Notre Dame football vs USC: 3 Biggest Irish wins in rivalry history
1988: Notre Dame 27 USC 10
Notre Dame headed to USC to end the 1988 season. In a normal year, this is one of the biggest rivalry games around. This wasn’t a normal year, though. This was 1988, and both Notre Dame and USC were unbeaten and untied coming into their final regular-season game. The Irish had been through a lot, including surviving Michigan on the back of Reggie Ho’s leg and the Catholics vs. Convicts game.
Now, ranked first in the nation, they needed to take on number 2 USC. The Trojans had been tested too, beating four ranked teams, including Oklahoma and UCLA.
Multiple stars, including Ricky Watters, were suspended by Lou Holtz for this game. In front of 93,829, the Irish were underdogs for this game against a high-flying Trojans offense. The Irish defense would need to step up to win, and they did.
Frank Stams and Larry Smith had great games on defense to limit the USC offense to a mere 10 points on the day. Meanwhile, on offense Tony Rice was dominant. That included finding then freshmen, Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, for chunk plays. In the end, the Irish dominated throughout the day, 27-10.
Interestingly, USC went on from this game to lose to Michigan in the Rose Bowl, though no National Championship dispute came from that game. Notre Dame was the clear National Champion, after beating West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl.