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11/21/1953 (1953-1954)

Notre Dame Stadium [South Bend, Indiana]

#20 Iowa  @  #1  Notre Dame  Notre Dame #20 Iowa Hawkeyes Football @ #1 Notre Dame on 11/21/1953 -

T     14 - 14 

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Head Coach: Forest Evashevski
Attendance: 56,478
Start Time: 1:00 PM CST


This game is memorable for what happened in the last seconds of each half. Iowa was ahead 7-0 and the clock winding down. With no timeouts left, Iowa got a QB sack on third down and it looked like the clock would run out. Notre Dame OT Frank Varrichione fell to the ground while standing in the huddle. Officials stopped the clock with :02 left while he was "helped" off the field. They scored a TD as time expired to tie the game at 7-7.

The second half developed the same way as the first. Iowa's single wing offense scored on a pass with 2 minutes left to take a 14-7 lead. Notre Dame drove down to tie the game. Two Irish linemen fell to the ground to stop the clock with :25 left. After two incompletions in the end zone stopped the clock legitimately, Notre Dame completed a TD pass with :06 left. The extra point salvaged a 14-14 tie.

The game is known as the "Fainting Irish" game. Stopping the game due to injury is not against the rules, but it was controversial whether the players were actually injured or not.

After the tie, Notre Dame was immediately dropped to #2 in the AP rankings behind Maryland, where they remained the rest of the season. The tie denied the Irish a wire service national championship, giving the 1953 AP and Coaches Poll national championships to the Terps. In a roundabout way, the Hawkeyes were partially responsible for the greatest moment in Maryland football; Iowa forcing Notre Dame into a humiliating tie opened the door for Maryland's only wire service national title. Iowa, conversely, shot up to #9 in the final national polls and even claimed six first-place votes. It was the first time Iowa finished the year ranked since the Ironmen in 1939. The school was so thrilled with Iowa's 1953 team and particularly the performance against Notre Dame in the season finale that they gave Evy a ten-year contract after the season, which was almost unheard of at that time. Evy was named Coach of the Year by the Detroit Times, and the tie gave his strengthening football program national attention. Clips in highlights run from 4:30-5:52.

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Forest Evashevski When the One Great Scorer comes to write against our name, He won’t write whether we won or lost, but how come we got gypped at Notre Dame.
-- Forest Evashevski
At pep rally after returning to Iowa City, in reference to the "Fainting Irish" controversy


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#20 Iowa Hawkeyes Football @ #1 Notre Dame on 11/21/1953 - - Summary of Iowa football and basketball games