Upstart Missouri knocked the mighty Irish all over Notre Dame Stadium yesterday and came away with a stunning 3-0 upset of the defending national champions.
Missouri, which went into the game as a 19-point underdog, outhit and outhustled the Irish and - when the game was in balance - showed more poise.
The Tigers, playing their first game under new coach Warren Powers, were more in control than the score might indicate.
The only points came on 33-yard field goal by Jeff Brockhans with 12:50 left to play.
"I can't say enough for my defense," Powers said. "They played inspired football out there. The defense believes in itself and never gave up. We constantly put pressure on (Notre Dame quarterback Joe) Montana. He never had a chance to get untracked because our defense kept coming at him.
"Even when they got down on our goal line, we never got panicky."
The loss put an end to the Irish 10 game winning streak and was their first loss at home since their opening game against Pitt in 1976. It was also the first time Notre Dame had been shut out since 1965.
The drive to the winning field goal was set up when Notre Dame's Joe Restic fumbled a center snap as he was placing the ball down for a Notre Dame field-goal attempt from the 22-yard line.
Restic finally grabbed the loose, ball, but his desparation pass was incomplete.
Missouri took over at its 14, and nine plays later, Brockhaus kicked the field goal.
Bill Bradley, the nifty Missouri sophomore quarterback, spurred the drive to the winning points.
The 6-foot, 170-pound Bradley ran the Missouri veer to perfection. First he handed off to halfback Earl Gant, who high-stepped for 21 yards. Tehn, after taking into the line, Bradley hit Gant in the right flat and he ran for 16 yards.
A trap up the middle netted nine yards for Gerry Ellis. Bradley then threw an incomplete pass from the Irish 40, but on second down Bradley passed 15 yards to Terry Newman to move the ball to the 25. On three straight keepers, Bradley got to the 16 and, on fourth and one, Brookhaus booted the game's only points.
Notre Dame outgained Missouri, 324 yards to 261. But no matter how close the Irish got, they never had the drive or the killer instinct to score.
In the second half alone, Missouri stopped Notre Dame on downs at the Missouri 10, one, 14 and 27 hard lines.
Notre Dame Coach Dan Devine said," They (the Tigers) came up with the big play all day on defense, and often on offense, too. I would also like to be critical of myself for not realizing that field goals win football games. We were in field goal range a number of times, but we always went for the yardage, except for that one time late in the game and then our execution was bad."
Late in the third period, Notre Dame had a second and goal from the two. The Irish tried to go up the middle twice, meeting one yard. Then, on fourth down, Vagas Ferguson tried to go wide. Chris Garlich and Kurt Petersen met him for a three-yard loss.
Notre Dame finally looked like it had something going after the Missouri field goal.
Montana mixed his passes and runs well and move Notre Dame from its 20 to the Missouri 27 with 8:52 to play.
But on a fourth and one from there, linebacker Billy Bess stopped Jerome Heavens at the line of scrimmage for no gain and the Tigers took over.
They punted to the Irish with 5:24 to play and with Montana passing and running. Notre Dame moved from its 26 to the Missouri 25. But on first down with 3:31 to play, Forguson fumbled as he tried the middle of the line and was met by Ken Bungarda and Wendell Ray. Eric Berg recovered for Missouri.
Missouri kept possession until there was 1:15 left. Then Ntre Dame's Randy Harrison fumbled Monte Montgomery's punt, Norman Goodman recovered for Missour.
The Tigers ran out the clock.
Gant rolled up 102 yards on 17 carries, whiles Bradley was 11 of 18 passing for 110 yards and was not intercepted.
It would have been understandable had Missouri been blown right out of Notre Dame Stadium from the opening kickoff. The Tigers have a new coach, were playing a new offense and a new defense and their first game was on the road against the defending national champions in 100-degree heat.
But Powers, who bought his way out of his coaching contract at Washington State for $55,000 so he could take the Missouri job, pulled no punches against the heavily favored Irish.
At Washington State he had Samoan quarterback Jack Thompson, and as a drop back passer, he was one of the premier quarterbacks in the country last season.
At Missouri Powers has the sophomore whiz Bradley.He is an able passer, but even a better runner, so Powers put in a pro veer offense. The Tigers throw a lot, mix in runs well and run at the veer option. Their defense gave Notre Dame trouble, especially Montana. He completed only four of 17 passes for 41 yards and had two intercepted in the first half.
Montana had six passes dropped, but was not very close on most others. He also fumbled tow snaps from center in the first half.
Missouri had both better field positon and ball control most of the first half, and the Irish defense was able to come up with the big play when it was needed.
Notre Dame came the closest to scoring in the first half when, following a missed Missouri field goal, it moved to the Missouri 18. But on first down, Montana fumbled Dave Huffman's snap from center and Missouri recovered.