Fifty years ago this month, Notre Dame was voted No. 1 for the first time since the introduction of college football ratings by the Associated Press in 1936.
On Dec. 3, 1938, Notre Dame (8-0) faced USC (7-2) at the Coliseum before the largest crowd ever to see a game on the West Coast. The crowd was announced as 104,000, but officially it is listed as 97,146.
USC won the game, 13-0. The big play was a 36-yard touchdown pass from reserve tailback Ollie Day to end Al Krueger with 5 seconds left in the half. That gave USC a 6-0 lead.
Positioning the Trojans for the play was an incredible blunder by the Irish. On fourth and 22 in their own territory, they went for it, sending Bob Saggau on an end sweep. Not only did Saggau come up short, but he went out of bounds to stop the clock.
The play was called by quarterback Steve Sitko.
Said Irish Coach Elmer Layden when asked about the call: “A Notre Dame quarterback is always right.”
Note: There were no card stunts at halftime. When Krueger scored, the Trojan followers flung the cards out onto the field in a wild celebration.
When USC receiver Erik Affholter was asked the difference between Ted Tollner and Larry Smith, he told the Baltimore Sun: “Coach Tollner had a philosophy that was more free-wheeling. It was more like, ‘Go out there, have a good time and, hopefully, we’ll win.’ With Coach Smith, it was that you were either going to do it his way or leave.”
Said Anthony Davis, who scored 11 touchdowns in three years against the Irish: “Coach Smith has brought back the hard work and the ways of the past. He’s been a big plus.”
Trivia Time: Why won’t Steve Sax be able to wear the same number with the New York Yankees that he did with the Dodgers? (Answer below.)
Miami’s only loss is to Notre Dame, 31-30, but most of the Hurricanes see the Irish losing Saturday.
Said wide receiver Andre Brown: “Southern Cal has a better team. Notre Dame got lucky on us. Southern Cal won’t have the mistakes and penalties we had.”
It could be wishful thinking. If Notre Dame loses to USC and then beats West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl while USC is losing to Michigan in the Rose Bowl, the Hurricanes conceivably would have a shot at No. 1.
Would-you-believe it dept.: New England quarterback Doug Flutie has completed 33 passes for 453 yards in the last 5 games. Four years ago, in Boston College’s 47-45 win over Miami, he completed 34 passes for 472 yards.
From Phil Jackman of the Baltimore Evening Sun: “The record for number of receptions in an NFL game, held by Tom Fears, is the same as the number of passes hauled in by Leon Hart during his entire Heisman Trophy season at Notre Dame--18.”
Trivia Answer: Sax wore No. 3, the same number Babe Ruth wore. It’s been retired.
Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post, on Robin Givens’ $125-million defamation of character suit against Mike Tyson: “Doesn’t she know that as soon as he gave power of attorney to the sincere and fabulous Don King, Tyson didn’t have any money anymore?”