November 30, 1968 - The highest rated ABC game

Notre Dame Southern Cal Helmets

By 1968, Ara Parseghian was in his fifth year of coaching at Notre Dame and already had won a national championship. Ranked #9 and with a 7-2-0 record, Notre Dame headed out to California for the last game of the season against undefeated #2 Southern Cal. This would be the third top five opponent for the Irish the season. The team opened the season against #5 Oklahoma (#3 ND 45 - #5 OU 21) and then top ranked Purdue the following week (#2 ND 22 - #1 Purdue 37). Notre Dame had an extra week to prepare for the game which was timely due to Thanksgiving occurring two days prior.

Starting in place of the injured Terry Hanratty, the Joe Theismann era had begun at Notre Dame. On the very first pass of the game, Theismann threw an interception that Southern Cal returned for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead. Quickly forgetting about the mistake, Theismann led the offense to a 21-7 halftime lead. One of the touchdowns came from backup QB Coley O'Brien on an option pass to Joe Theismann. You should remember O'Brien from the 1966 Game of the Century. The defense also did its part by holding future Heisman winner O.J. Simpson to 33 yards in the first half.

The second would be all Southern Cal as they recorded two more touchdown to even the score 21-21. Despite giving up two touchdowns, the defense held Simpson to 22 yards in the second half. His 55 rushing yards would be his lowest output of the season. Notre Dame's offense and special teams could not notch another sore. Scott Hempel missed a 33 yarder with about 30 seconds left that would have won the game. After missing two field goals, the game ended in a tie. #9 Notre Dame 21 - #2 Southern Cal 21.

ND's Bob Gladieux rushed for 121 yards on 19 carries and 1 touchdown verse Southern Cal. Ron Dushney also outgained O.J. with 72 yards.

This game is the highest rated regular season college football game on ABC (think there are enough clarifiers in there?). It received a 22.9 rating which translates to 22.9% of the televisions in the United States were tuned in to this game.

Notre Dame would finish the season ranked fifth with a record of 7-2-1. The 1968 season also marked the last year that Notre Dame observed its self-imposed bowl ban. The following year Notre Dame would go to the Cotton Bowl and defeat top ranked Texas. It seems to have been a good decision.

Keywords: football, southern cal, ara parseghian, terry hanratty, joe theismann, oklahoma, purdue, texas, cotton bowl, coley obrien, scott hempel, bob gladieux, ron dushney

Posted On: 2011-11-30 03:15:00 by IrishTrpt07
Edited On: 2014-10-16 14:27:22 by IrishTrpt07


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