The Notre Dame Fighting Irish rivalry with the USC Trojans may be the greatest in college football and certainly is the greatest intersectional one.
Notre Dame and USC are among the most elite football programs; both schools combined have produced more national titles (21), Heisman Trophy winners (14), All-Americans, College Football Hall of Famers and NFL Hall of Famers than any other collegiate series.
Both colleges are also in the top 25 best colleges by U.S. News & World Report academic rankings.
The one thing that makes the Notre Dame-USC rivalry so special is that it is not required. The schools are not in the same conference, nor are they in the same state, and there are no regional or conference prerogatives that compel the game.
Unlike many longtime rivalries, there is mutual respect between the teams, coaches and most fans.
Both teams have spoiled the other’s title hopes 14 times. But, they keep playing because each program desires to take on the best.
It is not surprising USC is the only college that always plays BCS schools and has never played a Division I-AA college, as is the case with Notre Dame (USC’s crosstown rival UCLA is the only other college with this distinction).
USC sought out Notre Dame because it was looking for a tough rival to play; at the same time, Big Ten schools were looking not to play Notre Dame.
The two teams have played every year since 1926 except three years during WWII when travel was limited. Notre Dame leads the series 43-33-5 (2005 game was vacated), thanks to several winning periods (the 1940s, 1950s and 1980s were the most dominant).
There have been very exciting games during this time with comebacks, upsets, close scores and national title implications.
Here is an attempt to identify the 25 best games in the Notre Dame-USC rivalry.
P.S. You may also enjoy this ranking of the Top 50 Trojan players in history.