Rockne. Gipp. The Four Horsemen. Leahy. Parseghian.

Now . . . Holtz.Give Notre Dame another championship and another legend to go with it.

The Fighting Irish came to the Fiesta Bowl ranked No. 1 and left with their eighth national championship, two more than any other school in the 53-year history of The Associated Press poll.

Combining a big-play offense led by junior quarterback Tony Rice's career-high 213 passing yards with a bruising, punishing defense, Notre Dame beat No. 3 West Virginia 34-21 Monday night.

And christened the Lou Holtz Era in true Notre Dame tradition before a record crowd of 74,911 at Sun Devil Stadium.

"I think Knute Rockne would be proud of this team," Holtz said. "Now that it's over I can say this, `They beat the No. 2, 3 and 4 teams and won 12 games.' What more can you ask for?

"They deserve the national championship for their continued hard work," he said. "If it weren't for us, Southern California, Miami and West Virginia would all still be undefeated."

It will be the first national championship for Holtz and, like Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Dan Devine before him, it comes in his third season as coach. The 12-0 season was Notre Dame's first ever.

Leahy won in 1943, 1946, 1947 and 1949, Parseghian in 1966 and 1973 and Devine in 1977.

The legendary Knute Rockne won six other national titles before the AP poll began in 1936.

Notre Dame's win made Tuesday's final AP poll academic. Second-ranked Miami, which met No. 6 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl on Monday night, had hoped for a tie or an unimpressive West Virginia victory to throw the race open.

If West Virginia was unimpressive, Notre Dame had a lot to do with it.

The Mountaineers, who came to Tempe undefeated, couldn't get a first down until 9:22 of the second quarter. That was on a late-hit penalty, one of 11 penalties against the Irish, whose taunting behavior lured Holtz himself into the huddle late in the game to chide his players.

Major Harris, the Mountaineers' quarterback who suffered a bruised left shoulder during the game's first series, never really got his high-powered offense untracked.

Rice attempted only 11 passes and completed seven, averaging a whopping 30 yards per completion, compared to 16.8 during a regular season in which he was voted Notre Dame's most valuable player.

He threw touchdown passes of 29 yards to freshman Raghib "Rocket" Ismail late in the second quarter and an icing-on-the-cake 3-yarder to backup tight end Frank Jacobs early in the final period after teaming with flanker Ricky Watters on a 57-yard pass play.

"Notre Dame beat us up front and deserved to win the ballgame," West Virginia coach Don Nehlen said. "They beat us on the line of scrimmage and made the big plays."

On Notre Dame's first series, Rice scrambled for 31 yards to the West Virginia 31 on third-and-7. Four plays later, Billy Hackett, Notre Dame's long-range placekicker, kicked a 45-yard field goal, longest of his career, to start the scoring.

Rice's run, incidentally, broke the Notre Dame record for longest run from scrimmage in a bowl game. The record of 27 had been set by one of Notre Dame's famed Four Horsemen, Jim Crowley, in the 1925 Rose Bowl against Stanford.

A 23-yard pass from Rice to Derek Brown set up Anthony Johnson's 1-yard touchdown run at 10:26 of the first quarter that made it 9-0. One of Notre Dame's few mistakes came when holder Pete Graham muffed the snap on the conversion try.

Early in the second period, Rice whipped a pass over the middle from his 48 to Brown at the West Virginia 35. The 6-foot-7, 235-pound tight end rumbled on to the 5 and fullback Rodney Culver, another freshman, plowed over at 5:19 for a 16-0 lead.

At that point, Notre Dame had outgained West Virginia 188 yards to 27 - it ended 455-282 - and held the Mountaineers without a first down and 27 total yards on their four possessions.

The 16-0 deficit was the largest of the season at that point for the Mountaineers, who finished 11-1 and had to be satisifed with the first 11-victory season in their 96-year football history. In averaging 42.9 points a game, second best in the nation, the Mountaineers had never been held under 22 points, nor had they yielded more than 30.

Harris was hurt on the third play of the game. Harris completed only six of 13 passes for 82 yards in the first half and carried nine times for nine yards. He finished 13-for-26 for 166 yards and carried 13 times for 11 yards, including three sacks for minus-28.

As poorly as they played, the Mountaineers trailed only 26-13 and had a chance to get back in the game when cornerback Willie Edwards intercepted a Rice pass and returned it 14 yards to the Irish 26 with 2:45 left in the third period.

As it did whenever it counted, Notre Dame's hard-hitting defense again rose to the occasion. Harris lost two yards, threw an incomplete pass and then was sacked by All-American end Frank Stams and linebacker Arnold Ale for a 12-yard loss that put the Mountaineers out of field goal range. Stams was voted the games defensive MVP and Rice the offensive MVP.