For one football afternoon, the words “unbelievable” and “sensational” weren’t cliches. In fact, they may have understated the case, when USC, down 24-0, rallied for a 55-24 victory over Notre Dame at the Coliseum.
USC’s 16-14 upset of Notre Dame in 1931 had been considered the Trojans’ greatest football victory, but here was a worthy challenger.
That’s right, 55 unanswered points. And it happened 25 years ago today.
In the aftermath, even USC coach John McKay was stunned.
“I still don’t know what happened,” he said.
“Kent State, maybe, but Notre Dame?”
Trojan tailback Anthony Davis, who scored four touchdowns, had as good an explanation as anyone, when asked what had happened to his team after halftime.
“We turned into madmen,” he said.
Notre Dame was routinely beating up on USC in the first half, gaining 257 yards to USC’s 143. The Irish led in first downs, 18-7.
Davis scored his first touchdown on a seven-yard pass from Pat Haden with 10 seconds left in the half.
Then, to start the second half, Davis electrified the 83,552 on hand with a 102-yard kickoff return. After that, the cheering by Trojan partisans never stopped. A 49-0 second half was underway.
In fact, USC went from a 24-6 deficit to a 27-24 lead in 9 minutes 30 seconds.
McKay’s souped-up offense broke the Coliseum scoreboard, which was on the blink for much of the third quarter.
Besides Davis, USC was led by Haden, who completed his first six passes of the third quarter for 139 yards and three touchdowns. J.K. McKay, the coach’s son, caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter.
In the silence of Notre Dame’s locker room, Irish linebacker Greg Collins seemed to sum it up best.
“What was the final score, anyway?” he asked.
Also on this date: In 1956, Floyd Patterson, 21, became history’s youngest heavyweight boxing champion when he knocked out 40-year-old Archie Moore before 14,000 at Chicago Stadium.