By: Phil Houk of Fighting Irish Preview

Notre Dame escaped for the second straight week with a nail biting, 3-point victory. Purdue is also 2-0. They have won their games by a combined score of 79-21.

Two undefeated teams, two very different paths to get there.

The Irish and the Boilermakers, battle this week for the Shillelagh Trophy for the 87th time in a series that has been on hiatus since 2014. It is a match-up that has a history of great players, great coaches and great games.

Things started off in 1896 with a 28-22 Purdue win. But soon after under Rockne with George Gipp and then the Four Horsemen at his direction, the Irish dominated.

In 1950, Purdue ended Notre Dame’s 39 game unbeaten streak. That upset loss, may have been the beginning of the end for workaholic Frank Leahy

In 1964 future NFL Hall of Famer Alan Page blocked a punt, returned it for a touchdown and Ara Parseghian had his first ever home win.

In 1965, another Hall of famer Bob Greise completed 19 of 22 as the #6 Boilers coached by Jack Mollenkopf upset the #1 ranked Irish.

In 1966, “The baby bombers” combo of Hanratty to Seymour debuted and the Irish pulled off the victory.  ND went on to win the National Championship while Leroy Keyes and the Boilers went on to defeat USC in the Rose Bowl.

From 1967 to 1970   Mike Phipps led Purdue to 3 straight wins.  And the ‘68 game featured #1 vs #2.

1971 saw the Irish escape in a rainstorm 8-7 when Pat Steenberge hit Mike Creaney for a 2-point conversion on a pass that is known in Fighting Irish lore as, the “genuflect play”.

In 1974, 4 touchdown underdog Purdue ended Irish hopes of repeating as National Champs.

In 1977 Mark Herrmann staked Purdue to a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter but then, Joe Montana entered the game and a legend was born.

Lou Holtz never lost to the Boilers but that tide turned in 1997 when one-year wonder Billy Dicken guided Purdue to victory, and the Joe Tiller era had begun. I remember that game well, that was the year Fighting Irish Preview was born.

In 1999 Drew Brees passed the Boilers to a 5-point lead and then the Irish were stopped one yard from victory on the last play.

And in 2012 and 2013:  The Irish were big favorites but struggled in each of the games to win in nail-biting fashion.

The most recent match-up was in 2014. That game was played as part of the Shamrock Series at Lucas Oil stadium in Indianapolis. Everett Golson ran one in from 15 yards out and hit William Fuller and Corey Robinson for TDs and the #11 ranked Irish prevailed 30-14.

Great players, great coaches and great games.  

This week, the series renews and Purdue has the look of a team on the rise, the Irish on the other hand, have the look of a team, searching for answers.

By Phil Houk

For 25 years, bringing you the glory of Notre Dame football.

8 thoughts on “The Battle for the Shillelagh Trophy: Great Players, Great Coaches, Great Games”
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