Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 23, 2015 Issue

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

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point underdog, while Purdue had up- set Notre Dame the year prior, 31-20. It would be the first time in 50 years that a Notre Dame team would play two games in five days. THE ORIGINAL It was publicized as the biggest foot- ball game in Boston's history, and it showed when the capacity audience of 61,501 was the largest ever for a game at Schaefer Stadium. An ABC-TV national audience esti- mated at 35 million saw the Irish wear down the Eagles in the second half in a 17-3 victory after the two teams battled to a 3-3 halftime stalemate. Headlining the evening was Notre Dame's Browner brothers, Ross and Jim, who were awarded the game balls. Sophomore Ross, who sat out the 1974 season because of a suspen- sion, was named the Defensive Player of the Game in a dominant effort that limited the Eagles to 207 yards of total offense. Meanwhile, freshman Jim, recruited as a linebacker/safety, received the starting nod at fullback — where he succeeded the graduated Wayne "The Train" Bullock — and finished with 24 carries for 95 yards. His 10-yard scoring run in the third quarter gave Notre Dame the lead for good, and sophomore Al Hunter added an insur- ance touchdown in the fourth quarter. New quarterback Rick Slager, known more for his tennis prowess as the school's top singles player, was asked to throw only 12 times and com- pleted seven for 72 yards. "The game started late because it took time to get the crowd into the stadium," Devine told Blue & Gold Il- lustrated years later. "We finally got back to our hotel rooms about four in the morning. We let them sleep in on Tuesday and didn't arrive at Notre Dame until late Tuesday." The drained Irish cancelled Tues- day's practice and had more of a walk-through on Wednesday while not putting on pads the entire week. Cornerback Luther Bradley said the pressure became equally intense in the classroom. "That was a really rough week," Bradley said. "We didn't practice on Tuesday, and the coaches had to put in the game plan in a hurry. We had a lot of information to digest — plus we had to catch up in our classes because we missed all day Monday and Tues- day. But they expected us to do it and we did. "I don't think that will ever happen again where Notre Dame plays two games in five days." Led by Bradley's 99-yard intercep- tion return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Irish defeated Pur- due 17-0. The two victories in five days led Sports Illustrated to put Slager and Devine on the cover with the headline, "Devine Week For Notre Dame." The young Irish team would finish only 8-3 that year and outside the AP top 20 for the first time in 12 years. Yet in those five days in Boston and West Lafayette, Ind., the foundation of con- structing the 1977 national title outfit was in full operation. "I don't think that team ever got enough credit for what it accom- plished," said Devine of the first two games in his Notre Dame career. Forty years later, it can be better ap- preciated. ✦

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