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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football VS USC, 1927

Always first. Always fair. Always complete.

Notre Dame-USC Scoreboard
The scoreboard and crowd at halftime during the Notre Dame-USC football game at Soldiers Field, Chicago, Illinois, November 26, 1927. The Fighting Irish won the game by the same score.
Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images

This is week three of my series looking back on Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football’s “unclaimed” national championship years. Today I’m going to share an excerpt from the 1927 Notre Dame Football Review about Notre Dame’s game against the USC Trojans at Soldier Field, in Chicago, Illinois on November 26, 1927. The 1927 Irish squad finished the season with seven wins, one tie (Minnesota), and one loss (Army).

Notre Dame 7 - USC 6

The name of “Bucky” Dahman was inscribed in the annals of Notre Dame’s immortals at the close of the great intersectional game at Soldiers Field. For it was Dahman’s spectacular catch of a forward pass 28 yards down the field from Charley Riley that gave the Irish the necessary six points to tie the score. And it was Dahman’s well placed kick that sent the ball flying between the goal posts for the precious seventh point that proved to be the margin of victory.

After both teams had scored early in the first quarter the game settled down to a battle of lines, and in this important angle, honors were about even. If anything the shade rested with Notre Dame who made eleven first downs, to eight for the Trojans. Notre Dame gained 199 yards from scrimmage while the western invaders made 137. Notre Dame completed two forward passes for thirty-one yards and the Trojans connected with three aerial heaves for a gain of 18 yards.

Christy Flanagan closed his collegiate football activities by playing the greatest game of his brilliant career. Chris averaged five yards every time he took the ball and several times came dangerously close to breaking away for a touchdown. Elmer Wynne backed up the line in his usual flawless manner and was a power on offense. Charley Riley with crippled knees gamely played the entire game, out-smarting the Trojans. The entire Notre Dame line played great football.

Morley Drury, the flashy Trojan halfback, proved himself to be an all-around star. Drury was equally effective in crashing the line, smashing off tackle or skirting the ends. On the defensive he nailed Flanagan several times when it looked as if Chris was going places. Drury, truly an All-American, was a constant menacing threat.

The Notre Dame eleven proved its right to be called the “Fighting Irish” by coming from behind to win. A less courageous outfit might have been demoralized by the first rush of the Trojans. But the only effect notic­eable was that it caused the “Fighting Irish” to get down to business and forge into the lead immediately.

The U. S. C. game closed the football careers of Clipper Smith, Elmer Wynne, “Bucky’’ . Dahman, Chris Flanagan, Charley Riley, “Ike” Voedisch, “Chile” Walsh, John Poliskey, John Fredericks “Joe” Benda “Jim” Hurlbert, “Joe” Morrissey, Frank McCarthy, “Joe” Prelli, “Chunk” Murrin, “Joe” Nash, .John Doarn and “Tom” Byrne.

The U. S. C. game marked the first invasion of a leading western team and it was enough to give the Middle West a wholesome respect for the football game as practiced on the Pacific coast. It was the third victory for Notre Dame over a coast eleven, the Irish having defeated U. S. C. last year 13 to 12 and Stanford 24 to 10 in 1924. The game also broke the attendance record, the total attendance being 120,000. The game ended the hardest schedule that the Irish have ever attempted and with a record of seven won, one tied and one lost Notre Dame terminated another glorious season.

I also found this gem of a tweet below (disregard that it came from USC).

The photo below was taken the night before the Notre Dame-USC game in 1927, at a star-studded event that was held to build hype for the game. Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne and USC coach Howard Jones were joined by a pair of baseball legends, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, suited up in school colors.

Babe Ruth is posed next to Rockne, wearing an “ND” jersey, and Lou Gehrig is two spots down in an “SC” jersey.

Here are a few more excerpts that I wanted to share with you.

The Beloved Leader

The memory of George Gipp is the sacred heirloom of the Notre Dame man. About the memory of the immortal captain has grown a halo of tradition that is Notre Dame’s most cherished possession. Enshrined in the hearts of the men of Notre Dame is the vital memory of their leader. Today George Gipp lives for the Notre Dame man as truly as he did when his “flying cleats” made immortal history on Cartier Field.

The 1927 Football Review is dedicated to George Gipp, athlete, scholar and hero, in the hope that it may provide some slight expression of the love which Notre Dame men cherish for their star of stars.

Never a Wizard Like Rockne!

By Edward W. Smith, Los Angeles Examiner

If Knute K. Rockne never does another thing in his life, he’ll go down in history as the one greatest wizard of the world. This mighty Scandinavian doesn’t have to show ‘em any more. He’s done enough. And they believe now there is absolutely no limit to his necromancy.

Rockne wouldn’t be so bad with the home folks if he didn’t so everlastingly rub it in in his gentle, genial way by smiling off all adulation and praise. Darn it, they say, you cuss him till you can’t find words over the things he does to an opposing team. Then when you meet him he is such a gosh-dinged nice fellow, so utterly without guile, so positively ingenius, so meek and lamb-like--well, after you leave him, you have to give him three cheers. These are the cheers he won’t listen to when you are in his presence.

One coach of a secondary college expressed himself about “Rock” the other day in the course of a chance conversation. His smile was immense.

Rockne’s name thus came up - it generally does, and with a bang.

“Quite a chap, isn’t he?” was my quite tame and inconsequential query.

This peppery coach looked at me in some disgust at the classification I so inconsiderately put upon the mighty man. Then he exploded his opinion.

“Say, there’s a fellow that could drag a gurgle out of an empty flask!”

Rockne is a sportsman. He’s built that way, has trained himself and his system that way, desires his boys to be that way and Notre Dame, despite the subtle slurs offered behind sneakingly uplifted cupped hands; always will be glorified by this man, his men and his methods.

Next week I’ll look at 1938!

Cheers & GO IRISH!