Notre Dame Football: Catholics vs Convicts is Back

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 29: Durham Smythe(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 29: Durham Smythe(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

Notre Dame versus Miami, Irish versus the Canes, the Catholics versus the Convicts. Over the years this rivalry has offered fans epic moments. On Saturday it will be renewed and it could be the biggest game in the series.

When the Miami Hurricanes made the trip to South Bend to face off with the Notre Dame Irish last season, neither team was playing for much.

So if you were watching the game with your dad, it was a good night for a history lesson. He probably told you about the beating the Irish took when Miami ran up the score 58-7 in 1985 in Gerry Faust’s last game at the helm of Notre Dame. Then a smile comes across his face as he tells you about the game in 1988.

What started out as a shirt changed this rivalry forever.

Notre Dame students Jack Frederick and Micheal Caponigro are credited with creating the “Catholics vs Convicts” shirts. Thousands of people bought them. They made national news at the time, even inspiring an ESPN 30-for-30 film. It has become a symbol of the hatred these teams have for each other.

The game featured the number one and four teams in the country.

Miami was on a 36-game win streak and was defending National Champions when they rolled into South Bend. The game was tight and it came down to a controversial play.

In the 4th quarter Miami running back Cleveland Gary caught a pass then dove for the end zone. As he hit the ground the ball came out and was recovered by Notre Dame.

This led to the 31-30 Notre Dame victory and cost Miami another shot at the national title. Notre Dame finished with a perfect record and went on to win the national title. Miami ended the year at number two in the polls behind the Irish at seasons end.

Fast forward to 2017 and Miami once again stands between the Irish greatness. The road to the College Football Playoff runs through South Beach.

A new chapter in the rivalry?

Saturday night will be one of the biggest games either team has played in a long time.

Miami head coach Mark Richt has revived the Hurricanes program, and they will compete for the ACC Championship this year. Meanwhile, Brian Kelly has responded to the calls for his head with an 8-0 record and a spot in the CFB Playoff Committee’s first top-four rankings

Both these teams being at the top of college football is great for the sport. These teams have met a few times since their glory days of the 1980’s. Notre Dame versus Miami is a rivalry that only feels right when there are stakes. A top 10 matchup with a trip to the Playoff on the line is the kind of game fans want these two teams to play.

Next: How the Irish can make the College Football Playoff

The matchup to watch for will be Notre Dame’s high powered offense that racked up over 650 yards of total versus Wake Forest and the massive front seven of the Hurricanes defense that dominated Josh Jackson and the Virginia Tech offense.

No matter how you shape it these teams are always polar opposites. It has all the makings of an instant classic from Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday Night Football.

For bragging rights, for the playoff, for everything, the Catholics vs the Convicts is back.