10 weeks from today, college football will have all eyes focused on two teams, Ohio State and Southern Cal. OSU/USC will officially kick off just after 8pm EST on September 13th, and unless you're a diehard Mormon who is anxious to see how Utah/Utah State turns out, you'll be watching the action in Los Angeles.
It will be referred to (over and over) as "the most highly-anticipated regular-season game in years". Both teams will likely be undefeated and ranked in the top 3 (Ohio State has easy home games with Ohio U and YSU, while USC takes a bit of a chance in facing Virginia on the road before a bye week).
Bloggers around the nation will hail it as "the first time Ohio State plays anybody out-of-conference, ever", conveniently forgetting when the 2-game series against Texas (the Longhorns were ranked number 2 in the nation both times). But who can blame the haters? After all, those games were alllllll the way back in 2005 and 2006. Who can remember that long ago?
But if you're old enough to remember the hype and excitement, this 2-game set with USC should remind you a lot of the series Ohio State had with Notre Dame in 1995 and 1996.
Forget the Notre Dame teams of Charlie Weis. This was a MUCH different team back then. The Irish still had Lou Holtz in command, a man who was so tough that he coached the 1995 game from the freakin' sidelines less than three weeks after having spinal surgery. That's pretty damn badass if you ask me.
In 1995, both teams spent most of the season in the top 10, and in 1996 both teams had serious aspirations of a national championship. In each instance, this game would effectively end the season of the loser (and it did).
Compare this year's USC team to that of Notre Dame's back then, you'll find some remarkable similarities.
- The brilliant coach who brings wins over and over again.
- The new highly-touted quarterback
- The track-star in the defensive secondary
I could go on, but you see where I'm getting, right?
1995 - Ohio State punishes Notre Dame 45-26. Eddie George rushes for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns, and uses the game as his springboard to the Heisman Trophy. Regis Philbin seals the victory for the Bucks by doing a live interview on ABC, proclaiming "We've got a lock on this! We're gonna win!". During the interview, WR Terry Glenn scores on an 82-yard TD pass. Philbin still doesn't shut up.
1996 - At South Bend, Ohio State continues their ownership of the Irish. Dimitrious Stanley takes the opening kickoff for 85 yards, and Ohio State never looks back in a 29-16 win. Row Powlus self-destructs in the fourth-quarter and tries to fight four members of the Buckeyes defense by himself. Nobody engages him, and he is later seen on the sideline with tears in his eyes. Lou Holtz resigns at the end of the season.
Notre Dame has not won a single bowl game since they played Ohio State in the 1990s.