My Favorite USC-Notre Dame Games
It’s been such a great series through the years, everybody has their favorite USC-Notre Dame games.
Here are my five personal favorites, starting from the bottom up:
5. USC 14, Notre Dame 14 in 1969. Yes, I know, ties never thrill anyone. But this was my first trip as a working newspaperman to the college football mecca known as South Bend, Ind., and from the Friday night rally featuring Rocky Bleier, just back from being wounded in Vietnam, to the Saturday morning walk through on campus featuring dummies of Trojan players hanging on dorm windows to the dazzling fall Saturday of the game, itself. Just an unforgettable experience.
4. Notre Dame 27, USC 10 in 1988. People tend to forget the Larry Smith Era, but maybe they wouldn’t have if only the Trojans had won this game. It was No. 1 against No. 2 in the nation, with the national title at stake and drama everywhere. No matter what you think of him on television, you have to know this about Lou Holtz: Nobody coached big games better than he did. Rocket Ismail and the gang jumped on USC early and never let up, to win it going away, although Trojans quarterback Rodney Peete played much of the game with a separated shoulder.
3. USC 20, Notre Dame 17 in 1964. Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte and the Irish sprinted out to a 17-0 lead, but John McKay’s kids kept plugging away and finally won it on a legendary late pass from Craig Fertig to Rod Sherman to knock Notre Dame out of a national championship.
2. USC 34, Notre Dame 31 in 2005. It forever will be known as the “Bush Push” game, but before that ever happened, before Reggie Bush helped nudge Matt Leinart into the end zone for the winning touchdown with three seconds left, Leinart completed the most dramatic pass in recent USC history. It was fourth and 9 at the USC 26 in the final minutes. Leinart audibled out of one play to this one, finding Dwayne Jarrett racing down the sideline for a 61-yard completion that set up the winning TD and preserved USC’s No. 1 ranking.
1. USC 55, Notre Dame 24 in 1974. Was there ever any doubt this would be No. 1? It was 24-7 Irish at halftime, then Anthony Davis, the great Notre Dame killer, ran the second half kickoff back 102 yards (just as Coach John McKay predicted he would), setting off the wildest, craziest 49-point rally in Trojans’ history. It was like a dam burst, and nobody on the Irish could stop it. All other comebacks pale next to this one. So do all other USC-Notre Dame games.
PICKS OF THE WEEK — Thanks to Wisconsin rolling over Michigan and the Ravens pounding the Panthers, we went 2-0 last week and are now 5-1 across the past three weeks, with the one loss by one point. So yes, we’re on a bit of a roll here. But if you think we’re getting cocky, you’re wrong. We have too much respect for the guys who make the spreads to do that. It still feels like it gets tougher every week. Here’s our latest:
USC (minus 3) vs. NOTRE DAME — Might as well stay in the spirit. The Irish have played better of late and certainly will score some points. But the feeling is USC still has superior athletes and team speed. Even with back up quarterback Mitch Mustain, Lane Kiffin should be able to utilize Robert Woods and Ronald Johnson better than he did at Oregon State and don’t be surprised if hungry C.J. Gable winds up the running star. This won’t be a runaway, but the Trojans should be at least a touchdown better.
TEXANS (minus 6) vs. TITANS — The Vince Young soap opera has left the Titans with Rusty Smith starting at quarterback. Rusty Who? Exactly. The Texans have a terrible pass defense, but does anyone believe this guy can exploit it? I don’t. Matt Schaub should have no trouble outscoring him at home.
LAST WEEK’S RECORD: 2-0 OVERALL RECORD: 12-8-2
— STEVE BISHEFF