Rivalries: Notre Dame – Army Series

Nov 17, 2012; West Point, NY, USA; A large American flag is displayed by West Point cadets during halftime ceremonies honoring the military during a game between the Army Black Knights and Temple Owls at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2012; West Point, NY, USA; A large American flag is displayed by West Point cadets during halftime ceremonies honoring the military during a game between the Army Black Knights and Temple Owls at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

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

Record: 38-8-4

1W11/1/191335West Point, NY13
2L11/7/19147West Point, NY20
3W11/6/19157West Point, NY0
4L11/4/191610West Point, NY30
5W11/3/19177West Point, NY2
6W11/8/191912West Point, NY9
7W10/30/192027West Point, NY17
8W11/5/192128West Point, NY0
9T11/11/19220West Point, NY0
10W10/13/192313Brooklyn, NY0
11W10/18/192413New York, NY7
12L10/17/19250New York, NY27
13W11/13/19267New York, NY0
14L11/12/19270New York, NY18
15W11/10/192812New York, NY6
16W11/30/19297New York, NY0
17W11/29/19307Chicago, IL6
18L11/28/19310New York, NY12
19W11/26/193221New York, NY0
20W12/2/193313New York, NY12
21W11/24/193412New York, NY6
22T11/16/19356New York, NY6
23W11/14/193620New York, NY6
24W11/13/19377New York, NY0
25W10/29/193819New York, NY7
26W11/4/193914New York, NY0
27W11/2/19407New York, NY0
28T11/1/19410New York, NY0
29W11/7/194213New York, NY0
30W11/6/194326New York, NY0
31L11/11/19440New York, NY59
32L11/10/19450New York, NY48
33T11/9/19460New York, NY0
34W11/8/194727South Bend, IN7
35W10/12/195723Philadelphia, PA21
36L10/11/19582South Bend, IN14
37W10/9/196517Flushing, NY0
38W10/8/196635South Bend, IN0
39W10/11/196945New York, NY0
40W10/10/197051South Bend, IN10
41W10/20/197362West Point, NY3
42W10/19/197448South Bend, IN0
43W10/15/197724East Rutherford, NJ0
44W10/18/198030South Bend, IN3
45W10/15/198342East Rutherford, NJ0
46W10/19/198524South Bend, IN10
47W10/14/199528East Rutherford, NJ27
48W10/24/199820South Bend, IN17
49W11/18/200641South Bend, IN9
50W11/20/201027Bronx, NY3

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