Comcast SportsNet will air a Notre Dame Football Classic tonight at 7 p.m., with 1992's Penn State-Notre Dame "Snow Bowl" being replayed. CSN caught up with quarterback Rick Mirer and running back Reggie Brooks -- who linked up on the game-winning two-point conversion -- about their experiences from that game 20 years ago.
Twenty years before conference realignment tore apart plenty of heated rivalries, Notre Dame's 1992 tilt against Penn State looked like the end of an era. The two teams met for the 10th consecutive year in 1992, but with the Nittany Lions scheduled to join the Big Ten in 1993, it was the last scheduled meetings of a series that grew competitive over the previous decade.
"It was a good rivalry," quarterback Rick Mirer recalled in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. "We were very much alike, and it was two good teams, usually. We had a lot of respect those guys, but it was our last chance to play on our home field, and that’s the way we looked at it."
For Mirer and the rest of Notre Dame's seniors, it was their final game at Notre Dame Stadium, and stands as one of their more memorable contests in South Bend. Snow hit midway through the game and kept scoring low, with the two teams tied at 9 going into the fourth.
After Penn State got in the end zone with under five minutes left, Mirer, Jerome Bettis and Reggie Brooks steered one of the more memorable drives in team history. It culminated with a fourth-and-goal from the three, with Mirer floating a touchdown pass to Bettis that brought Notre Dame within one.
From there, Notre Dame went for two. Mirer explains: "in those days, we had ties. We had already tied Michigan and it didn't feel very good. We didn't want to go through that again."
So Lou Holtz and Notre Dame decided to go for two, with one play deciding whether the Irish would win or lose. But the Irish already used their go-to two-point conversion play on fourth down.
Mirer would up improvising on the play -- he referred to it as kind of like "streetball" -- rolling to his right and spotting an open Brooks in the end zone.
"It was kind of surreal. Everything slows down," Brooks said. "The play broke down, and things were kind of hectic, if you will. But as I watched the ball coming in, it seemed like it was coming in slow motion. And for a minute there, I didn’t think I was going to get to it because it was so far outside. I just reached out, laid out and made the play that was there to be made."
Brooks' diving catch secured a win for Notre Dame over then-No. 22 Penn State, and his already-heroic grab was even more impressive given it was only his second catch of the entire season.
"I definitely didn’t think it was coming to me," Brooks explained. "In practice, I didn’t wear my contacts, so I didn’t catch a lot of balls. But I did wear them in the game -- what happens in practice is what’s relayed in the game, so I was not a very reliable receiver at the time."
"What a great time to catch the one that mattered," Mirer added.