Run and Shoot: The Most Memorable College Football Moments At Yankee Stadium

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The Most Memorable College Football Moments At Yankee Stadium

Unless you've been living under a rock you know that Sunday's Orioles-Yankees game is the last baseball game that will be played in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The old lady on 161st Street and River Avenue has a date with the wrecking ball, making way for a new Yankee Stadium that'll bring the the pinstripes into a new home and a new era.

But what you may not know is that this place used to live under a Rockne. Well, under a Knute Rockne that is.

(The great actor Pat O'Brien as Knute Rockne, giving his "Win one for the Gipper" speech to the Notre Dame team in the movie "Knute Rockne All American")

Yes, this old stadium used to be a staple for college football as well. In fact, the annual Army-Notre Dame tussle was held there between 1925 and 1947. Also, nearby schools Fordham and New York University, long time powers prior to WWII, used the stadium as a regular venue as well.

With the passing of the graceful old lady, here's a look at some of the top moments in college football that took place in Yankee Stadium.

1- The (Scoreless) Game of the Century.
November 9, 1946
No. 2 Notre Dame - 0
No. 1 Army - 0

Yes, it's the best scoreless game in the history of sports. Despite what you see today, believe it or not these were two of the biggest behemoths in college football in this era. Both teams came in unbeaten and averaging more than 30 points a game, but found brick wall defenses awaiting them. In fact, the famous Heisman duo of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis combined for only 79 yards in the game.

The closest thing to a score occurred in the second quarter after the Irish moved down inside the Cadet four yard line. But on fourth down, ND coach Frank Leahy decided to go for six instead of settle for three. Johnny Lujack's pass went incomplete. Later in the game, Davis took a sweep at midfield and appeared to have an open lane to the end zone. But at the last minute Lujack came roaring out of nowhere stopping him in his tracks and preserving the tie.

There was an incredible amount of talent on the field that day. Blanchard had already won the 1945 Heisman as a junior and Davis would go on to win the '46 award. Also that year, UND Tackle George Connor would win the Outland Award for the best interior lineman. And then in 1947, Lujack would take home the stiff-arm award and Army Guard Joe Steffy would win the Outland.

After the game, Army would maintain the No. 1 position in the polls and even beat No. 5 Penn the next week by a resounding 34-7 count. And both teams went on to unbeaten seasons, UND going 8-0-1 and the Cadets finishing 9-0-1. But sadly, the national media's Notre Dame bias would be evident as the Irish got voted in as national champions after the end of the regular season.

2- The Gipper didn't really say it but they won it for him anyway.
November 10, 1928
Notre Dame - 12
Army - 6

Knute Rockne's legendary "Win one for the Gipper" speech is engrained in the annals of college football lore forever - especially thanks to Pat O'Brien's portrayal of the man in "Knute Rockne, All American." That speech happened on this day in 1928 in the locker room of Yankee Stadium. Of course, there has long been speculation as to whether the famous Irish hero of a decade before ever really had this conversation with Rockne on his deathbed.

Either way, the ploy work for Rockne. Army was 5-0, while the Irish were in the midst of his worst season in South Bend, at 4-2 (only in 1928 did Rockne's Irish have more than two losses in any single season). With the score tied 0-0 at the half, Rockne gave his best performance, inspiring his worst team to its best half of football.

3- Finally, the TV goes black
Morgan State - 9
Grambling - 7

Nevermind the outcome. This game went well beyond the scoreboard. Longtime Grambling S.I.D. Collie Nicholson convinced Eddie Robinson to begin "barnstorming" his team more in the late 60s, including this matchup with Morgan State. His main goal was to showcase black colleges, their exciting style of play and their incomparable marching bands. But the idea worked much better than he imagined, as witnessed by the crowd of 64,204. It also marked the first time that black colleges were featured in an ABC telecast.

Additionally, this game would generate more than $200,000 to be gathered for the Ghetto Education Program.

4- The blocks of granite come crumbling down
November 29, 1936
No. 8 Fordham - 6
New York Univ. - 7

The Rams entered the game with a 5-0-2 season mark, but in the final game NYU ended their hopes of an unbeaten season in front of 50,000+ fans of the two local teams. It also was the end of era as this was the last game Vince Lombardi played as part of the storied Seven Blocks of Granite interior line. The remaining Rams would go on to an unbeaten 1937 season (7-0-1) and finish No. 3 in the polls.

Just for comparison purposes, the two Blocks of Granite that bookended Lombardi were All American Center Alex Wojciechowicz and Tackle Ed Franco. Those two linemen both checked in at a wispy 195 pounds. You can assure no steroids there.

5- THIS is a reward for a good season?
December 15, 1962, The Gotham Bowl
Nebraska - 36
Miami (Fl) - 34

Keep in mind this was back in the days when bowl games were played by teams that genuinely deserved it. Yes, winning records and everything. But this was no reward. With bone-chilling, no, marrow-chilling 14 degree temps and an untimely New York newspaper strike, this game got zero publicity. And that wasn't hard to tell by the 6,166 hearty fans that actually showed up. After this one appearance in Yankee Stadium, the Gotham Bowl folded.

(George Mira attempts a pass for Miami on the frozen sod of Yankee Stadium in the 1962 Gotham Bowl. You gotta love the white cleats on NU.)

In the back-and-forth game, Miami had 34 first downs to NU's 12 and out-yarded the Huskers 502-296. But a Bob Brown interception of a George Mira pass in the final minute sealed the win in Bob Devaney's first season as Husker coach.

Other great college football moments in Yankee Stadium:

- 1963. Syracuse 14 - Notre Dame 7.
This game saw revenge for the Cuse. Two years before, during Ernie Davis' Heisman campaign, the Irish stunned the 10th ranked Orangemen 17-15 in their last game of the season.

- 1961. Oklahoma 14 - Army 8.
Neither team was really much to write home about. In fact, Bud Wilkinson's team started off the year 0-5. Army hadn't been much of a national player since the unbeaten 1958 team. But this game did see the first use of the "swinging gate" as Coach Wilkinson noticed Army's defenders were slow out of the huddle. On the gadget play Mike McClelland went 75 yards accounting for the winning margin.

- 1987. Central State 37 - Grambling 21.
This would be the last football game played at Yankee Stadium. It was part of the annual Whitney Young Urban League Classic. The game, usually featuring Coach Robinson's team, would be moved to the Meadowlands the following season.

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