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Another College Football Mystery – This Time, With Notre Dame

November 26, 2012

Taking a break from our list of great holiday gift ideas, we at Priceless Photo Preservation are seeking out college football aficionados to help us date a Super 8 film that we recently converted for a client.

Unlike the football footage we converted before, this one is of a slightly more recent vintage.

The short film is from a Notre Dame game that took place during the mid ’70s (The film does not depict the client, but his older brother at the end). We also know from freezing a frame towards the end that the scoreboard shows the Fighting Irish playing Pittsburgh.

What’s particularly exciting is that this footage could be from the 1976 showdown in South Bend.

Just over three-and-a-half decades before this season’s 29-26 triple-overtime thriller – an improbable game that kept No. 1 Notre Dame’s national title hopes alive – the two teams squared off in a season-opening game that also would have a huge impact on that year’s national championship.

No. 9 Pitt was led by eventual Heisman winner and future Dallas Cowboy great Tony Dorsett. The No. 11 Irish had a huge defense fronted by another player who would become NFL star, defensive end Ross Browner. The team’s backup quarterback was a junior named Joe Montana.

The game wasn’t even close. Pitt emerged from South Bend with a convincing 31-10 victory – a convincing opening statement that set the tone for the Panthers completing the season undefeated and winning their first national championship since 1937.

Given that we know this film footage was shot in South Bend, the 1976 game seems to be a high possibility. However, the footage that we see (unless we are mistaken) doesn’t match the game’s narrative. For example, one play in the footage depicts an apparent 7-yard touchdown pass.  And the only touchdown pass of the day was Ken MacAfee’s 25-yard reception from Notre Dame QB Rick Slager.

In any case, we put it to you, the Fighting Irish faithful. Which Pitt-Note Dame game do you think this was?

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