Tim Bourret: Something has to give with streaks on line in Clemson-Notre Dame

by - Former Clemson SID -
Several streaks are on the line in this top-4 matchup after last playing each other in 2018.
Several streaks are on the line in this top-4 matchup after last playing each other in 2018.

With a top-five matchup against Notre Dame this week in South Bend, we reached out to Clemson legend Tim Bourret for his particular brand of insight into the game. Bourret has been a fixture around the Clemson program for over 40 years but still has ties to Notre Dame, giving him a unique point of view into this weekend's game.

Bourret earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Notre Dame in 1977 and earned his master’s degree in communication arts from Notre Dame in August of 1978. Bourret worked as an undergraduate and graduate assistant under Roger Valdiserri in Notre Dame's office for three years.

He first came to Clemson as assistant SID under Bob Bradley in September of 1978 and was elevated to an associate SID position in July of 1980.

In June of 2017, Bourret was inducted into the Sports Information Hall of Fame. He became the third Clemson sports information director so honored, joining Joe Sherman and Bradley. Combined with Clemson's 2016 National Championship on the gridiron, he became the first SID to be inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year the school won the national championship in football since 1968.


I can’t recall a football game with as many streaks on the line for both teams. The game notes for Clemson and Notre Dame are full of noteworthy runs that document the success of each program. Thanks to the overtime rules established 25 years ago, there will be a winner on Saturday and one of these teams will have some streaks broken.

Here are a few:

*Clemson enters the game having won 14 straight true road games (game on the opponent’s home venue), the longest streak in the nation by five. It is also the longest streak in Clemson history. The NCAA record is 25 in a row by Oklahoma, 1953-58.

For Clemson to continue that streak, they will have to win a road game at Notre Dame, who has won 22 consecutive home games, the second-longest active streak in the nation. The only streak that is longer is Clemson’s 27-game home winning streak.

*Dating to last year, Notre Dame has won 12 games in a row regardless of site, the longest active streak in the nation. For the Irish to continue that streak, they will have to do it against a Clemson team that has won 36 of its last 37 games, including a 29-game streak that was stopped in the final game of last year.

Clemson also has experience ending long winning streaks of late. The Tigers ended a 17-game winning streak by Auburn in 2011, a 26-game winning streak by Alabama in 2015-16, and a 16-game winning streak by the Crimson Tide over 2017-18.

*Clemson has an active streak of 50 consecutive wins on Saturdays, the longest streak of its kind in college football history. For Clemson to continue that streak, the Tigers will have to do it against the program that ended the second-longest Saturday streak. Notre Dame beat Oklahoma in 1957 to end the Sooners then record 45 straight wins on Saturdays.

*Clemson has won 36 straight regular-season games. Fourth-ranked Notre Dame faced a No. 1-ranked Miami (FL) team in 1988 that had won 36 straight regular-season games and the Irish won the game, 31-30 in the famous “Catholics vs. Convicts” game.

Notre Dame is ranked fourth entering this game and the Tigers are first. And by the way, that 1988 year, the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA World Championship and the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series. Within the last month both of those franchises won world championships. In the case of the Dodgers, they had not won the World Series since 1988. That was also the last year Notre Dame won the National Championship.

*Clemson has won 28 straight ACC games, 25 in the regular season, and three in ACC Championship games. It is the longest conference winning streak in the nation, as Ohio State is second with 17 straight Big Ten wins. A win on Saturday would tie the ACC record for consecutive ACC wins. Florida State has the record with 29. If Clemson defeats the Irish, the Tigers will have a chance to break the ACC record at Florida State on Nov. 21. (Does your head hurt yet?)

*Notre Dame doesn’t have any previous experience in breaking conference game winning streaks, as this is the first year the Irish have been in a conference. But, they would certainly like to add that to their resume.

*Clemson has won an incredible 86 games in a row when holding the opposition under 23 points, a streak that dates to the 2010 season. That is a big challenge to Notre Dame because Clemson enters the game ranked in the top 15 in all four major defensive categories, including scoring defense where the Tigers are 11th, allowing 15.6 points per game.

*On a more inside stats level, Clemson has had at least 100 yards rushing in 30 straight games. Notre Dame is eighth in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 93.7 yards per game.

*History is on Notre Dame’s side when it comes to breaking streaks. The longest winning streak in college football history is 47 games by Oklahoma, a streak broken by Notre Dame in Norman, Oklahoma in 1957. The longest winning streak in college basketball history is 88 games by UCLA, a streak broken by Digger Phelps’ Fighting Irish basketball team in 1974.

Not only did the Irish end those streaks, but they also owned the victories at the front end of each streak.

Notre Dame also ended a 30-game winning streak by Texas on the gridiron at the 1971 Cotton Bowl, and ended UCLA’s 115-game non-conference home basketball streak under John Wooden in 1976.

The program also ended North Carolina’s 92-game winning streak in women’s soccer in 2004.

But as you can see, the football and basketball streak breakers were many years ago. The Irish football team has quite frankly struggled against Top 10 opponents since Lou Holtz left town. The Irish are just 8-28 against top-10 teams in the post-Holtz era. Current Head Coach Brian Kelly is 3-8 against top-10 opponents since he took over in 2010. But, on his behalf, he has had just one game against a top-10 team at Notre Dame Stadium, and that was a victory over Stanford.

Clemson is the highest-ranked team to come to Notre Dame since No. 1 Southern Cal came to town in 2005, a game that was known as the “Bush Push” and a 34-31 USC victory.

One final note on streaks between Clemson and Notre Dame. It should be pointed out that Clemson already has a streak breaker over Notre Dame within the last year. The Clemson women’s basketball team ended Notre Dame’s 58-game home ACC winning streak last winter.

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