1990 Federal Express Orange Bowl
56th Orange Bowl
1234 Total
Notre Dame 00147 21
Colorado 0060 6
DateJanuary 1, 1990
StadiumOrange Bowl
LocationMiami, Florida
MVPRaghib Ismail (Notre Dame WR)
Darian Hagan (Colorado QB)
FavoriteNotre Dame by 2 points[1][2]
RefereeDayle Phillips (ACC)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersDick Enberg, Bill Walsh
Orange Bowl
 < 1989  1991

The 1990 Orange Bowl was the 56th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, on Monday, January 1. Part of the 1989–90 bowl game season, it matched the independent and fourth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the undefeated #1 Colorado Buffaloes of the Big Eight Conference.[1]

Slightly favored,[1][2] Notre Dame won 21–6.[3][4][5][6]


Main article: 1989 NCAA Division I-A football season

Notre Dame

Main article: 1989 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team

The Fighting Irish won their first eleven games but lost 27–10 at new rival Miami in late November,[7][8] which snapped a 23-game winning streak and dropped them from first to fourth in the rankings.


Main article: 1989 Colorado Buffaloes football team

The Buffaloes won all eleven games in the regular season and were ranked first in both polls.

Game summary

Televised by NBC, the game kicked off minutes after 8 p.m. EST, shortly after the start of the Sugar Bowl on ABC, which matched #2 Miami and #7 Alabama.[9]

The first half was scoreless. Notre Dame led 14–6 after three quarters, and spoiled a championship season for the Buffaloes with a 21–6 victory.[3][4][5] This allowed Sugar Bowl winner Miami to take the national championship, with Notre Dame as runner-up.[10]


First quarter
No scoring
Second quarter
No scoring
Third quarter
Fourth quarter


Statistics     Notre    
First Downs 18 16
Rushes–yards 52–279 46–217
Passing yards 99 65
Passes (C–A–I) 6–9–0 4–13–2
Total Offense 61–378 59–282
Return yards 0 36
Punts–average 5–40 3–39
Fumbles–lost 0–0 1–1
Turnovers 0 3
Penalties-yards 3–35 1–5
Time of possession 32:43 27:17


The loss by Colorado opened up the national championship for Miami, but several analysts/pollsters felt that Notre Dame was also worthy of the title. Notre Dame and Miami had lost one game and Notre Dame had played a much more difficult schedule. However, the head-to-head matchup proved too much to overcome as Miami was voted number one in both final polls; Notre Dame was second (third in Coaches poll), and Colorado slipped to fourth.


  1. ^ a b c "Overcoming Orange Bowl jinx might be key to national title". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). Associated Press. January 1, 1990. p. 28.
  2. ^ a b "The latest line". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 1, 1990. p. 37.
  3. ^ a b c d Gugger, John (January 2, 1990). "Debate heated over No.1: Irish topple Colorado". Toledo Blade. (Ohio). p. 21.
  4. ^ a b c d Warner, Rick (January 2, 1990). "Irish 'Rocket' past No. 1 Buffs". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. p. B1.
  5. ^ a b c d Collier, Gene (January 2, 1990). "Colorado lets its chance slip away". Pittsburgh Press. p. D1.
  6. ^ Murphy, Austin (January 8, 1990). "An Irish rebuff". Sports Illustrated. p. 16.
  7. ^ Wojciekowski, Gene (November 26, 1989). "Irish eyes aren't smiling now". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). {Los Angeles Times). p. 1C.
  8. ^ Murphy, Austin (December 4, 1989). "No. 1 no more". Sports Illustrated. p. 24.
  9. ^ "Sports menu: TV highlights". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). January 1, 1990. p. C4.
  10. ^ Orange Bowl