Top-ranked Notre Dame showed muscle and mercy Saturday against Southern Methodist.
Notre Dame labored to keep the score down against SMU, taking delay-of-game penalties and deliberately avoiding one touchdown while setting a school record with their 22nd consecutive victory.
“I didn’t want the scoring to get out of hand,” Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz said after the Irish (10-0) cruised past the Mustangs (2-7).
Despite Holtz’s best intentions, the score was 59-6.
“He did everything he could to keep the score down after the game was settled,” SMU Coach Forrest Gregg said.
Notre Dame’s previous mark of 21 consecutive victories was set under Frank Leahy in 1946-48.
Ricky Watters set another Notre Dame record with a 97-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. The previous mark had stood since 1909, when Harry (Red) Miller returned a punt 95 yards against Olivet.
Against SMU, which dressed 59 freshman, Notre Dame led only 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
But later the Mustangs were so overwhelmed that, while trailing 33-6 in the second quarter, punter Casey Clyce stepped to the back of the end zone and took a safety rather than offer Notre Dame a chance to return the ball.
With 36 seconds left in the third quarter and Notre Dame leading 52-6, Rusty Setzer, under orders from Holtz, ran the ball out of bounds on the Mustang seven when he had a clear run to the end zone.