SI Vault
 
THEY WERE DRESSED TO KILL
Douglas S. Looney
October 31, 1977
Notre Dame Coach Dan Devine surprised his players by issuing them green jerseys, then his team went out and turned USC green around the gills with a 49-19 upset
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
October 31, 1977

They Were Dressed To Kill

Notre Dame Coach Dan Devine surprised his players by issuing them green jerseys, then his team went out and turned USC green around the gills with a 49-19 upset

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

After the game Burgmeier was enjoying the fruits of his labor as he lounged in his apartment. "I'm not usually the one in the sun," he said. "I'm kind of tickled." On Wednesday night he had been sick to his stomach from worrying about the game; later in the week he decided to help his wife out in the kitchen by making his first cake, marble with chocolate icing. It was very uneven. On Saturday there was nothing uneven at all in Burgmeier's performance. In addition to the above heroics, he intercepted a pass on his own 14, preventing a likely touchdown. Turning back upfield, he made a pirouetting zig-zag run of 38 yards that if straightened out would have taken him across the USC goal line instead of to the Trojan 49. He also had four unassisted tackles during the afternoon and joined in four others.

As the Notre Dame players clattered into their dressing room at halftime, they faced a magazine cover from 1974. It was a photo of star USC Tailback Anthony Davis running over Notre Dame defenders and the caption was "What a comeback!" That was the game in which Notre Dame was ahead of the Trojans 24-6 at the half, only to have USC roar back and win 55-24. The import of the cover was not lost on the players.

When the second half started, the official scorer needed time-outs to keep up with the Notre Dame blitz. Linebacker Bob Golic, brilliant all afternoon, blocked a punt, and Defensive Tackle Jay Case picked it up and went 30 yards for a score. Montana passed again to the sensational MacAfee for another touchdown; Montana made it across again from the one; and in the dying seconds junior Quarterback Rusty Lisch passed four yards to Kevin Hart for the final TD. USC was held scoreless through the third quarter and got its remaining 12 points in the last 15 minutes when its tragedy was already set in concrete.

Late Saturday night Devine was looking across South Bend from the 14th floor of a bank building, surrounded by a few friends. He was relaxed enough to reflect on the DUMP DEVINE stickers and his own style. "If you try to copy somebody else," he said, "it works O.K. until you go in at halftime and revert to your real self. Then the players are really confused."

Immutable Dan Devine is back on the high road. It is the one that is painted green.

1 2