Greatest Rivalries: Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. USC Trojans
Undoubtedly, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. the USC Trojans is one of the greatest rivalries in college football. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of one of these teams or not, this fierce rivalry is a treat to watch each and every year as one of the most unique clashes of teams in the sport.
What rivalry can develop when one team is in South Bend, Indiana, and the other is in Southern California? This one and it’s awesome!
The two began playing in 1926. That first meeting was played on December 4 and resulted in a 13-12 Fighting Irish victory. It’s been played annually except from 1943 to 1945 during World War II and 2020, when the PAC-12 Conference canceled all non-conference games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two have combined for 14 Heisman Trophy winners and over 20 National Championships.
Here’s a look at one of the greatest rivalries in college football:
All-time record: Notre Dame leads 48-36-5
Record in the last ten meetings: Notre Dame leads 7-3
Longest Win Streak: Notre Dame 11 straight
Current Streak: Notre Dame has won four straight
Best game: USC 34, Notre Dame 31 – 2005
Who can forget the legendary Bush Push game in 2005? A Brady Quinn touchdown run put the Irish ahead 31-28 with just over two minutes to play. The Trojans got the ball and drove down the field, only for the time to seemingly expire as they came up just short on the one-year line.
Not so fast! Three seconds were added back onto the clock, and quarterback Matt Leinart appeared to be stuffed on a sneak, only for star running back Reggie Bush to push Leinart from behind into the end zone to give the Trojans a last-second 34-31 victory.
Biggest upset: USC 20, Notre Dame 17 – 1964
Notre Dame entered this game ranked No. 1 in the country, while USC was unranked. That didn’t stop the Trojans from snaring a victory in epic fashion, and it gets the nomination for the biggest upset.
With one minute and 43 seconds left on the clock at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Trojans pulled off the incredible. Quarterback Craig Fertig threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to halfback Rod Sherman, sending the 83,840 fans in attendance into a craze. The loss kept the Irish out of the National Champion game.
Notre Dame wasn’t the only team disappointed, as USC found out later that same night, as they were at a celebratory dinner, that Oregon State was selected as AAWU (Athletic Association of Western Universities) representative in the Rose Bowl instead of the Trojans.
Top performer: RB Reggie Bush, USC
Bush went a perfect 3-0 in his career against the Irish. He put up some unbelievable statistics on the ground, compiling 274 yards and four touchdowns on the ground on 9.4 yards per attempt. If that wasn’t enough, he added another six receptions for 142 yards and one touchdown.
Perhaps he’ll be remembered most in this series for the Bush Push, but he also put up incredible numbers against his rivals.