The match-up on Saturday between the Irish and the Trojans will mark the 50th anniversary of one of the great games in the series.
On Nov. 28, 1964 Notre Dame came swaggering into the Coliseum ranked No. 1 in the country with a 9-0 record under first-year coach Ara Parseghian. It had been a surprising turnaround for the Irish, who had been 2-7 in 1963 and had only posted two winning seasons in the previous eight years, and were on their fourth coach in that same span. Notre Dame featured quarterback John Huarte, who personified the rags-to-riches Irish by going from deep reserve to Heisman Trophy winner in one year. USC had a solid team with a 6-3 record and was still alive for a potential Rose Bowl berth. The Trojans were led by tailback Mike Garrett, who would win the Heisman the following year.
USC coach John McKay, who had won a national championship in 1962, was well aware of what kind of team the Irish were bringing to town.
“I studied the Notre Dame-Stanford film for six hours last night and I have reached one conclusion: Notre Dame can’t be beaten,” McKay told the media the week before the game. “I’ve decided that if we play our very best and make no mistakes whatsoever we will definitely make a first down.”