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On This Date in Sports October 22, 1977

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Wearing Green Jerseys for the first time in 14 years, Notre Dame enters the game with a #11 ranking delivers a statement win over #5 USC, winning 49-19 in South Bend. The idea of the Green Jerseys came from Basketball Coach Digger Phelps, who suggested it would boost team’s morale. The Irish would go on to win their remaining games, culminating with a 38-10 win over Texas in the Cotton Bowl to claim a National Championship.

Heading into their annual meeting against USC for the Jeweled Shillelagh in 1977, Notre Dame had three straight losses to their rivals from Los Angeles. The game in South Bend was done or die test for the Irish under Coach Dan Devine, who was in his third year as coach of the Irish, but was losing the support of the boosters after failing to beat the Trojans or do no better than the 8-3 and 9-3 records in his first two seasons.

At the suggestion of Digger Phelps, Notre Dame, sporting a record of 4-1 with a #11 ranking wore green uniforms against the rival Trojans, the first time since 1963 that the Irish wore anything other than blue and gold. USC, which had been #1 earlier in the season was holding a 5-1 record, with a #5 ranking. The unveiling of the green uniforms was done in dramatic fashion, as the Irish wore their regular blue jerseys. However, as they prepared the take the field for the game the Irish were in green hiding behind a giant Trojan Horse. The site of the Green Uniforms sent Notre Dame Stadium into a frenzy. The Irish rode the wave of an emotion to an early 7-0 lead on a Dave Mitchell touchdown run. After USC tied the game early in second quarter, Notre Dame scored the next 35 points led by Joe Montana who had a pair of touchdown passes and a pair of touchdown runs on the way to a statement 49-19 win.

Following their win over USC, Notre Dame wore green for the remainder of the 1977 season. The win over the Trojans launched the Irish into the Top Ten and helped spark a run to the National Championship. Notre Dame would win their final five games by a combined score of 230-51. Facing #1 Texas who was unbeaten heading into the Cotton Bowl, Notre Dame completed its rise winning 38-10 to claim their tenth National Championship.