RECORD: 9-0 ALL-AMERICAS: JOHN LUJACK, QB; BILL FISCHER, G; GEORGE CONNOR, T. NOTRE DAME OUTSCORED ITS OPPONENTS BY AN AVERAGE OF 26.5 POINTS PER GAME
WHEN NOTRE DAME opens its football season on Oct. 4 at Pittsburgh, it will again have the most formidable array of bruisers in the nation. This year's squad has about 100 men, most of them big, fast and tough. The Fighting Irish's starting line averages 210 pounds, and its ball-carrying candidates are so good that the average spectator will have difficulty distinguishing the first-string backfield from the third. Notre Dame also has two All-America players: Johnny Lujack, who is potentially the best quarterback in the country, and captain George Connor, who is potentially the best lineman. On the Irish bench are at least a dozen players who would be stars at almost any other college.
To Fighting Irish fans, all of this is exactly as it should be. Through the years, in the eras of the Gipper, the Four Horsemen and Knute Rockne, Notre Dame has become the American football institution. Besides its talent and its record, Notre Dame has the coach who is college football's most profound scholar and technician. Hard-eyed, soft-voiced Frank Leahy played on one of the greatest Irish teams that Rockne ever coached.
Leahy has been Notre Dame's coach for four years, during which time he has lost only three games. A tireless perfectionist, he will chide a player for as little as pointing his feet in the wrong direction. When a man commits the major crime of missing a block, Coach Leahy sometimes loses his Irish temper, but even then his strongest language is "Oh, my!" Using six assistant coaches and directing scrimmages from a wooden tower, he puts his squad through practice sessions that are ferocious. Notre Dame's nine-game intersectional schedule is the most difficult in the country, but one bruised and winded member of this year's squad complains that "the toughest games on our schedule are the ones we play on Wednesdays."
THE OPPOSITION was lucky to get a point in edgewise during the 1947 season as Notre Dame posted consecutive shutouts against Nebraska, Iowa and Navy, and averaged 28.2 points through its first five games. Army, which had proven such a worthy opponent in the past, barely put up a fight in '47, conceding a touchdown on the opening kickoff en route to a 27-7 loss. From there the Irish romped to an easy victory over Northwestern (26-19) and hung a season-high 59 points on Tulane before thrashing USC 38-7 in Los Angeles in front of a crowd of 104,953. The AP crown marked the third for Lujack, who had returned to South Bend after three years in the Navy. The 22-year-old senior and two-time All-America also won the Heisman in a runaway.