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USC: Who is our Rival?

By TrojanJP Founding Member
Published May 22, 2009
Articles46    Photos27    Videos2    Discussions376
Hometown: Annapolis, MD
Date joined: Oct 18, 2008
The Question

This question shows up constantly on USC Trojan message boards: Who is USC's biggest rival? Is it the team that plays its home games at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena? The same stadium where USC has won 24 Rose Bowl victories in 33 appearances, the most of any team. The team that shares Los Angeles with USC, and recruits most of the same players as USC? The team that, upon hiring Rick Neuhesial as coach, ran a full page ad in the local newspapers declaring the "Football Monopoly is over". The team that has a fan site that keeps a running tally on the accusations against USC and uses the numbers 13-9 as a comeback to any insult USC fans throw at them?

Nope. Not them. UCLA is not USC's biggest rival. They might think they are, but they aren't. That distinction belongs to Notre Dame.

The History

Notre Dame is located in the Indiana and is a Catholic school. USC is located in the heart of Southern California and is frequent host to Hollywood stars. Most rivalry's are born out of regional contention, but not these two. This game has a more gentleman (or lady-like) origin. This game was born out of a polite conversation between two wives.

As legend would have it, in 1926 USC was looking for a rival. So USC sent athletic director out to find one. While in Lincoln, Nebraska for the Notre Dame-Nebraska Thanksgiving Day game, Mrs. Wilson got to chatting with Mrs. Rockne, wife of Knute Rockne. Coach Rockne at first rejected the home-and-home offer due to travel reasons, but his mind was changed by his wife, and a rivalry was born.

All the other major rivalries can say what they want about how important, intense, mean, blah blah blah their series is, but USC-Notre Dame has the most History. Check the stats.

22 combined National Championships, the most of any regular series. 14 combined Heisman Trophy winners, the most of any regular series. 21 combined NFL Hall of Famers, the most of any regular series. USC ranks number one all time with 11 inductees, and could add to those ranks with names like Junior Seau, Willie McGinest, Keyshawn Johnson and Troy Polamalu. Notre Dame is second with 10.

All time the record is 42-33-5 in favor of Notre Dame. Since the birth of this historic rivalry in 1926, the two teams have only missed the game three times: 1943, 44, 45 during the second World War.

The Streaks

There have been two historic winning streaks in the history of Notre Dame-USC football. One for each side. The USC Trojans are currently in a streak of success against Notre Dame, having beat the Golden Domers seven straight times. Most experts expect the streak to continue to eight games this season.

The 2005 version of the game is perhaps the most notable of this streak. That game ended with a score of 34-31 after the clutch 4th and nine play between Matt Leinart and Dwayne Jarrett. Then the game was capped off by the "Bush Push" in which Heisman winner Reggie Bush forced Matt Leinart into the endzone on a QB sneak, a play that is illegal but went unpenalized. This streak hit a lowpoint last year when Notre Dame failed to cross midfield against USC until the second half and did not make a first down until the third quarter. The final score was 38-3 USC.

The other legendary streak in this series is known as the Decade of Dominance. From 1983 to 1995 Notre Dame beat USC a astounding 11 straight games. There was one tie during this period, in 1994. USC snapped the streak in 1996. The two teams played six more games before USC's historic streak, during which each team won three games a piece.

The Notable Players/Coaches

There are few college football fans who do not know the names Pete Carroll, Charlie Weis, Knute Rockne, John Robinson, Lou Holtz, John McKay, Ara Parseghian and Howard Jones. All except Charlie Weis has won a National Championship while coaching at either USC or Notre Dame. Charlie Weis made his name as an assistant to NFL living legend Bill Bilicheck. He is in the midst of a 10-year 40-million dollar coaching deal.

The list of players who played in this game is too grand to put here. Each of these players could have their own articles, hundreds of times over. But here are the few who stand out to me.

Not many know his name, but Chris Martin is making waves already for Notre Dame. And he hasn't even played his Senior year of High School. Chris Martin is a 6'4 240 DE/LB commit for Notre Dame who lives in Southern California. He isn't the first Notre Dame player from SoCal and certainly won't be the last. One of the reason he stands out though, is because he plans to attend USC's summer camp this year. This has caused a mini uproar out of Trojan fans who want no part of a Domer commit at their camp, during which a few players will be offered scholarships and a few more will accept them.

Jimmy Clausen also stands out, if only for the way he left Southern California to arrive at Notre Dame. Sporting his High School championship rings and a blowout hairdo, Clausen arrived in a limousine and announced his commitment to Notre Dame. Internet rumors also claim he told people in attendance he was going to win 4 Heisman trophies and 4 National Championships, an alleged comment USC fans have not forgotten. I have never seen a direct quote of this nature, but on the worldwide web, it has taken on a life of its own.

On the Trojan side, you can't talk about this rivalry without talking about Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. The 4th and Nine play and the "Bush Push" are two plays that will never be forgotten. They have their own wikipedia page.

Manti Te'o also stands out for this rivalry, because of what hat he pulled out on signing day this year. Te'o lives in Hawaii, a location USC has recruited before. Te'o is also Mormon, a religion that USC has accomodated before with players wanting to go on mission. Te'o was also offered the famed 55 jersey at USC, a number worn by Junior Seau, Willie McGinest and Keith Rivers. But on signing day, none of this mattered when Te'o selected to attend Notre Dame instead. A recruiting coup for ND if you follow recruiting at all. USC fans were stunned.

The Future

The future for this rivalry looks bright. Notre Dame has talked about playing a game in Yankee stadium and though tradition says they play Army there, I hope they play USC once too. That would be a great game in a great venue.

Recent news talked about changes in the seating arrangement between the two programs. Here is a post from about this:

"Each time the Irish have played at the Coliseum, 2,000 season-ticket holders have been moved from their prime midfield location on the press box side to accommodate a longstanding agreement with Notre Dame, which placed Irish fans in those priority 50-yard line seats and bumped the Trojan supporters elsewhere in the stadium. Likewise, USC would get several sections of premier seats when the Trojans and Irish met at Notre Dame Stadium.

But, according to discussions within the athletic department, that agreement could be a thing of the past as early as this season. Nearly all of the 2,000 priority season tickets that have been moved in the past will remain as is for every Notre Dame game at the Coliseum in even years, while USC fans will sit in the usual visiting team location in the end zone at Notre Dame Stadium in the odd years.

Doing away with the long-term yet archaic tradition of trading prime seats for the annual USC-Notre Dame game will keep loyal Trojan season-ticket holders in their usual midfield locations for every home game each fall, regardless of the opponent.

In total, USC receives 7,000 tickets for its biennial trip to Notre Dame Stadium, while the Irish get 12,000 tickets for the rivalry matchup at the Coliseum every other year."

Both of these coaches really know how to recruit, and the next half decade will see no less than 20 NFL players per game playing on the field at any given time. Names like Matt Barkley, Chris Martin, Tyron Smith, Manti Te'o, I could go on. These young men are the future of a great game.

I just hope USC keeps winning that game.


May 22, 2009
Sir BoltFounding Memberwrote:
What is it with incoming Notre Dame QBs being projected to win 4 Heismans? Didn't they say that about Ron Paulus and/or Rick Mirer? That's such a pompous proclamation, either from the player himself or from a pundit barely hiding his support of Notre Dame Football. Heisman voters have proven that they don't like to give anyone 2 Heismans, much less 4. Just one of the many reasons I hate Notre Dame.
May 22, 2009
TrojanJPFounding Memberwrote:
Notre Dame quarterbacks tend to be prodigies and come with unrealistic expectations. Part of the allure of going to the school. Clausen didn't lose a game in High School and had every superlative you can imagine. Media loves to get hyped up about players like this, and sometimes the player gets caught up in it themselves.

Clausen has admittedly calmed down since that day and his father admits the Limo was a bit much.
May 23, 2009
Sir BoltFounding Memberwrote:
Limo a bit much to announce what college you will attend? Yeah, I'd say that's a bit of an understatement. Oh how I yearn for the days when kids used to feel privileged to even get a scholarship, regardless of how good they were.

I'm not a huge fan of 'SC either, but the amount of talent they get each year tends to limit any one recruit calling a ton of attention to himself. I definitely like that.
May 26, 2009
rohebliusFanbase staffwrote:
This was excellent JP. This was the kind of article I had in mind when I thought of this rivalry series. Maybe we can get Bolt to write about the Chargers/Raiders? Ha!

I also laughed while reading about Clausen. Even if that quote isn't real, it should be. It was great.
May 29, 2009
TrojanJPFounding Memberwrote:
For all his perceived flaws, I like Clausen. He was never going to get a fair shake from Trojan fans since he was a SoCal prodigy who left for Notre Dame. Never had a prayer. I've also heard nice things about his parents from people who I trust in that type of info.

Just a couple of notes:

The 55 jersey will be worn at USC next by Jarvis Jones. He is a 6'3 230 linebacker from Georgia who signed with USC for the 2009 class. He is quickly becoming my favorite player.

And I never get tired of looking at the Bush Push picture.

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