Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 6, 2021

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

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60 NOV. 6, 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IRISH ECHOES JIM LEFEBVRE W hen Notre Dame renews its rivalry with Navy Nov. 6, it will mark the 175th game the Fight- ing Irish have played against the three service academies. The Irish and the Midshipmen had met in 93 consecutive seasons, from 1 92 6 -2 0 1 9, b e fo re t h e p a n d e m i c knocked last year's game off the sched- ule. Notre Dame holds an all-time advantage of 79-13-1 in the series. Army, which first played the Irish in the classic 1913 battle, has been ND's opponent in 51 games, with Notre Dame holding a 39-8-4 mark. The Irish have met the Air Force Academy on 30 occasions and have a 24-6 record against the Falcons. Despite Notre Dame's all-time record of 142-27-5 against the service acad- emies, one thing is certain: you can always expect a four-quarter, all-out effort from these spirited teams. But there is one military opponent against which Notre Dame has a losing record. The Irish are 1-2-2 all time ver- sus the Bluejackets of the Great Lakes Naval Station, located on Lake Michi- gan near Waukegan, Ill. The five games include four during World War II (one each in 1942-45) and an epic showdown during World War I. The Nov. 9, 1918 game at Cartier Field brought together four of the biggest names in the history of football: Notre Dame icons Knute Rockne and George Gipp, and NFL pioneers Curly Lambeau and George Halas. A YEAR UNLIKE ANY OTHER Rockne took over the reigns as head football coach and athletics director at Notre Dame in the spring of 1918, at age 30. Many of his contemporaries had their first college head coaching job in their early 20s, right after their playing days ended. Rockne had only become a college student at 22, graduated at 26, then spent four years as Jesse Harper's assistant. Finally, he was in charge — just as the world seemed to fall apart. The dual challenges of war and disease created unprecedented difficulties. Notre Dame men who had been on the football teams of 1916 and 1917 were now fighting on the battlefields of Europe. Other Notre Dame families were burying loved ones cut down by the worldwide influenza pandemic. Putting together a football team and scheduling games became a low pri- ority, and a difficult chore, on many campuses. In particular, wartime travel restrictions made it nearly impossible to plan trips. Games were postponed, rescheduled and often canceled alto- gether. Notre Dame's scheduled trips to West Point, N.Y., and Lincoln, Neb., were among the casualties. Notre Dame managed to play one game in September, a 26-6 win at Case Tech in Cleveland, then none at all in October. For most of October, all public gatherings in South Bend were banned due to the influenza outbreak. Mean- while, the mood on campus was somber as reports of the deaths of former stu- dents and alumni came in as the Great War raged on. Finally, in November, things seemed to improve. An end to the war seemed imminent and the largest crest of the pandemic eased. Rockne's team was able to make a day trip to Crawfords- ville, Ind., and defeated Wabash 67-7 Nov. 2. Next up was a scheduled visit from the Great Lakes Naval Station team, the Bluejackets. Rockne was determined to make the game happen, proclaiming "the game will positively be played if they have to battle behind closed gates, although ev- erything now indicates that the ban will be lifted and the public allowed to see this contest." John "Paddy" Driscoll and George Halas (left) were two of three play- ers on the Great Lakes Naval Station 1918 team who were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Bluejackets tied Notre Dame 7-7 that season, went undefeated (6-0-2) and won the Rose Bowl. PHOTO COURTESY DEC. 1918 GREAT LAKES RECRUIT MAGAZINE, VIA FIELDSOFFRIENDLYSTRIFE.COM The Great Lakes Naval Station Bluejackets Provided Hearty Opposition For Irish

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