Jan. 1, 1993
DALLAS – Both Texas A&M and Notre Dame were known for their running games entering the 1993 Cotton Bowl Classic. The Aggies had built up a 12-0 record behind the running of Rodney Thomas and Greg Hill while the Irish checked in with a 9-1-1 mark on the strength of Lou Holtz’s “Thunder and Lightning,” Jerome Bettis and Reggie Brooks.
In the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day, only one great running game showed itself.
Notre Dame rushed for 290 net yards while A&M accounted for just 78 as the Irish dominated all facets of the game in a 28-3 win over the Aggies.
Brooks finished with 115 yards on 22 carries and Bettis added 75 yards on 20 rushes. Quarterback Rick Mirer even got into the act with 55 yards on 13 attempts.
But, in the first half, Notre Dame certainly didn’t appear to be on the way to a blowout. On its first possession, the Irish drove to the Aggie 18 before Mirer’s pitch to Brooks ended up on the ground and Kefa Chatham recovered for Texas A&M. After that drive, Notre Dame was forced to punt on its next four possessions, moving no more than 20 yards each time it had the ball.
At the same time, the Aggies were having very little luck moving the ball. Texas A&M did move into field goal range midway through the second quarter but Terry Venetoulias’ 46-yard attempt was short and the game remained scoreless.
After the teams again exchanged punts, Notre Dame received the spark it needed to take control. With just 36 seconds left in the half, Mirer threw to Lake Dawson on a middle screen and Dawson strolled 40 yards to give the Irish a 7-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, Notre Dame’s rushing game came to the forefront and buried the Aggies. After throwing 15 passes in the first half, the Irish put the ball in the air only three times in the second half. Notre Dame controlled the ball and the clock by using the ground game. At one period in the second half, the Irish ran the ball on 34 consecutive plays — successfully.
On its first possession of the half, Notre Dame ate up 5:06 of clock with an 65-yard, 10-play drive that resulted in a Mirer-to-Bettis touchdown toss of 26 yards. Possession number two was much of the same for the Irish, moving 87 yards in 10 plays before Brooks fumbled at the Texas A&M four.
Again the Notre Dame defense rose to the occasion. On the Aggies’ second play after the turnover, Brian Hamilton stripped Texas A&M quarterback Corey Pullig and Demetrius DuBose recovered at the Aggie 11. Two plays later, Bettis scored from one yard out to give the Irish a 21-0 lead.
After A&M scored on a 41-yard field goal by Venetoulias, Notre Dame again kept the ball on the ground and moved 82 yards in 16 plays in 9:24 with Bettis adding the final score — his third touchdown — to set the final, 28-3.
Mirer was named the game’s most outstanding offensive player, completing eight-for-16 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Devon McDonald was the game’s outstanding defensive player with 10 tackles, including four for losses and one sack.
Defensive Most Valuable Player
Devon McDonald, Defensive End
Offensive Most Valuable Player
Rick Mirer, Quarterback