Miami-Notre Dame isn't what it used to be. When the two schools square off at Soldier Field in Chicago on October 6, they will renew a rivalry that was among the most storied in college football at one point.
How awesome was the Canes-Irish series? From 1987-1989, the winner of the two schools' annual match-up went on to win a national championship. Excluding the games when they played each other, Miami and Notre Dame lost only 8 games combined from 1987 to 1990.
UM and Notre Dame stood in each other's way in the race to the top of the polls, and they knew it. So heated was the animosity between the two that they couldn't even wait until kickoff to scuffle in 1988, when member of both teams brawled in front of the locker room entrance at Notre Dame Stadium.
Not only were they legitimately great teams, but their polar-opposite personalities only accentuated the drama. One one side: the most storied team in the history of college football. The Golden Domers, the team of Rockne, Parseghian, the Four Horsemen, and Touchdown Jesus, personified excellence in college football.
On the other: UM, the nouveau riche of college football. Before they started winning championships in the 1980s, UM was the kind of team other powers put on their schedule as early-season tune-ups. Miami's prestige before the Howard Schnellenberger era was derived almost wholly from the Orange Bowl, its football home.
But the disparity ran deeper than that. Whereas the Fighting Irish were considered the class of college football, the Canes were the sport's biggest villain.
In fact, Miami's infamy was born in a route of the Irish in 1985. The Canes annihilated Notre Dame 58-7 in both teams' regular-season finale. Notre Dame head coach Gerry Faust was fired shortly thereafter, but not before he accused Jimmy Johnson's Miami squad of running up the score in an effort to embarrass the Irish.
Johnson still denies running up the score to this day, but will gladly point out that no one complained about Notre Dame running up the score when they routinely walked over the Canes in the 1970s.
The high point (or nadir, depending on your perspective) of the rivalry's animosity came in 1988, when the top-ranked Canes visited Notre Dame to face the fourth-ranked Irish. The game became dubbed "Catholics vs. Convicts" when a pair of Notre Dame students sold t-shirts bearing the slogan leading up to the game.
The bad blood carried over onto the field, as the aforementioned brawl raised the stakes even higher in one of college football's most legendary game. But the fire that made the series memorable would ultimately lead to its (now temporary) demise. Both schools agreed to stop scheduling each other after their 1990 meeting.
Now that the rivalry is back on, it's unlikely that it will become as heated as it was in the 1980s. Though the legends endure, most of the players who will take the field for both schools on October 6 weren't even born when Notre Dame and Miami played their last regular season contest in 1980.
But while the bad blood has subsided, the two programs are sure to add some more juicy chapters to an already storied rivalry.