Bumped...A great read by Bix. He covers all the bases and answers the main question - this rivalry still matters! Paragon
What is the University of Southern California Trojans rivalry with The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame? lex icon breaks it down thusly:
The History: No other intersectional rivalry is as old, as intense or as meaningful as this one. This year marks 83 seasons of tradition between the two schools, broken only by a few seasons during World War II. In almost one-fourth of those years, the winner of this game has won the national championship. The series began in 1926, when Knute Rockne took his team to the West Coast, reportedly because his wife wanted a warm-weather holiday. Though they had just one national title between them then, USC and Notre Dame were becoming national football powerhouses, and in the first seven seasons of the rivalry, the winner of the game ended up as national champions five times! Notre Dame hosts the games in odd-numbered years, since 1931, those have all been played at Notre Dame Stadium. USC hosts games in even-numbered years, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Prize: The winner of the game keeps the Shillelagh, a club made of Irish wood, for a year. This Shillelagh adds an emerald-studded shamrock for each Notre Dame win, and a ruby-studded Trojan head for each USC win, right next to the engraved score of each game. For tie games, a combined Trojan head/shamrock medallion was used. The original Shillelagh was filled up after the 1989 game and is on display at Notre Dame. This year's game is a battle for the current, second, Shillelagh.
Head-to-Head Record: No team has beaten USC more times than Notre Dame. No team has beaten Notre Dame more times than USC. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 42-32-5. The series is streaky. USC has won the last 6 games. The Irish won the 3 before that. USC won the 3 before that. Notre Dame won 12 of the 13 before that. USC won 11 of 13 before that. In the past 10 games, USC holds a 7-3 lead. Since 1967, USC leads 21-17-3. At the Coliseum, USC leads 20-17-4. Against unranked Notre Dame teams, USC is 9-11-1 all-time, and 6-5-1 all time in Los Angeles. However, ranked USC teams, against unranked Irish squads, are 7-5-1 overall, and 5-3-1 in Los Angeles. When ranked in the top five, USC is 13-7-2 against the Irish, winning the last four such games.
Great Players: USC has had 151 All-Americans, 27 College Football Hall of Famers, 10 Pro Football Hall of Famers, 5 NFL #1 overall draft picks and 7 Heisman Trophy winners, most recently Reggie Bush, 2005. Notre Dame has 181 All-Americans, 41 College Football Hall of Famers, 10 Pro Football Hall of Famers, 5 NFL #1 overall draft picks and 7 Heisman Trophy winners, most recently, Tim Brown, 1987.
Bowls: USC has won 30 of the 46 bowls in which it played. Notre Dame has won 13 of the 28 it played, but lost its last nine, and hasn't won a bowl game since the 1994 Cotton Bowl. USC, which has won 5 of the 6 BCS bowls it played in the past six seasons, is still in the running for the Rose Bowl or BCS Championship Game.
Religion: Notre Dame was founded as a Roman Catholic university. USC was founded as a Methodist university. When Notre Dame first came to Southern California, the Trojans were a Methodist campus. In fact, the Trojans were once known as the USC Wesleyans or the USC Methodists. Despite a reference on wikipedia, rumors that USC athletes were once referred to as the "Fighting Methodists" are unsubstantiated.
Memorable Anniversaries: Here are some other games folks will be remembering this year.
- 80 years: 1928 - USC 27, Notre Dame 13. USC's first victory in the series came in the year they won their first Rissman Trophy as the Dickinson rated national champion.
- 40 years: 1948 - Notre Dame 14, USC 14. The second-ranked Irish had their 21-game winning streak snapped in Los Angles, but extended their unbeaten streak to 27 when Emil Sitko scored from one yard out with 35 seconds left.
- 30 years: 1978 - Notre Dame 25, USC 27. Joe Montana's two-yard TD pass to Pete Holohan erased an 18-point USC lead and gave Notre Dame its first lead at 25-24 lead with 46 seconds left, but USC drove 50 yards in four plays to set up Frank Jordan's 37-yard game-winning field goal with two seconds to go.
- 25 years: 1983 - Notre Dame 27, USC 6. USC had won five straight, and 11 out of 13 against the Irish, but Notre Dame won this game in South Bend and didn't lose to the Trojans again until 1996.
- 20 years: 1988 - Notre Dame 27, USC 10. Both teams came in with 10-0 records for the final game of the season. Notre Dame was ranked #1, USC was #2. Notre Dame defensive back Stan Smagala returned an interception 64 yards for a touchdown and Tony Rice had a 65-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw. Notre Dame went on the win the national championship, and USC lost to Michigan in the Rose Bowl.
Saturday will also mark 22 years to the day since Lou Holtz's first game in the Notre Dame-USC rivalry. The Irish rallied from a 20-9 halftime deficit and a 30-12 third quarter deficit before Steve Beuerlein (Servite H.S.) led the Irish back to within two points, 37- 35. Tim Brown's 56-yard punt return put John Carney within range for the game-winning 19-yard field goal with two seconds left.
Three days to go.