Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 30, 2017

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

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Page 52 of 55 OCT. 30, 2017 53 Since the NCAA first started re- cording strength of schedules in 1977, this Notre Dame team is one of only two teams whose opposition finished above .700 (.701) — which is like a .400 batting average in Ma- jor League Baseball — and the other belongs to Notre Dame, too (more on that later). Faust's era concluded with losses to No. 1 Penn State (36-6), No. 17 LSU (10-7) and No. 4 Miami (58-7). Other defeats included 20-12 at a Michigan team that placed No. 2 in the final poll, and 21-15 to a 12-1 Air Force outfit that finished No. 8. 5. 1929: Rockne's Traveling Show Notre Dame Stadium was under construction, so Knute Rockne's 9-0 squad traveled every week from Oct. 5 through Nov. 30 en route to win- ning a national title. Among their victories were against defending national champ USC at Chicago's Soldier Field, avenging previous year defeats to Carnegie Tech and Georgia Tech in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, respectively, topping Navy in Baltimore, and clinching the national championship against rival Army in Yankee Stadium. This was an era when travel was done by railroad. 4. 1952: Leahy's Lads Notre Dame's 7-2-1 team finished No. 3 in the country by defeating four major conference champs: Big 8 (Oklahoma), Southwest (Texas), Pac-8 (No. 2 USC) and Big Ten (co- champ Purdue), and tying a fifth, the Ivy League champ (Penn). Head coach Frank Leahy coached four national title teams at Notre Dame and two other unbeaten squads, but he was as proud of this one as any because of the schedule it had to navigate (including a 22-19 upset loss at home to Pitt). 3. 1978: Devine Ending The defending national champions with head coach Dan Devine and QB Joe Montana opened 0-2 with home losses to Missouri and Michigan, but then reeled off eight consecutive wins against a slate that included at co-Big Ten champ Michigan State and other top-20 teams such as Purdue, Pitt, Navy and Georgia Tech, not to men- tion Tennessee, before a controversial 27-25 loss at co-national champ USC. The .709 winning percentage by Notre Dame's opponents is the high- est since the NCAA began keeping the stat in 1977 — and that doesn't include defeating then 9-2 Houston in the Cotton Bowl to finish No. 7 in the Associated Press poll. Overall, the 86-34-2 mark by the opposition was a remarkable .713 winning percentage. 2. 1989: Left At The Altar Holtz's 12-1 Irish defeated seven teams that finished in the AP top 18, highlighted by a 21-6 victory over 11-0 and No. 1 Colorado in the Or- ange Bowl. Also vanquished were Big Ten champ Michigan in Ann Ar- bor and Pac-10/Rose Bowl champ USC. Alas, Notre Dame finished No. 2 to Miami, which defeated the Irish in their head-to-head matchup in No- vember and received the No. 1 nod despite also having one loss. 1. 1943: Toughest Ever Leahy's third Irish edition joins the Nebraska unit of 1971 as the only two in history to defeat the teams that finished No. 2 (14-13 versus semi- pro war team Iowa Pre-Flight), No. 3 (35-12 at Michigan) and No. 4 (33-6 against Navy at Cleveland). It also won against the teams that finished No. 9 (Northwestern), No. 11 (Army) and No. 13 (Georgia Tech). The lone defeat came in the closing seconds of the finale to another semi- pro war team, Great Lakes, on a Hail Mary pass (Notre Dame is the one school that should never lose on such a play). This 9-1 team is the only one in college football history to lose its reg- ular-season finale, not play in a bowl and still finish No. 1. Seven of the 10 teams it faced that year finished in the AP top 13. Even the three that didn't (Pitt, Wiscon- sin and Illinois) had respectable tra- ditions. Pitt was the "Team of The 1930s," Wisconsin finished No. 3 a year earlier, and the Illini came in at No. 15 in 1944. Also, only three of the 10 games in 1943 were at home. ✦ Call 877-630-8768 to advertise in BGI M A R K E T P L A C E MEMORABILIA TICKETS PRAYER TO THE BLESSED MOTHER-(Never known to fail) Oh, most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heav- en. Blessed Mother of the Son of God; Immacu- late Virgin, assist me in this necessity. 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