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Throwback Thursday, Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Cal Bears, 1965

A Strong Rush to the Top

“Alan Page [81] demonstrated the defense’s success at California”
Photo Credit: 1966 Dome, page 130

Welp, last weekend sure wasn’t what we wanted OR expected, so let’s move on and focus our eyes on this weekend. For this week’s Throwback Thursday post I’m going to feature the 1965 matchup between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the University of California Bears.

Notre Dame and Cal have played each other four times, between 1959-1967. Notre Dame has won all four games in the series. Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory is 48-6 (1965). Notre Dame’s all time record is .729 (929-332-42), and Cal’s all time record is .550 (685-556-51). Notre Dame has played in 38 bowl games to Cal’s 24. Notre Dame’s bowl record is 18-20-0, and Cal’s bowl record is 12-11-1. Notre Dame has had 105 consensus All-Americans to Cal’s 30. Notre Dame has had 522 NFL draft picks to Cal’s 243. And Notre Dame has had 11 National Championships to Cal’s 5.

October 10, 1959 - Berkeley, CA ND 28 - Cal 6

September 24, 1960 - South Bend, IN ND 21 - Cal 7

September 18, 1965 - Berkeley, CA ND 48 - Cal 6

September 23, 1967 - South Bend, IN ND 41 - Cal 8

The below excerpt is from the 1965 Notre Dame Football Review.

A Strong Rush to the Top

The Irish revert to a new attack with the same successful results; a description in the Chicago Sun-Times. by DICK HACKENBERG

NOTRE DAME’S Fighting Irish carried with pride and considerable distinction the glory of their 9-1, 1964, resurgence to an amazing 48-6 triumph over the University of California here Saturday.

“Carried” is the word. A crowd of 53,000 shirt-sleeved fans, basking in brilliant sunshine, watched aghast as Ara Parseghian’s relentless machine ground out 381 yards on the ground and 68 on only seven passes for an astounding total of 449.

Nick Eddy alone scampered 99 yards. Bill Wolski 77 and Larry Conjar 67. Each tallied one touchdown and quarterback Bill Zloch, superbly mixing his plays, scored two. Nick Rassas streaked 65 yards to still another with a punt return and, in the closing minutes, second-string halfback Dan Harshman got the seventh.

Ken Ivan kicked a 28-yard field goal and three extra points. Twice the Irish were thwarted in an attempt to run for two-point conversions.

Twice Rassas intercepted California passes and in both instances launched touchdown drives, returning the two thefts for a total of 48 yards.

“I think we capitalized on every mistake,” Parseghian said happily after the game, the highest scoring Notre Dame victory to launch a season since 1951 when Indiana was trampled by the same score.

“We’re not that good and they’re not that bad. It’s difficult to judge your true strength in a game like this. We had good field position all afternoon.”

“Our passing attack complemented our running game nicely. For our needs today, it was adequate. Our pass defense needs work; Cal completed some good ones (nine of 22 for 97 yards). Cal was most unfortunate; it yielded field position on turnovers all day.”

Coach Ray Willsey of the Golden Bears was the heart bowed down. “We have no excuses for this fiasco,” he said.

“We were not in Notre Dame’s class. You have to be impressed by those Irish backs, in fact, their whole offense. They had the ball for 88 offensive plays and after a while that begins to tell on your defense.”

The Notre Dame Juggernaut started slowly, grinding out 80 yards without benefit of a pass, to Ivan’s field goal.

Before the first quarter closed, Rassas snatched his first interception and ran the ball 37 yards to the Cal 12. A 10-yard loss forced Zloch to the air for the first time and he hit Tom Talaga with an 18-yarder at the four. Zloch drove across from the three.

The Irish took their 9-0 advantage into the second period and within three minutes enlarged it to 22-0. A fumble recovery by Alan Page set up one touchdown, scored on a one-yard plunge by Conjar, and the irrepressible Rassas followed with his 65-yard punt return for the other.

Notre Dame was comfortable at 22-0 before Cal scored, and before the first half ended Zloch went 11 yards to make it 28-6. At the start of the third quarter the Irish drove 74 yards in six plays with Eddy taking a 24-yard pass from Zloch for the touchdown, and Tony Carey’s recovery of Tom Relies’ fumble set up Wolski’s tally from the six.

When Harshman got over from the one, in culmination of a 76-yard drive in the final period, the California fans started to file dismally from the big bowl. Notre Dame supporters tarried to storm into the field with two seconds remaining to gather around their heroes in joyful celebration.

Parseghian pointed out that the Irish aim was to make their offense move on plays up the middle.

Ara said that defensively the Irish “wanted to put enough pressure on California to force them into mistakes.”

“This we did,” he added, “and each time they turned the ball over to us we got great field position.”

Next Saturday the Irish take on Purdue, one of the favorites to represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl, and Parseghian is wary.

“Today I learned that we can move the ball, but I also found out that we have problems on defense, both in the secondary and at linebacker.”

So, how are you feeling? Are you, as my dad says, “on suicide watch?” Or do you think it’s not as bad as it looks? Is Pyne our guy? Better yet, is Freeman our guy? What say you?

Cheers & GO IRISH!