1997 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football
Independence Bowl, L 9–27 vs. LSU
1997 record7–6
Head coachBob Davie (1st season)
Offensive coordinatorJim Colletto (1st season)
Offensive schemeOption
Defensive coordinatorGreg Mattison (1st season)
Base defense4–3
Home stadiumNotre Dame Stadium (c. 80,225, grass)
← 1996
1998 →
1997 Division I-A independents football records
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
Louisiana Tech           9 2  
Navy           7 4  
Notre Dame           7 6  
UAB           5 6  
UCF           5 6  
Northeast Louisiana           5 7  
Army           4 7  
Arkansas State           2 9  
Southwestern Louisiana           1 10  
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1997 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame in the 1997 NCAA Division I-A football season.[1] The team was coached by Bob Davie and played its home games at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.

Season overviewEdit

Despite having a new coach, the Irish had high expectations before the 1997 season,[2] and were ranked eleventh in the pre-season polls. Led by fifth–year senior quarterback Ron Powlus, a running back crew of Autry Denson, Tony Driver, and Joey Goodspeed, a wide receiving corps of Joey Getherall, Bobby Brown, and Malcolm Johnson, and on defense by cornerback Allen Rossum, the Irish looked to have a good enough team to challenge to be in the top-10. The Irish began the Davie era at home, playing Georgia Tech in the newly renovated Notre Dame Stadium.[3] The Irish christened the stadium with a close win over the Yellow Jackets that was sparked by a renewed running game and key defensive stops late in the game.[4] With the close win, the Irish showed their weakness and dropped a spot in the national ranking. The next week, at Purdue, though the Irish had 457 total yards, they only managed 17 points. With key mistakes on offense and a confused defense, the Irish lost 28–17 and dropped out of the rankings.[5] With losses against Michigan State,[6] at Michigan,[7] and at Stanford,[8] the Irish were suddenly 1–4 and struggling to find an offense. Offensive coordinator, Jim Colletto, took most of the flak for the struggles.[9]

The Irish looked to be getting back on track with a trip to face Pittsburgh. With a renewed running game, the Irish beat the struggling Panthers by 24,[10] however, with the offense struggling once again in their next game, a loss to rival University of Southern California (USC), the Irish hit, what was called, "rock bottom."[11] With a slight quarterback controversy, the Irish next faced Boston College. Though backup quarterback Jarious Jackson played 21 downs, Powlus led the Irish with 267 passing yards to rout the Eagles and put the Irish offense back on track.[12] With a last minute win over Navy the next week,[13] the Irish moved to 4–5 and would need to win their final three games to become bowl eligible.

The Irish next went to Louisiana State University (LSU) to face the 11th ranked Tigers. Looked to be outmatched, the Irish didn't commit a penalty all game, had no turnovers, and didn't give up any plays longer than one 28 yard pass, to upset the Tigers and move back to 5–5 on the season.[14] The Irish then faced 22nd ranked West Virginia for their final home game. With the game tied late in the fourth quarter, Powlus led the Irish on a drive that was capped by his final touchdown pass at Notre Dame Stadium for the game-winning touchdown.[15] With the win the Irish beat ranked opponents on consecutive Saturdays for the first time since 1992,[16] and with the last minute win at Hawaii the next week,[17] the Irish moved to 7–5 and were bowl eligible. Once again facing LSU in Louisiana (in the Independence Bowl), this time with the Tigers ranked 15th, LSU dominated on offense and beat the Irish 27–9.[18] Though the Irish finished with a loss, the 7–6 record was the biggest Irish turn around in team history.[16]

By the end of the season, Powlus set a single season Irish record for pass attempts and completions. He would leave Notre Dame with 20 individual records, including career passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns, all marks that would finally be eclipsed almost ten years later by future Irish quarterback Brady Quinn. Cornerback Allen Rossum, who also served as the Irish kick returner, set an NCAA single season record with nine returns (three each of interceptions, punts, and kickoffs) for touchdowns. He would also leave Notre Dame with the Irish all-time leading kick return average (23.5 yards per return). Autry Denson's 1268 rushing yards were fourth in the Irish single season record and moved him to third on the Irish all-time list in career rushing yards.[16]


September 62:30 p.m.Georgia TechNo. 11NBCW 17–1380,225
September 133:30 PurdueNo. 12ABCL 17–2868,789
September 202:30 p.m.No. 17 Michigan State
NBCL 7–2380,225
September 273:30 No. 6 MichiganABCL 14–21106,508
October 43:30 No. 19 StanfordABCL 15–3375,651
October 113:30 PittsburghCBSW 45–2147,306
October 182:30 p.m.USC
NBCL 17–2080,225
October 252:30 p.m.Boston College
  • Notre Dame Stadium
  • South Bend, IN (Holy War)
NBCW 52–2080,225
November 11:30 p.m.Navy
  • Notre Dame Stadium
  • South Bend, IN (rivalry)
NBCW 21–1780,225
November 153:30 No. 11 LSUCBSW 24–680,556
November 221:30 p.m.No. 22 West Virginia
  • Notre Dame Stadium
  • South Bend, IN
NBCW 21–1480,225
November 297:30 HawaiiESPNW 23–2241,509
December 288:00 p.m.vs. No. 15 LSUESPNL 9–2750,459


1997 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
WR 82 Brown, BobbyBobby Brown So
QB 8 Chappell, EricEric Chappell So
RB Denson, AutryAutry Denson Jr
QB 7 Jackson, JariousJarious Jackson So
WR 83 Johnson, MalcolmMalcolm Johnson Sr
OT 54 Petitgout, LukeLuke Petitgout Jr
QB Powlus, RonRon Powlus 10px Sr
OG 79 Rosenthal, MikeMike Rosenthal Jr
RB Stokes, ClementClement Stokes
OT 71 Wisne, JerryJerry Wisne Jr
Pos. # Name Class
S Cooper, DekeDeke Cooper
DE Dansby, MelvinMelvin Dansby
LB 27 Howard, BobbieBobbie Howard Jr
LB 4 Minor, KoryKory Minor Jr
CB 15 Rossum, AllenAllen Rossum Sr
CB 1 Williams, BrockBrock Williams Fr
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K Kopka, KevinKevin Kopka
P 8 Smith, HunterHunter Smith Jr
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Cruz Roja.svg Injured
  • Redshirt.svg Redshirt

Last update: 1997-10-09

Game summariesEdit


Navy Midshipmen at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
1 2 3 4 Total
Navy 7 3 7 0


Notre Dame 7 0 7 7


at Notre Dame StadiumSouth Bend, Indiana

Allen Rossum knocked Pat McGrew out at the two-yard line on a Hail Mary pass to preserve Notre Dame's 34th straight win over Navy


  1. "Notre Dame Yearly Results (1995-1999)". College Football Data Warehouse. David DeLassus. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  2. "Bob Davie's Opening Press Conference". November 24, 1996. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  3. "Notre Dame Stadium". Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  4. Lesar, Al (September 6, 1997). "Notre Dame 17, Georgia Tech 13". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  5. Lesar, Al (September 13, 1997). "Purdue 28, Notre Dame 17". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  6. "Michigan State 23, Notre Dame 7". September 20, 1997. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  7. Lesar, Al (September 27, 1997). "Michigan 21, Notre Dame 14". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  8. Lesar, Al (October 4, 1997). "Stanford 33, Notre Dame 15". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  9. Maisel, Ivan (April 29, 1998). "On the Griddle". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 29, 2007.
  10. Lesar, Al (October 11, 1997). "Notre Dame 45, Pittsburgh 21". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  11. Lesar, Al (October 18, 1997). "USC 20, Notre Dame 17". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  12. Lesar, Al (October 25, 1997). "Notre Dame 52, Boston College 20". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  13. Lesar, Al (November 1, 1997). "Notre Dame 21, Navy 17". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  14. Lesar, Al (November 15, 1997). "Notre Dame 24, LSU 6". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  15. Lesar, Al (November 22, 1997). "Notre Dame 21, West Virginia 14". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "'97 Irish Notes". Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  17. Lesar, Al (November 29, 1997). "Notre Dame 23, Hawaii 22". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
  18. Lesar, Al (December 28, 1997). "LSU 27, Notre Dame 9". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved August 28, 2007.
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