With a rich history that spans decades, this rivalry has seen triumphs, heartbreaks, and moments that have etched themselves deep into the annals of college football history.
As we delve into the Notre Dame-USC rivalry, we find that it is more than just a game – it's a clash of cultures, legacies, and unyielding determination. (And just a little bit of healthy hatred - is that a thing??? LOL)
USC vs Notre Dame - History and Origins:
The roots of this epic rivalry trace back to the early 20th century when Notre Dame's football team was met with skepticism and reluctance from many schools in the Midwest. Many teams were unwilling to play a small Catholic university from Indiana.
In 1926, after football star - then turned head coach - Knute Rockne instituted the first meeting with USC. The Irish, driven by an unyielding spirit, embarked on a journey across the country, forging a legacy that would soon entwine with that of USC's Trojans. This first game between Notre Dame and USC marked the beginning of what would become a saga of resilience, determination, and fierce competition.
While it is often posited that the coaches wives were behind this game to travel from South Bend to Sunny California for a bit of respite from the midwest winters, it is more likely that the institutions saw that they could do something that hadn't been done before.
Despite a brief hiatus during World War II, this battle between elite teams has continued unbroken, solidifying its position as the pinnacle of intersectional college football rivalries.
A Unique "Intersectional" Rivalry
What sets the Notre Dame-USC rivalry apart is its unique nature – unlike many other famed rivalries within conferences, geographic regions or states, this clash transcends geographical boundaries. It symbolizes the collision of two distinct cultures, representing more than just a game between universities; it embodies a battle between ideologies and traditions.
Key Moments and Legendary Games
After the first game and win over the USC Trojans in 1926, this matchup has produced some of the most iconic moments and games in college football history. From dramatic comebacks to unexpected upsets, each match has carried high stakes and often determined the course of national championship races.
One such legendary game was the 1988 showdown under then Notre Dame Head Coach - Lou Holtz, where an unbeaten Notre Dame team triumphed over USC, securing their 11th national title. The intensity of the competition was not merely restricted to the field; it extended to the very fabric of the universities, seeping into the hearts of the players, coaches, and fans alike.
The Enduring Spirit
While the teams may have changed, and the tides of fortune have shifted over time, one thing remains constant – the enduring spirit of this rivalry. It is a testament to the unwavering passion, dedication, and pride of the players, the coaches, and the fans who have contributed to the legacy of both institutions.
TLDR - Key Takeaways
Elite teams don't play they battle.
The Notre Dame-USC rivalry stands as a testament to the timeless essence of college football. It represents more than just a game on the field; it embodies the relentless pursuit of excellence, the unwavering commitment to tradition, and the enduring spirit of competition.
The series between the Fighting Irish and Trojans dates back to 1926, the teams have met a total of 90 times and combined for 21 national championships.
Current record stands as: Notre Dame 49 // USC 37 // Tied 5 (as of 10-15-23 Irish win at home!!!)
The winner of this rivalry game is awarded the Jeweled Shillelagh trophy. This unique trophy, first introduced in 1952, is a shillelagh — a traditional Irish walking stick and/or club — adorned with ruby-studded Trojan heads for USC wins and emerald-studded Notre Dame shamrocks for Fighting Irish victories.
As both institutions continue to add chapters to their storied histories, the clash between the Fighting Irish and the Trojans will remain etched in the hearts and minds of college football enthusiasts for generations to come.
Favorite Quotes Regarding USC Rivalry
“I want you to go tell Southern Cal to bring a lunch because it’s going to be a long ass day for them." Lou Holtz
"USC doesn't like us, and we don't really like them, but that's just how it's gonna be forever." Joe Schmidt
“Now USC stands for University of Spoiled Children. Most of the football players chose USC over UCLA because it’s easier to spell.” Lou Holtz