Notre Dame Football: What schools have the Irish failed to beat?

1 Jan 2001: Matt LoVecchio #10 of Notre Dame gets sacked by Darnell Robinson #5 of Oregon State during the Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/ALLSPORT
1 Jan 2001: Matt LoVecchio #10 of Notre Dame gets sacked by Darnell Robinson #5 of Oregon State during the Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn/ALLSPORT /

Notre Dame football has a historic track record of success, which has made it one of the top programs in college football.

When you’ve had a football program since the 19th century, you’re bound to rack up some wins. That’s especially true for a program as successful as Notre Dame. After all, the Irish are 5th all-time in wins, with 908. If you counted the two seasons of wins that Brian Kelly had to vacate, then the Irish would be 2nd all-time in wins, with 929.

A track record of success like that, and you’d figure that Notre Dame has beaten everyone, at least once. Obviously, that’s not the case. Forget teams like Texas Tech, who the Irish haven’t played to begin with. These are the teams that Notre Dame has played and has never beaten:

Oregon State

Notre Dame has played the Beavers twice, and come away losers in both match-ups. Both of those match-ups, in fact, were early 21st century bowl games. First, in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, Bob Davie led his Notre Dame team to the desert and got humiliated. Stud wide receivers Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzadeh dominated, catching three touchdowns between the two of them. Final score, 41-9.

A few seasons later, the two met in the 2004 Insight Bowl. By then, Tyrone Willingham had come and gone. This left Kent Baer to coach a bowl game that many fans didn’t even want the team to go to. The Irish traveled to play Oregon State in the desert once more, and lost big. This time the score was 38-21, on the back of Derek Anderson’s four touchdown day.


In 2009, Notre Dame lost to UConn. Now, in 2009, UConn football wasn’t the joke that it is today. It was an up and coming Big East program. Still, this loss was hard to swallow. They would play two overtimes, and in the second, UConn made it into the endzone, while the Irish merely kicked a field goal. This was the second game, of a four game losing streak to end the 2009 season that would mercifully end the Charlie Weis era. UConn 33, Notre Dame 30.


There were some big names on the Tulsa staff in 2010. Todd Graham was the head coach, and Chad Morris was their offensive coordinator. The Golden Hurricanes were a solid mid-major too. They won the C-USA West division. With that being said, the Irish should never lose to a C-USA school. Still, Brian Kelly and the Irish lost 28-27. The difference in the game? Tulsa blocked a Notre Dame extra point, and returned it for two points.


Two years removed from the UConn loss, and just one year removed from the Tulsa loss, Notre Dame welcomed USF to South Bend. At the time, USF was an up-and-comer in the Big East. They were also coached by Lou Holtz’s son, Skip Holtz. Still, the Bulls had only fielded a team since 1997. You’ll remember Jonas Gray’s fumble on the goal line, which was returned 96 yards for a touchdown. Final score, USF 23, Notre Dame 20.


The most recent team that Notre Dame has played, and never beaten, is Georgia. In 2017, Georgia came to Notre Dame and beat the Irish 20-19. Then, in 2019, Notre Dame returned the trip to Athens, GA. Again, the Irish would fall short. This time the score was 23-17. In both cases, Notre Dame was simply outmatched in terms of talent.

However, in the 1981 Sugar Bowl, the Irish had just as much athleticism. In fact, the Irish were probably the better overall team. Add in Georgia star, Herschel Walker, separating his left shoulder and you’d expect Notre Dame to be able to flex on the Bulldogs. The Irish defense even dominated the game, allowing less than 150 total yards. One small issue, the Irish offense gave Georgia enough short fields to win the game 17-10.


It’s been a while since Jesse Harper’s Notre Dame team went to New Haven. It was so long ago, in fact, that that the iconic Yale Bowl had yet to open. Coming into the game, Frank Hinkey’s Yale Bulldogs had allowed three points in three games. The Irish wouldn’t add to that total. It was a 28-0 beat down of a solid Notre Dame team.


Chicago vs. Notre Dame could have been one of the games great rivalries. They are both academically minded, Midwestern schools, who share a recruiting base. Instead, Chicago played in the Big 10 while Michigan blackballed the Irish from joining the conference. Today, the Maroons play in Division III. However, in the 19th century Chicago beat the Irish four times. The final scores? 8-0, 18-10, 34-5, and 23-6.

Next. In Book, Irish fans finally get what they want. dark

Indianapolis Light Artillery

In 1895 Notre Dame played a unique schedule in 1895. It was a four game schedule against Northwestern Law, Illinois Cycling Club, Indianapolis Light Artillery, and Physicians and Surgeons. They went 3-1, with the one loss coming by an 18-10 score against Indianapolis Light Artillery. They also beat Louisville and Indian during 1895, which seems to be the only season where they fielded a team. Do with that information what you will.