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Does it get any better than this?

ND-USC rivalry loaded with history, classic moments

Posted: Thursday October 13, 2005 12:10PM; Updated: Friday October 14, 2005 1:10PM
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Carson Palmer sealed his 2002 Heisman bid in USC's rout of Notre Dame.
Carson Palmer sealed his 2002 Heisman bid in USC's rout of Notre Dame.

Cheer, Cheer!
    Fight on!
Ara Parseghian!
    Anthony Davis!

Notre Dame and USC renew the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football for the 77th time Saturday in South Bend. Since 1926, when the teams first met in Los Angeles, the series has played host to 13 Heisman Trophy winners (seven for the Irish, six for USC) and the same number of Associated Press national champions (eight for the Irish, five for USC).

Success? The Irish have spent a record 89 weeks as No. 1 in the AP poll. The Trojans are No. 3 all-time in that category, having spent 69 weeks at No. 1, including a record-setting 25 straight weeks, dating from Dec. 7, 2003, to the present. Eighteen times one of the schools has entered the game ranked either first or second, though only once, in 1988, did the schools rank Nos. 1-2.

Thrills? Ten times the winning score came with two minutes or fewer remaining.

Spoilers? Notre Dame has been a buzz-kill on six anticipated undefeated Trojan seasons (1927, 1947, 1952, 1973, 1988 and 1995), while USC has returned the favor as many times (1931, 1938, 1964, 1970, 1971 and 1980), which is significant considering that until 1960 this was traditionally the final or penultimate game on either team's calendar.

Between 1926-1959 the matchup was each team's final regular-season game (the Irish didn't participat in bowls between 1926-1969, so this was perennially their "bowl" game). After a 16-6 loss in South Bend in 1959, the Trojans complained that the November climes in Michiana fwoze their little toes (the word "cold" actually appears next to the final score in the Trojan media guide's All-Time USC Record section). Ever since, USC has visited South Bend in mid-October in odd-numbered years and the Irish have journeyed to Los Angeles on Thanksgiving weekend in even-numbered years.

Through it all, each school has had only one home field. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum opened on Oct. 6, 1923 (USC 23, Pomona College 7), while Notre Dame Stadium hosted its first game on Oct. 4, 1930 (Notre Dame 20, Southern Methodist 14). They did meet at Soldier Field once, though, in 1929, in front of 112,912 fans (the Irish won 13-12).

Follow this link to reveal my choices for the top 10 moments in this storied rivalry.