The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and USC Trojans first played each other in a hard fought game culminating in a 13-12 win for the Irish on December 4th, 1926 in Los Angeles. It was such a great match up Knute Rockne, the legendary coach at Notre Dame, was quoted as saying it was the best game he ever saw. This contest was a harbinger for a great rivalry to come that produced some of the most exciting games in college football history. Notre Dame currently leads the series 43-33-5 and defeated USC last year 20-16.
The series continues Saturday with much at stake for the Irish. For starters a win would bring Notre Dame a step closer to regaining its prominence and rejoining the ranks of the top 25 teams in the country. Also a triumph over USC would give the Irish bragging rights and ownership over the famed bejeweled shillelagh trophy.
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This hardware, introduced in 1952 by the Notre Dame alumni association of Southern California, has been annually awarded to the victor of this long running feud. The Irish club, made of oak or blackthorn saplings, is adorned with ruby red Trojans and emerald-encrusted shamrocks that represent USC and Notre Dame wins respectively. A tied game is represented by a hybrid Trojan/shamrock medallion. Each piece is inscribed with the score of the game.
The original shillelagh was replaced in 1989 as it ran out of space for the pieces and is currently displayed at Notre Dame. A new and longer shillelagh was introduced in 2007.
Currently the Fighting Irish medallions outnumber the Trojan ones on both shillelaghs 43 to 34.
Lets hope the Irish can hold onto the shillelagh on Saturday with a win in South Bend.