Clash of Titans
Games featuring a future Hall of Fame coach on each sideline.
October 30, 1920: Notre Dame @ Army
Knute Rockne vs Charles Daly
Knute Rockne's third Notre Dame team won their first four games by a combined 125-10. Then they went to The Plain to meet Army, which was also undefeated through five games.
The schools had met six times with the Ramblers (as they were commonly called be­cause they traveled widely to meet foes) winning four, including the last two.
The Associated Press article the day of the game began like this: "River craft, trains and automobiles this morning began unloading hundreds of football enthusiasts here to see the class between the Army and Notre Dame this afternoon. Both teams were keyed to a high pitch. The weather was cloudy and the field heavy from the rains of the last two days."
The Ramblers had been pointing to this game all season, as explained in an article from South Bend. "'Whipping West Point' is the goal of this Indian eleven every year. ... They've practice for hours on the old charging machine. They've ripped the sawdust out of the tack­ling dummy with zest and they've battered the hard-boiled freshmen into a boiling mass."
The undisputed star of the Notre Dame team was 6' 175lb triple-threat HB George Gipp. He had compiled these statistics through the first four games: 56 carries for 496y and six touchdowns; 13-of-35 pass completions for 275y. The lad from Laurium MI was also Rockne's punter and best defensive back.

L-R: George Gipp, Chet Wynne, Joe Brandy, Rog Kiley, John Mohardt
If the 10,000 fans came to see Gipp, they were not disappointed. As the New York Times put it, "A lithe limbed Hoosier football player named George Gipp galloped at will through the Army on the plains here this afternoon, giving a performance which was more like an antelope than a human being. Gipp's sensational dashes through the Cadets and his mar­velously tossed forward passes enabled Notre Dame to beat the Army by a score of 27 to 17."
Notre Dame moved quickly into Army territory before hard hit on Chet Wynne a fum­ble derailed the advance. The Cadets took advantage of the break to break the scoring ice. The big play was a 40y run by Army's star FB Walter French to the ND 23. Charles Law­rence then broke free through the right side and shook off several potential tacklers into the end zone. The PAT made it 7-0. The biggest gainers were Gipp's "zig-zag dash" around left end for 25y before French, the only Cadet between him and the goal line, made the tackle. The drive almost ended when QB Joe Brandy fumbled, but Gipp recovered it. George tossed a beautiful pass to Rog Kiley, who ran to the five. John Mohardt rammed over from there. Gipp booted the tying point.
The Hoosiers took the lead early in the second period. After a holding penalty moved the Cadets back to their five, French punted from the end zone. Gipp caught the ball and raced to the Army 38. Then he threw a pass to Kiley who caught it on the 30 and contin­ued to the end zone. Notre Dame 14 Army 7
Rockne's crew got the ball back after a punt to their 25. Wynne fumbled and was for­tunate to recover the rolling pigskins on the 10. So Gipp punted from the end zone, boom­ing a spiral all the way to the Army 40, where French caught it. He then "dazzled the crowd with a 60-yard gallop which carried him on a dizzy trip through the whole Notre Dame team for a touchdown." The PAT tied the score at 14.
Before the half ended, the Cadets moved the ball to the ND 20 from where French kicked "a goal from placement" to lead 17-14 at the break.
In the third quarter, "Gipp made his only mistake of a perfect day." His 37y field goal sailed wide. He made up for the error on ND's next possession when he scampered 25y to his 40. Brandy kept calling Gipp's number, including a 23y pass to Mohardt. George ripped off two gains of 10y to put the ball on Army's 20 when the quarter ended with the Cadets still leading by three.
After the teams changed ends, Gipp carried twice to the 10. Then Mohardt raced around end to the corner of the end zone to put Notre Dame on top. Gipp kicked the extra point to make it Notre Dame 21 Army 17.
Army inexplicably chose to kick off rather than receive the kick. Gipp "caught the ball and dodged and twisted his way through the whole Army outfit for a hair-raising gallop of 48 yards" to the Army 45. Showing no signs of tiredness, George hurled another long pass to 215lb Frank Coughlin, who took it 15 more yards. Notre Dame then faked a "criss-cross play." "While the Cadets were tumbling toward the wings to get the man with the ball, Wynne smashed his way right through the center of the line for another touchdown to make the final score Notre Dame 27 Army 17.
The Hoosiers gained 20 first downs to just four for Army. Gipp ran for 129y on only 10 carries and completed four passes for 128y.
Notre Dame would finish the season 9-0 and claim the national championship. However, their celebration was muted by the death of Gipp on December 14 from a streptococcal throat infection and pneumonia.