#4 USC vs. Notre Dame, 1974

Once in awhile you get lucky.

I was born and grew up in Southern California in the 1950’s and ‘60’s and 70’s.  Lucky enough; could have been North Dakota, or Siberia for that matter.

As a result I grew up an LA Sports fan. 

At that time LA had some of the best professional and college teams of all time.  The LA Rams, the LA Lakers, the LA Dodgers, the USC Trojans (football) and the UCLA Bruins (basketball).  I could go on and on with the names and the games…

When I graduated from high school in 1971, I somehow ended up at Fresno State, definitely not the same sports environment as Southern California.  But, once in awhile you get lucky.

One of my roommates at Fresno was Steve Haskell.  Steve was a great guy, and had also grown up in Southern California.  Steve’s mom was a teacher at Hart High in Newhall, and, of all things, was a graduate of USC, and still a big fan.  She had season tickets to the football games, and each year gave Steve tickets to at least one game.  In 1974, the tickets she couldn’t use were for the Notre Dame game at the Coliseum.

Once in awhile…

So Steve and I traveled south for the game, anticipating a good one with the Trojans ranked #4 and the Fighting Irish ranked 5th in the country.  The teams were both 9-1…

We stumbled into the stadium alongside the other 83,550 fans and got ready for a good one…little did we know…

As mentioned, I was a fan.  This was 1974.  Since the 1963 days of Beathard to Bedsole, and the 1968 Heisman Trophy days of OJ Simpson, I had been hooked.  No college football team brought more excitement to the game than the Trojans.  And here we were, witnessing the Big Game with arch-rival Notre Dame.  What could be better?   But, as half time approached, I was just glad I was 21, able to have a beer(s) and a hot dog.  As for the game:  Notre Dame 24, USC 0.  

And then the Trojans got really lucky…and really good.

The next 17 minutes of football are among the most unbelievable ever played:

  • Haden to Anthony Davis for a 7 year touchdown just before the half ended = 24-6, Notre Dame
  • Anthony Davis returns the 2nd half kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown = 24-12, Notre Dame
  • With 3 minutes gone in the 3rd quarter, Davis goes 6 yards for another score = 24-19, Notre Dame
  • Following a fumble recovery, Anthony Davis scores again with only 6 minutes spent = 27-24, USC
  • After a 56 yard punt return, Haden hits McKay in the end zone = 34-24, USC
  • Charles Phillips comes up with an interception, and Haden connects with McKay again = 41-24, USC
  • 17 seconds into the 4th quarter, Haden hits Sheldon Diggs for a 16 yard score = 48-24, USC
  • Phillips intercepts ND QB Clements again for a 58 yard return and TD = 55-24, USC

With one minute and 44 seconds played in the 4th quarter, we all took a deep breath.

In just 17 minutes, USC had shockingly scored 8 touchdowns, accounting for 55 points.  Unbeliveable.

And I was there to see it all; All of this against a Notre Dame football team ranked 5th in the country.

The final score of the game was 55-24, USC.

Truth is, I have only been to a couple of dozen professional and college games in my life. 

But once in awhile you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. 

Sometimes it’s just nice to be lucky.

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