Sept. 12, 2014
By: Lou Somogyi
No rivalry in college football since the end of World War II has produced better quarterback matchups than Indiana state rivals Notre Dame and Purdue.
The facts speak for themselves.
In a Nov. 18, 2012, article, the Wall Street Journal wrote, “Purdue may be the ultimate Quarterback U.,” primarily because since the 1970 National Football League-American Football League merger, the Boilermakers easily had the most starts among quarterbacks (724 at the time) in NFL games. Notre Dame’s 543 ranked fifth, behind Washington, Miami and USC.
However, in the Super Bowl era since 1966, only USC has produced more NFL starting quarterbacks than Notre Dame’s 14 — and that doesn’t include Notre Dame’s national title-winning quarterbacks Tom Clements (1972-74) and Tony Rice (1987-89), who did not play or start in the NFL.
Purdue and Alabama are the only two schools that have produced three Super Bowl-winning starting quarterbacks, but Notre Dame has had five who played in a Super Bowl game, highlighted by Joe Montana and Joe Theismann winning back-to-back titles in 1981 and 1982 at San Francisco and Washington, respectively.
Purdue refers to itself as the “Cradle of Quarterbacks,” but Notre Dame’s nine quarterback inductees into the College Football Hall of Fame are second to nobody. Hence, the state rivalry, which has been uninterrupted since 1946, has famous quarterback matchups. Here are at least 10 of them listed in chronological order:
1947: Johnny Lujack (Notre Dame) and Bob DeMoss (Purdue) Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack led Notre Dame to a victory over DeMoss’ Boilermakers, 22-7 and became the first — and still lone — quarterback in college football annals to start on three national championship teams.
DeMoss is listed as Purdue’s first among its dozen “Cradle of Quarterbacks,” and he would help coach five others.
1950: Bob Williams (Notre Dame) and Dale Samuels (Purdue) As a junior in 1949, College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bob Williams directed Notre Dame’s national title run while posting a pass efficiency rating that wouldn’t be broken until 60 years later by Jimmy Clausen.
However, in 1950, in only his second career start, Samuels directed a 28-14 upset in rainy Notre Dame Stadium to end Notre Dame’s 39-game unbeaten streak from 1946-50.
1954: Ralph Guglielmi (Notre Dame) and Len Dawson (Purdue) This matchup provided a carbon copy of 1950.
Like Williams, Ralph Guglielmi directed an unbeaten season as a junior the previous year and is in the College Football Hall of Fame. Like Samuels, Len Dawson was a sophomore who led the upset of No. 1 Notre Dame on its home field by almost the exact same score, 27-14.
It marked Notre Dame’s lone loss of the 9-1 season, earning Purdue the “Spoilermakers” moniker. Dawson would become the first Purdue quarterback to win a Super Bowl, at Kansas City for the 1969 Chiefs.
1966: Terry Hanratty (Notre Dame) and Bob Griese (Purdue) This time, Terry Hanratty qualified as the neophyte sophomore making his first career start, while senior Bob Griese — who had completed 19 of his 22 passes for 283 yards while leading a victory over Notre Dame the previous year — ranked as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
Hanratty stole the show with a scintillating performance, completing 16 of his 24 passes for 303 yards and three scores (all to classmate Jim Seymour, who caught 13 of the passes for 276 yards) in the 26-14 victory.
Notre Dame would go on to win the national title, while Purdue would win its first and lone Rose Bowl.
Griese would be the starter for Miami’s Super Bowl champion teams in 1972 and 1973, and Hanratty backed up Terry Bradshaw on the Pittsburgh Steeler teams that won Super Bowls in 1974 and 1975.
1969: Joe Theismann (Notre Dame) and Mike Phipps (Purdue) History was made when Mike Phipps became the first quarterback to start in three consecutive wins over Notre Dame with this 28-14 triumph. He later would be joined by USC’s Matt Leinart (2003-05) and Stanford’s Andrew Luck (2009-11).
Phipps would finish No. 2 in the 1969 Heisman Trophy balloting, and Theismann would do likewise in 1970 while barely missing a national title. Both would play 12 years in the NFL, with Joe Theismann winning NFL MVP honors while helping Washington to the 1982 Super Bowl title. In 1983, he was the league MVP.
1972: Tom Clements (Notre Dame) and Gary Danielson (Purdue) Similar to 1966 with Hanratty, fellow western Pennsylvania native Tom Clements was the new sophomore starter, while Gary Danielson was the third-year senior star for Purdue on his way to a 13-year NFL career. In his second career start and against a strong Purdue defense, Clements completed 17 of his 24 passes for 287 yards in a 35-14 rout of the Boilermakers.
The next season, Clements would guide Notre Dame to the national title. He is now the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers while Danielson is a college football game analyst on CBS Sports.
1977: Joe Montana (Notre Dame) and Mark Herrmann (Purdue) Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010 while becoming the NCAA’s all-time passing yardage leader when he graduated, the freshman Mark Herrmann staked Purdue to a 24-14 fourth quarter lead against the Irish with 351 yards passing.
Notre Dame stood 1-1 and was sputtering again when it called on third-team senior quarterback Joe Montana, sidelined the previous year because of shoulder surgery, to spark a fourth-quarter rally.
Montana completed nine of his 14 passes for 154 yards in the dramatic 31-24 Notre Dame comeback win. Notre Dame would go on to win the 1977 national title, and Montana would achieve even greater prominence in the NFL as a four-time Super Bowl winner. How might history have changed if he had not been inserted?
1984: Steve Beuerlein (Notre Dame) and Jim Everett (Purdue) Like Purdue’s Danielson, Steve Beuerlein is now a college football analyst for CBS Sports. His 17-year NFL career is the longest of any Notre Dame quarterback.
On this day, though, new Purdue starter Jim Everett guided a 23-21 upset of No. 8 Notre Dame by completing 20 of his 28 passes for 255 yards. The No. 3 overall pick in the 1986 NFL Draft, Everett would play 12 years in the league.
2000: Gary Godsey (Notre Dame) and Drew Brees (Purdue) This contest qualifies as of the amazing stories in the series. Gary Godsey, who was recruited as a tight end and would finish his career there, received his first career start at quarterback because of an injury the previous week to starter Arnaz Battle.
Meanwhile, the senior Brees would win the Maxwell Award and finish third in the Heisman Trophy balloting en route to leading Purdue to the Big Ten title and only its second Rose Bowl appearance.
On this day, though, Godsey led the game-winning drive that culminated with Nicholas Setta’s 38-yard field goal as time elapsed in the 23-21 victory at Notre Dame Stadium. Godsey actually finished with more completions (14) than Brees (13), and he scored the game’s first touchdown on a nine-yard run.
Godsey eventually would return to tight end. Brees, still starring in the NFL, has been an eight-time Pro Bowl pick and led the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl title during the 2009 season.
2004: Brady Quinn (Notre Dame) and Kyle Orton (Purdue) Sophomore Brady Quinn passed for 432 yards, but Kyle Orton completed 21 of 31 for 385 yards in Purdue’s 41-16 victory — the first Boilermaker victory in 30 years at Notre Dame Stadium.
One year later at Purdue, Quinn completed 20 of his 23 passes for 283 yards (similar to Griese’s 19 of 22 for 283 yards in 1965) — but that was just in the first half as the Irish held a 28-0 halftime advantage on its way to a 49-28 win. Quinn went on to complete 29 of his 36 passes for 440 yards.
The most recent Fighting Irish first-round pick at quarterback, Quinn is now with Fox Sports, while Orton begins his 10th season in the NFL as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
This is a series that has been earmarked by mutual respect and national title runs from Notre Dame that required hard-fought wins over Purdue, with the “Spoilermakers” ending numerous other Irish dreams of championship runs, and long-time mutual respect.
However, nothing has better defined this series than its consistent excellence at quarterback, maybe the best in any college football rivalry.