Notre Dame kicks off its 2010 season this Saturday against Purdue. This is more than a game. It’s a storied, long standing rivalry between the two college football titans in Indiana. In a state known for its passion for basketball, college football grabs the spotlight this weekend. Call it “Saturday night Lights” Hoosier style. The Fighting Irish and the Boilermakers find themselves playing for bragging rights, pride, and the Shillelagh Trophy.
This hardware has been awarded to the victor of this grid iron battle every year since 1956. The shillelagh was donated to Notre Dame by Joe McLaughin, a tremendous Fighting Irish football fan and successful sea merchant. He brought the item from Ireland. The Fighting Irish have won this ceremonial “club” 34 times (Purdue has captured it 19 times) and are the currently in possession of it after beating Purdue last season in West Lafayette.
The inter-state rivals first met in 1896 and have squared off yearly since 1946. The Fighting Irish have dominated this match up with an all-time record of 53-26-3 and hold the record for most points scored against the Boilermakers at their home stadium, Ross-Ade Stadium, with 52 in 1983.
Many dramatic and magical moments in Notre Dame Football history have taken place against Purdue. In 1986 Fighting Irish coaching legend Lou Holz notched his first victory at Notre Dame in a win over the Boilermakers, 41-9 and proceeded to never lose a game to Purdue in his tenure. In a 41-16 loss to the Purdue, Brady Quinn set the Notre Dame Stadium passing record with 432 yards in 2008. And in a 24-21 thriller last year, Notre Dame triumphed in the last seconds as Jimmy Clausen hooked up with Kyle Rudolph for a come from behind victory.
Purdue has not taken the Notre Dame domination lying down. The Boilermakers returned the favor to Notre Dame by setting the scoring record at the dome themselves with 51 points in 1960. The team also played spoiler having beaten the Irish in 1950 and ending the team’s 39 game unbeaten streak. In one of the most important games in Boilermaker football history, the team ranked #1 defeated a #2 ranked Notre Dame 37-22.
It should be another thriller in Indiana this weekend. Maybe with a little luck of the Irish of Notre Dame will win and retain the shillelagh trophy.