Northwestern 17 – Notre Dame 15
My father used to get one set of free tickets every year to a game at Notre Dame Stadium. Usually they were the off game that nobody wanted to attend. In 1995 that game was against the Northwestern Wildcats. The game was supposed to be a route by the Irish to start off the season. What we saw instead was a little history.
The odds to start the game were not in the Wildcats favor. At that point they had not won a season opener since 1975. Notre Dame had not lost one since 1986. Northwestern came into the game as 28 point underdogs. Notre Dame was ranked ninth in the country, and head coach Lou Holtz was preparing his speech for his 200th victory. Northwestern lost their starting quarterback in August when he left the team. They were left with the quarterback that was third on the depth chart in the spring. Somehow though with stars like Steve Schnur, D’Wayne Bates, Darnell Autry, and Pat Fitzgerald the Wildcats pulled off the upset. I will never forget how shocked the crowd was that day inside Notre Dame Stadium. They were never expecting this, and it was hard to take.
An interesting note on the following week. The Irish dropped all the way to #25 in the polls after the loss. Northwestern had a week off before facing future head coach Randy Walker and his Miami of Ohio squad the following week. The Wildcats would take the momentum from their huge win, and keep it going throughout the whole season. They would play in the Rose Bowl to cap off what many would call the ‘Dream Season’ for the team. The Rose Bowl was the first for the team since 1949, and would start an upswing for the team in the next few years. After this game Northwestern started playing football instead of being the Big Ten doormat, and Notre Dame started its downward slide.