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

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52 OCT. 7, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI Editor's Note: This is the first in a five- part series through this season that will feature unique achievements/anniversa- ries by the Notre Dame football program in years ending with the number 9. We will begin with 1929, although it won't necessarily be chronological. T he theme set for Notre Dame's 2019 football team under head coach Brian Kelly was to be "Road Warriors." That's because among the five road games during their 12-game regular season, the Fighting Irish were slated to take trips to Georgia (Sept. 21), Michigan (Oct. 26) and Stanford (Nov. 30). In addition, Notre Dame opened the season at Louis- ville (Sept. 2) — surprisingly the pro- gram's first game ever in the state of Kentucky — and will travel to Duke (Nov. 9). A valiant effort against No. 3 Geor- gia fell just short in a 23-17 defeat that extended the Bulldogs' home win- ning streak to 16 games. The top-10 matchup ended up setting a new sta- dium record for attendance (93,246). Meanwhile, Michigan has won four straight at home against the Fighting Irish since 2007, and seven of the last eight dating back to 1997. Stanford has toppled Notre Dame in five consecutive meetings on its home field since 2009. During the 2018 season, the Irish won all six games away from home, and the streak overall was extended to seven, beginning with the 21-17 come- back victory versus LSU in the Cit- rus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2018. That seven- game run was the longest winning streak away from Notre Dame since the school-record 16 achieved from 1991-94 under head coach Lou Holtz. However, 90 years ago in 1929, Knute Rockne's Fighting Irish achieved a feat that remains unique in college football annals, and one that definitely will not be replicated. Playing a major college football game every week of the regular sea- son without a bye is rare these days with expanded schedules. It has not been done at Notre Dame since 1990. Playing all of those games away from home, though, is even more in- comprehensible. Now imagine winning a national title while undertaking both of those tasks. That is what Knute Rockne's 1929 Irish outfit achieved. NEW BUILDING & REBUILDING Because Notre Dame Stadium with its nearly 60,000-seat capacity was under construction in 1929 and wouldn't be unveiled until 1930, there wasn't a suitable area on cam- pus to accommodate a vast audience. Thus, Rockne and his troops be- came a barnstorming show and reaped handsome dividends, both financially at the gate as well as on the gridiron. Whereas Notre Dame's old Cartier Field (where the new stadium was getting built) had a capacity of 27,000 and often didn't even attract 20,000, Rockne made the Irish — also known as the Ramblers for their travels — the original "America's Team." Throughout the 1920s, the school built constituents across the coun- try, particularly in the East with the "subway alumni." In 1926, Rockne did the same in the West by begin- ning the series with USC, drawing a capacity audience of 74,378 in Los Angeles. The 1929 nine-game schedule from Oct. 5 through Nov. 30 included three trips to Chicago's Soldier Field, a visit to Baltimore to play Navy, road journeys to Pittsburgh and Atlanta to avenge losses the previous year to Carnegie Tech and Georgia Tech, respectively, and concluding at Yan- kee Stadium against Army with the national title on the line. None of this included air travel, either. Playing in large cities and ex- panded venues week after week eas- ily set a Notre Dame record for larg- est attendance in a season (551,112), eclipsing the half-million mark for the first time. It wouldn't be until 1947, another national title campaign for the Irish, that this attendance standard would be surpassed. Notable in this 1929 campaign is that Notre Dame was coming off its worst season, 5-4, since 1905 (also 5-4). It evoked speculation that after 11 The Ultimate Road Warriors Notre Dame's 1929 national champs achieved a distinction never to be equaled Knute Rockne's remarkable 1929 Notre Dame team went undefeated en route to the national champion- ship — winning all nine games away from home, without any byes or air travel. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME MEDIA RELATIONS

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