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On This Date in Sports November 9, 1946: The Great Stalemate

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

In what some consider, “The Game of the Century” Army and Notre Dame ranked first and second played to a scoreless tie at Yankee Stadium. With their Heisman winning backfield of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis, Army had a 25-game winning streak, with their last loss coming to the Notre Dame in 1943. The Irish came into the game looking to avenge losses in 1944 and 1945. As a result of the tie, both teams would share the National Championship.

Coached by Earl Blalik, Army became a National Football power at the end of World War II. In 1944, the Cadets captured the National Championship for the first time since 1916. West Point repeated in 1945, as they were in the midst of a 25-game winning streak. The last loss suffered by the Black Knights of the Hudson was in 1943, when they were blanked by Notre Dame 26-0. Over the next two years, Army avenged that loss by stomping the Irish 59-0 in 1944 and 48-0 in 1945. Leading the charge for Army, was their dual threat in the backfield Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. Blanchard nicknamed, “Mr. Inside” won the Heisman Trophy in 1945, while Davis nicknamed “Mr. Outside” won it in 1946.

Notre Dame got a big boost in 1946 as Frank Leahy returned to coach the team after serving in the Navy during World War II. When he was last at South Bend, he led the Irish to the 1943 National Championship. While Army had the current Heisman winners, Notre Dame had two future winners in quarterback Johnny Lujack who would win in 1947 and receiver Leon Hart who would win the Heisman in 1949.

Both teams came into the game unbeaten, Notre Dame had a record of 5-0 while Army was 7-0. Both teams had dominated their previous games, leading to the clear notion that the Irish and Cadets were the two top teams in the nation. The team was expected to bring offensive fireworks, however defense dominated for both teams. However, the biggest tackle of the game may have been made by Irish quarterback Johnny Lujack, who saved a touchdown after throwing an interception. The Irish defense meanwhile held the Army Heisman running backs to just 79 yards.

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Both teams would go on to win their remaining games, with Notre Dame, finishing 8-0-1 while Army finished 9-0-1. When the season was over, both teams claimed a share of the National Championship as they remain ranked 1-2. The Irish won the AP poll, while the Cadets claimed six other polls. It was the third straight championship for Army, Notre Dame meanwhile began a stretch of three National Championships in four years.