Sept. 9, 2006
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 41, Penn State 17
NOTRE DAME TEAM NOTES
Notre Dame’s captains for the 2006 season are senior QB Brady Quinn (offense), senior DB Tom Zbikowski and senior LB Travis Thomas (special teams). All three men were selected for the season-long honor by their teammates, with Quinn serving as the offensive captain for the second consecutive season. Zbikowski and Thomas are first-year captains, although Thomas was selected as special teams captain for last season’s opener at Pittsburgh (the special teams post was chosen by the Irish coaching staff on a week-to-week basis in 2005 before returning to a preseason vote this year).
Today’s attendance of 80,795 is the 186th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Notre Dame home football game has been a sellout except one – a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. The Irish have now played in front of sellouts in 234 of their last 235 home games.
Penn State won the toss and deferred to the second half. Notre Dame defends the south end zone in the first half.
Notre Dame was ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll at kickoff. Penn State came into the game ranked 19th in the AP poll.
This afternoon’s game marks the 18th meeting between Notre Dame and Penn State. The Irish lead the series, 9-8-1. Notre Dame is now 5-3-0 versus Penn State at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have now won two-in-a-row (Nov. 14, 1992) against the Nittany Lions at Notre Dame Stadium
Notre Dame improves to 214-106-15 (.661) all-time against teams from the Big Ten Conference. Notre Dame has played almost three times as many games (335) against Big Ten opponents than any other conference. The Pac-10 (114) is the only other conference whom the Irish have played at least 100 games.
Notre Dame’s 41-17 win over No. 19 Penn State is the biggest win for the Irish over a ranked team since Aug. 31, 2002, when the unranked Irish defeated No. 21 Maryland, 22-0, in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium.
Notre Dame has not had a turnover in three consecutive games dating back to last year’s game at Stanford. The last Irish turnover came with 4:22 left in the second quarter at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005 – a total of 214:22 without a turnover.
Penn State senior RB Tony Hunt’s 30-yard run in the first quarter was the longest run of the season versus Notre Dame. The previous high was 17 yards by Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball in the season opener.
NOTRE DAME PLAYER NOTES
Senior TE John Carlson’s fourth catch of the game in Notre Dame’s initial drive of the game, good for 32 yards, was the longest reception of his career. His previous long was 29 yards on his second catch of the game. His six receptions and 98 total yards are career highs.
Senior PK Carl Gioia’s two field goals of 35 yards (one in the first quarter and one in the second) are the two longest of his career. His previous long was 29 yards versus Stanford in 2005.
Senior WR Jeff Samardzija’s second-quarter touchdown catch (seven yards) was his first of the season and 16th of his career. That moves him into a tie for fourth all-time with Jim Seymour (1966-68). The touchdown catch was the 111th reception of his career and moves him into ninth on the all-time career reception list. He passes Malcolm Johnson (’95-’98).
Senior QB Brady Quinn’s touchdown pass to Jeff Samardzija was his first of the season and first in 11 quarters dating back to the third quarter of the Stanford game. (10 quarters without a TD pass).
With three touchdown passes in the game, Brady Quinn now has nine games with three or more touchdown passes.
Senior DE Victor Abiamiri recorded his first sack of the season in the second quarter for the 12th of his career and moves into a tie for 10th (since records kept in 1982) with Brandon Hoyte (’02-’05).
Junior RB Darius Walker’s seven receptions in the game (64 in career) moves him past Mark Green (’85-’88) for fourth all-time on the receptions by running backs list. Green had 61 in his career.
Senior WR Rhema McKnight’s second-quarter touchdown catch (nine yards) was his first of the season and first since Sept. 10, 2005 when he had a five-yard TD catch versus Michigan. That ties him for 11th on Notre Dame’s all-time touchdown list with Anthony Fasano (’03-’05).
Senior DB Tom Zbikowski’s 25-yard fumble return was the second of his career and the first fumble recovery for the Irish since 2004 at Michigan State when Zbikowski returned a fumble 75 yards for a touchdown. The return for touchdown was the sixth of Zbikowski’s career (two fumbles, two punt returns, two interception returns). He is now the all-time leader in fumble return yards with 100 since 1985 and is tied with Tony Driver (’97-’00) for the all-time mark (since 1985).
Senior P Geoff Price’s 62-yard punt in the third quarter was the longest of his career. Price’s previous best was 61 yards and came last week at Georgia Tech.
Senior FS Chinedum Ndukwe’s third-quarter interception was the third of his career.
Senior LB Travis Thomas ran for 43 yards off a fake punt in the third quarter. That was the longest run of his career. His previous best was 16.
A total of five Notre Dame freshmen made their college debuts today for Notre Dame: LB Toryan Smith, OL Eric Olsen, WR Robby Parris, TE Konrad Reuland and DL John Ryan. Sophomore QB Evan Sharpley made his first career appearance.