This was supposed to be a hyped anniversary. Notre Dame has worked its way up from No. 12 in the AP’s preseason poll to a top-five status. If Florida State had followed a similar trajectory from the No. 19 spot, then this 25th anniversary of their 1993 classic would have been fitting, arguably too fitting.
Back then, the No. 2 Irish pulled off a 31-24 upset over the No. 1 Seminoles. Notre Dame running back Lee Becton led the way with 122 yards on 26 rushes, while eventual Heisman-Winner Charlie Ward threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns for Florida State.
One was a program annually competing for a national championship, only five years removed from its most-recent of 11. The other was a program on the brink of dominance, still needing that affirmation.
Supposed Games of the Century usually fall short of that moniker, but this one certainly did not. The Irish could only claim victory when Shawn Wooden broke up a Ward pass at the goal line with zeroes on the clock.
“You had these two high-profile programs in a classic setting at a time when there was no national playoff,” NBC Sports’ Bob Costas said this week. Costas anchored the NBC desk on the field that Nov. 13 afternoon. “So this game could very well determine the national championship. … It had all those elements. It was one of those times where the hype and anticipation were equaled by the reality of the game, … if not the game of the century, certainly a game on that list.”
Of course, Notre Dame then lost to Boston College a week later to cost themselves the national championship and essentially gift it back to the Seminoles.
Costas’ intro that afternoon is remembered to this day, with good reason. It was a bit, well, different than most.
That introduction fit in with the eventual thinking around campus of why the Irish won. To pull from the 1993 Football Review published by “Scholastic,” a student magazine, “… mystique is the force that hovers around the Irish football team when it somehow overcomes powerful foes. …
“Mystique doesn’t mean much in Tallahassee, Florida.”
The usage of the big M-word was a reference to Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz’s postgame comments.
“To me, the mystique of Notre Dame is faith in belief,” Holtz said. “The biggest problem with this team, I thought, was getting them to believe.”
One could say the same thing regarding the 2018 Irish about two months ago and certainly still say such about the struggling Seminoles.
NBCSN will air a 30-minute special remembering that game at 12 a.m. ET and 6:30 p.m. ET tomorrow (Saturday). No. 3 Notre Dame (9-0) then hosts Florida State (4-5) at 7:30 ET on NBC.