Notre Dame and USC — oh how the hate is real between these two. While this has turned into one of the most iconic rivalries in college football, it’s odd that it was ever established.
Rivalries are often built off of proximity. When you think of Michigan and Ohio State/Notre Dame or Auburn and Alabama, you think of how close those schools are to each other. Often brothers can’t watch those games together because they’ll tear apart the family. Sometimes it’s created from one kid going to one of the schools and the other decides to attend the rival.
These rivalries strive from the hate that has been established with relational ties.
When it comes to Notre Dame and USC, the rivalry couldn’t be any different.
You have the Hollywood/Cali boy lifestyle of cameras and lights vs. the Midwest culture that is truly outlined by a gray October sky. The host cities lives up to their lifestyles as well.
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When the game is at USC, it’s set for the final regular season game, which brings plenty of lights and cameras. When played in South Bend, it’s set for the third Saturday of October, as the sky is filled with gray clouds that fans pray aren’t bringing any snow quite yet.
Like oil and vinegar, not only do the two cultures not mix, neither do the schools.
With the rivalry being played annually since 1962 — with the exception of 1943-1945 — it’s held a great amount of national impact. Many times this is the rivalry that has created champions.
In 1964, Ara Parseghian completed one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history as the Irish started the season 9-0. One game stood in the way of a perfect season as well as a national championship for Notre Dame. With a 17-0 lead at halftime, things couldn’t have gone more wrong. USC scored 20 unanswered points, including a game-winning touchdown pass off of a fourth-and-eight play. Just like that, the Trojans took away the Holy Grail.
Two years later, the Irish headed back to Cali in ’66 and a new taste of hatred was born. Undefeated once again, a win would bring another National Championship to South Bend. With all the passion from just two seasons ago, Notre Dame dominated in a 51-0 victory. To this day, it’s still the largest margin of victory in the rivalry.
How do you know it’s more than just a game between these two? How about the 1977 game?
Digger Phelps, the Men’s Basketball Coach at the time, gave his famous speech for the team to rally behind. The coach knew a thing or two about big games. Always worth mentioning is how Phelps ended UCLA’s 88-game win streak in 1974. Phelps gave Dan Devine the idea of warming up like the team normally would. But, when the team returned they would see beautiful green jerseys waiting for them to rush out on to the field with. The famous Green Game was born, and USC didn’t stand a chance as Notre Dame went on to win 49-19 and collect their 10th Natty.
In Lou Holtz’s first year with Notre Dame, he understood the importance of the rivalry.
Holtz made the team take a test about the history of the rivalry before they could travel to Southern Cal.
That season, the Irish lost six games prior to playing USC. As mentioned earlier, you throw out the record books for this rivalry. The Irish won 38-37 in comeback fashion.
Once again, we saw an undefeated season heading into the USC game in 1988.
This time USC was 10-0 as well. The Trojans sang ND’s fight song in the tunnel pregame to mock the Irish. It’s not only bad blood between these two, it’s cutthroat. A 27-10 win allowed Notre Dame to go on and win its 11th National Championship.
While the USC rivalry has held more importance in the wide spectrum of college football, one thing every Notre Dame fan agrees on is that USC and Michigan very hated rivals.