Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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54 NOV. 26, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED F or an amazing 11th time, the Notre Dame football program will enter the Los Angeles Coli- seum unbeaten in preparation of the final regular-season game. Five times it came out unscathed, with four helping result in a consen- sus national title. Five others resulted either in the anguish of defeat, or a tie that ended perfection. From Knute Rockne to Brian Kelly, the best-of-11 tiebreaker in such en- counters awaits this weekend. First, the thrill of victory: 1930, 1947, 1966, 1988 and 2012. 1930: Notre Dame 27, USC 0 In what would be his final game, Rockne's 9-0 Fighting Irish clinched their second straight national title, third overall, and extended their winning streak to 19, with the sur- prising whitewash of a powerful 8-1 Trojans outfit that had outscored its opponents 372-39 and would capture the national title the ensuing year. 1947: Notre Dame 38, USC 7 Just like in 1929-30, the 8-0 and No. 1-ranked Irish crushed No. 3 and 7-0-1 USC to clinch a second con- secutive national title, this time with Rockne protégé Frank Leahy as the head coach. 1966: Notre Dame 51, USC 0 The No. 1 and 8-0-1 Irish wrapped up the national title with what re- mains the largest margin of defeat ever by a Trojans team, which was ranked No. 10. The ensuing year USC would win its own national title (just like in 1931 after getting shut out at home by the Irish the previous year). 1988: Notre Dame 27, USC 10 In their lone meeting ever when both teams were 10-0 and ranked No. 1 (Notre Dame) and No. 2 (USC), head coach Lou Holtz became the fifth football coach at the school to finish unbeaten and/or win the national title in his third season, al- though he had to wait to clinch it in the Fiesta Bowl versus West Virginia. 2012: Notre Dame 22, USC 13 In his third season as well, Kelly put himself in position to become the sixth coach at Notre Dame to finish No. 1 and/or go unbeaten his third year when his top-ranked 11-0 Irish defeated the 7-4 Trojans. The "Dream Regular Season" died in the BCS Na- tional Championship Game versus Alabama. And now, the agony of defeat: 1938, 1964, 1970 and 1980, or tie (1948). 1938: USC 13, Notre Dame 0 Fifth-year head coach Elmer Layden had been 3-0-1 versus USC, and all his No. 1 and 8-0 Irish needed was this win versus 7-2 USC to seal the national title. It was not to be. 1948: USC 14, Notre Dame 14 This verdict kept Notre Dame at No. 2 with a 9-0-1 finish. This draw also snapped a 20-game Notre Dame winning streak. An Irish victory here, followed by a 10-0 finish in 1949 and 1-0 start in 1950 would have ex- tended it to a school record 33 games. 1964: USC 20, Notre Dame 17 First-year head coach Ara Par- seghian's Cinderella 9-0 and No. 1 Irish (2-7 the year prior) led 17-0 at halftime … and then lost in a vale of tears and officiating controversy after USC scored the game winner on a fourth-down pass with 1:33 left. 1970: USC 38, Notre Dame 28 The 9-0 and No. 4-ranked Irish had already been matched up with 10-0 and No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl, and the expectation was it would be for the national title after dispatch- ing a reeling 5-4-1 USC team that lost 45-20 to UCLA the previous week. Instead, the Irish committed eight turnovers to USC's zero to nullify Joe Theismann's 526 passing yards in a monsoon. Notre Dame ended up up- setting Texas (24-11) … but finished No. 2 to unbeaten Nebraska. 1980: USC 20, Notre Dame 3 Just like 10 years earlier, the 9-0-1 and No. 2 Irish already had accepted an invitation to play No. 1 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, but first needed to get by USC to play for the title. Like in 1970 as well, USC had lost the previous week to UCLA. It also had a two-game losing streak. Alas, "The Wailing Wall" of Notre Dame football, a.k.a. the L.A. Coli- seum, struck again. It should also be noted that the 7-0-1 Irish won at USC in 1953 (48-14) — but that was not the regular-sea- son finale. Meanwhile, the 1974 unit that was 9-1 still had a shot at the national title and led USC 24-0 with seconds left in the first half … before one of the most amazing momentum shifts in athlet- ics history saw the Trojans win 55-24 and later capture a share of No. 1 with Alabama. Just as significant in this year 's "tiebreaker" in which a win would allow Notre Dame to compete for the national title again in the post- season is snapping a school-record five-game losing streak in the regu- lar-season finale (2013-17). It couldn't happen at a better place to help erase bitter memories, or add to past celebrations. ✦ The 'Best Of 11' Notre Dame-USC Tiebreaker THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI Senior Editor Lou Somogyi has been at Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 1985. He can be reached at Tight end Tyler Eifert and the Fighting Irish topped the Trojans 22-13 in 2012 to earn a spot in the BCS National Championship Game versus Alabama. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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