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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Football Firsts - Penn State 1913

The score of 14 to 7 does not adequately tell our superiority over the Quakers, but it can be gleaned another way.

Notre Dame football team with a toy mule, 1913. Back Row: Assistant Coach Edwards, Emmett Keefe, Ray Eichenlaub, Albert King, Freeman (Fitz) Fitzgerald, Charles (Sam) Finegan, Coach Jesse Harper Middle Row: Ralph (Zipper) Lathrop, Keith (Deak) Jones, Joe Pliska, Captain Knute Rockne, Gus Dorais, Fred (Gus) Gushurst, Al Feeney Front Row: Allen (Mal) Elward, Alfred (Dutch) Bergman, Bill Cook, Art (Bunny) Larkin

My off-season series of “Notre Dame Football Firsts” continues this week with the first meeting between Notre Dame and Penn State, 1913

So far I’ve covered USC, Stanford, Navy, Purdue, the first Spring Game at Notre Dame, Michigan State, Pitt, Army, Michigan, Boston College, Miami, Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Nebraska. This week I’m going to take a look back at Notre Dame’s first matchup against Penn State in 1913.

Notre Dame and Penn State have played each other a total of 19 times with each team winning nine games, and one tie. Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory was 44-7 in 1984, and Penn State’s largest margin of victory was 36-6 in 1985. Notre Dame’s longest win streak is three from 1926-1976, and Penn State’s longest win streak is also three from 1981-1983. Notre Dame has 938 all time wins, and Penn State has 920 all time wins. Notre Dame has had 107 consensus All-Americans, to Penn State’s 43. Notre Dame has had seven Heisman Trophy winners, to Penn State’s one. And Notre Dame has had 70 first round NFL draft picks, to Penn State’s 40.

The two teams played each other for the first time on November 7th, 1913, and Notre Dame won by a score of 14-7.

In an excerpt from the Black Shoe Diaries, the two schools met four times from 1913-1928. Penn State was still a relatively infant program. Notre Dame was a already national powerhouse with five National Championships in that span. Penn State was completely overmatched and held an 0-3-1 record against the Fighting Irish. It would be over four decades later before the schools would meet again. Notre Dame would win five national championships in that time while Penn State struggled to build a program and gain national recognition.

In another excerpt from the December 13, 1913 issue of The Notre Dame Scholastic, the year began auspiciously in some ways; inauspiciously in others. The schedule arranged by Coach Harper was the best ever gotten together for our eleven, including, as it did, South Dakota, the Army, Penn State and Texas. But to get these games worthy of the mettle of our Varsity, it was necessary to go a thousand miles to the east and fifteen hundred miles to the south, handicapping our men by distance greater than any other team in the country did this season. It meant, besides travelling long distances and playing our strongest enemies on their own fields, that we would have to overcome the added handicaps of new water and strange weather. We had to play under every conceivable disadvantage, and when the season opened we admit we entertained fears for the Varsity

To reassure us, we had the knowledge that most of the last year’s men would be back. Who could ask for a greater heritage than Capt. Rockne, ex-Capt. Dorais, Eichenlaub, Feeney, Jones, Pliska, Berger, Fitzgerald, Finegan, Gushurst, Larkin, Lathrop, and a generous quota of first class reserves? It is true, we lost Crowley and Dolan, an excellent pair of ends, and Harvat and Yund, tackles, which losses made room for misgivings concerning the strength of the forwards.

As the season advanced, however, our confidence grew. The beautiful fighting spirit with which the Varsity played and won the South Dakota game, after an accident had allowed the “Coyotes” to take the lead, inspired hope that never grew less. Then when our perfect forward passes added to terrific line-smashing trailed West Point’s colors in the dust we felt sure, as we do now, that Varsity ‘13 has no equal in the country.

Penn State was taken into camp by our men after we had covered twenty-five hundred miles the previous week. The score of 14 to 7 does not adequately tell our superiority over the Quakers, but it can be gleaned another way.

The Peerless Squad of the Gold and Blue

by Arthur Barry

Of old when brave knights in the tourney had vanquished the last of their foes
And were crowned by the Queen of Beauty, full sweet were the shouts that arose
Of acclaim from the thronging thousands who had witnessed their valor and might,
But the pride of their near and dear ones was the core of their heart’s delight;
E’en so with our Knights of the Oval who have travelled the farthest afield
Of all the squads in the country, and have forced all their foemen to yield,
They have joyed in the cheers of spectators in the West, East, and South, it is true,
But the praise they love best is the home-praise—
Their home of the Gold and Blue.

Then, sing we the song of their triumph, their glory, fair-shining afar,
And tell we our pride in their prowess uplifting our fame above par,
The thrill of delight that enthralled us and lingered in every breast
When West Point watched our boys meet the Army, and victory pointed west.
Penn State was made pensive indeed by our score, and the “ Christians” unchristianly sad,
But our hearts only shouted Vae victis the more, as our souls grew increasingly glad;
Then, to cap the fair climax of triumphs, the Longhorns bowed low to us, too,
So, here’s to our stars, the “All-Universe,”
The squad of the Gold and Blue!

“There were brave men before Agamemnon,” Yes, heroes we’ve had before,
Nor pluck we a leaf from the garlands they won and right worthily bore:
There were Farleys and Salmons and Dolans and “Red “ Millers in the years gone by,
And their Alma Mater remembers that they planted her colors high.
But in vain will you search the records, Brother Bona himself has ne’er-seen
The equals of Harper’s invincibles, our peerless of proud ‘13.
Their game marked an epoch in football, and Fame pays the homage due
To Dorais and “Eich” and Rockne, with
Their mates of the Gold and Blue.

Next week I’m going to take a look at the first meeting between Notre Dame and Clemson, 1977.

Cheers & GO IRISH!