West Point was the first service academy to be an opponent for Notre Dame (The Air Force Academy was established in 1954).
Notre Dame had made great strides in its first quarter century since playing Michigan in 1887 and was ready to move to the next echelon.
Army was preeminent among the non-Ivy’s in the East, and excellence in the East responded to excellence in the Midwest.
Some of the most dramatic, folkloric games in the grand and glorious history of college football have been played between Army and Notre Dame.
The first game was in 1913. The story has it that the summer of 1913 saw ND undergraduates Knute Rockne and Gus Dorais tossing a football around the sandy beaches of Cedar Point park in Sandusky, Ohio. They were experimenting with what the ancient lexicon charmingly referred to as the “forward pass.” Notre Dame bewildered the Cadets with the “forward pass” and Knute Rockne made his initial impact on the series, catching passes from Dorais. While it wasn’t Air Coryell, Dorais did complete 14 of 17 passes for 247 yards.
Army, just up the Hudson River from New York City, asked Rock if it would be okay to play the game in New York. Even though it meant that Notre Dame would not entertain Army in South Bend, Rock was okay being tossed into that briar patch, whether in Manhattan (Polo Grounds,_ Bronx (Yankee Stadium) or Brooklyn. City lights, even in daytime, always fascinated Rockne, and by the end of his reign he was playing in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Rockne would lead many Notre Dame teams against Army, but the day that all Notre Dame fans will always remember and never forget was in the Polo Grounds on the banks of the Harlem River. October 18, 1924. The sky, apparently, was blue gray. But let’s let Grantland Rice tell the story:
Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore their names are Death, Destruction, Pestilence and Famine. But those are aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Crowley, Miller 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.
Then there was 1946, the first “Game of the Century.” Frank Leahy, just back from the war, and Red Blaik, coach of America’s professional warriors. The only afternoon in the history of college football when four Heisman winners appeared on the field at the same time: Glenn Davis, Felix “Doc” Blanchard, John Lujack and Leon Hart. It was morning in America, with the smell of victory in the European and Pacific theatres still wafting in the air. And America could obsess about a sporting event. Men of God against Men of War. And the New York City media, excited about having the game in the House that Ruth Built, whipped the sports world into a frenzy. Yards were at a premium, both coaches played conservatively and it ended in a dramatic 0-0 tie.
Notre Dame had begun to dominate the series, which was played every year from 1913 to 1947. Army could still play and travel during the World War II years. But other than two shutout romps in ’44 and ’45 over a service-depleted Notre Dame squad, the series had turned in favor of the rising dominance of Notre Dame.
In an homage to yesteryear, Army reappears on the Notre Dame schedule every now and again. Notre Dame leads the series 38-8-4.
“What ifs” are difficult. And we will never know what would have happened had Notre Dame and Army never played. But this series, from 1913 on, captured the imagination of the American sports fans and helped the explosion of the popularity of college football.
Whenever the game is played again, old men shall dream dreams, and bask in the reverie of Rockne, Dorais, the Four Horsemen, Red Blaik, Frank Leahy, Glenn Davis, Johnny Lujack, Felix “Doc” Blanchard, Leon Hart and the greatest 0-0 tie game ever played in any sport at any time.
“On Brave Old Army Team.”
We sure appreciate you!
Notre Dame vs Army
|1||W||11/1/1913||35||West Point, NY||13|
|2||L||11/7/1914||7||West Point, NY||20|
|3||W||11/6/1915||7||West Point, NY||0|
|4||L||11/4/1916||10||West Point, NY||30|
|5||W||11/3/1917||7||West Point, NY||2|
|6||W||11/8/1919||12||West Point, NY||9|
|7||W||10/30/1920||27||West Point, NY||17|
|8||W||11/5/1921||28||West Point, NY||0|
|9||T||11/11/1922||0||West Point, NY||0|
|11||W||10/18/1924||13||New York, NY||7|
|12||L||10/17/1925||0||New York, NY||27|
|13||W||11/13/1926||7||New York, NY||0|
|14||L||11/12/1927||0||New York, NY||18|
|15||W||11/10/1928||12||New York, NY||6|
|16||W||11/30/1929||7||New York, NY||0|
|18||L||11/28/1931||0||New York, NY||12|
|19||W||11/26/1932||21||New York, NY||0|
|20||W||12/2/1933||13||New York, NY||12|
|21||W||11/24/1934||12||New York, NY||6|
|22||T||11/16/1935||6||New York, NY||6|
|23||W||11/14/1936||20||New York, NY||6|
|24||W||11/13/1937||7||New York, NY||0|
|25||W||10/29/1938||19||New York, NY||7|
|26||W||11/4/1939||14||New York, NY||0|
|27||W||11/2/1940||7||New York, NY||0|
|28||T||11/1/1941||0||New York, NY||0|
|29||W||11/7/1942||13||New York, NY||0|
|30||W||11/6/1943||26||New York, NY||0|
|31||L||11/11/1944||0||New York, NY||59|
|32||L||11/10/1945||0||New York, NY||48|
|33||T||11/9/1946||0||New York, NY||0|
|34||W||11/8/1947||27||South Bend, IN||7|
|36||L||10/11/1958||2||South Bend, IN||14|
|38||W||10/8/1966||35||South Bend, IN||0|
|39||W||10/11/1969||45||New York, NY||0|
|40||W||10/10/1970||51||South Bend, IN||10|
|41||W||10/20/1973||62||West Point, NY||3|
|42||W||10/19/1974||48||South Bend, IN||0|
|43||W||10/15/1977||24||East Rutherford, NJ||0|
|44||W||10/18/1980||30||South Bend, IN||3|
|45||W||10/15/1983||42||East Rutherford, NJ||0|
|46||W||10/19/1985||24||South Bend, IN||10|
|47||W||10/14/1995||28||East Rutherford, NJ||27|
|48||W||10/24/1998||20||South Bend, IN||17|
|49||W||11/18/2006||41||South Bend, IN||9|