LOS ANGELES -- In this week's installment of The Roundtable, WeAreSC's panelists recall their favorite Trojans victory over Notre Dame.
What was the greatest USC victory over Notre Dame that you remember watching?
Garry Paskwietz: I would really like to pick the 1996 game because of what it meant at the time. For those who don't remember, it had been 13 years since the Trojans had beaten the Irish. Thirteen years. When Mark Cusano batted down that Ron Powlus pass in overtime, it let loose a celebration in the Coliseum that was a joy to watch. I wasn't at the 1974 game, so I don't know what the crowd was like that day, but 1996 was certainly a good moment.
Unfortunately, I can't pick 1996 because I was at the 2005 game and there's no way I can't pick that. The finish was just amazing -- to be so far down, to think the game was lost when the Irish fans rushed the field, to have one last shot and then to have Leinart falling backwards into the end zone. Perfect. What I will always remember was the look of absolute shock on the faces of Irish fans after that game, walking out of the stadium. They weren't saying a word.
Steve Bisheff: It was late November 1974, and I was a beat man, covering the Chargers for the San Diego Tribune. We were in New York on a beautiful late fall Saturday before a game with the Jets the next day, and a bunch of us had just gone to see "Grease" in a Broadway matinee. It was highly entertaining, and some wanted to stop for a bite to eat afterwards, but I said no. I wanted to watch the second half of the USC-Notre Dame game on television. The group -- fellow writers and a wonderful PR man named Jerry Wynn -- agreed and we all headed back to the hotel.
When we arrived and switched on the set, it was 24-6 Notre Dame at halftime. We all figured we'd made a mistake. Little did we know.
Then the second half started, Anthony Davis returned the kickoff for a Trojans touchdown and all hell broke loose. What followed, as we all realize, was the most amazing second-half comeback in school, if not college football, history.
We all sat there slack-jawed. We couldn't believe it. It was an avalanche of points, and they just kept coming. The Irish were simply buried under the momentum and pandemonium at the Coliseum that day and lost 55-24. John McKay-coached USC, led by the small but strong-armed quarterback who happens to be athletic director now, had scored 48 points in the final 30 minutes against a quality Ara Parseghian football team. I don't know how many times those of us in the hotel room shook our heads in disbelief, but it was more than once or twice.
I don't remember where we all wound up going to dinner that night. I only remember all the conversation was about the game. I also remember that the food and wine never tasted better.
Greg Katz: I've been writing about, watching or attending this storied rivalry since 1962. I have seen a majority of these games played at the Coliseum in person and have been to Notre Dame Stadium for every game since 1995. Each game has a storyline and takes on a life of its own.
However, having to name one, my all-time memory for sheer energy, intensity and a crescendo of excitement would have to be the 1974 blowout of the Irish, 55-24. I've never seen a comeback like that or the Coliseum in such a sustained state of insanity. You'd have thought that the majority of the 80,552 in attendance were playing. Honestly, you had to see it to believe it.
The 2005 game at Notre Dame was an all-timer, no doubt, but the 1974 game in the Coliseum is rightfully legendary. If you haven't viewed it on ESPN Classic or YouTube, do yourself the favor. For those who never had the opportunity to see them play, you will get a chance to see Pat Haden, now USC's athletic director, his administrative buddy J.K. McKay, and "Irish Killer" Anthony Davis carve out the hearts of Irish fans everywhere in unbelievable performances.
Erik McKinney: Growing up, I always wished that I could have witnessed Anthony Davis' performance in the 1972 USC–Notre Dame game, or the Trojans' epic comeback in 1974, or the streak-busting win in 1996. But now, I don't mind so much having missed those games, because I was at Notre Dame Stadium in 2005. The whole game was intense, but I'll never forget watching the Trojans walk up to the line to face fourth-and-9. It will be remembered as one of the all-time great plays in the rivalry. The the entire sequence of events -- Matt Leinart stepping out to call an audible, Dwayne Jarrett hauling in the pass down the sideline, the USC section absolutely exploding as he raced toward the end zone -- is still such a vivid memory. It might not have been the game-winning touchdown, but no play meant more in that game, and it's possible that I'll never remember a moment in the USC-Notre Dame rivalry more than that one.
Kyle Williams: One memory that sticks out to me personally was the day before the 2005 game. For every away game, we would go to the stadium the day before -- to get used to the locker room and run around the field to get loose after a long flight and bus ride. As we started to make our way off the field to head back to the locker room to shower and check into the hotel, Joe Montana came on the field to check us out. In passing, he talked to a couple of us, wished us luck and shook our hands. I always thought that was cool to meet one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time on the same field he played his college ball on.