Every year you look at Notre Dame’s schedule and see teams that they seemingly play every year. You see teams like Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Stanford, Navy, and Southern California. Looking over this schedule for the first time a few months ago, I saw all of the above teams, but I also saw some teams that I literally gawked at because they were so unfamiliar with the Irish schedule.
I saw that the Irish opened up with Georgia Tech, which is already being a highly publicized game. I saw that on the 21st of October we would be hosting the Bruins of UCLA. 2 weeks later the Irish will be playing host again to North Carolina. They will wrap up their string of odd games by playing Army on November 18th again at Notre Dame Stadium. Since these schools haven’t been on the Notre Dame schedule for quite a while, uhnd.com has decided to refresh some of your memories on the history that these schools have with the Irish.
Week 1- @ Georgia Tech
The last time these teams met was in 1999’s Gator Bowl and the last time they met in the regular season you would have to go almost a decade back to 1997. The teams have met 32 times in all, with Notre Dame posting a 26-5-1 all time record. One of those Notre Dame victories came in a big time battle against the Yellow Jackets in 1953, when the #1 ranked Irish beat the then #4 ranked Jackets 27-14 at Notre Dame Stadium. This was when Tech was a power in college football having recently gone on a 31 game winning streak from 1951-1953. On November 18th, 1967, the Irish reached 500 football wins by pounding the Jackets 36-3.
Other notable games include the heavily favored #1 ranked Irish squeaking out a 10-7 victory over an unranked Tech opponent in 1970. In a 1978 contest between the two teams former Irish running back Vegas Ferguson set a then all time Notre Dame record with 255 yards rushing in a 38-21 win over Tech. The teams would tie in a 1980 contest where once again the Irish were #1, and Tech was unranked with a final score of 3-3.
Some fans may also remember the game that made it on to the big screen, the game that Daniel Ruettiger appeared for the 1st and last time in a game with the Irish. Ruettiger appeared in the game late in 4th quarter in the last home game of his senior season…and well…the rest is history. This historic game took place on November 8th, 1975 and the memory of that game is still clear as day to many Notre Dame fans.
Their latest meeting as I said was in the 1999 Gator Bowl where the Jackets prevailed 35-28 on New Year’s Day. Playing in this game in the first place for Notre Dame was like kissing their sister. The Irish had a shot to play in a big time bowl before then star quarterback Jarious Jackson went down an injury 2 weeks earlier in a win over LSU. The next week the Irish offense felt the affects of his absence, being shut out by Southern Cal and blowing their chance at a major bowl. Notre Dame would enter the game wearing the famous Green jerseys, and even played a hard fought game, but fell short to the Bees.
About the Jackets
Since becoming a football team in 1892, Georgia Tech has won 4 national titles in 4 different decades during their college football run. These came in 1917, 1928, 1952, and 1990. Notable coaches include John Heisman, William Alexander, Bobby Dodd, and Bobby Ross. All of them are members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Georgia Tech has won 22 bowl games and has posted a 667 winning percentage in those games. They also have the nations longest standing Division 1-A on campus football stadium in the nation…known as Bobby Dodd stadium, which was built by the student body in 1913. To end this history lesson with a fun fact, Tech holds the record for the biggest blowout in college football history, a 222-0 win over Cumberland University in 1916. Tech rushed for almost 1,000 yards in that game while not throwing the ball once.
Week 8- VS UCLA
This game is like meeting that 2nd cousin at a family reunion. For just the 3rd time in history this fall the Irish will play the UCLA Bruins. Right now the series is 2-0 in favor of the Irish, with the Irish out scoring them 51-12 over those 2 games. The 2 teams met in consecutive years from 1963-1964, and have not seen each other since. The first of those meetings had the Irish win 27-12 at Notre Dame Stadium on October 19th, 1963…and the 2nd game, also at Notre Dame stadium, had the #4 ranked Irish pitch a shutout 24-0 over the Bruins. This game came on October 17th, 1964. The game could mean a lot to the basketball fans of both schools as well. Since these two teams last met in the 60s, the Irish pulled off won of the greatest wins in their basketball history, defeating the Bruins 71-70 on January 19th, 1974, halting an 88 game winning streak that UCLA had built up prior to the game. 1974 was also the year that UCLA’s 7 consecutive national title streak came to an end.
About the Bruins
UCLA won the national title with a 9-0 record in 1954, and have also bottled 18 conference championships. They hold a 12-13-1 record in Bowl games, losing their last 2. Some notable former Bruin players are former Cowboys quarterback and 3 time Super Bowl champion Troy Aikman, former XFL most valuable player and Pittsburgh Steeler Tommy Maddox, former 49ers J.J. Stokes. Some notable coaches are Super Bowl 34-ring holder Dick Vermeil, and 49ers general manager Terry Donahue. UCLA holds the NCAA record for most national titles won in all sports with over 110 of them.
Week 10 – VS North Carolina
North Carolina and Notre Dame have met 16 times since 1949, with Notre Dame winning 15 and losing just 1. The Tar Heels always seemed to have caught the Irish at a bad time as Notre Dame was in the top 25 ten (10) of those games, and #1 three times. UNC has only played the Irish while being ranked twice. Notre Dame’s only loss ever to the Tar heels was on October 8th, 1960 when both teams were unranked. It was a 12-7 final. Notre Dame held UNC to single digit scoring efforts 9 of the 16 times they met…and didn’t allow them to score a point in 3 consecutive meetings in 1965, 1966, and 1971. Their last meeting came more than 30 years ago in 1975 when the 15th ranked Irish survived a scare on Chapel Hill, defeating the Heels 21-14.
About the Tar Heels
UNC has never won a national title, but they have won 5 ACC championships in 1963, 1971, 1972, 1977, and 1980. Established in 1880, North Carolina has appeared in 25 bowl games, posting a 12-13 record in them. They appeared in consecutive years from 1992 until 1998. They also had a 5 game bowl-winning streak from 95-98 and 2001 until the streak was halted by Boston College in the 2004 Continental Tire Bowl. Although they are more known as a basketball school, UNC has sent some great talent to the National Football League as well. Some of those players include Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, Detroit Lions Corner Dre’ Bly, Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Ellis, and former Giants linebacker and one of the best players to ever play the game, Lawrence Taylor.
Week 12 – VS Army
These two teams are like long lost best friends. They have met 48 times, and excluding 1918, every single season from 1913 to 1947. The all-time series stands at 36-8-4 in favor of the Irish. One of the games these teams played brought the most storied backfield in Notre Dame and perhaps college football history to the attention of the country. The backfield which consisted of quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, halfbacks Jim Crowley and Don Miller, and fullback Elmer Layden were dubbed as the “4 horsemen” by Grantland Rice of the New York Herald Tribune following the Irish’s 13-7 victory over Army on October 18th, 1924 with the following passage…
“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below.”
Another game between these two popularized the forward pass in college football. On November 1st, 1913, the Irish rolled all over Army 35-13 using the forward pass as a key part in their offense. The forward pass was legal before this game, but most teams viewed it as a gamble…or something to do as a last resort, it was never used to center the offense around.
Some other notable games include a 1944 game in which the #5 ranked Irish went into Yankee Stadium hoping to upset the #1 ranked Cadets…this plan went sour from the start, as Army established themselves as the (at the time) elite of college football, pounding the Irish 59-0. They went on to win the National Title that year. It was deja vue all over again the next season, as the Irish went to Yankee Stadium 364 days later…this time ranked #2…looking for an upset over the #1 ranked Army squad. It was the same thing and a different year, as Army would not be denied, this time pasting the Irish 48-0 in route to another national title.
In 1995 the 2 teams played what many consider to be on of the finer games of the series, this time at Giants stadium. The Irish won the game 28-27 with some late game heroics. After Army scored a touchdown late in the 4th quarter, when instead of going for the tie, the Cadets went for the win. Ivory Covington stopped the 2-point play to secure the victory and an Irish bowl bid. Their last meeting came in 1998 when the #18 ranked Irish squeaked out a victory at Notre Dame stadium 20-17 against the unranked Cadets.
About the Cadets
Army has won 3 national titles in its history. These came in 1914, 1944, and 1945. They started out as an independent team, had a brief run with Conference USA between 1998 and 2004, and went back to being independent in 2005. Their bowl record all time is 2-2, their last berth in 1996 against Auburn in a 32-29 losing effort at the Independence Bowl. Perhaps their most famous coach, Earl Blaik, was with the team from 1941 to 1958. Blaik was the head coach of the Cadets during their 1944 and 1945 back-to-back national champions run. Blaiks record was an astounding 121-33 during his stay with the Cadets. Army is also the home of 3 Heisman trophy winners. Doc Blanchard in 1945, Glenn Davis in 1946, and Pete Dawkins in 1958.
Now that we have a better understanding of what the universities are about, it should make the games more enjoyable to watch this coming fall. Hopefully, the Irish will add to their outstanding track records against these opponents. And with any luck, maybe one of these games will find it’s way into Notre Dame’s history book, and start a new rivalry to continue on for years.
Any questions, concerns, feedback, or just want to talk football; E-mail me… Phitenphils55@aol.com …I will get back to all of your e-mails as soon as possible.