Friday, December 30, 2005

Rubber Match | by Jay

The curtain now rises on a new football setting, and there at front stage are the Irish of Notre Dame and the battling Buckeyes of Ohio State. Notre Dame and Ohio State! This is the game the fans of the nation have awaited. This is the greatest test of two powerful gridiron machines, amply supported by replacements, which have rolled over all opposition and now find their victorious paths converge.

Carnival at its zenith: No detail of metropolitan madness, necessary props for football, has been omitted. There are rumors of counterfeit tickets. There are scalpers, professional and amateur, whose prices are said to fluctuate from $7.50 to $25, depending on the author of the tale...

Eighty-thousand fortunates will see the game. Many times that number will hear it described. An army of reporters will write about it. This contest has stirred city and commonwealth so completely that a President might pass these boundaries unnoticed...

Now [head coach Elmer] Layden and his assistants have no knowledge of any loophole in Ohio State's defense. It may be Notre Dame can gain over the Buckeye tackles. Passes may be completed, but only the game itself will answer whether the Irish can breach the Buckeye's defenses...

Of this you may be certain: tomorrow's victor will find few to question its claim to national supremacy.

-- Wilfrid Smith, Chicago Tribune, 1935

(and the letter that kicked off the series in the '30s, care of IrishLegends.)

Bucknuts did a nice series of article on all four previous Notre Dame-Ohio State tilts, starting with a great overview of the matchup, then an article on all four games:

1935 - Game of the Century

1936 - Rematch in South Bend

1995 - A Rivalry Rekindled

1996 - OSU Evens the Score
It still amazes me that the Fiesta Bowl will only be the fifth time Notre Dame and Ohio State have ever played each other. Here we've got two programs who've been in the football business from the very beginning of the sport, separated by a scant three hundred miles, yet through through the first half of the century ND was constantly trekking to Omaha and New York and Los Angeles to fill out their schedule (thanks, Fielding!). It seems like such an obvious regional rivalry, and I'm glad there are some stirrings about another series down the road.