Here’s the famous Craig Fertig-to-Rod Sherman touchdown catch that provided the winning points as USC upset No. 1-ranked Notre Dame, 20-17, in 1964 at the Coliseum.
Notre Dame led 17-0 and 17-7 entering the fourth quarter.
The winning touchdown pass came with 1:43 left, and more importantly, on fourth down and 8.
“I studied the Notre Dame-Stanford film for six hours last night and I have reached one conclusion: Notre Dame can’t be beaten,” John McKay said the Monday before the game.
In a strange incident largely forgotten, USC linebacker Ernie Pye walked through a plate-glass window at the team hotel dining room, cut his heel and missed the game.
“O.K., fellows. Ernie’s given us the idea for today,” McKay said. “We’ve got to crash their glass.”
Also forgotten: Notre Dame fumbled in the third quarter at the USC 9-yard line and then had a holding penalty on a 1-yard TD run.
Those plays kept USC within striking distance and set up one of the most memorable plays in USC history.
The celebration was muted later that night when USC found out the faculty representatives of the Athletic Association of Western Universities curiously voted for co-champion Oregon State to represent the conference in the Rose Bowl.
USC was 7-3. Oregon State was 8-2. The USC argument was it played a tougher schedule. The Trojans defeated then-No. 2 Oklahoma, lost to then-No. 2 Ohio State and beat No. 1 Notre Dame.
The Beavers had beaten then-No. 8 Syracuse and No. 10 Oregon.
“So far as I am concerned, this is one of the rankest injustices ever perpetrated in the field of intercollegiate athletics,” USC athletic director Jess Hill said.
(Photo courtesy USC Digital Library)