Saturday, July 29, 2006

Yankee Stadium: NCAA Football

The 1930 and 1931 Army-Navy Games were played at Yankee Stadium. Army won both of them, by scores of 6-0 and 17-7.

Army played Notre Dame there 20 times from 1925 to 1946. In the 1928 game, Army led 6-0 at halftime, before Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne invoked the memory of his school's greatest football hero to that point, George Gipp, who had died in 1920. In a story he is now believed to have made up, Rockne told of meeting Gipp on his deathbed, and hearing the great player say, "Some day, when the team is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell 'em to go out there with everything they've got, and win just one for the Gipper." Notre Dame came back to win the game, 12-6.

Army and Notre Dame also played at Yankee Stadium in 1946, when Army was ranked number 1 in the nation and had won the last two National Championships, and Notre Dame was ranked number 2. One of several college football games to be known as "The Game of the Century" in the days leading up to it, the game ended in a 0-0 tie, and when both teams remained undefeated at the end of the season, Notre Dame was awarded the National Championship. The two schools would play each other at Yankee Stadium only once more, in 1969, by which point Army was no longer a major football power, and Notre Dame won, 45-0. In games played against each other at Yankee Stadium, Notre Dame won 14, Army won 4, and there were 3 ties.

Notre Dame played 24 games at Yankee Stadium, going 15-6-3. Army played 38, splitting them, 17-17-4. New York University played more games there than any other school, 96, using it as a secondary home field from 1923 to 1948, with a record of 52-40-4. Nearby Fordham University played 19 games there, going 13-5-1.

Eight college football games were played at Yankee Stadium on Thanksgiving Day, the first seven by NYU: Beating Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1931 and 1932, beating Fordham in 1936, losing to Oregon State in 1928, losing to Carnegie Tech in 1929, and losing to Fordham in 1934 and 1935. A game between Notre Dame and Syracuse University, scheduled for November 23, 1963, was postponed to Thanksgiving, November 28, due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Syracuse won, 27-15.

The Gotham Bowl was scheduled to premiere at Yankee Stadium in 1960, but was cancelled when no opponent could be found for Oregon State University. The 1961 game was moved to the Polo Grounds, and when just 6,166 people came to Yankee Stadium for the 1962 game, won by the University of Nebraska over the University of Miami, 36-24, the Gotham Bowl was never played again.

Starting in 1971, the Stadium hosted the Whitney M. Young Urban League Classic, a game between "historically black colleges," often featuring Grambling State University of Louisiana, coached by Eddie Robinson. The Classic helped to spread the fame of Grambling and other similar schools. The Classic was held at Shea Stadium during the 1974-75 renovation of Yankee Stadium, and was last played there in the 1987 season, the last time a football game was played there. Grambling lost to Central State University of Ohio, 37-21.

It has been held at Giants Stadium in New Jersey's Meadowlands Sports Complex ever since.

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