It seems when we talk Notre Dame/USC the games that always get brought up are: the 2005 game where Notre Dame lost on the infamous “Bush Push” play, the 1977 Green Jersey Game and the 1988 No. 1 vs. No. 2 meeting. To me, there is one game in this series that doesn’t get as much attention as those other games and that’s the 1973 matchup.
Notre Dame was ranked 8th and the Trojans sat at 6th in the polls. Tom Clements was in the midst of quarterbacking Notre Dame to an undefeated season and a National Title. But if you look at the schedule that season, the Irish really hadn’t faced a top notch opponent until USC.
The Trojans came in as the reigning National Champs boasting the likes Lynn Swann, Anthony Davis and Pat Haden. They were riding high on a 23 game win streak. The stage was set for Notre Dame to deliver and put them in the conversation for a title. And boy did they deliver.
The Irish set the tone early, as Luther Bradley popped Swann on the first play of the game, knocking the helmet off his head. Tailback Eric Pennick scampered for an 85-yard touchdown to give the Irish a 20-7 lead in the 3rd quarter. Notre Dame ended up winning 23-14.
The win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl may have clinched the National Title for Notre Dame, but they are never there without the victory over USC. That’s why this particular meeting meant so much, and deserves the same recognition as some of the other matchups in the series.