Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 26, 2022*

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 53 of 55

54 NOV. 26, 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED F or an amazing 10th time, the Notre Dame football program will enter the Los Angeles Coliseum unbeaten in preparation of the final regular-sea- son game. Four times it came out unscathed, with three helping result in a consensus national title. Four others resulted in the anguish of defeat, and one ended in a draw. From Knute Rockne to Brian Kelly, the best-of-10 tiebreaker in such encoun- ters awaits this weekend, with Kelly attempting to become the first Fight- ing Irish coach to emerge 2-0 in such showdowns. First, the thrill of victory: 1930, 1947, 1988 and 2012. 1930: Notre Dame 27, USC 0 In what would be his final game as head coach, Rockne's 9-0 Fighting Irish clinched their second straight national title, third overall, and extended their winning streak to 19, with the surpris- ing 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 consecu- tive national title, this time with Rockne protégé Frank Leahy as the head coach. 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, although he would have to wait until Jan. 2 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 Irish defeated the 7-4 Trojans. The "Dream Regular Season" died in the BCS National Championship Game versus Alabama. And now, the agony of defeat: 1938, 1964, 1970 and 1980. 1938: USC 13, Notre Dame 0 Fifth-year head coach Elmer Layden had never lost to the Trojans in his first four seasons at Notre Dame, and all his No. 1 and 8-0 Irish needed was this vic- tory versus 7-2 USC to clinch the na- tional title. It was not to be. 1964: USC 20, Notre Dame 17 In one of the two or three most dev- astating, gut-wrenching defeats ever for the program, first-year head coach Ara Parseghian'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-winning touch- down 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 dispatching a reel- ing 5-4-1 USC team that lost 45-20 to UCLA the previous week. Alas, the Irish committed 8 turnovers to the Trojans' 0 to nullify Joe Theismann's 526 passing yards in a monsoon. Notre Dame end up upsetting 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, and this time was on a two-game losing streak. Alas, "The Wailing Wall" of Notre Dame foot- ball, a.k.a. the L.A. Coliseum, struck again. In 1948, the 14-14 tie kept Notre Dame at No. 2 with a 9-0-1 finish, al- though even with a win the Irish likely would have remained No. 2 behind Michigan. However, the draw did snap a 20-game Notre Dame winning streak. A Notre Dame victory here, followed by a 10-0 finish in 1949 and 1-0 start in 1950 would have resulted in a school-record 32-game winning streak. It should also be noted that the 7-0-1 Irish won at USC in 1953 (48-14) — but that was not the regular-season 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 athletics history saw the Trojans win 55-24 and capture a share of No. 1 with Alabama. Just as significant in this year's "tie- breaker" in which a win would allow Notre Dame to compete for the national title again in the postseason is snapping a school-record five-game losing streak in the regular-season finale (2013-17). It couldn't happen at a better place to help erase bitter memories or add to past celebrations. ✦ 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 BEST OF THE FIFTH QUARTER ✦ LOU SOMOGYI ✦ NOV. 26, 2018 The 'Best Of 10' Notre Dame-USC Tiebreaker EDITOR'S NOTE: The late, great Lou Somogyi possessed an unmatched knowledge of Notre Dame football, and it was his mission in life to share it with others. Those of us at Blue & Gold Illustrated would like to continue to provide his wisdom and unique perspective from his more than 37 years covering the Fighting Irish for this publication.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Nov. 26, 2022*