Let’s not get this confused: as a lifelong Notre Dame fan, I have been programmed to despise nearly everything about USC. Everything from the sunshine surfer-bro culture to the glitz and glamor of L.A. drives me at least a little bit crazy. Oh, and the fact that Colin Cowherd can’t stop tooting their horn after ignoring them for the last decade.
However, there are a couple of saving graces with USC. One is the work that Matt Zemek does at Trojans Wire. Each year I look forward to collaborating with him and his team in preparation for Notre Dame-USC. The other is their uniforms which are one of college football’s very best.
Combine those two and you get the gist of our latest piece done in conjunction with Trojans Wire which looks at the history of both programs and the rivalry. And then asks an interesting question about the uniforms for both teams.
I hope you enjoy it.
Favorite Non-Bush Push Notre Dame-USC Game:
16 Oct 1999: Dan O”Leary #86 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish catches the ball during a game against the USC Trojans at the Notre Dame Stadium in Southbend, Indiana. The Fighting Irish defeated the Trojans 25-24. Mandatory Credit: Mark Lyons /Allsport
Matt Zemek, Trojans Wire: 1978
Nick Shepkowski, Fighting Irish Wire: 1999
Notre Dame's greatest series win vs. USC:
Oct 22, 1977, South Bend, IN, USA; FILE PHOTO; Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive end Ross Browner (89) in action against the Southern California Trojans during the 1977 season at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Trojans Wire: 1977
Fighting Irish Wire: 1977
Greatest USC Win in Series vs. Notre Dame:
Oct. 15, 2005; South Bend, IN, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart runs the ball into the endzone for the game-winning score against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday Oct. 15 at Notre Dame Stadium. USC won 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports Copyright (c) 2005 Matt Cashore
Trojans Wire: No one needs to ask about this one. (It’s 2005.)
Fighting Irish Wire: Good, I still don’t want to talk about it.
Most important game in history of rivalry (2005 excluded)
Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer holds up a jeweled shillelagh to celebrate Southern California’s 44-13 win against Notre Dame in Los Angeles, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2002. (AP Photo/Lucy Nicholson)
Trojans Wire: 1964
Fighting Irish Wire: 1986 or 2002 – both set the tone for truly dominant runs by both squads not just in the series but on a national level
What is Notre Dame's all-time greatest bowl victory?
Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Trojans Wire: 1973 Sugar Bowl vs Alabama (Tim Clements to Robin Weber pass)
Fighting Irish Wire: ’73 Sugar based on everything that went into it is nearly impossible to top, but for conversation’s sake, I’ll add the 1978 Cotton Bowl (1977 season). A 38-10 dominance of Texas moved the Irish from 5 to 1 on New Year’s Day.
What is USC's greatest bowl win?
Jan 1, 1975; Pasadena, CA, USA: FILE PHOTO; Southern California wide receiver J.K. McKay (25) celebrates after a touchdown during the 1975 Rose Bowl game where USC beat OSU 18-17 at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Long Photography-USA TODAY Sports
Trojans Wire: 1975 Rose (Shelton Diggs 2-point reception to beat Ohio State for the national title)
Fighting Irish Wire: I feel a bit wrong saying it didn’t happen in the Rose Bowl but the 2005 Orange Bowl to win the national title while eviscerating Oklahoma was some rare air.
What year was Notre Dame's all-time greatest team?
Notre Dame’s quarterback Johnny Lujack sits on a suitcase in a hotel lobby in Cleveland, Ohio, Oct. 31, 1947, after arriving with the Irish Team for the Nov. 1 game with Navy. Lujack is holding onto Clashmore Mike 11, the official Notre Dame mascot. (AP Photo/Ed Maloney)
We agree on 1947.
Trojans Wire: This team allowed under 6 points per game all season and averaged over 32.
Fighting Irish Wire: This team allowed more than 7 points in a game just once all year.
What was USC's greatest team of all time?
Jan 04, 2005; Miami, FL, USA; USC Trojans coach Pete Carroll talks with quarterback Matt Leinart during the second quarter in the 2005 Orange Bowl held at Pro Player Stadium.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Preston Mack-USA TODAY Sports (©) Copyright 2005 by Preston Mack
Trojans Wire: 1972
Fighting Irish Wire: 2004
Your favorite Notre Dame player pre-1970:
Johnny Lujack, left, field general of the 1947 Notre Dame football team, receives the Heisman Memorial Trophy at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York City on Dec. 10, 1947. Presenting the award is Wilbur Jurden, president of the Downtown A.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Harris)
Trojans Wire: Gus Dorais
Fighting Irish Wire Heisman Trophy winner and World War II Naval officer Johnny Lujack.
Favorite USC player pre-1970:
Former USC Trojan Frank Gifford looks on during practice Friday, Dec. 31, 2004 in Davie, Fla. Southern Cal faces Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2005 in Miami. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)
Trojans Wire: Ron Mix
Fighting Irish Wire: Frank Gifford
Favorite Notre Dame player from 1971-1990:
Notre Dame?s Raghib ?Rocket? Ismail opens his arms to the crowd after catching a 42-yard pass to set up a touchdown in the first quarter of game against Air Force, Oct. 15, 1999 in South Bend, Ind. Ismail had his best day as receiver gaining 172 yards on six catches to help lead Notre Dame past Air Force 57-27. (AP Photo/Scott Anderson)
Trojans Wire: Chris Zorich
Fighting Irish Wire: So many … Rocket Ismail, though.
Favorite USC player 1971-1990:
Oct 22, 1977; South Bend, IN, USA; FILE PHOTO; Southern California Trojans running back #12 CHARLES WHITE follows the block of #33 MARCUS ALLEN against the Notre Dame Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports © Copyright Malcolm Emmons
TW: Charles White
Fighting Irish Wire: Junior Seau
Favorite Notre Dame player 1991-2005:
AP Photo/Tannen Maury
Trojans and Fighting Irish Wire’s both agree: Jerome Bettis
Favorite USC player 1991-2005:
Reggie Bush of the USC Trojans breaks free for a 3rd quarter touchdown against the Notre Dame Irish at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana on October 15, 2005. USC won 34-31. (Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images)
Trojans Wire: Reggie Bush
Fighting Irish Wire: Troy Polamalu
Favorite Notre Dame player 2006-present:
Nov. 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te’o (5) and safety Matthias Farley (41) react after stopping USC Trojans tailback Curtis McNeal (22) near the goal line in the fourth quarter at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Notre Dame won 22-13. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Trojans Wire: Quenton Nelson
Fighting Irish Wire: Manti Te’o
Favorite USC player 2006-present:
Oct 21, 2017; South Bend, IN, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold (14) is tackled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive lineman Daelin Hayes (9) in the third quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Trojans Wire: Sam Darnold
Fighting Irish Wire: Michael Pittman
An overlooked Notre Dame-USC historic game:
USC’s Junior Seau (55), celebrates after sacking Notre Dame quarterback Tony Rice (9) during the first quarter of the game at South Bend, Ind., Oct. 21, 1989. (AP Photo/Rob Kozloff)
Trojans Wire: 1969
Fighting Irish Wire: 1989
Overlooked moment from a Notre Dame win over USC:
16 Oct 1999: Julius Jones #22 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish carries the ball during a game against the USC Trojans at the Notre Dame Stadium in Southbend, Indiana. The Fighting Irish defeated the Trojans 25-24. Mandatory Credit: Mark Lyons /Allsport
Trojans Wire: Angelo Bertelli knocking down a USC 2-point pass in a 20-18 Irish win in 1941.
Fighting Irish Wire: Two far below-average teams by program standards met in 1999 on a rainy, miserable Midwest afternoon in South Bend. Notre Dame had their biggest comeback in Notre Dame Stadium history. An exciting point in an otherwise forgettable year for both squads.
Overlooked Moment from a USC win over Notre Dame:
. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Trojans Wire: Frank Jordan’s kick in 1978
Fighting Irish Wire: 1938 when USC ended Notre Dame’s undefeated season and beat Elmer Layden for the first time.
Notre Dame's Three Greatest Coaches in Order:
Knute Rockne, center, coach of the Notre Dame fighting Irish, is shown with the guiding stars of the team, Martin Brill, left, halfback and captain Tom Conley, end, in Philadelphia, Nov. 11, 1930. They are in town with the team to play the University of Pennsylvania tomorrow. It’s cold in Philly, so they’ve buttoned up their overcoats. (AP Photo)
1 – Frank Leahy
2 – Knute Rockne
3 – Ara Parseghian
Fighting Irish Wire:
1 – Rockne
2 – Leahy
3 – Parseghian
Three Greatest USC Coaches in Order:
Coach Ara Parseghian, right, whose Notre Dame footballers were No. 1 in the nation last year, vocally walks off the field with University of Southern California coach John McKay following USCs 24-7 victory over the Fighting Irish, Saturday, Oct. 16, 1967 in South Bend, Ind. USC had been rated no. 1 in last weeks poll. AP Photo/Charles Knoblock
1 – John McKay
2 – Howard Jones
3 – Pete Carroll
Fighting Irish Wire:
1 – Jones
2 – McKay
3 – Carroll
(I’m a sap for the construction of college football in the early days, what can I say?)
Fun Notre Dame fact with USC twist:
Jan 2, 1979; Tempe, AZ, USA; FILE PHOTO; Notre Dame head coach LOU HOLTZ prior to the 1989 Fiesta Bowl against West Virginia at Sun Devil Stadium.The Irish defeated the Mountaineers 34-21 to win the National Championship and finish the season undefeated at 12-0. Mandatory Credit: Photo By Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports (c) Copyright Malcolm Emmons
Trojans Wire: Pete Carroll helped Notre Dame win the 1977 national title (as an assistant to future ND coach Lou Holtz on the 1977 Arkansas team which beat No. 2 Oklahoma in the 1978 Orange Bowl).
Fighting Irish Wire: If not for USC putting in the work and essentially recruiting Knute Rockne to come west to play them every other year, Notre Dame’s main rival could very well instead be Nebraska. They played the Irish played each season from 1915-1925. That is until USC took their place annually.
Fun USC fact with a Notre Dame twist:
Knute Rockne, Notre Dame football coach, instructing football players, 1925. (AP Photo)
Trojans Wire: John Robinson owns victories over Notre Dame 20 years apart, in 1976 and 1996, the largest gap between two wins for a single coach in the history of the series.
Fighting Irish Wire: Knute Rockne was set to take the USC job after leading Notre Dame to the 1924 title. When Notre Dame stood strong and didn’t let him out of his contract, he referred USC to Howard Jones, who Rockne knew from coaching Notre Dame against Iowa. From there the seeds for college football’s finest rivalry were planted.
Favorite Notre Dame Heisman Winner:
Notre Dames Tim Brown, right, poses with his parents, Eugene and Josephine Brown, and the Heisman Trophy at New Yorks Downtown Athletic Club, Saturday, Dec. 5, 1987. Brown, a wide receiver and kick return specialist, easily won the 1987 Heisman in balloting by selected sports writers and broadcasters. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm)
Trojans Wire: Tim Brown
Fighting Irish Wire: John Huarte. One of the most unlikely winners of the award in its entire history.
Favorite USC Heisman Trophy Winner:
Oct 15, 2005; South Bend, IN, USA; Southern California Trojans (5) Reggie Bush celebrates USC’s winning touchdown over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium as the Trojans defeated the Irish 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports Copyright (c) 2005 Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Trojans Wire: Charles White
Fighting Irish Wire: Reggie Bush. Now do the right thing and give him his trophy back.
Should Notre Dame wear green and USC their cardinal red each meeting, regardless of location?
SOUTH BEND, IN – OCTOBER 20: Evan Sharpley #13 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs the ball during the game against the University of Southern California Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium October 20, 2007 in South Bend, Indiana. USC defeated Notre Dame 38-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Trojans Wire: YES. YES. YES.
Fighting Irish Wire: Oh heck yes but not just any green. They have to be designed after the ones used in 1977 that made the entire green jersey thing special in the first place.