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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Football Firsts - Ohio State, 1935

It was intestinal fortitude and the spirit of a team that ‘wouldn’t be beaten’ that gave Notre Dame the victory.

Notre Dame vs. Ohio State, 1935
University of Notre Dame Archive

My off-season series of “Notre Dame Football Firsts” continues this week with the first meeting between Notre Dame and Ohio State, 1935.

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, Nebraska, Penn State, Clemson, and Air Force. This week I’m going to take a look back at Notre Dame’s first matchup against Ohio State in 1935.

Notre Dame and Ohio State have faced each other a total of seven times, with Notre Dame winning two, and Ohio State winning five. Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory was 18-13 in 1935, and Ohio State’s largest margin of victory was 45-26 in 1995. Notre Dame’s longest win streak is two, from 1935-1936, and Ohio State’s longest win streak is five, from 1995-2022. Notre Dame has 938 overall wins, to Ohio State’s 953. Both teams have had seven Heisman Trophy winners. Notre Dame has had 107 Consensus All-American’s, to Ohio State’s 92. Notre Dame has had 70 first round NFL draft picks, to Ohio State’s 90. Notre Dame has spent 857 weeks in the AP Poll, to Ohio State’s 966. And Notre Dame has spent 98 weeks at AP No. 1, to Ohio State’s 105 weeks.

The two teams met for the first time on November 2nd, 1935, in Columbus, Ohio, and Notre Dame won by the score of 18-13. Last year I shared some coverage of this game from Notre Dame’s 125 Moments, which you can read here. Today I’d like to share a different excerpt from this monumental game. The below excerpt is from the local ABC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio, written by Jarrod Clay.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX)The University of Notre Dame fielded its first football team in 1887 and in 1890, Ohio State formed its first team. Just 45 years later, the two schools met for the first time in what was dubbed the “Game of the Century.”

Both teams were unbeaten leading up to the Nov. 2, 1935 matchup in Columbus.

When the Fighting Irish arrived in Columbus, they were given the key to the city by then-Mayor Henry Worley.

More than 81,000 people attended the game and there were reports of people paying $50 for tickets. Today, that comes out to more than $1,000.

1935 Ohio State- Notre Dame game program (Ohio State University)

“Came the game of the year, the game Ohio fans had waited for years-Notre Dame!” a game recap in the 1935 Ohio State Yearbook said. “Columbus went stark raving mad on the subject of football with the city hotels jammed to the doors and even outlying towns feeling the pressure of the crowd that was making its way toward the Ohio Stadium.”

Under second-year head coach Francis Schmidt, the 4-0 Ohio State Buckeyes were heavily favored over the 5-0 Fighting Irish. The Irish were led by second-year head coach Elmer Layden, who is one of Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen.

The favored Buckeyes controlled the first three-quarters of the game and held a 13-0 lead in the fourth quarter.

The Fighting Irish, however, rallied back scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns. The last came with just 32 seconds to go when Cincinnati native Bill Shakespear found tight end Wayne Miller for a touchdown, giving Notre Dame an 18-13 lead.

“The fourth period was a nightmare,” a game recap in the 1935 Ohio State Yearbook said. “It has been recounted so many times that only Tunney’s ‘long count’ outdoes it in record. It is indelibly imprinted upon the minds of every one of the 80,000 who witnessed it and even greater numbers that read and heard about it. It was intestinal fortitude and the spirit of a team that ‘wouldn’t be beaten’ that gave Notre Dame the victory. Ohio was a good ball club for a half but they made their mistake by coasting on their 13 points in the last period. Shakespear, Pilney, three touchdowns and Ohio’s national championship hopes fell just as Tony Aquila’s goal posts fell with the onslaught of the Irish rooters. Ohio fans didn’t protest, they sat rooted to their seats, heartbroken. A once great Ohio team trudged into the showers where even the supposed soothing cold water failed to bring them the reality that the game was over and they had lost.”

Ohio State rebounded from the loss and went unbeaten through the rest of the season finishing 7-1 and 5-0 in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes were named co-Big Ten champions with Minnesota.

Notre Dame would suffer a letdown the next week in a loss at home against Northwestern. They would tie Army the following week to finish the season 7-1-1.

This ends my summer series of Notre Dame firsts. If you have a game you’d like to me to look back on in the few remaining weeks before the season starts, please send your suggestions my way!

Cheers & GO IRISH!