Notre Dame entered its 2021 Rose Bowl matchup with a 19-19 overall bowl game record. The Fighting Irish added another L on the books after suffering a 31-14 loss to Alabama in the Rose Bowl. However, Notre Dame's outing against the Crimson Tide on Friday in the College Football Playoff Semifinal did not make the list of the program's most disappointing bowl performances.
Let's take a look at Notre Dame's biggest bowl game losses.
1973 Orange Bowl — Nebraska defeated Notre Dame 40-6
Nebraska was ranked ninth coming into the bowl game and was a two-touchdown favorite. The Huskers led 20-0 at halftime. Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers scored on a couple of runs before Dave Humm threw a 50-yard touchdown pass, giving Nebraska a 40-0 at the end of the third quarter. The Fighting Irish scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to prevent a shutout.
2001 Fiesta Bowl — Oregon State defeated Notre Dame 41-9
Oregon State quarterback Jonathan Smith threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns to lead Beavers past the Fighting Irish in a 41–9 rout. Beavers wide receiver Chad Johnson recorded two touchdown receptions. Johnson's teammate and former Cincinnati Bengal T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught the other touchdown.
The Beavers led 12–3 at halftime and then scored 29 points in an eight-minute stretch of the third quarter to seal the victory. Notre Dame's only touchdown came with under seven minutes remaining in the game against Beavers reserve players.
2013 BCS Championship Game — Alabama defeated Notre Dame 42-14
Alabama Crimson defeated Notre Dame for the national championship and took home the championship trophy. The Crimson Tide were the defending champions and represented the SEC. Notre Dame did not belong to a conference and was the first independent team to play in the National Championship Game since the start of the BCS.
Alabama's Eddie Lacy and AJ McCarron rolled top-ranked Notre Dame, locking up a second straight national title and third in four years. Saban was the first coach in the BCS era to win national titles at different schools.
2018 Cotton Bowl — Clemson defeated Notre Dame 30-3
Clemson's then-freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns as No. 2 Clemson defeated No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl to reach the title game. The Tigers' defense, a unit that was led by defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, smothered Ian Book and Notre Dame, limiting the Fighting Irish offense to 248 yards. Notre Dame was a 12-point underdog in the game.
2007 Sugar Bowl — LSU defeated Notre Dame 41-14
LSU's Keiland Williams rushed for a career-high 107 yards and Justin Vincent recorded 71 as the Tigers sealed a 41-14 victory over the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish in the Sugar Bowl. The Tigers rushed for 245 yards and kept star quarterback Brady Quinn and the Irish offense on the sidelines.
1988 Cotton Bowl — Texas A&M defeated Notre Dame 35-10
Notre Dame jumped out to a 10-3 lead but things changed quickly. Fighting Irish quarterback Terry Andrysiak threw an interception to Alex Morris in the end zone. Aggies' Lance Pavlas entered the game in place of Bucky Richardson and quickly gave A&M a passing attack, connecting with Gary Oliver on a catch and run that eventually resulted in a halfback option pass from Darren Lewis to Tony Thompson to tie the score.
Texas A&M kept its foot on the gas. The Aggies forced a fumble before the end of the half, scoring, and then using the "swinging gate" play for the two point conversion to make it 18-10 at halftime. Richardson came back in to run the option with Pavlas occasionally throwing it around to different receivers as the Aggies went on to win 35-10.