Jeff Atkins rushed 112 yards and Reggie Dupard 103 yards to help No. 10 Southern Methodist beat No. 17 Notre Dame, 27-20, before 41,777 in the third Aloha Bowl today.
Atkins and Dupard each scored once to help the Mustangs withstand Notre Dame's late rally. SMU had threatened to turn the game into a rout by scoring on its first two possessions.
"We thought we had one of the best bowl matchups," SMU Coach Bobby Collins said. "That's four years in a row for 10 wins. Maybe now people will say SMU is for real."
Dupard, who missed most of the first half because of a sore ankle, scored on a two-yard run to give SMU a 27-17 lead with 6:13 left in the game.
But John Carney's 31-yard field goal pulled the Fighting Irish within 27-20 with 3:15 remaining.
Then, quarterback Steve Beuerlein led one last drive, moving Notre Dame from its 23 to the SMU 17.
But on fourth down at the 16, Beuerlein rolled to his right, then overthrew Milt Jackson, open in the end zone, with 30 seconds left.
"Beuerlein is pretty down in the dumps," Notre Dame Coach Gerry Faust said. "The receiver was pretty wide open and he missed him. If we'd scored, we would have gone for a two-point conversion and the win. We've been fighters all year and we've been coming back all year."
SMU, of the Southwest Conference, won its sixth straight game and finished 10-2. Notre Dame, which had won four straight, ended 7-5.
Allen Pinkett of Notre Dame gained 136 yards on 24 carries. He caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Beuerlein in the second quarter that drew the Irish within 14-7.
Atkins ran seven yards to give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and SMU made it 14-0 in the second period when Cobby Morrison caught a 12-yard pass from Don King.
Carney kicked a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter to match SMU's Brandy Brownlee, who succeeded from 47 yards in the same period.
Mark Brooks of Notre Dame ran 11 yards in the third quarter to make it 17-17, but Brownlee's 30-yarder made it 20-17 early in the fourth period.