975 1983
1987 1992
1995 1996
1997 1998
2000 2009

The Holy War is a title used to describe the rivalry between Boston College and Notre Dame, primarily in college football. The series pits the "Eagles" against the "Fighting Irish" and derives its name from the fact that the two teams represent the only Catholic universities in the United States which compete in the NCAA's Division I-A, the highest level of competition in American college football.



Although football at both universities dates to the 19th century, the series itself is relatively young. Boston College and Notre Dame first met on the gridiron on September 15, 1975, in a game held at Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts. Since then, the two schools have met a total of 18 times, including a match up in the 1983 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. An annual series was held from 1992–2004 and after a two-season hiatus the rivalry has resumed for the 2007-2009 seasons. Its future beyond 2010 is in question, with University of Notre Dame officials claiming contractual obligations prohibit the scheduling of future contests. Notre Dame leads the overall series 10-9.

While the "Holy War" moniker dates to the first contest between the two schools in 1975 and has become popularized in the sports media,[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] the rivalry has also acquired a number of other nicknames over the years. These include the "Vatican Bowl", the "Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl", and the "Jesuit Invitational". Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Notre Dame alumna, referenced the rivalry using the "Holy War" moniker during a 2006 commencement address at BC's Alumni Stadium.[10]


Notre Dame victories are shaded ██ blue. Boston College victories shaded in ██ red.

Date Site Winning team Losing team Series
September 15, 1975   Foxborough, MA   Notre Dame  17  Boston College     3  ND 1-0
December 29, 1983 Memphis, TN Notre Dame 19 Boston College 18 ND 2-0
November 7, 1987 South Bend, IN Notre Dame 32 Boston College 25 ND 3-0
November 7, 1992 South Bend, IN Notre Dame 54 Boston College 7 ND 4-0
November 20, 1993 South Bend, IN Boston College 41 Notre Dame 39 ND 4-1
October 8, 1994 Chestnut Hill, MA Boston College 30 Notre Dame 11 ND 4-2
October 28, 1995 South Bend, IN Notre Dame 20 Boston College 10 ND 5-2
November 9, 1996 Chestnut Hill, MA Notre Dame 48 Boston College 21 ND 6-2
October 25, 1997 South Bend, IN Notre Dame    52 Boston College 20 ND 7-2
November 7, 1998 Chestnut Hill, MA Notre Dame 31 Boston College 26 ND 8-2
November 20, 1999 South Bend, IN Boston College 31 Notre Dame 29 ND 8-3
November 11, 2000 South Bend, IN Notre Dame 28 Boston College 16 ND 9-3
October 27, 2001 Chestnut Hill, MA Boston College 21 Notre Dame 17 ND 9-4
November 2, 2002 South Bend, IN Boston College 14 Notre Dame 7 ND 9-5
October 25, 2003 Chestnut Hill, MA Boston College 27 Notre Dame 25 ND 9-6
October 23, 2004 South Bend, IN Boston College 24 Notre Dame 23 ND 9-7
October 13, 2007 South Bend, IN Boston College 27 Notre Dame 14 ND 9-8
November 8, 2008 Chestnut Hill, MA Boston College 17 Notre Dame 0 Tied 9-9
October 24, 2009 South Bend, IN Notre Dame 20 Boston College 16 ND 10-9

Notable moments

Since their first meeting in 1975, the Fighting Irish and the Eagles have generated some memorable moments in only 32 years. The teams played each season from 1992 until 2004. Over the course of 18 games, here are some of the more memorable ones:

1983 Liberty Bowl - Notre Dame 19, Boston College 18
Meeting at the 1983 Liberty Bowl in Memphis Notre Dame and the Eagles engaged in a tight and taut contest — a harbinger of things to come. Despite Doug Flutie throwing for 287 yards and three touchdowns, BC found itself on the short-end of a 19-18 loss. The Eagles were down 19-12 at halftime and, after a Flutie TD pass to Scott Gieselman in the third quarter and a missed extra-point, BC had an opportunity to win late in the game. On fourth down with 1:08 remaining, a Flutie pass fell incomplete for an Irish win.
1992 - Notre Dame 54, Boston College 7
In the first game of the revived series, a highly ranked BC team entered the game with high expectations and the goal of reaching a major bowl game. The Irish ended this hope with a crushing 54-7 victory, still the largest in the series. The game was punctuated—and the rivalry fueled -- by a successful fake punt called by Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz, late in the game with his team already ahead by several touchdowns. Also, the crowd scenes from the final game of the 1993 film Rudy were shot during halftime of this game.
1993 - Boston College 41, Notre Dame 39
The Eagles knocked off the No. 1 Irish in 1993 in South Bend on a last second, 41-yard David Gordon field goal — crushing any hopes of a Notre Dame national championship. Boston College held a 38-17 lead with 11:13 left in the game, but the Irish fought back. The Stadium rocked as the Irish completed a 22-point comeback. But in the end, Gordon kicked a field goal for the winning score. It was BC's first-ever win over the Irish. For their effort, the Eagles made the November 29, 1993, Sports Illustrated cover.[11]
1998 - Notre Dame 31, Boston College 26
Although the Eagles stood at 3-5 coming in, the Eagles came close to beating then-No. 13 ranked Notre Dame. Down 31-20 with 9:23 left in the game, Eagles senior quarterback Scott Mutryn threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Anthony DiCosmo. After a failed two-point conversion, the BC defense prevented a Notre Dame score. The Eagle offense then marched all the way to the Irish 4-yard line with only seconds remaining on the clock. Running back Mike Cloud was stuffed at the line of scrimmage on the first three downs, and on fourth down Notre Dame safety Deke Cooper tackled Cloud in the backfield to save a 31-26 victory for the Irish.
1999 - Boston College 31, Notre Dame 29
The Irish came into the game in a must-win situation in order to avoid its first bowl-ineligible season since 1986, while the Eagles entered on a three-game winning streak and had its best mark after 9 games since the 1993 campaign. The Eagles came out firing and withstood an early pair of touchdowns by Tony Fisher and Julius Jones, countering with touchdown passes by Tim Hasselbeck as the game was tied at 17 at the break. Hasselbeck would put the Eagles ahead for good with a 1 yard sneak in the third quarter and another touchdown toss early in the fourth. But the Irish showed no quit with their season on the line, as Jarious Jackson hit Fisher for a nine-yard score. However, a missed extra-point by Jim Sanson proved to be crucial. After Jones' 67-yard punt return for a score, the Irish were forced to go for the two-point conversation—and failed. The Irish would get the ball back once more with 2:18 left on the clock, but on the second play of the drive, Jackson's pass was intercepted by Pedro Cirino, sealing the 31-29 victory and assuring the Irish of staying home for the holidays.
2002 - Boston College 14, Notre Dame 7
BC went to Notre Dame Stadium to face No. 4-ranked Notre Dame, who were clad in their green jerseys for the first time in three years and for the first time at home in 17 seasons, and the team from Chestnut Hill brought back some ghosts of 1993 to South Bend. Notre Dame fumbled eight times and back-up quarterback Pat Dillingham threw two interceptions. BC walked out with a 14-7 win, its first over a top-5 team since beating the No. 1 Irish in 1993 on the very same field. The Chicago Tribune reported that Boston College players vandalized the visitors locker room after the game.
2003 - Boston College 27, Notre Dame 25
Notre Dame and BC staged another dramatic battle in 2003. As usual, the game came down to the final seconds. Holding a 24-6 lead, the Irish fought back in desperate need of a win to maintain some chance of a bowl bid. Notre Dame's Nate Schiccatano blocked a BC punt late in the game and Carlos Campbell ran it 25 yards for a touchdown with 3:34 left and a 25-24 Irish lead. On the ensuing Boston College possession, the Eagles marched down to the Irish 8-yard line where kicker Sandro Sciortino booted in a chip shot with 38 seconds remaining and a 27-25 BC win.
2004 - Boston College 24, Notre Dame 23
Trailing 20-7 at halftime, Boston College mounted a comeback led by quarterback Paul Peterson, who threw for 383 yards on the day. With 54 seconds left, Peterson hit Tony Gonzalez for a touchdown and a 24-23 win. A missed extra-point by ND kicker D. J. Fitzpatrick in the first half would account for the difference in the game. It was Notre Dame's fourth straight loss to BC and its fifth in the previous six meetings.
2008 - Boston College 17, Notre Dame 0
In 2008 the Irish made their first trip to Boston in 5 years where The Eagles recorded their first shutout in the series' history. The Eagles 17-0 win was BC's 6th straight against Notre Dame and tied the series record at 9 wins apiece. Irish Quarterback Jimmy Clausen, threw 4 interceptions, including two to safety Paul Anderson (one of which was returned 76 yards for the Eagles' first touchdown of the day). Chris Crane added a TD pass to wideout Ifeanyi Momah to secure a victory. Notre Dame struggled on offense, failing to advance the ball past BC's 22 yard line at any point. Irish coach Charlie Weis was excoriated after the game by the Notre Dame faithful for what was perceived as poor gameplanning as well as inability to get his team fired up for the crucial game; ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe even commented at one point that BC fans sitting behind the Notre Dame bench were mocking their team's opponents for showing a lack of heart.
2009 - Notre Dame 20, Boston College 16
Notre Dame notched its first victory against BC since 2000, in a close game that had 5 lead changes. Jimmy Clausen threw for two touch touchdowns to Golden Tate, the second putting the Irish ahead for good. Notre Dame intercepted Boston College quarterback Dave Shinskie, with the final interception coming from linebacker Brian Smith with 98 seconds left in the game.


The Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl is a trophy, in the form of a large cut-crystal bowl, given to the winner of the Boston College-Notre Dame football game. It is named after the legendary Frank Leahy, who was the head coach at both schools. The award is presented to the winning team at the conclusion of the game by members of the Notre Dame Club of Boston.

The Ireland Trophy, created by the Notre Dame student government in 1994, is presented annually "as a token of goodwill, camaraderie and friendly rivalry" to the winner of the game.

Future meetings in question

On November 2, 2005, Notre Dame announced that because it had agreed to a request from the Big East to play teams from that conference each season, it would suspend the Boston College series following the 2010 season. Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese said the conference made the request after Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech withdrew from the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. However, on February 6, 2007, BC Director of Athletics Gene DeFilippo stated “The Notre Dame contract calls for two games in South Bend, in 2007 and 2009, and two games in Boston, in 2008 and 2010. We have been in discussions with Notre Dame concerning additional games and I am very hopeful that we will be able to announce something in the near future.” ESPN commentators during the 2008 game suggested that the two universities are trying to find a way to renew the rivalry after 2010.

Ice hockey

Although Boston College and Notre Dame are not in the same ice hockey conference, the "Holy War on Ice" is among the most heated out-of-conference rivalries in college hockey. The moniker is used both by the media[12][13][14] and the players themselves.[15] The hockey version is in fact older and longer than the football rivalry: the two teams first met on the ice in 1966[16] and have played annually since 1994.[17] BC leads the series 16-11-2. Its use was particularly widespread in media coverage of the Frozen Four final between Boston College and Notre Dame in the 2008 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship,[18][19][20] which BC won, capturing the 2008 National Championship.

See also


  1. ^ Armstrong, Kevin (October 24, 2007). "Flying under the radar". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  2. ^ Strow, Eric (April 7, 2007). "The Holiest Rivalry". The Fanatic Magazine. Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  3. ^ "CBS Sportsline". CBS. Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  4. ^ "The week ahead: First place on the line in the Big Ten, ACC". CNN.SI. November 7, 1998. Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  5. ^ Michael Hiestand (November 2, 1992). "Games Worth Watching". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  6. ^ "Daily News Sports". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  7. ^ "Holy War (screenshot)". Retrieved 2008-12-03.  
  8. ^ "BC Wins Battle, Evens "Holy War" (screenshot)". New England Cable News, Retrieved 2008-12-03.  
  9. ^ Longley, Ron (November 9, 2007). "Patriots a good measuring stick for these Bills". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2008-12-33.  
  10. ^ Commencement Address at Boston College
  11. ^ November 29, 1993, Sports Illustrated cover
  12. ^ Cagan, Dan (November 6, 2008). "Holy War On Ice Continues". Inside Hockey. Retrieved 2008-04-16.  
  13. ^ Robenhymer, Julie (November 7, 2008). "Holy War". Hockey Buzz. Retrieved 2008-04-16.  
  14. ^ "M. Hockey: No. 2 BC gears up for rematch". UWIRE. November 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-16.  
  15. ^ Rosenthal, Tim (November 7, 2008). "Brennan Remembers "The Holy War"". Inside Hockey. Retrieved 2008-04-16.  
  16. ^ "BC vs. All Opponents". Boston College Hockey Media Guide: 98. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-03.  
  17. ^ "All-Time Series". Notre Dame Hockey Media Guide: 132. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-03.  
  18. ^ Connolly, John (April 12, 2008). "BC’s third time around: Eagles’ recent final berths offer edge on ND". The Boston Herald. Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  19. ^ Sampson, Pete (April 11, 2008). "Old rivalry gets fresh look". Irish Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-04-13.  
  20. ^ Amstutz, David (April 14, 2008). "Holy War Heavyweights". The Heights. Retrieved 2008-04-16.  


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