Irish, Trojans share long and storied rivalry

By: Erin McGinn Email
By: Erin McGinn Email

Saturday night one of the greatest rivalries in college football will continue when Notre Dame and USC faceoff for the 83rd time since 1926.

Each school has 11 titles, seven Heisman winners, and dozens of memorable games together.

1964: USC’s Unranked Comeback
In 1964, the Irish were number one when they played USC. It was Ara Parseghian’s first year as head coach for the Irish, and the Trojans were unranked.

Heisman winner John Huarte took the Irish to a 17-0 halftime lead.

But USC came back in the second half with 20 unanswered points, and the Men of Troy dashed Notre Dame’s title hopes.

1977: The Green Jersey Game
The 1977 game would come to be known as the Green Jersey game. Both USC and Notre Dame were 4-1.

But Coach Dan Devine had a trick up his sleeve. During warm-ups the Irish wore their Navy blue jerseys, then returned to the locker room to find green jerseys.

They ran out of the tunnel in green followed by a Trojan horse holding the team captains, sending the Irish fans into a frenzy.

Joe Montana led the Irish to a 49-19 victory, and the team wore green the rest of the season – all the way to a National Championship.

1988: #1 ND vs. #2 USC
In 1988, both teams were undefeated; a series first. Notre Dame was ranked number one, and Southern Cal was at number two.

Coach Lou Holtz made the controversial decision to leave behind star players Ricky Watters and Tony Brooks for disciplinary reasons, but Tony Rice and the Irish offense still led Notre Dame to a 27-10 victory and they went on to capture the National Championship.

2005: The Bush Push
And you can’t talk about the Irish and the Trojans without bringing up the 2005 season.

It was Charlie Weis’ first season with Notre Dame, and USC had beaten the Irish by 31 points in each of the prior three games.

In a move similar to ’77, the team ran out of the tunnel in green and the crowd went wild.

The Irish were leading with two minutes left, but the Trojans stormed back and with seven seconds left the ball was knocked out of Matt Leinart’s hands and out of bounds.

But the clock continued to tick, and when it hit zero, Irish fans flooded the field. The fans were pushed back; the game wasn’t over. The ball was put back on the one-yard line with seven seconds remaining.

Then, in a play that live in infamy, running back Reggie Bush pushed Leinart into the endzone and the Trojans won 34-31.

But the story doesn’t end there; that win was vacated by USC in 2010, after they were sanctioned by the NCAA.

2010: Second-Half Comeback
In the most recent chapter, the Irish ended an eight-game losing streak against the Trojans during a downpour in Los Angeles.

Notre Dame blew a 10-point halftime lead, but they battled back, defeating the Trojans in a thrilling 20-17 victory.

The Jeweled Shillelagh
The victor of the game gets more than just bragging rights, they also get possession of the Jeweled Shillelagh for another year.

After each game, a jeweled ornament is added to the war club. USC victories get a gold and ruby Trojan head, while the Irish get an emerald and gold shamrock.

The Jeweled Shillelagh has been passed back and forth to the winner of the Notre Dame-Southern California game since 1952.

The original shillelagh ran out of space and is kept on permanent display at Notre Dame.


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