Notre Dame – Purdue Football Rivalry History

Notre Dame first played instate rival Purdue in 1896, and played the Boilermakers annually from 1946 to the Shamrock Series game in Indianapolis in 2014. There was one gap in the series from ’23 to ’32, when Fielding Yost was arm-twisting Big Ten (Western Conference) members from scheduling Notre Dame.


Since 1957 the teams have played for the Shillelagh trophy, donated by Joe McLaughlin who brought it back from Ireland.


Frank Leahy coached Notre Dame to the greatest dynasty ever in college football, going unbeaten and winning three national championships from 1946-1949.

Then Purdue came to South Bend on October 7, 1950. Dale Samuels, a pupil of Purdue quarterback guru Bob Demoss, in just his second game, led the Boilermakers, christened that day as the Spoilermakers, to a 28-14 upset over the Irish. Heads hung low, eyes held back tears, as the Irish tasted defeat for the first time since 1945. Leahy was mortal!


Purdue became known for spawning outstanding Big Ten Quarterbacks, many of whom had a serious impact in the NFL. The list includes Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Mike Phipps (who beat Ara and the Irish in ’67, ’68 and ’69) Gary Danielson, Mark Herrmann, Jim Everett, Drew Brees, Kyle Orton.

Dawson, with Kansas City, Griese, with the Miami Dolphins, and Brees, on behalf of the Saints all quarterbacked Super Bowl Champions. With three Super Bowl Champion quarterbacks, Purdue is at the top of the list, tied with Alabama (Starr, Namath and Stabler).

These quarterbacks fueled Purdue’s best run in the series, from 1950-1969, when the Boilers posted a solid 12-8 record against the Irish.


Purdue was strongest during Ara’s reign. Its last Rose Bowl, with Griese was in ’66, when the Irish won the National Championship.

But Griese beat Ara in ’65 in West Lafayette. And Mike Phipps quarterbacked the Boilers to pretty convincing victories in ’67, 28-21, ’68, 37-22 and ’69 28-14. Then, in one of Ara’s strangest losses, a 4-6-1 Purdue team upset the Irish in 1974 in South Bend 31-20.

Purdue would try to own home state Inidiana but it recruted heavily in the region (Hammond Gary, a football rich region) and in the Chicago Catholic and Public Leagues. As that level of football has slowly declined so has Purdue. It has gravitated to the lower levels of the Big Ten.

After playing for 68 consecutive years, the series will no longer be annual. Purdue does reappear on the Irish schedule in ’20 and ’21 but it will change from an annual instate rivalry to a sweet reminiscence.

Notre Dame vs Purdue

Record: 58-26-2

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86W09-13-201430Indianapolis, IN14 

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