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What Terrible Bowl Game Are Notre Dame & USC Playing In Die Hard?

Jonathan Daniel

There are moments in your life when it is crystal clear that you are with the right husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend or partner.

I had one last night. While cleaning the dishes, my wife is scrolling the Netflix Instant queue and exclaims "YES!" and then the familiar sound of the Netflix film being chosen and loading begins. I peek around the corner to see my two favorite words during the Christmas season...

Die Hard.

Yippie kay yay. I immediately zoom through the remaining dishes and am seated in time to see John McClane get into the limo on his way to Nakatomi Plaza.

You forget what a perfectly-created 80's action film Die Hard is. And yet, we could never make it today. There's a reason every sequel has paled in comparison and they just keep getting worse. We're too cynical these days. Even now, my brain can't help but poke holes in the film (The FBI only sends two agents to a hostage situation in Los Angeles???).

However, there's one detail that has always and continues to bug me to this day and makes me demand answers that I will never receive...

When Al gets the call to check out Nakatomi, he heads inside and kibbitzes with Buffed Up Huey Lewis, who is pretending to be a security guard. Huey sits back down at the desk and starts watching the football game again. The play-by-play guy tells us that it's the end of the first quarter and Notre Dame leads USC 7-0.

Hold on.

It's Christmas Eve and Notre Dame is playing USC in a football game? What in the Charlie Weis is going on here?

Either one of two things happened. The first is what I'm assuming is the most likely. That the writers originally wrote Die Hard to take place during Thanksgiving, the usual time when Notre Dame and USC actually do play one another annually. Die Hard came out in 1988 so if we look back, they actually played one another on November 26th that year. The prior year the two teams duked it out all the way back in October.

Though to be fair, that game had been played in December as recently as 1980, though that was December 6th. The latest the game was ever played was December 1934. The point is, they certainly didn't play in December in 1988, let alone late December.

So the only logical solution is that USC was playing Notre Dame in a bowl game. Even then, I'm suspect.

In 1987, there were 18 bowl games. The early-season bowls were the California (12/12), Independence (12/19), All-American (12/22), Aloha (12/25) and Sun (12/25). Everything else was played post-Christmas.

In 1988, there was 17 bowl games. This time the California, Independence, Sun and Aloha were the only ones pre-Christmas or on Christmas.

So that means Notre Dame and USC would have had to be playing one another in one of those games.

In 1987, Notre Dame went 8-4 and played in the Cotton Bowl. In 1998, they went 12-0 and won the Fiesta Bowl and National Title.

In 1987, USC went 8-4, won a share of the Pac-10 and went to the Rose Bowl. In 1988, they went 10-2 and went back to the Rose Bowl.

In other words, the bowls that would be played around that time and the reality of Notre Dame & USC football do not jive.

And it's almost certain that the bowl would have to be the Aloha Bowl. By the time Al is in the lobby to check on Nakatomi, it's already dark out. That means it's around six or seven at night, by earliest. The game is still in the first quarter. What kind of Christmas Eve bowl game starts at or around 9:00 pm EST?

So in conclusion, Die Hard has a lot of elements that require suspension of disbelief. However, one thing I cannot look past is this magical Notre Dame vs. USC football game that the fake security guard has fake money riding on during Christmas Eve.

That's where I draw the line.