American Football Database
1989 Sunkist Fiesta Bowl
1 2 3 4 Total
West Virginia University 0 6 7 8 21
University of Notre Dame 9 14 3 8 34
Date January 2, 1989
Season 1988
Stadium Sun Devil Stadium
Location Tempe, Arizona
MVP Tony Rice    (QB, Notre Dame)
Frank Stams (LB, Notre Dame)
Favorite Notre Dame by 5 points [1]
Attendance 74,911
United States TV coverage
Network NBC
Announcers: Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen
Nielsen ratings 17.0
Fiesta Bowl
 < 1988  1990

The 1989 Sunkist Fiesta Bowl, played on Monday, January 2, was the 18th edition of the Fiesta Bowl. It featured the top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the third-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers. With both teams undefeated, the Fiesta Bowl was the stage for the "national championship" for the second time in three years. As in 1987, the Fiesta Bowl featured two independents squaring off for the national title.

Also, as in 1987, the game was played on January 2, but this was because New Year's Day fell on a Sunday in 1989 and, per protocols, all of the bowls that would normally take place that day were played on January 2. With NBC no longer televising the Rose Bowl, the kickoff for the Fiesta Bowl was moved three hours later, to 2:30 p.m. MST,[2] and the game now had NBC's top broadcast team of Dick Enberg and Merlin Olsen.

Game summary

After West Virginia quarterback and Heisman candidate Major Harris separated his shoulder on the third play of the game, Notre Dame took control to claim their record eleventh national championship. Though Harris would return to the game, after the lackluster performance of West Virginia's second string QB, he was severely hampered by his injury.[3]

Billy Hackett started the scoring with a 45-yard field goal to give Notre Dame an early 3–0 lead. Running back Anthony Johnson then scored on a 1-yard touchdown run, but the ensuing extra point missed, and the score remained 9–0. Early in the second quarter, Rodney Culver added a 5-yard touchdown run to increase Notre Dame's lead to 16–0. Charlie Baumann of West Virginia scored on a 29-yard field goal to cut the lead to 16–3.

Later in the second quarter, Tony Rice threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Raghib Ismail, to extend the lead to 23–3. Mountaineer Charlie Baumann added a 31-yard field goal before halftime to make it 23–6.

Early in the third quarter, Reggie Ho added a 32-yard field goal to increase the Irish lead to 26–6. WVU quarterback Harris hit Grantis Bell for a 17-yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 26–13. He later left the game with an injury. Rice threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Frank Jacobs. Rice later took it in himself for the 2-point conversion, giving Notre Dame a 34–13 lead. WVU scored with a 3-yard touchdown run by Reggie Rembert, who also converted the 2-point conversion, making the score 34–21. Notre Dame sealed the win by intercepting a pass in the end zone.

Notre Dame retained its top ranking in the final AP poll and West Virginia fell to fifth. As of 2018, this remains the most recent national championship for the Irish.

Scoring summary

Scoring Summary Score
1st Quarter
ND — Billy Hackett 45-yard field goal ND 3-0
ND — Anthony Johnson 1 Yard rush (pat failed) ND 9-0
2nd Quarter
ND — Rodney Culver 5-yard rush (Reggie Ho kick) ND 16-0
WV — Charlie Baumann 29-yard field goal ND 16-3
ND — Tony Rice 29-yard pass to Raghib Ismail (Reggie Ho kick) ND 23-3
WV — Charlie Baumann 32-yard field goal ND 23-6
3rd Quarter
ND — Reggie Ho 32-yard field goal ND 26-6
WV — Major Harris 17-yard pass to Grantis Bell (Charlie Baumann kick) ND 26-13
4th Quarter
ND — Tony Rice 3-yard pass to Frank Jacobs (Tony Rice run) ND 34-13
WV — Reggie Rembert 3-yard rush (Greg Jones pass to Reggie Rembert) ND 34-21

Source:[4] [1] [2] [3]


Statistics West
First Downs 19 19
Rushes–yards 37–108 59–242
Passing yards 174 213
Passes 14–30–1 7–11–1
Total yards 282 455
Punts–average 7–45 4–37
Fumbles–lost 0–0 2–0
Turnovers by 1 1
Penalties-yards 3–38 11–102
Time of possession 23:17 36:43