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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Nebraska, 1947

The game heralded as a battle of beefy lines turned into a romping revue for scampering halfbacks as stubborn Nebraska succumbed before Notre Dame’s concentrated land and air attack.

Portrait of Frank W. Leahy

This week is the sixth week in my series on Notre Dame Fighting Irish national title winning seasons, and this week I’m going to highlight the 1947 match-up between Notre Dame and Nebraska. In the 1947 season, coached by Frank Leahy, the season ended with nine wins and zero losses. It was the third national title for Leahy and his lads. The 1947 team was cited by Sports Illustrated as the part of the second best sports dynasty of the 20th century and second greatest college football dynasty.

Below is the Notre Dame vs. Nebraska game summary from the 1947 Notre Dame Football Review, written by Ed Snyder.

An Old Rivalry Resumed

The game heralded as a battle of beefy lines turned into a romping revue for scampering halfbacks as stubborn Nebraska succumbed before Notre Dame’s concentrated land and air attack, 31-0.

A capacity throng of 56,000 sun-drenched fans saw the Irish open a four-game backyard stand by outplaying the undermanned Cornhuskers in all departments to regain a capsule of their pre-season reputation, fastly waning in the past two games. With Johnny Lujack masterminding, the T, Notre Dame piled up 20 first downs to the Huskers’ nine; covered 255 yards in land skirmish to 149 for its heavier adversary; completed 10 out of 17 passes for 135 net yards while Nebraska’s Del Weigand was hard-pressed to get across a lone heave out of eight tries for a trifling four yards.

Yet the leading men of this afternoon’s pigskin panorama were not the big, bruising linemen, but a trio of swift scat backs led by one Coy McGee, whose spine-tingling display of halfback choreography had the crowd on its feet during much of the game. Seasoning his role with pre-punt return gymnastics, McGee picked up 66 yards in 10 shots at the Husker line. In the other stellar roles were Emil Sitko, top ground gainer of the day with 53 yards in five attempts and Terry Brennan, the Irish workhorse, with 42 yards in eight tries.

Notre Dame began its first touchdown drive toward the end of the first period. Starting at the 26-yard line, John Panelli, Mike Swistowicz, Larry Coutre, and McGee picked up five straight first downs to bring the ball to the Nebraska eight from which point Panelli drove over for the marker. Oracko failed to convert.

The Irish picked up their next touchdown at the start of the second period as Swistowicz moved the ball from Notre Dame’s 45 to Nebraska’s 33 in three smashes off right tackle. Frank Tripucka flipped a pass to Brennan who galloped 22 more yards. With three more shots at the Nebraska line Swistowicz carried the mail over for the second score. Once again Oracko’s toe failed to yield the extra point.

McGee set the stage for the third touchdown, returning a Husker punt 35 yards to midfield. Lujack hit Swistowicz for 36 yards and a first down on the Nebraska 14 and then McGee wiggled through tackle on a quick-opener to scamper across standing up. This time Fred Earley tried his luck with the toe and scored a bullseye.

A 91-yard march netted the fourth tally early in the last period. Sitko opened the proceedings with a 33-yard slash off tackle, followed by successive thrusts by McGee, Bill Gay and himself before Tripucka completed a 20-yard aerial to Gay to put the ball on the Nebraska 13. A penalty pushed it back to the 18, but a pass to Sitko picked up four yards, and another to Waybright notched the score. Barley’s kick was wide.

Nebraska fumbled the ensuing kickoff and George Strohmeyer recovered for the Irish. In successive line plays, Sitko, Gay and Floyd Simmons moved the mail to the Husker 10, where Sitko capped the afternoon’s touchdown proceedings with a 10-yard jaunt around left end after a shovel pass from Tripucka. Barley’s kick was blocked.

The game was the rubber match of the Irish-Husker series, leaving Notre Dame with six victories against five for Nebraska. One game ended in a tie.

Next week, 1949!

Cheers & GO IRISH!