#TBT: A Notre Dame Comeback for The Ages

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Zach Auguste’s 19 points and 22(!) rebounds powered a Notre Dame comeback in Thursday’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal against Duke. The Blue Devils led the Fighting Irish by as much as 16 in the second half.

Throwback Thursday honors this rollicking rally with perhaps the most famous Notre Dame comeback in history: the Chicken Soup Game.

For Irish diehards, I need go no further. History on the 1979 Cotton Bowl pitting Notre Dame against Houston might as well be a freshman-year prerequisite. This is a victory then-athletic director “Moose” Krause told reporters, “beats the Army game of ’32. It surpasses the win of ’35 at Ohio State. It beats everything.”

So, yeah, you could say this one’s of particular importance in the annals of Notre Dame history.

For the uninitiated, let’s set the scene. Dallas is pummeled with a winter storm on New Year’s Day 1979, as Top 10-ranked opponents Houston and Notre Dame meet in the Cotton Bowl. The Cougars were at the height of their run under Bill Yoemen, while Fighting Irish legend Dan Devine neared the end of his tenure in South Bend.

The 1979 Cotton Bowl is the “Flu Game” 18 years before the Flu Game. The “Chicken Soup Game” label comes from the hot, chicken soup trainers gave quarterback Joe Montana to keep his body temperature up.

“Joe Cool” was “Joe Cold” on that day. Montana battled both this illness and the elements of a frigid day he said was, “beautiful — beautiful if you were spending the day looking out a window.”

The winter scene might have been beautiful looking out, but on the field, things got ugly for the Fighting Irish. Houston scored 34 points to erase an early 12-0 deficit and led by 22 points going into the fourth quarter.

What ensued, the Chicago Tribune described as “the pass, punt and prayer.” The university athletic department later called the great Notre Dame comeback “Seven and a Half Minutes Destiny,” as Montana made his return from the locker room midway through the final stanza.