The Greatest Intersectional Rivalry in History
USC vs. Notre Dame – Historic Games and National Championships
Knute Rockne, Howard Jones, Anthony Davis, Joe Montana, John McKay, Ara Parsegian, Pat Hayden, John Robinson, Lou Holtz, Pete Carroll, Charlie Weis, Matt Leinart, Brady Quinn, Dwayne Jarrett and Reggie Bush. The list goes on and on.
This little rivalry started in 1926 when wives of prominent figures (Mrs. Knute Rockne and Mrs. Gwynn Wilson) of both schools decided it would be a great match-up to have a home and home series. Behind every great man is a great woman, so the saying goes. Since then there has been no better intersectional rivalry in all of college football.
No other two schools can claim as many national championships or Heisman Trophy winners than these two combined. In most years when these two meet, there are national standings or championships at stake.
Notre Dame Leads the Series, Hands Down
The storied University of Notre Dame program holds a commanding lead in the series at 42-31-5. In the last six years, the Trojans have whittled slightly into that stat by posting a 5-1 record under the leadership of Coach Pete Carroll.
Games of Note
1927 - Notre Dame 7, USC 6 – 120,000 Strong
In the early years of this rivalry, both schools were national contenders. This game played at Soldier Field in Chicago had an estimated 120,000 in attendance.
1929 - Notre Dame 13, USC 12 – Largest Verified Attendance
Another game played at Soldier field had a verified attendance of 112,912 – making it the largest crowd in NCAA history.
1938 - USC 13, Notre Dame 0 – Dethroning the Irish
Played at Coliseum in Los Angeles, Notre Dame was undefeated and ranked number 1 in the nation, USC was ranked 8th after the Trojan victory, Notre Dame dropped to number 5.
1947 - Notre Dame 38, USC 7 – Coliseum Thrashing
The highest recorded attendance for a football game in the Coliseum, 104,953 saw USC lose to Notre Dame 38-7. Notre Dame was awarded the AP National Championship. USC also lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl, giving Michigan a claim to the national championship.
1974 - USC 55, Notre Dame 24 – The Comeback
In what is known as the greatest comeback in college football history, the Trojans had a 24-point deficit in the first half. With 10 seconds remaining before halftime, Anthony Davis scored on a 7-yard pass from Pat Haden. At halftime, Coach John McKay told Davis he would return the kickoff for a touchdown. Davis did not disappoint, taking the opening kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. USC scored 55 points in under 17 minutes. The Trojans won the national championship by defeating Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
1977 - Notre Dame 49, USC 19 – The Trojan Horse
The Irish wore their traditional blue and gold uniforms during warm ups. They changed into an all green uniform and dragged a Trojan Horse onto the field before kickoff. Notre Dame trashed the Trojans on their way to a National Championship.
1978 - USC 27, Notre Dame 25 – Frank Jordan Beats Joe Montana
Notre Dame was led by the comeback master, quarterback Joe Montana. Behind 24-6, Montana began to work his magic in the fourth quarter and led Notre Dame to a 25-24 lead with 45 seconds left in the game. With four seconds left, the Trojans moved into field goal range and kicker Frank Jordan worked magic of his own, kicking the winning field goal as time elapsed.
2005 - USC 34, Notre Dame 31 – The Bush Push
After beating the Irish by 31 points each of the previous three years, the Trojans headed to South Bend to play the Fighting Irish and first year head coach Charlie Weis. The Irish scored on a Brady Quinn run with two minutes left in the game and appeared headed to a victory. The Trojans completed an impossible 4th and 9 pass by Matt Leinart to Dwayne Jarrett that brought the Trojans close to the redzone. As Matt Leinart ran the ball, he was hit at the sideline and the ball popped out of bounds and off the field. While the officials called the ball dead, the time clock continued to run down zero and Irish fans stormed the field. The officials put the ball on the one-yard line and returned seven seconds back on the clock. On the next play, Leinart snuck the ball to the middle, and with the aid of Reggie Bush, was pushed into the endzone for a touchdown, securing a victory.
The Pete Carroll Era
The Trojans hold a 5-1 advantage in the Pete Carroll era. Carroll has claimed the “fake kick” which resulted in the loss as a “bonehead” play call; he vowed to never fake a kick again. In his first year as the Trojan Head Coach, the Trojans lost by a score of 16-27. Since then, Carroll led the team to four lopsided victories (44-13, 45-14, 41-10 and 44-24). The only close game was the miraculous “Bush-Push” game in South Bend which the Trojans won 34-31.
2007 Match-Up, Too Close to Call
This year’s battle in South Bend should be an epic battle. With the Irish having a 1-6 record and the Trojans (5-1)struggling the last three weeks, this game may be a classic.
Both teams have much to gain by winning this game. The Irish stand to make amends for a dismal season and the Trojans are fighting to return to the top of the heap in the BCS Championship Bowl Series.