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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Ohio State Buckeyes, 1935

Notre Dame’s First “Game of the Century,” 1935

5–0 Notre Dame battled 4–0 Ohio State in what was known as one of the best football games ever played.
University of Notre Dame Archive

It’s what we’ve been waiting for ... the college football season is finally upon us, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to play Ohio State University. The two schools have played a total of six times with Ohio State winning four times and Notre Dame winning two times:

January 1, 2016 at Glendale, AZ — OSU 44 - ND 28
January 2, 2006 at Tempe, AZ — OSU 34 - ND 20
September 28, 1996 at South Bend, IN — OSU 29 - ND 16
September 30, 1995 at Columbus, OH — OSU 45 - ND 26
October 31, 1936 at South Bend, IN — OSU 2 - ND 7
November 2, 1935 at Columbus — OSU 13 - ND 18

Notre Dame’s highest margin of victory is 18-13, and Ohio State’s highest margin of victory is 45-26. Notre Dame’s longest win streak is two, and Ohio State’s longest win streak is four. Notre Dame has won 11 National Championships to Ohio State’s 8. Notre Dame’s all time record is 929-331-42, and Ohio State’s all time record is 942-329-53. Notre Dame’s bowl record is 18-20-0 (.474), and Ohio State’s bowl record is 26-27-0 (.491). Notre Dame has had 105 Consensus All-Americans and Ohio State has had 90 Consensus All-Americans. Both schools have had seven Heisman Trophy winners. Notre Dame has had 522 NFL Draft picks, and Ohio State has had 579 NFL Draft pics. And finally, Notre Dame has had 70 first round NFL Draft picks, and Ohio State has had 87 first round NFL Draft picks.

This week I’m going to highlight the 1935 match-up between Notre Dame and Ohio State in Columbus. The following excerpt is from Notre Dame’s “125 Moments” which commemorated the 125th anniversary of Notre Dame football in 2012.

A football (painted after the game) showing the score from the November 2, 1935 Notre Dame vs. Ohio State football game, which for many years was considered the college football “Game of the Century.”
Margaret Fosmoe

Notre Dame’s First “Game of the Century,” 1935

On November 2, 1935, Notre Dame staged a remarkable fourth quarter comeback in Columbus, Ohio, to defeat Ohio State, 18-13, in the very first “Game of the Century.” The video linked here contains highlights from the victory, and the following excerpt comes from an article written by Wayne Millner (’36) for the Albert Richard Coat Company. Millner was the Notre Dame end who caught the winning touchdown pass to stun the Buckeyes.

Passing, rushing and receiving, Andy Pilney (‘36) did it all in Notre Dame’s win over Ohio State. His senior season was cut short by a significant leg injury, but the final play of the halfback’s Irish career was a 36-yard run, helping to set up the winning touchdown against the Buckeyes.

Layden passed to Pilney, Pilney passed to Fromhart, and then to Layden again and we had a second touchdown, to trail, 13 to 12. When Fromhart missed the tying point from placement, with less than two minutes to play, it appeared again that it was not Notre Dame’s day.

We tried an on-side kick on the kickoff, but Ohio State recovered the ball. Then Dick Beltz drove off his right tackle for a good gain. Larry Danbom, who had replaced Miller at fullback, checked him, and [Notre Dame’s] Pilney, who had been running, passing, and kicking like a demon, came up from the deep secondary to hit Beltz like a pile driver, forcing him to fumble. Henry Pojman, our center, recovered on the Ohio State 49-yard line.

Then Pilney turned in the climax play of the day, the play that was to engrave his name forever in the annals of football as the man who turned in probably the best single day’s play of any man in history. He faked a pass, raced through a hole at center, dodged eight separate Ohio State men, and was finally pinned on the 19-yard line by the remaining three Buckeyes, after a run of 30 yards which included every trick of ball-carrying, perfectly executed. Pilney was hurt on the play so seriously that he did not see action in the remaining three games.

As they carried [Pilney] off the field on a stretcher, Bill Shakespeare tossed a long pass to me which I was able to catch without breaking stride. Notre Dame had won, 18 to 13. The pass play called for a shift to the left. The ball came back to Mazziotti who had replaced Layden for the kickoff, he spun and handed it to Shakespeare, who faded deep and to his right. McKenna, quarterback who was sent in to call the play; Danbom, and Mazziotti blocked. Marty Peters, right end, cut to his left, drawing the secondary over. I ran straight ahead and then cut hard to my right.

We had been overcome by Ohio State’s reputation and the fatigue of a hard season, but Andy Pilney gave us all the fight and confidence it took to win one of the greatest games ever played.

The game program for Nov. 2, 1935–Notice the price!

You can also check out a newsreel from the game here:

So ... how do you think Notre Dame is going to fare this weekend against Ohio State? Do you think we have a chance to win? Let me know what you think!

Cheers & GO IRISH!