- Associated Press - Sunday, December 5, 2010

SOUTH BEND, IND. (AP) - Two decades since their last game in a ferocious and testy rivalry that some dubbed Catholics vs. Convicts, Notre Dame and Miami will charge at one another again.

This time in Texas, at the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

Two schools that were once major forces in the race for national championships but have fallen on leaner times will take 7-5 records into the 77th edition of the game in El Paso, Texas. They accepted bids on Sunday.

A lot of the current players were either tots or hadn’t been born the last time the schools played in 1990. Of course, they’ve heard and read about what it was like and now they’ll get a modern-day version of it.

“I don’t think it will matter at all. We’re going to be excited to play whoever, wherever we went,” Notre Dame nose guard Ian Williams said Sunday night. “I think the exciting part is … more for the fans because it’s a historic rivalry.”

That it is.

The game will mark the 24th meeting between the schools and serve as a prelude for a renewal of sorts. It was announced in July that the schools will resume their spirited and often fierce regular-season series with three games beginning in 2012 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Notre Dame leads the all-time series 15-7-1, though the two schools have never met in a bowl.

The series dates back to the 1950s but it was during the 1980s, when Miami became a national power, that the rivalry got interesting _ and intense.

In 1985, Miami and coach Jimmy Johnson embarrassed Notre Dame 58-7 in Gerry Faust’s last game as coach of the Fighting Irish.

Faust was replaced by Lou Holtz. Soon after Notre Dame was a national title contender again and the Miami-Notre Dame game was routinely one of the biggest of the season.

Miami beat Notre Dame 24-0 two years later on the way to an undefeated national championship, then saw a 36-game regular-season winning streak end the next season with a 31-30 loss in South Bend as the Irish went on to win the national title.

Miami reclaimed the AP national crown the next season, thanks again in part to a 27-10 win over Notre Dame on Nov. 25, 1989 _ a game where the Irish were ranked No. 1 and closing in on what could have been their second straight title.

And then Notre Dame returned the favor in 1990, beating Miami 29-20 and knocking the ‘Canes out of the title mix.

Nasty at times, the 1988 game was marked by a pregame shoving match and the next season the teams nearly squared off at midfield before the coin toss.

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