Oct. 12, 2009
Game #6 — #25/25 Notre Dame (4-1) vs. #6/5 USC (4-1)
DATE: Saturday, October 17, 2009
TIME: 3:42 p.m. ET
SITE (CAPACITY): Notre Dame Stadium (80,795); Notre Dame, Ind.
NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Pat Haden (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), Rob Hyland (producer) and David Michaels (director).
ISP Sports is the exclusive national rights-holder for Irish football radio broadcasts. ISP manages, produces and syndicates the Irish national football radio network. Notre Dame games will be broadcast by Don Criqui (play-by-play), former Irish great Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Jeff Jeffers providing pre-game, sideline and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159) and XM Satellite Radio (channel 117), as well as nationwide at the following list of affiliates: ISP Notre Dame Football Radio Network
- All Notre Dame games may be heard in South Bend on Sunny 101.5 FM and NewsTalk 960 WSBT-AM.
Saturday is the 209th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Irish home football game has been a sellout except one – a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. Notre Dame has now played in front of sellouts in 257 of its last 258 home games.
- Notre Dame has now played in front of sellout crowds in 215 of its previous 248 games, including 90 of its last 100 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season (the 2001, ’03, ’05 and ’07 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands, the 2005 and ’08 games at Washington, the 2007 game at UCLA, the 2008 Hawai’i Bowl and this season’s game at Purdue were not sellouts).
Notre Dame (und.com), USC (usctrojans.com)
Live in-game statistics will be provided through CBS College Sports Gametracker via each school’s respective official athletic website.
Notre Dame is ranked 25th in both the AP and coaches polls. USC is ranked sixth in the AP and fifth in the coaches poll.
This meeting will be the 81st all-time meeting in NCAA college football’s top intersectional rivalry. USC has captured each of the past seven meetings and 10 of 13 overall. Notre Dame did not lose to the Trojans over the previous 13 meetings (1983-95), including an 11-game winning streak. USC’s seven-game winning streak is its longest in series history (more on the series history on pages 21-27 of the PDF version of this notes package – linked at the top of this release).
AN IRISH VICTORY THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Improve Notre Dame to 5-1 for the first time since 2006.
- Be the first victory for Notre Dame over a top 10 opponent since No. 3 Michigan (17-10) on Sept. 10, 2005.
- Be the first victory for Notre Dame over a top 10 opponent at home since No. 8 Michigan (28-20) on Sept. 11, 2004.
- Be the first victory for Notre Dame over a top five opponent since No. 3 Michigan (17-10) on Sept. 10, 2005.
- Be the first victory for Notre Dame over a top five opponent at home since No. 5 and defending national champion Michigan (36-20) on Sept. 5, 1998.
- Snap Notre Dame’s six-game losing streak against top 10 foes.
- Snap Notre Dame’s five-game losing streak against top five foes.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 40-54-5 (.429) against teams ranked in the top five.
- Improve the Irish to 19-22-2 (.465) all-time at home against teams ranked in the top five.
- Snap USC’s seven-game winning streak overall in the all-time series.
- Snap USC’s three-game winning streak at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Be Notre Dame’s first victory at home and overall against USC since Oct. 20, 2001.
- Improve Notre Dame to 43-33-5 (.562) in the all-time series with the Trojans.
- Improve Notre Dame to 24-12-1 (.662) in the all-time series with USC in South Bend.
- Improve a ranked Notre Dame squad to 26-19-4 (.571) all-time against USC.
- Improve a ranked Notre Dame squad to 16-6-1 (.717) all-time against the Trojans in South Bend.
- Improve a ranked Notre Dame squad to 17-13-2 (.563) all-time against a ranked USC team.
- Improve a ranked Notre Dame squad to 10-5-1 (.656) all-time against a ranked Trojans team in South Bend.
- Improve Notre Dame to 82-42-6 (.654) all-time against the Pac-10.
- Improve Notre Dame to 46-15-1 (.750) all-time against the Pac-10 inside Notre Dame Stadium.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 836-285-42 (.737).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 306-98-5 (.754).
- Improve Weis’ record to 34-22 (.607) overall, 10-4 (.714) against the Pac-10 and 1-4 (.200) against USC.
- Improve Weis’ record to 5-10 (.333) against teams ranked in the top 25.
- Improve Weis’ home record to 19-11 (.633) overall, 5-2 (.714) against the Pac-10 and 1-2 (.333) against USC.
- Improve Weis’ record to 11-5 (.688) in October games.
- Improve Weis’ record to 27-17 (.614) in afternoon games.
- Improve Weis’ record to 20-7 (.741) following a victory.
AN IRISH DEFEAT THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Drop Notre Dame to 4-2 for the second consecutive year and the third time in five years.
- Deny Notre Dame its first victory over a top 10 opponent since No. 3 Michigan (17-10) on Sept. 10, 2005.
- Deny Notre Dame its first victory over a top 10 opponent at home since No. 8 Michigan (28-20) on Sept. 11, 2004.
- Deny Notre Dame its first victory over a top five opponent since No. 3 Michigan (17-10) on Sept. 10, 2005.
- Deny Notre Dame its first victory over a top five opponent at home since No. 5 and defending national champion Michigan (36-20) on Sept. 5, 1998.
- Extend Notre Dame’s losing streak against top 10 foes to seven games.
- Extend Notre Dame’s losing streak against top five foes to six games.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 39-55-5 (.419) all-time against teams ranked in the top five.
- Drop the Irish to 18-23-2 (.442) all-time at home against teams ranked in the top five.
- Extend USC’s winning streak overall in the all-time series to eight games.
- Extend USC’s winning streak at Notre Dame Stadium to four games.
- Deny Notre Dame its first victory at home and overall against USC since Oct. 20, 2001.
- Drop Notre Dame to 42-34-5 (.549) in the all-time series with the Trojans.
- Drop Notre Dame to 23-13-1 (.635) in the all-time series with USC in South Bend.
- Drop a ranked Notre Dame squad to 25-20-4 (.551) all-time against USC.
- Drop a ranked Notre Dame squad to 15-7-1 (.674) all-time against the Trojans in South Bend.
- Drop a ranked Notre Dame squad to 16-14-2 (.531) all-time against a ranked USC team.
- Drop a ranked Notre Dame squad to 9-6-1 (.594) all-time against a ranked Trojans team in South Bend.
- Drop Notre Dame to 81-43-6 (.646) all-time against the Pac-10.
- Drop Notre Dame to 45-16-1 (.734) all-time against the Pac-10 inside Notre Dame Stadium.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 835-286-42 (.736).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 305-99-5 (.752).
- Drop Weis’ record to 33-23 (.589) overall, 9-5 (.643) against the Pac-10 and 0-5 (.000) against USC.
- Drop Weis’ record to 4-11 (.267) against teams ranked in the top 25.
- Drop Weis’ home record to 18-12 (.600) overall, 4-3 (.571) against the Pac-10 and 0-3 (.000) against USC.
- Drop Weis’ record to 10-6 (.625) in October games.
- Drop Weis’ record to 26-18 (.591) in afternoon games.
- Drop Weis’ record to 19-8 (.704) following a victory.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen, a native of Westlake Village, Calif., has lost just one game played in the state of California or to a school from the Golden State. Clausen was 42-0 in high school and is 2-0 against Stanford and 1-0 against both San Diego State and UCLA. His only defeat came last season at USC.
- With its late-game heroics against Washington, Notre Dame has won its last three games by seven points or less. The last time the Irish won three straight games by a touchdown or less came in 2002 during Tyrone Willingham’s first season: 24-17 vs. Purdue; 25-23 vs. #7 Michigan; 21-17 at Michigan State.
- Prior to the 2002 streak, the last time it happened was Nov. 8-22, 1941, when rookie head coach Frank Leahy led the Irish to narrow wins over No. 6 Navy (20-13), No. 8 Northwestern (7-6) and USC (20-18).
- The Notre Dame record for consecutive wins by seven points or less is five, the first five games of the 1939 season (Sept. 30-Oct. 28) under head coach Elmer Layden.
- The current Irish streak marks just the fifth time Notre Dame has won three straight games by seven points or less. The others are the aforementioned streak in 2002, the last three games of 1941, the first five games of 1939 and the last three games of the 1937 season (Nov. 13-27).
- The Notre Dame record for wins by seven points or less in a season is six, set in 1939 when that club had a 6-1 record in games decided by seven or less. The 1937 team was 5-1-1 and the 2002 club was 5-1-0 in games decided by seven or less, while the 1929 (4-0), 1940 (4-1), 1974 (4-0), 1990 (4-3), 1997 (4-2) and 1998 (4-1) teams all had four wins by seven or less over the course of the season.
- As for winning percentage in games decided by seven points or less, the 1929 and 1974 teams were both 4-0, while the 1926, 1928, 1954 and 1957 teams finished 3-0.
- One item of note on the greatness of Knute Rockne: he was 20-3-5 (.804) in games decided by seven points or less over his Notre Dame career, including 16-0-2 (.944) over his last seven years.
FOURTH QUARTER MAGIC
- Notre Dame has rallied from fourth quarter deficits in each of its last four games (winning three) — tying a school record for fourth quarter comebacks in a single season. The Irish had four fourth quarter comebacks during the 1998 season. Notre Dame also had three fourth quarter comebacks in each of the 1990, 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003 seasons.
- The previous school record for consecutive fourth quarter comebacks was three during the 2000 season. Interestingly enough, those three straight fourth quarter comebacks to open the 2000 season came under the guidance of three different quarterbacks (Arnaz Battle, Gary Godsey and Matt LoVecchio).
DOWN TO THE WIRE
- With the victory over Washington, Notre Dame snapped its three-game losing streak in overtime games. The Irish had not won an overtime game since 2003.
- Notre Dame improved to 3-6 in overtime in school history. Eight of the nine Irish overtime contests have come at Notre Dame Stadium.
W 37-30 vs. Washington (2009)L 33-36 vs. Pittsburgh (2008)L 44-46 vs. Navy (2007)L 41-44 vs. Michigan State (2005)W 29-26 vs. Washington State (2003)L 24-27 vs. Nebraska (2000)W 34-31 vs. Air Force (2000)L 20-27 at USC (1996)L 17-20 vs. Air Force (1996)
- Prior to the victory over Washington, Notre Dame had never in its storied history won a game in overtime the week following a victory in the last minute of regulation.
- Notre Dame has now won four games in its storied history by scoring a touchdown in the last 30 seconds of regulation. Here is that list of games:
Sept. 26, 2009 Notre Dame 24, at Purdue 21 (0:25)Oct. 21, 2006 at Notre Dame 20, UCLA 17 (0:27)Nov. 14, 1992 at Notre Dame 17, Penn State 16 (0:19)Jan. 1, 1979 Notre Dame 35, Houston 34 in the 1979 Cotton Bowl (0:00)
- Notre Dame has now won 17 games all-time in overtime or with less than 25 seconds remaining in regulation and only five of those have come on the road.
- The Irish have never registered a longer drive (72 yards) to win a game on the road with less than 25 seconds to go in the contest in school history than it did at Purdue.
- Notre Dame scored with just 24.8 seconds remaining on the clock at Purdue. It is the latest the Irish have scored to secure a victory on the road since 1997 when Scott Cengia booted a field goal with five seconds left to secure a 23-22 victory at Hawaii.
- Notre Dame has now played four consecutive games in which the final outcome was not decided until the waning seconds.
Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34
The Wolverines scored a go-ahead touchdown with 11 seconds left to secure a 38-34 victory over the Irish.
Notre Dame 33, Michigan State 30
The Irish regained the lead with 5:18 to go in regulation on junior WR Golden Tate’s 33-yard touchdown catch, but the Spartans drove to Notre Dame’s 18-yard line before senior SS Kyle McCarthy’s interception at the four-yard line with 57 seconds left secured the victory.
Notre Dame 24, Purdue 21
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen completed a two-yard touchdown pass to sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph with 24.8 seconds to play, and Notre Dame rallied for a 24-21 win over Purdue. Clausen led the Irish on a 12-play, 72-yard drive. He went 6-for-9 on the drive for 69 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown pass.
Notre Dame 37, Washington 30 (ot)
Notre Dame waited even later than the last minute to pull out this finish. Junior RB Robert Hughes scored on a 1-yard run in overtime and junior FS Harrison Smith and senior SS Kyle McCarthy jarred the ball loose from Washington receiver D’Andre Goodwin near the goal line on fourth-and-19 as the Fighting Irish beat the Huskies 37-30.
- Notre Dame’s last three games have been decided by a total of 10 points. The Irish have not had three consecutive games decided by seven points or less since a stretch of games during the 2004 season (Boston College, Tennessee and Pittsburgh). Notre Dame went 1-2 in that stretch of games and the games were decided by a total of seven points.
- Since the series with Purdue resumed in 1946, there have been just five games where the winning points were scored in the final five minutes. Ironically, three have come on the date of Sept. 26. Here is a list of those five games:
Sept. 26, 2009 Notre Dame 24, at Purdue 21Sept. 16, 2000 at #21 Notre Dame 23, #13 Purdue 21Sept. 26, 1998 at #23 Notre Dame 31, Purdue 30Sept. 26, 1981 at Purdue 15, #13 Notre Dame 14Sept. 25, 1971 #2 Notre Dame 8, at Purdue 7
COMING OFF A REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULED BYE WEEK
Notre Dame has won more than 80 percent of its games (62-14-2, .808) when it plays after a bye week (since 1900). The Irish have an even higher percentage (29-5, .853) playing after an off week since 1984.
NOTRE DAME IN OCTOBER
- Notre Dame is 365-90-8 (.797) all-time during the month of October.
- The Irish are 225-46-4 (.825) in October home games.
- Notre Dame has an all-time mark of 105-39-3 (.724) in road games during October.
- The Irish are 35-5-1 (.866) in October neutral games.
- The Irish have gone 9-4 in October under head coach Charlie Weis (3-1 over the last two seasons).
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played 12 previous games in its history on Oct. 17. The Irish are 8-4 all-time on this date. The Irish were ranked inside the top 25 on four occasions and were victorious each time.
Oct. 17, 1930: The following headline and comments appeared in the Chicago Tribune on this day, and concerned Rockne’s recent bout with phlebitis.
“Will Rockne Coach In ’31?”
To know the Rockne of today and the Rockne of several years ago makes it easy to understand that he might be serious about abandoning the work that has had him in the headlines.
Rockne was well known for giving personal physical demonstrations of offensive and defensive techniques and he was frustrated that he might not be able to continue teaching football this way. His worries were unfounded and he recovered sufficiently to lead the Irish to an undefeated season and their second straight national title. The headline was tragically prophetic, as 1930 was Rockne’s last season.
Oct. 17, 1903: Frank Lonergan recorded four rushing touchdowns, tied for the third most in single-game Notre Dame history, to lead the Irish to a 56-0 rout of DePauw. He would register another four-rushing TD day against Chicago Physicians & Surgeons later in the season. Lonergan and Allen Pinkett remain the only Notre Dame players to ever have multiple games with four or more rushing touchdowns.
HISTORIC NOTRE DAME STADIUM
The 2009 football season marks the 79th year of Irish football in fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 408 games in the facility to date and own a 305-98-5 (.754) record in the “House that Rockne Built.” The most wins in a season by the Irish at home is seven by the 1988 national championship team and the longest home winning streak in Notre Dame football history is 28 games (from 11/21/42 through 9/30/50).
Junior OT Matt Romine changed his uniform number from #70 to #77. Mike Turkovich previously wore #77 before graduating after the 2008 season.
IRISH OFFENSIVE LINE PASSES CENTURY MARK FOR CAREER STARTS
- First-year offensive line coach Frank Verducci is charged with improving the Irish rushing attack in 2009 and will attempt to do so with one of the most experienced offensive line units in Notre Dame’s recent history.
- Six players having starting experience for the Irish, led by right tackle Sam Young’s 43 starts. Eric Olsen (24 starts), Dan Wenger (18 starts), Paul Duncan (17 starts), Chris Stewart (15 starts) and Trevor Robinson (eight starts) help bring the Irish total to 125 combined career starts. Notre Dame’s total of 100, entering this season, was the second most in the past decade at Notre Dame.
The following players made their Notre Dame debuts in the season opener against Nevada: sophomore LB Anthony McDonald, freshman S Zeke Motta, freshman RB Theo Riddick, senior TE Bobby Burger, freshman LB Manti Te’o, sophomore LB David Posluszny, sophomore CB Jamoris Slaughter, sophomore DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, sophomore QB Dayne Crist, freshman PK Nick Tausch, freshman LS Jordan Cowart, freshman WR Shaquelle Evans, sophomore DT Hafis Williams, sophomore WR Deion Walker, freshman TE Tyler Eifert, sophomore OT Lane Clelland, sophomore WR John Goodman, sophomore DB Dan McCarthy, junior WR Chris Gurries, sophomore OC Mike Golic, Jr. and sophomore DT Sean Cwynar.
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
Notre Dame is one of just four NCAA FBS programs to have not faced a non-FBS opponent since the current setup was established in 1978. The three other remaining schools that have yet to play a non-FBS opponent are USC, UCLA and Washington. The list shrank from five following Michigan State’s contest with Montana State on Sept. 5.
- The following players extended active starting streaks on Oct. 3 against Washington: senior OT Sam Young 43, senior OC Eric Olsen 24, junior QB Jimmy Clausen 21, sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph 18 and senior SS Kyle McCarthy 18.
LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE ’09
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen, senior SS Kyle McCarthy, senior OC Eric Olsen and senior LB Scott Smith have been selected captains of the 2009 Notre Dame football team.
Voting was conducted Friday, Aug. 14, with the results announced to the team by head coach Charlie Weis. Clausen and Olsen will captain the offense, McCarthy will serve as the defensive captain and Smith will represent the special teams. The results from the vote also helped form the leadership committee. Joining the four captains on the leadership committee are: senior FB James Aldridge, senior CB Mike Anello, senior S Sergio Brown, sophomore WR Michael Floyd, junior DE Kerry Neal, sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph, senior DE John Ryan, junior LB Brian Smith and senior OT Sam Young.
UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME GRADUATES
The 2009 Notre Dame roster features eight players who have already earned their undergraduate degree from the University. Paul Duncan, Evan Sharpley, Mike Anello, Ray Herring, Kyle McCarthy, Scott Smith, Barry Gallup and Chris Stewart all graduated from Notre Dame in May of 2009. Here is a list of the graduates on the 2009 Notre Dame football team:
- OT Paul Duncan: degree in management-entrepreneurship from the Mendoza College of Business.
- QB Evan Sharpley: degree in history from the College of Arts and Letters.
- CB Mike Anello: degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
- S Ray Herring: degree in sociology from the College of Arts and Letters.
- S Kyle McCarthy: degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
- LB Scott Smith: degrees in management from the Mendoza College of Business and sociology from the College of Arts and Letters.
- WR Barry Gallup: degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
- OG Chris Stewart: degree in history from the College of Arts and Letters.
- Notre Dame’s eight graduates is tied with Auburn, Penn State, Texas Tech, UNLV, Miami, Fla. and East Carolina for the fourth-most graduates on a 2009 FBS roster.
YOUNG PUPS NOW GROWING UP
- Notre Dame had 20 scholarship players make their respective Irish debuts in the season opener against Nevada. That group included seven freshmen and 12 more sophomores for a total of 19 first-year players.
- The Irish have already had 15 different players start on defense. Of those 15 players, 10 have at least one year of eligibility remaining and six have at least two years remaining.
- Notre Dame has a tremendous amount of experience on its offensive line. The Irish have a total of 125 combined starts amongst six different players. As experienced as Notre Dame’s front line is on the offensive side of the ball, the defensive line is equally inexperienced. Sophomore DE Kapron Lewis-Moore made his first career start against Michigan State and sophomore DT Ethan Johnson made just his seventh career start.
- Of the 24 players that started the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (including punter and placekicker), 18 players return in 2009 and 11 of those players have at least two seasons of eligibility remaining.
- Entering the game at Purdue, Notre Dame was the only offense among all 120 FBS schools that had a running back rank among the top 20 in rushing yards per game (Armando Allen), two wide receivers rank among the top 20 in receiving yards per game (Michael Floyd, Golden Tate) and a quarterback rank among the top 20 in passing yards per game (Jimmy Clausen). All four of those players, as well as sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph, who leads all FBS tight ends in yards per reception among qualifying receivers, are eligible to return in 2010 and both Floyd and Rudolph have two more years.
- The Irish still managed to come away with a victory on the road against the Boilermakers despite the absence of both Floyd and Allen (each missed the game completely) and a limited Clausen. Notre Dame’s depth was on display. The Irish got quality performances from sophomore QB Dayne Crist (5-for-10 for 45 yards in the air and four carries for 16 yards on the ground), freshman RB Theo Riddick (24-yard rush), sophomore RB Jonas Gray (18 yards rushing and 42 yards receiving) and freshman WR Shaq Evans (one catch for 12 yards). Crist guided the Irish on both of their first half touchdown drives.
HOW DO THEY STACK UP?
Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines:
Notre Dame OL 315.0 lbs. vs. USC DL 278.8 lbs.
Notre Dame DL 275.0 lbs. vs. USC OL 292.0 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
Notre Dame WR/TE 6′ 3 1/3″ vs. USC DB 6′ 1 1/2″
Notre Dame DB 6′ 1″ vs. USC WR/TE 6′ 3 1/3″
LEAVE NO DOUBT
Notre Dame dominated Nevada in every facet of the game, including, and most importantly, the scoreboard. The 35-point margin of victory was the largest under head coach Charlie Weis and the largest since Sept. 25, 2004 when the Irish defeated Washington 38-3.
CHARLIE AND THE IRISH OFFENSIVE FACTORY
Fifth year head coach Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame with a tremendous reputation as one of the premier offensive minds in all of the NFL. The Irish saw immediate results in 2005, setting 11 school records, including passing yards (3,963), touchdown passes (32, bested in 2006 and equalled in 2008), total offense yards (5,728) and total points (440). Notre Dame has surpassed the 40-point barrier on 12 different occasions in Weis’ 55 games as head coach. Prior to his arrival, Notre Dame had eclipsed 40 points just nine times in its previous 97 contests. In addition, the Irish had 83 separate 100-yard receiving games over its first 116 seasons of football, but Notre Dame has had 34 under Weis. To put those numbers in perspective, Notre Dame averaged a 100-yard receiving effort every 13 games before Weis. Under Weis, the Irish are recording a 100-yard receiving effort a little better than every other game.
- Junior QB Jimmy Clausen recently passed for at least 300 yards in four consecutive games, a first in Notre Dame history. It began with 401 at Hawaii last December, followed by efforts of 315 (Nevada), 336 (Michigan) and 300 (Michigan State) this season. Former All-American QB Brady Quinn, another Weis protege, had three consecutive 300 yard passing games during his record setting 2005 season.
- Clausen threw for a career-high 422 yards and junior WR Golden Tate added a career-high 244 yards receiving in Notre Dame’s overtime victory over Washington. Clausen and Quinn, both under Weis, are the only two Irish quarterbacks to eclipse 400 yards passing more than once in a career. Clausen and Tate’s efforts rank seventh and second, respectively, on the all-time passing yards and receiving yards list in Notre Dame single-game history.
- In fact, eight of the top 10 single-game passing efforts and four of the top 10 single-game receiving efforts have come under Weis.
- Notre Dame racked up a season-high 530 yards of total offense against Washington. The 530 yards are the most for the Irish since they rolled up 663 yards at Stanford to close the 2005 regular season. Notre Dame has registered 500 or more yards of total offense in nine different games under Weis (a span of 55 games). The Irish managed 500 yards or more of total offense nine times over the previous 109 games before his arrival.
- Notre Dame has had 10 players register 54 or more receptions in a single season. Six of those 10 players have come during the Weis era, including former All-American WR Jeff Samardzija’s school record of 78 in 2006.
- Five of the top eight best individual receiving yard seasons have come under Weis.
- Notre Dame had eclipsed 5,000 total yards in a season just seven times over its 119 years of football entering 2009. The Irish have registered 5,000 yard seasons twice under Weis. The 2009 edition is well on its way to giving Weis a third season with 5,000 or more total yards.
MORE ON WEIS’ OFFENSE
- Notre Dame has registered three of its top four passing seasons in school history under Weis. The Irish averaged 330.3 yards (1st) in the air in 2005, 264.7 (2nd) in 2006 and 245.4 (4th) in 2008. Notre Dame has averaged 322.0 yards per game passing so far in 2009.
- The Irish have eclipsed 475 or more total yards in 12 games under Weis, including four of Notre Dame’s last six games (Notre Dame still managed 437 yards in one of those contests). Weis has served as offensive coordinator and play caller for each of those games.
- Notre Dame racked up 27 first downs against Michigan – the most by an Irish squad since Oct 7, 2006 against Stanford.
- The Irish followed up the offensive outburst against Michigan with an equally impressive output against Michigan State. Notre Dame registered 25 more first downs.
- The Irish have recorded 98 first downs over their last four games (Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Washington). Notre Dame has not produced more first downs in four consecutive weeks since Sept. 30, Oct. 7, Oct. 21 and Oct. 28 of 2006 against Purdue, Stanford, UCLA and Navy.
POINTS A PLENTY
Notre Dame scored 33 or more points in four consecutive games and each of its first three games in 2009 (streak ended against Purdue). The last time a Notre Dame team scored at least 33 points in three games to open the season was the 1943 national championship season that began with victories of 41-0 over Pittsburgh, 55-13 over Georgia Tech and 35-12 over #2 Michigan.
- The Irish have not had a longer streak of consecutive 30+ point games since setting the school record of eight straight games during the 2005 season.
- Notre Dame set a school record in 2005 under Weis with 10 games of 30 or more points. The previous school record was nine such games by the 1991 Irish.
- Notre Dame is averaging 32.6 points per game in 2009. It is a major improvement when you consider the Irish averaged just 16.4 in 2007 and 24.7 in 2008.
IRISH OFFENSE IN MID-SEASON FORM
- Notre Dame piled up 510 and 490 yards, respectively, over its first two games of this season. The 1,000 total yards were the most for the Irish in consecutive weeks since they compiled 1,083 yards on Nov. 19 (Syracuse, 420) and Nov. 26 (at Stanford, 663) of 2005. In fact, it is the most total yards over the first two weeks of a season since the Irish registered 1,051 yards of total offense to open the 1974 campaign.
- Notre Dame’s offense has gotten out to fast starts this year as well, scoring on 18 of 29 first half possessions (11 touchdowns, seven field goals).
- The Irish have also been exceptional in 2009 over their opening drives of each half. Notre Dame registered a touchdown on its opening drive of both the first and third quarter against Michigan State. The Irish have recorded touchdowns on four of their 10 drives to open each half. Notre Dame did not register touchdowns over its first drive of each half against Washington, but did manage a pair of field goals on the two drives.
- In fact, Notre Dame has averaged 6.5 plays and more impressively 61.3 yards per drive to open a half. That stat is even more remarkable when you consider the Irish opened the third quarter against Michigan with a three-play, six-yard drive ending with a fumble. Excluding that drive, Notre Dame averages 7.2 plays and 67.4 yards per drive.
- Notre Dame ranks 1st in the nation in passing efficiency. The Irish have a 172.51 quarterback rating. Notre Dame also ranks tied for 17th in time of possession (32:19), tied for ninth in total first downs (118), eighth in passing offense (322.0) and 10th in total offense (470.0).
- Prior to sophomore WR Michael Floyd and junior RB Armando Allen’s injuries that caused each to miss the Purdue game (Floyd will also likely miss the rest of the regular season), Notre Dame was the only offense among all 120 FBS schools that had a running back rank among the top 20 in rushing yards per game, two wide receivers rank among the top 20 in receiving yards per game and a quarterback rank among the top 20 in passing yards per game. Floyd ranked seventh (119.33 ypg), junior QB Jimmy Clausen ranked eighth (317.0 ypg), Allen ranked tied for 15th (108.67 ypg) and junior WR Golden Tate ranked 20th (100.33 ypg).
- The quartet has also made its fair share of big plays already in 2009. Clausen has 23 completions over 20 yards, Tate has eight 20+ yard receptions, Floyd has collected six passes over 20 yards and Allen has ripped off 10 runs of at least 10 yards. Sophomore Kyle Rudolph has even added four receptions over 20 yards from the tight end position.
- Notre Dame did not have a single three-and-out in the victory over Michigan State. In fact, the Irish had just four three-and-outs over their first three games and three came against Michigan.
THE LONG MARCHES
The Irish have produced numerous long scoring drives during 2009. Throw out Notre Dame’s one touchdown drive after senior SS Kyle McCarthy’s interception in Michigan’s territory and Notre Dame has traversed an average of 74.0 yards on its 17 conventional touchdown drives. Those drives have averaged 7.2 plays and include 12 drives of 70 or more yards and four of 80 yards or longer. Here’s the breakdown:
Nevada: 67 yards on 12 plays, 78 yards on nine plays, 79 yards on two plays, 80 yards on eight plays and 99 yards on four plays.
Michigan: 76 yards on seven plays, 69 yards on seven plays and 80 yards on 14 plays.
Michigan State: 84 yards on four plays, 55 yards on five plays, 70 yards on six plays and 73 yards on eight plays.
Purdue: 73 yards on nine plays, 62 yards on seven plays and 72 yards on 12 plays.
Washington: 78 yards on three plays, 63 yards on five plays.
IRISH OFFENSE QUICK OUT OF THE BLOCKS
Notre Dame has averaged 261.6 net offensive yards in the first half (1,308 total), compared to 208.4 in the second half (1,042 total).
- The Irish were even more impressive in the opening 15 minutes of their first three games. Notre Dame totaled 131, 142 and 152 yards of total offense in the opening quarter of its first three games this season against Nevada, Michigan and Michigan State.
- Notre Dame outgained Purdue, 169-64, in total yards in the second quarter and 134 yards to two yards on the ground.
NOTRE DAME GROUND GAME TAKES OFF IN “LEPRECAT” FORMATION
- The Irish have broken out their version of the wildcat formation in 2009. Notre Dame lined up in the “leprecat” formation (direct snap to junior WR Golden Tate) five times in the second quarter against Purdue. The Irish rambled for 46 yards out of the formation, including Tate’s 14-yard touchdown run to grab a 17-7 second quarter lead.
- Notre Dame averaged 9.2 yards per carry out of the formation against the Boilermakers, registering three rushes of 13 yards or longer, including freshman HB Theo Riddick’s 24-yard rush.
- Notre Dame used the formation to supreme efficiency in the victory over Michigan State as well. Junior HB Armando Allen not only raced 13 yards up the middle for a touchdown on a direct snap in the first quarter, but he added a touchdown pass to senior WR Robby Parris out of the formation in the third quarter.
IRISH RUNNING GAME REAPING MAJOR BENEFITS FROM EXPERIENCED OFFENSIVE LINE
Notre Dame posted its two worst rushing seasons in school history in 2007 (75.25 ypg) and 2008 (109.69 ypg), but the Irish have made significant strides in 2009. Notre Dame is averaging 148.0 yards per game on the ground this season.
- Notre Dame’s wide outs and running backs had just two negative rushes against Michigan State. Junior WR Golden Tate was tackled for a one-yard loss on a reverse and junior RB Armando Allen had a minus four-yard rush when he was brought down after colliding with Tate. The Irish equalled that total on their first two carries of the game against the Spartans in 2008.
- The Irish struggled mightily on the ground against both Michigan and Michigan State in 2008, but rebounded with impressive efforts against each in 2009 (again, excluding sacks and QB rushes). The Spartans had allowed just 2.2 yards per rush over their first two games.
- Notre Dame managed just two yards on six rushes in the first quarter against Purdue, but rumbled for 136 yards on 16 carries in the second quarter. The Irish used four different ball carriers (Tate, Theo Riddick, Dayne Crist and Robert Hughes) in that second quarter.
- The Irish outgained the Boilermakers, 169-64, in the second quarter.
- Notre Dame registered six rushes for at least 10 yards in first half against Purdue. In fact, each of the six carries for 10+ yards came in the second quarter. The Irish had 14 such carries over their first three games combined. Notre Dame finished the night with six 10+ yard rushes (which tied the season-high total set against Michigan).
- Notre Dame called 15 rushing plays out of the 16 plays called during its back-to-back touchdown drives covering 73 and 62 yards in the second quarter. The final 13 plays in those two combined drives were runs. The lone pass attempt, by Crist, fell incomplete.
- Crist’s 16 yards gained came on a quarterback misdirection keeper on his first play in the second quarter. That was the longest run by a Notre Dame quarterback since Brady Quinn had a 60-yard scamper in a 44-24 loss at USC in 2006.
- Notre Dame officially rushed for 108 yards against Washington, but the Irish really performed much better. The Irish were hindered by three sacks of Clausen, two of which occured when he simply slipped on the wet field. Notre Dame had 140 yards on 21 carries without those sacks.
- Notre Dame has outrushed both Nevada, Michigan State and Purdue this season and not coincidentally, the Irish are 3-0 in those contests. In fact, since Weis arrived in South Bend, Notre Dame is 18-0 when outrushing its opponent.
IRISH EFFICIENT ON FIRST & SECOND DOWN
- Notre Dame has a 73.7% completion percentage (56-for-76) on first down. Junior QB Jimmy Clausen is 52-for-70 (74.3%) for 26 first downs and four touchdowns on first down. The Irish (35-for-53, 66.0%) and Clausen (32-for-47, 68.1%) are nearly as good on second down.
- Junior RB Armando Allen is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, including 6.7 yards per carry on second down. He has recorded 10 first downs and one touchdown on 26 carries on second down. The Irish, which average 4.1 yards per carry as a team, are ripping off 6.6 yards per rush on second down.
- Allen has also proven he is able to advance the chains on third down. He is averaging 3.6 yards per carry for eight first downs on third down. He is 6-for-7 on third down and short (two yards or less) on the season. In fact, Allen is averaging 4.3 yards per carry on third and short. As a team, Notre Dame has converted nine of its 14 third down and short rushing plays.
- Junior RB Robert Hughes and junior WR Golden Tate are averaging 5.2 and 7.2 yards per rush on first down. Hughes has added a 7.1 yards per carry average on second down.
- Notre Dame and its 2009 opponents could not have less similar red-zone success, with the Irish totaling 107 red-zone points (converting 19-of-21 chances, 90.5%) while its opponents have combined for a lower red-zone point total (68) and conversion rate (11-of-17, 64.7%). The Notre Dame defense has allowed nine red zone touchdowns (in 17 opponent chances) while the Irish offense has cashed in 12 touchdowns after crossing the opponent’s 20-yard line (in 21 chances).
- The only two drives in which Notre Dame failed to produce points when entering the red zone came against Michigan and Purdue. The Irish took the opening kick and marched 69 yards, but missed a 28-yard field goal against the Wolverines. The other Notre Dame drive came when the Irish recovered a Boilermaker fumble at the nine-yard line with three seconds left in regulation. Notre Dame took a knee to secure the victory. The other drives for Notre Dame that entered the red zone and did not result in a touchdown came against Michigan and Michigan State. The Irish drove to the Wolverine 17-yard line before settling for a field goal (Notre Dame did have a touchdown overturned on the drive). Notre Dame also kicked a field goal against the Spartans after driving down to the MSU one-yard line before a fumble on third down forced the field goal.
- Notre Dame entered the Washington contest with 10 touchdowns in its previous 15 drives into the red zone, but the Irish managed only field goals on their first four red zone chances against the Huskies. On the other hand, Washington registered touchdowns on its first two red zone chances.
- In fact, Notre Dame had first-and-goal on three separate occasions against Washington and failed to register a touchdown on any of those opportunities.
- The Huskies were denied on their third red zone attempt of the game when Notre Dame stuffed Washington on consecutive quarterback sneaks on third and fourth down and goal from the one-yard line late in the third quarter. The Huskies were held to a field goal late in the fourth quarter due to an Irish goal-line stand. The Huskies ran six offensive plays from inside the Irish six-yard line, including five inside the two-yard line, but were not able to score a touchdown.
- Despite scoring five touchdowns in the 2009 opening win over Nevada, Notre Dame ventured into the “red zone” just twice (other three touchdowns, all by sophomore WR Michael Floyd, came from 24, 70 and 88 yards out). The Irish scored two touchdowns in red zone chances against the Wolf Pack, which marched inside the Irish 20 three times and failed to score a single point.
- Michigan and Michigan State each scored three touchdowns on four red zone attempts.
- Purdue made just one trip into the red zone, but walked away with a touchdown.
- Notre Dame in 2008 came away with points in 31 of 44 red-zone chances (70.5 percent) – including touchdowns on 52.2 percent – while opponents posted points on 81.8 percent of their chances, but barely half of the opposing chances, 22 of 44, produced touchdowns.
NOTRE DAME WINNING TIME-OF-POSSESSION BATTLE
While Notre Dame’s offense has been piling up the yardage this season (averaging 470.0 yards per game), it also has won the time of possession battle in four of five games this season (only Washington had the ball longer than the Irish). Overall, Notre Dame averages 32:19 minutes per game with the ball, compared to 27:41 for its opponents.
- Notre Dame had the ball for 11:40 and ran 21 plays in the third quarter against Purdue. The Boilermakers, on the other hand, had the ball for just 3:20 and ran nine plays. The previous high the Irish had in ball possession during a quarter this season was 10:03 in the second quarter against Nevada in the opener.
- Washington ran 19 plays and used up 9:19 of the fourth quarter before settling for a field goal to grab a 27-22 lead, but the Irish needed just 1:44 to go 63 yards on five plays to grab a 30-27 lead. The Huskies had 10:39 time of possession in the fourth quarter compared to Notre Dame’s 4:21, but the Irish outscored Washington, 11-6, in the period to force overtime.
- Notre Dame is 3-1 this season and 25-7 under Weis when the Irish win the time of possession battle.
IRISH DON’T GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE
- Since Charlie Weis became head coach at Notre Dame, the top priority of every game has been to win the turnover battle. In games the Irish have won the turnover battle, Notre Dame is 23-8.
- Last season, the Irish did not commit a turnover in five games. In fact, Notre Dame has not turned the ball over in 16 games since 2005.
- Quite often in a season opener a team is sloppy in terms of penalties and turnovers, but the Irish committed just three penalties and did not commit a single turnover. Notre Dame was one of two schools in the county among FBS teams that had fewer than three penalties and no turnovers on opening day. In addition, only seven FBS schools had fewer penalties in its season opener than the Irish.
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF
The Irish are t-26th in the nation with a +0.80 turnover ratio. Just seven FBS squads have fewer turnovers than Notre Dame’s five: Cincinnati 3, Air Force 4, Alabama 4, Northern Illinois 4, Oregon State 4, Rutgers 4, Texas A&M 4. Two of those Irish turnovers were long desperation tosses near the end of the first half and the other interception was a perfect pass that slipped through the hands of junior RB Armando Allen and into the hands of a Washington defender.
AGAINST THE WOLVERINES
- Michigan scored the winning touchdown with 11 seconds remaining in the game. It marked the third meeting between the two rivals where the deciding points were scored with less than 12 seconds to go in the contest. The Wolverines last captured a meeting decided so late into the contest in 1994 when Remy Hamilton kicked a field goal with two seconds left to secure a 26-24 victory in Notre Dame Stadium.
- Junior QB Jimmy Clausen’s 336 yards were the most ever by an Irish signal caller against Michigan.
- Notre Dame racked up 27 first downs and 490 yards on the afternoon, the most ever by an Irish squad in the all-time series with the Wolverines.
- Sophomore WR Michael Floyd’s 131 yards against Michigan set a school record for receiving yards by an Irish player in the series with the Wolverines. The previous record was 127 set last season by junior WR Golden Tate.
- Tate’s nine receptions are the most by an Irish player in the all-time series with the Wolverines, besting the previous high of seven set by three different players (most recently Darius Walker in 2006).
- Tate also tied five other Irish players (most recently junior RB Robert Hughes in 2008) with the most touchdowns against the Wolverines in the series.
- Notre Dame managed just 10 first downs and 79 total yards on 55 plays in the 2007 meeting with Michigan, the last trip to Ann Arbor for the Irish. Notre Dame registered 15 first downs and piled up 302 yards on 37 plays, good for an average of 8.2 per play in the first half.
- The Irish were also held to minus-seven yards on 33 carries in that meeting. Notre Dame rushed for 112 yards on 19 carries, good for a 5.9 average, in the first half.
IRISH OFFENSE ROLLS IN SEASON OPENER AGAINST NEVADA
- Notre Dame finished with 510 yards of total offense, the most since recording 663 yards at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
- The Irish recorded those 510 yards on just 61 plays, good for an average of 8.36 yards per play (best in the Charlie Weis era).
- Notre Dame set new highs for the Weis era in most passing yards per attempt (16.6), yards per completion (19.5), highest passing efficiency (290.44) and yards per play (8.4).
- The Irish have now eclipsed 500 yards of total offense in eight games under Weis.
- Notre Dame not only converted both of its third downs of nine or more yards (nine and 16 yards) in the first half, but did so each time with touchdown passes. Jimmy Clausen’s touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph in the first quarter came on a third and 16, while Clausen’s second quarter touchdown pass to Michael Floyd came on a third and nine.
- The Irish totaled exactly 300 yards on 34 plays in the opening half, good for an average of 8.8 yards per play.
- Notre Dame averaged just 3.3 yards per rush in 2008. Weis and the Irish coaching staff have established 4.5 yards per carry as a standard for the season. Notre Dame equalled that mark prior to its final drive of the game (158 yards on 35 carries). The Irish also accomplished the feat against a defense that ranked sixth in the nation against the run in 2008 (88.62 yards per game). Notre Dame finished the afternoon with 178 yards on the ground.
- The Irish offensive line did not allow a single sack. Nevada ranked 10th in the nation in sacks a season ago, averaging 2.85 per game.
- Notre Dame registered touchdowns on four of its first five drives. The Irish marched 67, 78, 79 and 80 yards. In fact, Notre Dame added a school record-tying 99-yard drive for its final touchdown of the game. The average scoring drive by the Irish went for 80.6 yards.
- Notre Dame was limited to just one three and out over the course of the entire game.
- The Irish quarterbacks completed passes to seven different receivers.
GOAL-LINE STAND ONE FOR THE AGES
Washington was denied on their third red zone attempt of the game. The Huskies had first and goal from the Notre Dame eight-yard line, but after two rushes pushed the ball to the Irish one-yard line, Notre Dame stuffed Washington on consecutive quarterback sneaks on third and fourth down and goal from the one-yard line late in the third quarter.
- Washington was again held to a field goal late in the fourth quarter due to an Irish goal-line stand. The Huskies ran six offensive plays from inside the Irish six-yard line, including five inside the two-yard line, but were not able to score a touchdown.
- In all, Washington ran nine plays from inside the five-yard line over two different drives and failed to score a touchdown (the Huskies managed just a field goal).
- Has there ever been a more impressive goal-line stand in Notre Dame football annals than the one made in the fourth quarter of the victory over Washington? Four criteria were used: Did it have a bearing on a victorious outcome? How close was the opponent to the goal line on first down? At what point of the game did the stand occur? How good was the opponent or short-yardage offense? Notre Dame historian Lou Somogyi recently released a top 10.
10.) Oct. 21, 1995: A Key(shawn) Stop
No. 5 USC had a prolific passing attack led by WR Keyshawn Johnson, the No. 1 pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. No. 17 Notre Dame held a 21-7 lead when USC faced first and goal at the two with 15 seconds left in the first half. Three straight passes into the end zone intended for Johnson fell incomplete or out of bounds — and on fourth DE Renaldo Wynn and LB Kinnon Tatum stopped a short pass by QB Kyle Wachholtz to RB Rodney Sermons as time expired. The Irish went on to post a 38-10 drubbing of that year’s Rose Bowl champs.
9) Sept. 9, 1974: Pepper Spray
Defending national champion Notre Dame opened at Georgia Tech under new coach Pepper Rodgers, a veer specialist. The Ramblin’ Wreck trailed 10-7 when it had a first down at the Irish three midway through the second quarter. Two yards were gained on first down, but DT Steve Niehaus and LB Greg Collins stuffed Tech for no gain on the next two plays. On fourth down, the Irish swarmed RB Charles Myers for a two-yard loss, with the first hit made by S John Dubenetzky. Notre Dame rolled thereafter to a 31-7 victory.
8) Oct. 3, 2009: Part I
Leading 24-19 late in the third quarter, Washington had first and goal at the Irish 8. RB Chris Polk gained four yards on first down, and QB Jake Locker rushed for three to the one on second down. On two straight sneak attempts, though, the 6-3, 226-pound Locker was unable to break the goal line. Notre Dame’s offense responded by driving 93 yards to convert a field goal and cut its deficit to 24-22.
7) Nov. 10, 1928: By George, They Did It!
Against an Army team that boasted an 11-game winning streak, including an 18-0 victory versus Notre Dame a year earlier, head coach Knute Rockne implored his Irish to “win one for the Gipper.” The Irish scored the go-ahead TD with 2:30 left to make it 12-6, but Army had first and goal at the Notre Dame 10 in the closing seconds. A five-yard penalty and two incomplete passes made it 3rd and goal at the 15. On third down, Dick Hutchinson completed an 11-yard pass to the Irish four. On fourth down, Hutchinson plunged to within a foot of the goal line — just as time elapsed.
6) Nov. 14, 1992: Notre Dame 17, Penn State 16
With just over 10 minutes left in the contest and Penn State trailing 9-6 in “The Snow Bowl,” the Nittany Lions had first and goal at the one. On first down, Penn State TB Richie Anderson leapt high toward the goal line but was met head on by S Jeff Burris for no gain. A two-yard loss on second down and a Kerry Collins incomplete pass on third down forced a game-tying field goal. It would prove crucial in the 17-16 victory where the Irish had to score a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the final 20 seconds to win.
5) Nov. 29, 1958: A Parting Gift
In the season finale at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Notre Dame led USC, 20-13, early in the fourth quarter when the Trojans drove 77 yards to a first down at the Irish one-foot line. On first down, USC fumbled but recovered the ball at the one. On second down, Irish defenders Bob Williams and Bob Scholtz threw USC QB Tom Maudlin for a one-yard loss on a sweep, and on third down Maudlin was stopped by Frank Reynolds for no gain. On fourth down, Myron Pottios stopped Trojans’ HB Don Buford short of the goal line. The Irish held on in the fourth quarter for the 20-13 victory.
4) Dec. 3, 1949: By Rote Or Tote
In the season finale at the Cotton Bowl, the national title was on the line in the final five minutes when Kyle Rote drove SMU, trailing 27-20, from its 21 to a first down at Notre Dame’s five. Rusty Russell lost a yard on first down, and Fred Benners threw an incomplete pass on second down. Rote picked up two yards on third down, and on fourth Rote’s pass was intercepted at the goal line by Jerry Groom and Bob Lally with 3:52 left. Frank Leahy stated he had never experienced so much excitement in a game than in this 27-20 triumph.
3) Jan. 1, 1990: Bowled Over
Late in the first half of a scoreless game in the Orange Bowl, No. 1 and 11-0 Colorado drove to a first down at the Irish one. On first down, Eric Bieniemy tried to dive over the top, but D’Juan Francisco met him head on and the officiating crew ruled the running back didn’t break the goal line plane — much to the protest of CU. QB Darian Hagan was stopped cold for no gain on a second-down sneak, and DL Troy Ridgley forced an errant option pitch to Bieniemy that bounced out of bounds at the three. On fourth down, Colorado set up for a field goal, but holder Jeff Campbell rolled to his right on a fake. The intended receiver got jammed at line of scrimmage, so Campbell was forced to tuck it and was stopped short of the goal line by Ridgley. In the second half, Notre Dame took control in its 21-6 victory.
2) Nov. 7, 1998: A “Cloud” Of Dust
Trailing 31-26, Boston College QB Scott Mutryn drove the Eagles from his 23 to a first and goal at the four with 1:07 left and no timeouts remaining for Notre Dame. BC featured RB Mike Cloud, No. 2 nationally in rushing yards per game (153.4) and a line that featured future NFL standouts Damien Woody and Doug Brzezinski. On first down, Cloud found an opening but LB Bobbie Howard stopped him at the two. On second down, Howard stopped Cloud for a yard. On third down, it appeared Cloud might have broken the plane, but LB Jimmy Friday pushed him back. On fourth down and inches from the goal line, S Deke Cooper, instructed to pursue the run and disregard the pass or anything to the outside, shot through the middle unblocked and nailed Cloud for a two-yard loss.
1) Oct. 3, 2009: Double Time!
This is the standard all future Notre Dame goal-line standards will be measured for several reasons. One, the Irish already made a stand minutes earlier (see No. 8). Two, a TD might have put the game out of reach. Three, the Irish had to do it not once but twice against a team ranked in the top five in third-down conversions. On first down from the one with 7:07 left and the Huskies leading 24-22, HB Chris Polk lost one yard on a stop by DT Ethan Johnson. A second-down pass by Locker fell incomplete, and on third down Locker was engulfed for no gain on a scramble. When Notre Dame was called for a rare roughing-the-snapper call on the field-goal attempt, it had to start all over again from the one. The defense stopped Polk for no gain on first down, benefited from a false start on the Huskies, stopped a five-yard completion to Paul Horner at the one, and did not permit Locker to get the final yard on a sneak, thereby forcing a field goal to make it 27-22 with 3:04 left. Down only one score, the Irish moved ahead briefly and then won it in overtime, 37-30. NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE GAINING STEAM
- The Purdue ground attack entered the game with the Irish ranked 22nd in the country averaging 210.7 yards per game. The Boilermakers were led by Ralph Bolden, who ranked second in the country at 140.3 yards per game.
- The Irish limited Purdue to only 74 yards (136.7 below its average) on the ground on 26 attempts, good for a 2.8 yard per carry average. The Boilermakers were running for just over 6.0 yards per carry coming into the contest. Notre Dame allowed just three rushes of 10 yards or more.
- Bolden totaled just 67 yards on 17 carries, only 3.9 per rush (well below his average of 6.8 yards per carry entering the game). The Irish really kept him intact after halftime when Bolden managed 22 yards on eight rushes. He did register three carries for 56 yards (26, 15 and 15), but was limited to 11 yards on his 14 other carries.
- After Notre Dame’s first two games, the Irish were surrendering 171.5 yards rushing per game. The Irish defensive coaching staff made a couple schematic changes along the defensive line and the results are noticeable.
- Notre Dame continued that success in the first half against Washington. The Irish held the Huskies to just 40 yards rushing on 15 carries in the opening 30 minutes.
MORE ON THE IRISH DEFENSE
- After allowing Purdue to score a touchdown on its opening drive, the Irish forced four punts and a turnover on downs on the Boilermakers final five drives of the opening half.
- Notre Dame limited Purdue to just 1-for-7 on third down over the second and third quarters. In fact, the Boilermakers netted 113 yards on 32 plays (3.5 yards per play) with five punts, a turnover on downs and the end of half possession on seven drives between the first and fourth quarter scoring drives.
- Washington totaled 56 and 53 yards on its first and last drives of the first half, but Notre Dame limited the Huskies to 59 total yards on their other five drives of the half (17 plays). The Irish forced four punts and a turnover on those five drives.
IRISH RUSH DEFENSE STEPS UP IN SECOND HALF AGAINST MICHIGAN STATE
- Notre Dame struggled mightily against the rush over its first two games and even the first half against Michigan State. The Irish surrendered 153 and 190 yards on the ground against Nevada and Michigan, respectively, and then allowed another 76 yards on the ground to the Spartans in the first half, but Notre Dame stepped up and limited Michigan State to just 29 yards on nine carries after halftime (just 3.2 per rush).
- The Irish had allowed 16 rushes of 10 or more yards over their first two games, but limited Michigan State to just a pair of 10+ yard rushes, including none in the second half.
IRISH PITCH SHUTOUT AGAINST NEVADA
- Notre Dame posted its first shutout since blanking Rutgers 42-0 on Nov. 23, 2002 — a span of 76 games.
- Notre Dame posted its first shutout in a season opener since blanking Maryland, 22-0, on Aug. 31, 2002.
- Notre Dame posted its first shutout in a season opener inside Notre Dame Stadium since Sept. 22, 1973 when the Irish beat Northwestern, 44-0.
- Nevada was shut out for the first time since Dec. 12, 2007 versus New Mexico. The shutout was also just the third in Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault’s 25-year coaching career at Nevada. This comes after Nevada averaged 37.6 points, 509 total yards and 278 rushing yards per game (school record) last season.
- Notre Dame limited the Wolf Pack to 307 total yards and 153 yards rushing, well below their explosive output from a year ago, and, obviously, no points.
- Notre Dame was one of two FBS schools, Kentucky being the other, to shut out another FBS school in its season opener.
TENUTA AND BROWN’S BOYS MAKE QUITE AN OPENING IMPRESSION
- Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick not only threw two interceptions in the game after throwing just seven all of last year, but he also averaged only 3.9 yards per rush compared to his near 7.0 yards per carry average in 2008.
- Notre Dame forced three Wolf Pack turnovers, including two in the red zone, and denied another possible scoring opportunity for Nevada on a 4th and short stop.
- Notre Dame ranked 20th in the country in 2008 in third down defense (32.76%). The Irish continued their success on third down against Nevada. Notre Dame limited the Wolf Pack to just 2-for-11.
- The Irish red zone defense was equally impressive. Notre Dame did not allow Nevada any points despite the Wolf Pack’s three trips in the red zone. The Irish were the only team in the FBS to deny their season-opening opponent points on three drives that crossed the 20-yard line.
TENUTA DEFENSES AWFULLY TOUGH IN SEASON OPENING GAMES
Notre Dame co-defensive coordinator and play-caller Jon Tenuta has had his way over his career in season-opening games. A Tenuta defense has limited its opponents to 14 points or less in 11 of his 16 years as a defensive coordinator.
TENUTA DEFENSES PRETTY IMPRESSIVE AGAINST TRUE FRESHMAN QUARTERBACKS
Notre Dame co-defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta has had supreme success against an opposing true freshman quarterback over his years as a defensive coordinator. He owns an 18-2 career record versus freshman quarterbacks.
IRISH DEFENSE STINGY OUT OF THE GATE
- Notre Dame was quite impressive defensively coming out of the locker room in 2008. The Irish allowed only three touchdowns in the first quarter over the entire 2008 campaign and just one over their last nine games of the year. Notre Dame continued that trend, blanking Nevada over the first 15 minutes.
- The Irish surrendered 14 points in the first quarter at Michigan. Notre Dame had allowed just 19 points in the first quarter over their previous 10 games.
- The Irish allowed just three points in the first quarter against Michigan State. Purdue and Washington took the opening kickoff and marched down the field for an opening drive touchdowns. Notre Dame has still allowed three points or less in the opening quarter in 10 of its last 14 games.
KICKOFF RETURN DEFENSE UNIT PICKS UP WHERE LEFT OFF IN `08
- Notre Dame led the NCAA FBS in kickoff return defense last season allowing only 16.5 yards per return and became the first Irish special teams unit to lead the nation in this category. It was also the first time Notre Dame led the NCAA in a statistical category since 1988. What made the feat even more impressive was the fact that the Irish registered just one touchback during the season. The 16.5 yards allowed on kickoffs was the best by a Notre Dame squad since 1975 when that team permitted only 14.9 yards per kick return.
- The Irish did not miss a beat in the opening-season victory over Nevada. Notre Dame limited the Wolf Pack to just 17.6 yards per return.
- Michigan’s Darryl Stonum returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to give the Wolverines a 14-3 lead with 34 seconds to go in the opening quarter. Stonum was the first Irish opponent to return a kick for touchdown since USC’s Brian Cushing returned an onsides kick for a touchdown in 2006 (42 yards).
- Since that kickoff return, Notre Dame has regained its form from a season ago. The Irish have allowed just 19.0 yards per kickoff return on the 26 kickoffs following Stonum’s touchdown return. In fact, Purdue never started a drive outside its own 20-yard line following a kickoff and Washington was forced to start three drives inside its own 15-yard line.
- Freshman PK Nick Tausch has averaged 61.5 yards per kickoff over the first three games, but the rookie averaged 67.4 yards per kick against Purdue. He even had three separate kicks carry into the end zone.
- Despite Notre Dame’s struggles in the punt (they rank 86th in the FBS in net punting, 34.19), the Irish have allowed just two punt returns all season.
IRISH SPECIAL TEAMS HAVE SHINED OVER PAST FOUR SEASONS
- Notre Dame’s special teams have been solid over the past four seasons and have made critical plays to help turn games several times since 2005.
- Irish special teams have scored seven touchdowns, forced seven turnovers and deflected or blocked 22 kicks in the past four years.
- Notre Dame has scored three TDs on punt returns, one on a kickoff return, one on a blocked punt return, one on a blocked field goal return and one on a fake field goal.
- The Irish have tallied 10 blocked punts, nine blocked field goals and three blocked PATs since 2005.
— ND —