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Tradition Tuesday: Purdue

Sep 4, 2012, 3:27 PM EDT


After opening the season away from South Bend for the first time since 2006, the Irish return to Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday, when they take on in-state foe, Purdue at 3:30 pm ET on NBC. Last October, head coach Brian Kelly’s team traveled to West Lafayette, where they bested the Boilermakers, 38-10.

Behind Navy, Purdue is Notre Dame’s second-most common opponent. This year’s game will be the 84th in the series, which dates back to 1896. In the previous 83 meetings, Notre Dame is 55-26-2. The Irish have also won six of the last seven games in the series.

One of the oldest rivalries in Irish history, the series with the Boilermakers is also one of the most consistent. This year marks the 67th straight contest, as the teams have played every season since 1946.

Beginning in 1957, the winner of the game was presented with the Shillelagh Trophy, donated by Irish fan Joe McLaughlin, who brought it from Ireland. This trophy is not to be confused with the Jeweled Shillelagh, which goes to the winner of the annual Notre Dame-USC game.

Interestingly enough, Notre Dame used to have a Shillelagh in the school’s series with Northwestern, before both of the aforementioned trophies became part of the Purdue and USC traditions. The Northwestern Shillelagh was part of the annual meeting in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Throughout Notre Dame’s history with Purdue, the teams have played a number of noteworthy games. In 1906, the Irish escaped with a 2-0 win over Purdue. Yes, in football.

Sixty years later, Ara Parseghian‘s squad won its season opener against Purdue by a score of 26-14. Irish quarterback Terry Hanratty connected with the late Jim Seymour on 13 passes and three touchdowns for 276 yards, a school record that still stands today. Later that season, Time Magazine featured a painting of Hanratty and Seymour on the cover, proclaiming a passing revolution in football.

The 1977 game against Purdue contributed to the growing legend of Joe Montana. After a loss to Mississippi in the second game of the year, the “Comeback Kid” helped preserve Notre Dame’s title hopes. Montana entered the game with the Irish down 24-14. He proceeded to throw for 154 yards and a touchdown, leading Notre Dame to a 31-24 victory and paving the way for a 10th national championship season.

In 2007, Notre Dame’s trip to Ross-Ade Stadium began the Irish fan base’s love affair with receiver Golden Tate. Despite a 33-19 loss, the freshman amassed 104 receiving yards on just three catches and it was not long before many students began wearing “Golden is Thy Tate” shirts around campus.

Three years ago, it took some last-second heroics from Jimmy Clausen and Kyle Rudolph to escape with a 24-21 victory.

That 2009 contest was the first Irish game in quite some time that I did not watch. Along with several other Notre Dame friends, I was at a concert in Tinley Park, Ill. Just about the same time the Dave Matthews Band started their signature anthem, “Ants Marching,” sending the crowd into a frenzy, we had our own Irish celebration, receiving word that Notre Dame had taken the lead after converting a 4th-and-goal from the two-yard line. With just 25 seconds remaining, the touchdown pass was the third-latest go-ahead touchdown in Irish history.

When most fans look at Notre Dame’s 2012 schedule, Purdue is probably not one of the teams that pops out as being a college football powerhouse. Nevertheless, the Irish’s battle with the Boilermakers is filled with memorable moments, (like Ray Zellars’ incredible run in 1994), some of which will be revisited this week as part of the 125 project. Stay tuned.

Note: Excerpts from this post were first published on the UNDerground blog last season prior to the Purdue game.

  1. 9irish - Sep 5, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    It is a rivalry, of sorts. My dad used to complain about Purdue all the time, they had a series of QBs go thru there on the way to the NFL, Bob Griese stands out in my mind.

    Go Irish

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