The pollsters recognized ND's horrible 1998 schedule when they ranked us 17th after the 9-2 regular season -- ND's lowest-ever ranking after a regular season that included only 2 blemishes. And they dropped to 22nd after losing the Gator Bowl to GT. None of Ara's teams ever finished a season ranked below 14th.
The highest-ranked team the 1998 squad beat was Michigan (12th in final poll), and the only other ranked team it beat was Purdue (24th). It was absolutely annihilated by unranked MSU, and lost by 10 to unranked USC and by 7 to No. 9 Georgia Tech.
The 1969 team didn't beat any ranked teams, but it tied No. 3 USC, who was otherwise perfect. It also led No. 1 Texas until the final 68 seconds, and its only other loss was to No. 18 Purdue.
The 1973 team dominated No. 8 USC and won the NC by beating then-No. 1 Alabama. The 1974 team beat Pitt, which was No. 20 (7-4) after the regular season but didn't go to a bowl and was unranked in the final poll. They lost 55-24 to USC, which ended No. 2 in AP and No. 1 in UPI, and of course ND led that game 24-0 after 29 minutes. ND then upset then-No. 2 Alabama in the Orange Bowl to ruin their championship hopes yet again.