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Tradition Tuesday: Boston College

Nov 6, 2012, 4:35 PM EDT

Manti Te'o (5) tackles running back Andre Williams during the first quarter of the 2011 Notre Dame vs. Boston College game. Photo by Barbara Johnston

It’s a series regarded by many as the “Holy War,” a meeting between the only two Catholic universities in the FBS and a pair of institutions often compared to one another. Many students apply to both schools, but truthfully, there might not be as much in common between Notre Dame and Boston College as often assumed.

However, the schools do share some similarities, as well as a history of exciting football games.

Before he became a legendary head coach of the Fighting Irish, Frank Leahy spent two seasons in Chestnut Hill, guiding the Eagles to a 20-2 record. In 1941, Leahy returned to South Bend, where he led his alma mater to four national championships in 11 seasons.

Leahy’s connection to the two universities remains present in the series today. The Notre Dame Club of Boston presents the winner of the game with the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl.

On an unrelated, but interesting note, Boston College’s current president shares a last name with the former Notre Dame coach. Father William P. Leahy, S.J. became the university’s 25th president in 1996.

In addition to the Leahy Bowl, Notre Dame’s student government also presents the Ireland Trophy, a symbol of sportsmanship and friendly competition.

The Fighting Irish hold a 12-9 advantage in the series that dates back to 1975, when the teams met in Foxboro, Mass. Notre Dame won, 17-3, in the first game of the Dan Devine era.

Eight years later, the squads met in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. Behind 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Allen Pinkett, head coach Gerry Faust‘s team knocked off the 13th-ranked Eagles, 19-18.

The series gained momentum in the 1990’s, when the teams met for thirteen consecutive years between 1992-2004. To the heartbreak of Notre Dame fans, the most notable contests came in 1993 and 2002, which, prior to this season, were also the past two occasions in which the Fighting Irish were undefeated this late into the season.

In each of those games, Boston College shocked Notre Dame at home. Before the 14-point comeback against Pittsburgh this past Saturday, it seemed as though the Panthers would join the Eagles in playing the spoiler role.

In 1998, Notre Dame’s Autry Denson ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns, but it was Deke Cooper who stopped the Eagles’ Mike Cloud on fourth-and-goal from the one yard line, to seal a 31-26 victory. That game was featured in today’s 125 project moment.

Last season, the Fighting Irish won a hard-fought game on Senior Day, 16-14. Relive it in episode 25 of Irish Connection.

This weekend, Notre Dame looks to move one step closer to fulfilling its BCS dreams. On the other hand, you can bet the Eagles’ coaching staff is reminding its players about ’93 and ’02, as they seek to end another perfect Irish run.

Catch the game on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 8 pm ET on ABC.

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