Sept. 6, 2004
The Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004 at 2:30 p.m. EST.
The Site: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795/Natural Grass) in Notre Dame, Ind.
LIVE COVERAGE: |
â€¢ More Audio/Video Coverage
The Tickets: They’re all sold — with this being the 174th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium (the first 130 coming at the old 59,075 capacity). The Michigan game marks the 222nd home sellout in the last 223 games (dating back to 1964), with this being the 163rd sellout in the last 187 Irish games and the 27th in the last 28 games involving Notre Dame, dating back to the end of the 2001 season (only last year’s game at Stanford was not a sellout).
The TV Plans: NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Pat Haden (analysis), Lewis Johnson (sideline), Jim Bell (producer) and John Gonzalez (director).
The Radio Plans: For the 37th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are broadcast on more than 300 stations in all 50 states by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis), Larry Michael (pregame/halftime) and Al Smith (producer). A live broadcast from the Notre Dame student station, WVFI, also is available via the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com. All Notre Dame football games may be heard in South Bend on WDND-AM (1580) and WNDV-FM (92.9) with pre- and post-game analysis featuring Sean Stires, Shawn Lewallen, Jack Nolan, Mirko Jurkovic, Reggie Brooks and Vince DeDario. All Irish games also are carried live in the Chicago market on ESPN Radio 1000.
Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, will be made available for the Michigan game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) athletics web site.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Michigan (www.mgoblue.com).
IRISH PREPARE TO FACE #8/7 MICHIGAN IN 2004 HOME OPENER
The rivalry between the nation’s two most successful college football programs will be rekindled Saturday when Notre Dame plays host to No. 8/7 Michigan in a 2:30 p.m. (EST) contest at Notre Dame Stadium. The game will be televised nationally by NBC, marking the 138th consecutive Irish football game to be shown on one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN).
Notre Dame (0-1) is seeking to bounce back following a difficult 20-17 season-opening loss at BYU last weekend. The Irish nearly came all the way back from a 17-point third-quarter deficit, pulling within three points on Preston Jackson’s 38-yard interception return for a touchdown with a little more than eight minutes to play. Notre Dame would then get two opportunities to drive for a potential game-tying or game-winning score in the closing moments, but the Irish could not cash in.
Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn looked solid in defeat, completing 26 of 47 passes for 265 yards and a 54-yard touchdown to junior wide receiver Rhema McKnight. Quinn’s .553 completion percentage was the second-best of his career in a game where he attempted at least 15 passes. Meanwhile, McKnight led Notre Dame and tied his career high with eight receptions for 92 yards and a score. On defense, senior linebacker Mike Goolsby had a team-high 11 tackles, helping the Irish hold BYU to just 22 yards rushing — the 15th time in the last 26 games that a Notre Dame opponent has failed to rush for 100 yards.
Michigan (1-0) opened its 2004 season with a 43-10 victory over Miami (Ohio) last weekend. True freshman quarterback Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes and running back David Underwood ran for two scores as the Wolverines held off the pesky Redhawks. Miami pulled as close as 24-10 early in the fourth quarter and was driving deep in Michigan territory before the Wolverines’ Ernest Shazor picked off a Redhawk pass and returned it 88 yards for the game-clinching score.
Notre Dame and Michigan are meeting for the 32nd time this year, with the Wolverines holding an 18-12-1 edge in the series. However, the margin is razor thin in South Bend, with the Irish owning a 6-4-1 advantage when the scene shifts to Notre Dame Stadium.
NOTRE DAME’S PROBABLE STARTING OFFENSE
Pos. No. Player Notes
WR 21 Maurice Stovall Finished third on team with 22 catches, 421 yards in 2003
LT 68 Ryan Harris Freshman All-American in ’03 who has made nine career starts
LG 76 Bob Morton Slid over from center to guard in ’04; has started 12 times
C 78 John Sullivan Aggressive force steps in at center after not playing in 2003
RG 74 Dan Stevenson Has played both guard and tackle for Irish, starting 12 times
RT 73 Mark LeVoir Imposing figure (6-7, 310) who started all 12 games last year
TE 85 Billy Palmer Veteran leader who has appeared in 27 games (10 starts)
WR 5 Rhema McKnight Tied career high with eight receptions (92 yards, TD) at BYU
QB 10 Brady Quinn Had second-best completion pct. of his career (.553) at BYU
FB 16 Rashon Powers-Neal Caught career-high four passes for 24 yards in loss at BYU
RB 4 Ryan Grant Out to regain form of 1,000-yard season in ’02 (DNP at BYU)
NOTRE DAME’S PROBABLE STARTING DEFENSE
Pos. No. Player Notes
LE 44 Justin Tuck Had two sacks at BYU; tied for second in ND history (21 sacks)
DT 77 Greg Pauly Made five tackles (team-best two stops for losses) at BYU
DT 66 Derek Landri Chalked up three tackles (0.5 for loss) last weekend at BYU
RE 92 Kyle Budinscak Another veteran back for fifth year with 23 starts to his name
ILB 39 Brandon Hoyte Had six tackles (two for loss) and forced two fumbles at BYU
ILB 41 Mike Goolsby Led team with 11 tackles at BYU in first game since 2002
OLB 49 Derek Curry Carded six tackles (one sack) and recovered a fumble at BYU
LCB 24 Dwight Ellick Has seven career starts; also all-BIG EAST honoree in track
FS 8 Quentin Burrell Had four interceptions and two fumble recoveries last year
SS 27 Lionel Bolen Has played in 23 career games (career-high 12 tackles in ’03)
or 2 Freddie Parish IV Played primarily in nickel and dime packages as freshman
RCB 15 Preston Jackson Scored first career TD on 38-yard interception return at BYU
NOTRE DAME’S PROBABLE SPECIALISTS
Pos. No. Player Notes
PK 19 D.J. Fitzpatrick Converted his last nine field goals (21-yard FG at BYU)
P 19 D.J. Fitzpatrick Registered 42.8-yard average on 10 punts (long of 56) at BYU or 17 Geoffrey Price Averaged 45.8 yards on six punts at 2004 Blue-Gold Game
KO 45 Carl Gioia Sophomore showed tremendous consistency in preseason
HLD 82 Matt Shelton Sure-handed wideout takes over holding duties this season
SNP 64 Casey Dunn Senior walk-on now in his second season as Irish snapper
PR 5 Rhema McKnight Has seven career punt runbacks for 82 yards (11.7 avg.)
KR 6 Carlos Campbell Reserve cornerback also was a former wide receiver
21 Maurice Stovall Junior wide receiver making debut on kick return team in ’04
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES NOTES
â€¢ Michigan leads the all-time series with Notre Dame by a 18-12-1 count, including a 7-6-1 edge at Notre Dame (although the Irish lead the series in Notre Dame Stadium, 6-4-1).
â€¢ Notre Dame is 7-5-1 in its last 12 meetings with the Wolverines, although Michigan has won four of the last six games in the series. In the past 13 series games, eight were decided by a touchdown or less (not including a 17-17 tie in 1992).
â€¢ At least one of the two combatants has been ranked in every Notre Dame-Michigan matchup since the inception of the Associated Press poll in 1936. In addition, one of the teams will be ranked in the AP Top 10 for the 15th consecutive meeting.
â€¢ The lower-ranked team in the series holds an 11-10-1 edge dating back to 1942, including wins in four of the last seven matchups.
â€¢ Notre Dame ranks first all-time with 94 consensus All-America selections (from 78 players), while USC is second with 71 (from 59 players) and Michigan is third on that list with 69 consensus All-America picks (from 57 players).
â€¢ Notre Dame played its first-ever varsity football game against Michigan on Nov. 23, 1887, in South Bend. The Wolverines won by an 8-0 score.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
â€¢ The Irish will earn their first victory over Michigan since 2002 and the third straight at Notre Dame Stadium (25-23 in 2002 and 36-20 in 1998).
â€¢ Notre Dame will defeat its first top-10 team since its last victory over the seventh-ranked Wolverines in 2002.
â€¢ Notre Dame’s last three victories over a top-10 team will have all come against Michigan (2002 and 1998).
â€¢ The lower-ranked team will have won five of the last eight games in the series.
â€¢ Notre Dame will post three consecutive home wins against Michigan for the first time in the series (the Irish won two straight in ’80-’82 and ’88-’90.
IF MICHIGAN WINS …
â€¢ Notre Dame will drop its first home game to Michigan since 1994.
â€¢ The Wolverines will claim two consecutive victories over Notre Dame for the first time since 1994 (26-24) and 1997 (22-14).
â€¢ Michigan will win two consecutive games in two years against Notre Dame for the first time since 1985 (20-12) and 1986 (24-23).
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES HISTORY
â€¢ Michigan leads the series, 18-12, with one tie in 1992 at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame has won the last two meetings at Notre Dame Stadium.
â€¢ The series dates back to 1887, when Notre Dame played its first-ever varsity football game against Michigan (an 8-0 Wolverine victory). That game marked the first of nine meetings between the schools from 1887-1909, with Michigan winning the first eight and Notre Dame claiming its initial victory in ’09.
â€¢ The teams played just twice over the next 68 years, with Michigan winning 32-20 in 1942 and Notre Dame returning the favor by a 35-12 score in 1943.
â€¢ The series picked up again in 1978 and has been almost continuous since then, with the exception of two-year breaks in 1983-84, 1995-96 and 2000-01.
â€¢ The last 15 games in the series (including this year’s contest) have featured at least one team ranked in the Associated Press Top 10. However, lower-ranked teams have won four of the last seven games in the series and, since 1942, the lower-ranked team holds a 11-10-1 edge in the series. The recent wins in the series by the lower-ranked team: No. 11 Notre Dame over No. 3 Michigan in ’93 (27-23), No. 6 Michigan over No. 3 Notre Dame in ’94 (26-24), No. 22 Notre Dame over No. 5 Michigan in ’98 (36-20) and No. 20 Notre Dame over No. 7 Michigan in ’02 (25-23).
â€¢ Home field has not played a major role in the history of the Notre Dame-Michigan series, as the home team has won just over half of the games (16-13-1, with one neutral site game).
â€¢ Six of the last eight games in the series have been decided by a total of 19 points (3.2 points per game), with Notre Dame winning three of those nail-biters, Michigan winning twice and one tie.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN CONNECTIONS
â€¢ Notre Dame defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Greg Mattison was an assistant coach at Michigan from 1992-96, serving as defensive line coach and defensive coordinator for the Wolverines. He spent his final two seasons in Ann Arbor working under current Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr.
â€¢ Mattison also worked with Michigan associate head coach/running backs coach Fred Jackson at Navy in 1987.
â€¢ Michigan defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator Bill Sheridan is in his second season on the Wolverine staff after serving as Notre Dame’s safeties/special teams coach in 2001.
â€¢ Michigan defensive secondary coach Ron English was a graduate assistant coach at Arizona State in 1994, working alongside current Notre Dame defensive coordinator Kent Baer, who was the Sun Devils’ defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach that season.
FRIEND OR FOE?
â€¢ Notre Dame junior running back Jeff Jenkins is a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., and was the all-time leading rusher in Ann Arbor history (3,970 yards, 60 TD) while attending Huron High School from 1998-2001. One of Jenkins’ teammates at Huron was Michigan junior wide receiver Carl Tabb, who was a three-year letterwinner at the school.
â€¢ Freshmen Ronald Talley (Oak Park) and Justin Hoskins (Grand Rapids), along with Jenkins are the three Michigan natives on the 2004 Notre Dame roster.
â€¢ Irish junior nose guard Derek Landri, junior linebacker Anthony Salvador Michigan junior quarterback Matt Gutierrez and Wolverines junior running back Alijah Bradley all were teammates at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., helping the Spartans improve their overall winning streak to a national high school record 125 consecutive games and two prep national titles at the time of their graduation following the 2001 season.
â€¢ Notre Dame senior inside linebacker Mike Goolsby and Michigan sophomore offensive lineman Mike Kolodziej both attended Joliet (Ill.) Catholic Academy.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE BIG TEN CONFERENCE
â€¢ Notre Dame has played more than three times as many games against Big Ten Conference opponents (327) as any other league. The Pac-10 (112) is the only other conferences against whom the Irish have played at least 100 games.
â€¢ Notre Dame has won more than 66 percent of its games versus Big Ten Conference opponents, with a record of .500 or better against 10 of the 11 Big Ten teams (Michigan is the lone exception). The Irish have an overall mark of 209-103-15 (.662) in 324 games against Big Ten schools, with more than 52 percent of those games (170) coming versus Michigan (12-18-1), Michigan State (42-24-1) and Purdue (49-24-2), all of whom are on Notre Dame’s 2004 schedule.
â€¢ For the third consecutive season, Notre Dame is playing three Big Ten schools (Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue). Last year, the Irish ended up 0-3 against those same three Big Ten opponents.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND MICHIGAN MET
No. 5 Michigan set a series record for points against No. 15 Notre Dame with a 38-0 victory in Ann Arbor on Sept. 13, 2003 before an NCAA record crowd of 111,726 fans at Michigan Stadium. The game marked the third time in the last decade that the Irish and Wolverines had established a new NCAA attendance mark. Chris Perry rushed for 133 yards on 31 carries and scored four touchdowns for the Wolverines, who had 439 yards of total offense in the game (251 passing, 188 rushing). Courtney Watson paced the Irish defense with 12 tackles, including one stop for a loss.
Notre Dame had an opportunity to grab the early lead, as Cedric Hilliard recovered a fumble deep in Michigan territory on the Wolverines’ first possession. However, the Irish couldn’t capitalize and UM eventually moved in front, thanks to a 50-yard punt return by Steve Breaston that set up the first of Perry’s four scores on a two-yard run. Perry followed by a short Adam Finley field goal with another touchdown, as Michigan stifled a Notre Dame drive inside the UM 20 and marched 81 yards in nine plays to take a 17-0 halftime lead.
Perry would score twice more in the second half, the latter TD coming at the end of a mammoth 19-play, 80-yard drive that took up more than 10 minutes. A late score closed out Michigan’s largest win over the Irish in their 41-game series and was the Wolverines’ first shutout of Notre Dame since 1902.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND MICHIGAN MET AT NOTRE DAME STADIUM
No. 20 Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead, fell behind, clawed its way back and then held off a furious Michigan rally to post a 25-23 victory over the seventh-ranked Wolverines on Sept. 14, 2002 at Notre Dame Stadium. The win was the first over a top-10 team for the Irish since they vanquished the same Michigan squad, 36-20 in 1998. It also represented the fourth time in the last six series games that the lower-ranked team won.
Notre Dame took a 16-7 lead at halftime on touchdown runs by Ryan Grant and Carlyle Holiday. However, the Wolverines rallied and scored 10 unanswered points, taking their first lead of the day at 17-16 on Chris Perry’s two-yard run late in the third quarter.
Notre Dame quickly recovered, as Holiday connected with Omar Jenkins on passes of 29 and 47 yards, setting up Grant’s second TD of the game from three yards away. Then, on Michigan’s very next play, Perry fumbled and Glenn Earl recovered for the Irish at the UM 43. Nicholas Setta converted the turnover by booting a 46-yard field goal with 10:41 to play.
Michigan answered again, marching 81 yards in 11 plays, with John Navarre hitting Bennie Joppru for an eight-yard score with 2:53 left. However, Shane Walton tipped away Navarre’s two-point PAT pass attempt to keep the Irish in front. Still, the Wolverines held on defense and got one last chance to pull out the win, but those hopes died when Walton picked off Navarre’s third-down pass with 21 seconds remaining.
Grant rushed for a (then) career-high 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Irish victory, while Perry tallied 78 yards on 16 carries with one score for Michigan.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES PRODUCES EXCITING GAMES
â€¢ Eight of the last 13 Notre Dame-Michigan games have been decided by five points or less while only four of the last 19 games have been won by more than 10 points: Michigan’s 25-7 home win in 1981, Notre Dame’s 26-7 victory at Michigan in 1987, Notre Dame’s 36-20 triumph at home in 1998 and Michigan’s 38-0 victory last season in Ann Arbor.
â€¢ Since the Notre Dame-Michigan series resumed in 1978, the average margin has been just 8.2 points over the span of 20 games, with the Irish holding a slim 10-9-1 edge. Subtract last season’s meeting and the average margin of victory is 6.6.
â€¢ Five of the last 18 games in the series have seen the winning points come in the final two minutes (1980, ’88, ’90, ’94 and ’99), including two that were decided in the final seconds (’80 and ’94).
IRISH, WOLVERINES RANK AT TOP OF MOST LISTS
â€¢ Notre Dame has won 11 consensus national championships, while Michigan has won nine titles.
â€¢ Notre Dame currently has 796 career Division I-A victories (second all-time), while Michigan leads with 834 career wins, although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than the Irish.
â€¢ Michigan holds the record for times ranked in the Associated Press poll (695), followed closely by Notre Dame, which made its 667th AP poll last season before the Michigan contest in Ann Arbor.
â€¢ Notre Dame ranks first all-time with 94 consensus All-America selections (from 78 players), while USC is second with 71 (from 59 players) and Michigan is third on that list with 69 consensus All-America picks (from 57 players each).
IRISH RECORD SETTERS IN THE NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES
â€¢ The following performances are tied for first in the Irish record book and came in games against Michigan: two kickoff returns for touchdowns (Raghib Ismail, 1989); and 26 tackles by a linebacker (Bob Golic, 1978, also third-most ever by a Michigan opponent).
â€¢ The following performances are tied for fourth in the Irish record book and are tied for second all-time by a Michigan opponent (all on four attempts): four field goals by Chuck Male (1979), John Carney (1985) and Reggie Ho (1988).
â€¢ Raghib “Rocket” Ismail’s 192 kick return yards in 1989 rank second in Irish history and are the second-most by a Michigan opponent. Ismail holds the Michigan opponent record with 64.0 yards per kick return in 1989, while his 92-yard runback in that game is the fifth-longest by a Michigan opponent.
â€¢ Harry Oliver’s game-winning 51-yard field goal versus Michigan in 1980 is tied for the second-longest kick in Irish history, while Ricky Watters’ 81-yard punt return against the Wolverines in 1988 ranks 11th all-time at Notre Dame (Watters’ 105 punt return yards in 1988 are the fourth-most ever by a Michigan opponent).
â€¢ Creighton Miller’s 15.9 yards/rush in 1943 (10 carries for 159 yards) ranks second all-time by a Michigan opponent, while Kevin Griffith’s three sacks in 1982 are tied for the Wolverine opponent record.
â€¢ Angelo Bertelli’s five PAT (in five attempts) in 1943 are tied for third all-time by a Michigan opponent.
â€¢ Notre Dame’s all-time opponent records do not include any by Michigan (both team and individual).
REMEMBER THESE NAMES?
Here are just a few of the memorable names and performances from the Notre Dame – Michigan series in Notre Dame Stadium:
â€¢ 1980 – Harry Oliver’s legendary 51-yard field goal at the gun pushes Notre Dame to a 29-27 victory.
â€¢ 1986 – Unranked Notre Dame takes #3 Michigan to the brink, piling up 455 yards of offense behind Tim Brown (65 yards, touchdown run). John Carney misses possible game-winning field goal with 18 seconds remaining.
â€¢ 1988 – Reggio Ho kicks four field goals to lead Notre Dame to victory, 19-17. Mike Gillette misses a 49-yard attempt as time expires. Ricky Watters scores Notre Dame’s lone touchdown on an 81-yard punt return.
â€¢ 1990 – Rick Mirer connects with Adrian Jarrell for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:40 remaining to give Notre Dame a 28-24 victory. Michael Stonebreaker and Reggie Brooks (then a cornerback) post crucial second half interceptions of Elvis Grbac. Desmond Howard explodes for 133 yards receiving and two touchdowns for the Wolverines.
â€¢ 1994 – Remy Hamilton drills a 42-yard field goal to provide Michigan with its most recent victory in Notre Dame Stadium, 26-24. Hamilton’s kick erases a Ron Powlus – Derrick Mayes possible game-winning touchdown pass.
â€¢ 1998 – Autry Denson rushes for 163 yards and two touchdowns as Notre Dame scored 30 points in the second half en route to a 36-20 victory over #5 Michigan.
â€¢ 2002 – Current senior Ryan Grant rushes for a (then) career-high 132 yards and two touchdowns to help Notre Dame defeat Michigan 25-23. Shane Walton posts an interception on the Wolverines’ final offensive play to seal the victory.
ESPN RADIO COMES TO SOUTH BEND THIS WEEKEND
Two of the more popular programs on ESPN Radio will be broadcasting live from South Bend this week in conjunction with the Notre Dame-Michigan game on Saturday.
“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” featuring former Irish linebacker Mike Golic and co-host Mike Greenberg, will broadcast their show Friday morning from 5-9 a.m. (EST) live from the College Football Hall of Fame, located on South St. Joseph Street in South Bend. The Notre Dame cheerleaders and leprechaun will be on hand and numerous prizes will be given out to fans in attendance, including a pair of tickets to the football game between the Irish and Wolverines the next day.
In addition, ESPN Radio’s “College GameDay”, featuring host Dave Revsine and analyst Mel Kiper, Jr., is tentatively scheduled to air live from South Bend this weekend. Both programs can be heard in the South Bend area on ESPN Radio 1580AM.
THE FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT
Notre Dame came up with two turnovers in its season opener at BYU, as senior LB Derek Curry recovered a Cougar fumble and senior CB Preston Jackson returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown. Over the past three seasons (2001-04) Notre Dame has forced two or more turnovers in 27 of its 37 games, including 21 contests where they came up with at least three takeaways.
STOPPING THE RUN IS JOB ONE FOR IRISH
The Notre Dame run defense has been exceptionally sturdy during the past three seasons. Since Tyrone Willingham arrived on the scene in 2002, the Irish have held 15 of 26 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing, including BYU’s 22-yard effort in last weekend’s season opener.
In 2002, Notre Dame was ranked 10th in the nation in rushing defense, followed by a No. 29 national ranking last year. Through the first weekend of full college action this season, the Irish are fourth in the country in rushing defense.
PAPER OR PLASTIC?
With 21 career sacks, senior defensive end and All-America candidate Justin Tuck is on the verge of becoming Notre Dame’s all-time leader in that category. The Kellyton, Ala., native set a school record with 13.5 sacks last year and added two more sacks in last weekend’s season opener at BYU. He now is tied with Mike Gann (1982-84) for second place on the Irish career list behind Kory Minor’s 22.5 sacks from 1995-98. Here’s a look at the Irish career sack leaders since 1982 (when Notre Dame began recognizing sacks as a separate statistic — prior to that, they were labeled “tackles for loss”):
Player Seasons Sacks
Kory Minor 1995-98 22.5
Justin Tuck 2002-04 21
Mike Gann 1982-84 21
Bryant Young 1990-93 18
Anthony Weaver 1998-01 17
Bert Berry 1993-96 16.5
FITZPATRICK, GIOIA AND SCHMIDT AWARDED SCHOLARSHIPS
Senior placekicker/punter D.J. Fitzpatrick, sophomore placekicker/punter Carl Gioia, and senior fullback Josh Schmidt all have been awarded scholarships for the 2004-05 school year at Notre Dame after serving the team as non-scholarship players, Irish head football coach Tyrone Willingham announced Aug. 26.
Fitzpatrick (Granger, Ind.) enters the 2004 season battling for the starting position at both placekicker and punter after serving in both roles in 2003. The senior played in all 11 games last season, starting eight as the placekicker and punter, and made 12 of 17 field-goal attempts (70.6 percent), including a long of 50 yards against Syracuse. Against Navy, Fitzpatrick kicked the winning field goal on the game’s final play in a 27-24 Notre Dame victory. Fitzpatrick also averaged 36.8 yards per punt on 44 attempts, downing seven punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and posting a season-long punt of 50 yards.
Gioia (Valparaiso, Ind.) is competing for a role in placements and as a punter this fall. He did not see game action as a freshman in 2003 after choosing to attend Notre Dame following an outstanding prep career in which he was a three-time all-state selection by the Indiana Football Coaches Association at Valparaiso High School.
Schmidt (Germantown, Tenn.) is a veteran fullback who emerged as a receiving threat out of the backfield in 2003. The recipient of the 2003 Knute Rockne Student-Athlete Award as the team’s top academic performer, Schmidt caught 13 passes for 125 yards last season while playing in all 12 games, including a starting assignment against Brigham Young. In addition to his duties at fullback, Schmidt has been a special-teams stalwart the last two seasons.
RANK AND FILE
Notre Dame’s penchant for playing the best teams in the country is well known. In fact, over the last 18 seasons (1987-2004), the Irish have played 82 games against ranked opponents, an average of nearly five games per season. Notre Dame has posted a record of 43-37-2 (.537) in these games, including a 22-12-1 (.643) mark against ranked teams at home. Here’s a breakdown of how the Irish have done against Top 25 teams since 1987:
Season Home Road/Neutral Total
1987 2-0 1-2 3-2
1988 2-0 2-0 4-0
1989 3-0 3-1 6-1
1990 2-1 3-1 5-2
1991 1-1 1-2 2-3
1992 2-1-1 2-0 4-1-1
1993 1-1 2-0 3-1
1994 0-1 0-2-1 0-3-1
1995 2-0 1-2 3-2
1996 1-1 1-0 2-1
1997 1-1 1-3 2-4
1998 1-0 0-1 1-1
1999 1-1 0-3 1-4
2000 2-1 0-2 2-3
2001 0-1 0-2 0-3
2002 1-0 3-2 4-2
2003 0-2 1-2 1-4
Totals 22-12-1 21-25-1 43-37-2
IRISH HEAD COACH TYRONE WILLINGHAM
A veteran with 27 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels, Tyrone Willingham is in the midst of his third season as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame in 2004. Willingham has a record of 15-11 (.577) in two-plus seasons with the Irish, leading Notre Dame to a 10-3 record and a trip to the Gator Bowl in 2002 before a 5-7 campaign in 2003.
In 2002, Willingham became the first Irish head coach ever to win 10 games in his first season, was named the ESPN/Home Depot College Coach of the Year, the Scripps College Coach of the Year, the Black Coaches Association Male Coach of the Year and received the George Munger Award College Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia. In addition, he made history in 2002 as the first college football coach ever to earn The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year award. In nine years as a college head coach, Willingham has compiled a solid 59-47-1 (.556) record and has guided his teams to bowl games on five occasions.
Willingham was introduced as the new Irish mentor on Jan. 1, 2002, following seven seasons as the head coach at Stanford. He compiled a 44-36-1 (.549) record during his tenure at Stanford, guiding the Cardinal to four bowl games, including the Rose Bowl following the 1999 season. Willingham was a two-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year (1995 and 1999), the only Stanford coach to earn that award more than once, and he was a finalist for national coach-of-the-year honors in ’95 and ’99. All told, Willingham spent 10 years at Stanford, initially serving as running backs coach from 1989-91.
Between his stints with the Cardinal, Willingham coached in the professional ranks for three seasons (1992-94) with the Minnesota Vikings, helping his team win a pair of NFC Central Division championships and reach the playoffs all three years. Willingham began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Michigan State, in 1977, before moving to Central Michigan as the defensive secondary coach for two years (1978-79). He returned to MSU from 1980-82, working with the secondary and special teams units, and also served on the coaching staffs at North Carolina State (1983-85) and Rice (1986-88).
THE 2004 SCHEDULE
Notre Dame’s rugged 2003 schedule featured nine teams that advanced to bowl games, including three participants in Bowl Championship Series (BCS) contests. The 2004 slate figures to be just as formidable, although the Irish benefit from playing four of their first six contests within the friendly confines of Notre Dame Stadium.
In all, eight bowl qualifiers from 2003 dot the Irish schedule — Michigan (Rose Bowl), Michigan State (Alamo Bowl), Purdue (Capital One Bowl), Navy (Houston Bowl), Boston College (San Francisco Bowl), Tennessee (Peach Bowl), Pittsburgh (Continental Tire Bowl) and USC (Rose Bowl). This season, Notre Dame also will take on three Big Ten Conference schools — Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue — as well as three Pacific-10 Conference institutions — Washington, Stanford and USC. Other conferences represented on this year’s docket include the Mountain West (BYU), Southeastern (Tennessee) and BIG EAST (Boston College and Pittsburgh).
Last year’s Notre Dame ledger was ranked third in the nation according to the final NCAA statistical reports, marking the 22nd time in 27 seasons that the Irish have had their schedule ranked in the top 30 in the country. In addition to nine ’03 opponents advancing to bowl games, four of Notre Dame’s first eight foes last year were ranked among the nation’s top 25 at season’s end.
The Notre Dame ticket office received 52,179 ticket requests for the Oct. 2 game vs. Purdue, making it the fifth-highest requested Irish home game in history. The Notre Dame Stadium record of 59,368 ticket requests was set in ’01 when the Irish took on West Virginia. Demand for that game was based on parents of current Notre Dame students being guaranteed four tickets for that contest — plus contributing alumni having the opportunity to apply for four tickets instead of the usual two, based on its designation as an alumni family game. Entering Saturday’s game vs. Michigan, the Irish have posted 173 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium and 221 in their last 222 home games.
Here are the top 10 games in terms of alumni ticket demand at Notre Dame Stadium:
1. West Virginia 2001 59,368
2. USC 1997 57,048
3. Boston College 2002 55,482
4. USC 2003 54,244
5. Purdue 2004 52,179
6. Florida State 2003 51,051
7. Michigan 2002 50,883
8. Michigan State 2001 48,404
9. Nebraska 2000 47,865
10. Michigan State 1997 47,681
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 162 of its previous 186 games, including 26 of its last 27 games dating back to the end of the 2001 season (the ’03 Stanford game was not a sellout). At Michigan in 2003, the Irish and Wolverines helped bring in the largest crowd in NCAA history (111,726), marking the third time in the history of that series that an NCAA attendance record has been set. It also represented the sixth time in the last three seasons that Notre Dame has been a part of establishing a new stadium attendance record (at Nebraska and Texas A&M in 2001; at Air Force and Florida State, home vs. Boston College in 2002).
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN
With the Michigan game slated to be televised nationally by NBC, the Irish will extend their streak of appearances on one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN) to 138 straight games, a stretch that spans 10 full seasons (1993-2003). The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was more than 11 years ago (Oct. 31, 1992), when Notre Dame downed Navy, 38-7, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That game was shown locally in the South Bend area on WNDU-TV. Here’s a breakdown of the networks on which the Irish have played during this impressive streak:
YEAR GAMES NBC ABC CBS ESPN
1992 4 3 1 -- --
1993 12 7 4 -- 1
1994 12 7 5 -- --
1995 12 6 4 1 1
1996 11 6 2 2 1
1997 13 6 3 2 2
1998 12 7 3 2 --
1999 12 7 3 1 1
2000 12 6 3 3 --
2001 11 6 4 -- 1
2002 13 7 4 1 1
2003 12 6 5 -- 1
2004 2 1 -- -- 1
Totals 138 75 41 12 10
WHEN THE EYES OF THE NATION ARE UPON THEM
Notre Dame is 166-85-3 (.659) all-time when it is playing in front of a national television audience. The 2003 game at Michigan was another milestone for the Irish program — it was the 300th time a Notre Dame football game appeared on national or regional television.
During their 115-year history, the Irish have posted a combined 194-112-4 (.632) record in these national or regional TV games, beginning with a 27-21 victory over No. 4 Oklahoma on Nov. 8, 1952 in a game that was shown nationwide on ABC. Here’s a breakdown of Notre Dame’s success over the years when appearing on each of the various networks on both a national and regional basis (the current Irish win/loss streak on the four major networks is listed in parentheses):
NBC (won 2) 63-24-1 (.722)
ABC (lost 3) 44-36-2 (.549)
CBS (won 6) 22-11-0 (.667)
ESPN/ESPN2 (lost 1) 19-11-0 (.633)
WGN 10-2-0 (.833)
SportsChannel 4-1-0 (.800)
Raycom 2-0-0 (1.000)
TBS 1-0-0 (1.000)
Katz 1-0-0 (1.000)
Totals 166-85-3 (.659)
ABC (lost 2) 23-24-1 (.490)
CBS (won 1) 4-2-0 (.667)
TBS 1-0-0 (1.000)
Big Ten Syndication 0-1-0 (.000)
Totals 28-27-1 (.509)
NOTRE DAME FEATURED PROMINENTLY ON TELEVISION THIS YEAR
In addition to continuing its streak of consecutive games played on one of the four major television networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN), Notre Dame will be spotlighted on the small screen in several other ways during the 2004 season. Here’s a thumbnail look at each of the individual TV projects which are featuring the Irish this year:
â€¢ ESPN College GameDay is celebrating its 11th season of live remotes from college football’s top games.
â€¢ College Sports Television (CSTV), the 24-hour cable channel devoted exclusively to college sports, once again highlights Irish athletics during a two-hour block on Sunday nights called “Notre Dame Primetime.” The show, which will be co-hosted by former Irish split end Derrick Mayes, focuses on all 26 Notre Dame sports and the continuing growth of Irish athletics.
â€¢ Besides these features, Notre Dame is now in the 14th season of its unique relationship with NBC. All Irish home football games since 1991 have been televised on the network, with the current agreement slated to continue through 2010. Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis) are set to begin their fourth full season broadcasting the action for NBC in ’04.
NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS DEBUT ON SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO
In addition to its unparalleled television coverage, Notre Dame also has increased its radio footprint, announcing an agreement on Aug. 31 with SIRIUS Satellite Radio to become the official satellite radio partner for Notre Dame athletics. SIRIUS will broadcast every Irish football game this season, and also will air selected men’s and women’s basketball games, as well as other sporting events. In addition, SIRIUS will aid in the development of marketing initiatives with the University’s athletic department as a member of “Team Notre Dame.”
Notre Dame’s agreement with SIRIUS is one of the cornerstones in the formation of SIRIUS College Sports Radio, a partnership between SIRIUS and College Sports Television (CSTV) that includes 23 major universities around the country. SIRIUS radios for the car and home start at $149 and are available at major retailers nationwide. For more information, visit www.sirius.com.
TRIO FOR FORMER IRISH GRIDDERS JOIN ND SPORTS PROPERTIES’ RADIO BROADCASTS
Three former Notre Dame football players have joined the broadcast team this season for a pair of radio shows produced by Notre Dame Sports Properties (NDSP) in cooperation with the Notre Dame athletics department, plus U93 (92.9 FM) in South Bend and its parent company, Artistic Media Partners. Mirko Jurkovic and Reggie Brooks provide analysis during the Official Notre Dame Football Postgame Radio Show, which is broadcast on U93 immediately following Westwood One’s coverage of every Irish football game. The 90-minute show, which is presented by Boling Laser Center and hosted by Jack Nolan, also originates live from Gate 3 at the Joyce Center (across from Notre Dame Stadium) after each Irish home game.
Meanwhile, Bobby Brown serves as a co-host on the weekly Official Notre Dame Football Coaches’ Show, which airs live on U93 Mondays at 7 p.m. (EST) from Logan’s Roadhouse in Mishawaka (4225 N. Main Street). Brown is joined by Artistic Media Partners sports director Sean Stires each week for the half-hour show, which includes a weekly segment with Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham, a live appearance by a Notre Dame player or coach, and other features involving the Irish football program.
In addition to airing in the South Bend area, both NDSP shows can be heard live worldwide through the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com).
Jurkovic, who currently works as an account manager for Stryker Endoscopy in South Bend, was a four-year monogram winner as an offensive lineman at Notre Dame from 1988-91 and was a member of the 1988 Irish national championship squad. A native of Calumet City, Ill., Jurkovic started at right guard during his final two seasons and helped Notre Dame post a combined record of 43-7 over the course of his career, including three bowl victories (’89 Fiesta Bowl, ’90 Orange Bowl and ’92 Sugar Bowl).
Brooks, who now is an administrator of production systems in Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technologies, also earned four monograms with the Irish as a tailback from 1989-92, rushing behind Jurkovic in his final three seasons. Brooks was a starter in ’92, helping Notre Dame to a 10-1-1 record and a victory over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, a win that saw Brooks rush 22 times for 115 yards. The Tulsa, Okla., product finished his senior year with 1,343 yards on the ground, the third-highest single-season rushing total in school history, and he still holds the Notre Dame career record for the most rushing yards per attempt (7.6).
Brown, who is beginning his second year of studies at the Notre Dame Law School, garnered four monograms and started for three years as a flanker for the Irish from 1996-99. His best campaign came in 1997, when he caught 45 passes for 543 yards, tying for the 10th-highest single-season reception total in school history. Brown, a Lauderhill, Fla., native, also ranks second on Notre Dame’s single-game pass receptions list, catching 12 balls for 208 yards in a 1999 game at Pittsburgh.
THE 2004 NFL DRAFT
Five former Notre Dame players were selected in the 2004 National Football League Draft. Leading the way was running back Julius Jones, who went to the Dallas Cowboys in the second round (43rd pick overall). Jones was joined by linebacker Courtney Watson, who was taken 17 picks later in the second round (60th overall) by the New Orleans Saints. Safety Glenn Earl was chosen in the fourth round (122nd overall) by the Houston Texans, while fellow defensive back Vontez Duff joined him as a Texan when Houston tapped him in the sixth round (170th overall). Offensive tackle Jim Molinaro was the final Irish player taken, selected by the Washington Redskins in the seventh round (180th overall).
NOTRE DAME IS AMERICA’S FAVORITE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAM
According to an ESPN Sports Poll of nearly 7,000 college sports fans ages 12 and older taken from Jannuary to December 2003, Notre Dame is the nation’s favorite college football team, garnering 6.1 percent of the popular vote. Furthermore, the Irish were the only team to finish in the top 10 in all four regions of the country where the ESPN Sports Poll was conducted. Ohio State was the only other school to earn at least four percent of the vote, finishing at 5.3 percent.
MAKING THE GRADE
The first two seasons of the Tyrone Willingham era have produced some impressive semesters in the classroom for the Notre Dame football team. In fact, the Irish are coming off a 2004 spring semester in which the team’s 104 players combined for a 2.96 grade-point average that ranks as the program’s best semester GPA on record (dating back to 1992). The Notre Dame football program’s top six semester GPAs since ’92 all have been posted during the past seven semesters (prior to the fall of ’04), including the first three semesters of Willingham’s tenure (2.84 in the fall of ’02, 2.79 in the spring of ’03 and 2.82 in the fall of ’03). The football program’s second-best semester GPA of the past 12 years came in the spring of 2002 (2.90), followed by a 2.80 in the spring of 2001 and a 2.69 in the fall of ’01.
Upon closer examination, the 2004 spring semester saw 11 Irish football players post a Dean’s List GPA (sliding scale, based on major) while 21 turned in a semester GPA of 3.4-plus and more than half (53) had a GPA of 3.0 or better. In addition, two players — current fifth-year DE Kyle Budinscak and senior LB Brandon Hoyte — received Academic All-District V honors in 2003, marking Budinscak’s third selection and Hoyte’s second to the prestigious squad.
NOTRE DAME EXCELS IN THE CLASSROOM AS WELL AS ON THE FIELD
The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) annually honors the school with the highest graduation rate based on a particular entering freshman football class — and Notre Dame has won the award six times, most recently in 2001 with its 100-percent graduation rate (22 of 22 entering freshmen from 1996 earned their degrees within five years). The 2001 award followed Notre Dame’s previous honors in 1982, ’83, ’84, ’88 and ’91. Notre Dame also holds the distinction of producing the first 100-percent rate in a single years after 24 of 24 student-athletes earned their degrees within a five-year period out of the entering class of 1982 (and 16 of those 24 did so within four years). Only eight other times has a school registered a 100-percent graduation rate.
The 1988 award had special meaning, as it marked the first time a school won the national championship on the football field — as Notre Dame did, finishing 12-0 after a Fiesta Bowl triumph over unbeaten West Virginia — and in the classroom. Including the special mention category, Notre Dame has received some sort of recognition in 23 of 24 years the award has been presented — with Duke next at 21.
TAKING ACADEMIC SUCCESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
The high graduation rate of the Notre Dame football program extends to the elite group of former players who have moved on to play in the National Football League. Notre Dame has seen 88 of its former players appear on NFL opening-day rosters during the past eight seasons (1996-2003) and 93.1 percent of those players (82) have earned their degrees from the University. In fact, Notre Dame’s own institutional research shows that 99 percent of scholarship football players who have entered the University since 1962 have received their degrees (896 of 905, based only on individuals who remained at the school at least four years). Those figures do not include players who transferred or withdrew before completing four or more years at Notre Dame.
The 93.1 percent graduation rate for NFL participants ranks even higher than Notre Dame’s most recent NCAA graduation rates for all student-athletes (87 percent), male student-athletes (85), female student-athletes (92), football student-athletes (81) and African-American student-athletes (78). Those numbers, released last fall, comprised all student-athletes entering Notre Dame from 1993-96.
KEVIN WHITE APPOINTED NACDA THIRD VICE PRESIDENT FOR 2004-05
Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White has been chosen to serve as third vice president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) for 2004-05. White was elected during NACDA’s 39th Annual Convention, held June 11-13 in Dallas, Texas.
Appointed Notre Dame’s athletics director on March 13, 2000, White has guided the Notre Dame athletic department to unprecedented across-the-board success during his tenure. He oversaw the department’s unconditional recertification by the NCAA Division I Committee on Athletics Certification that was announced in May 2004. A career educator and one of the most respected athletic administrators in the nation, White previously had been athletic director at Arizona State, Tulane, Maine and Loras College.
Also elected to serve NACDA for the 2004-05 team were president Gene DeFilippo, director of athletics at Boston College; first vice president Tim Curley, director of athletics at Penn State; second vice president Lee McElroy, director of athletics at Albany; and Greg Feris, director of athletics at Wayland Baptist, to the first year of a five-year term as secretary.
Executive Committee members selected include athletics director Andy Geiger of Ohio State as a University Division representative. New At-Large representatives are Bridget Belgiovine, director of Division III at the NCAA; Marcy Girton, associate athletics director at Texas Christian; Jody Mooradian, associate athletics director at Boston College; and Carol Sprague, senior associate athletics director at Pittsburgh.
NACDA, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, serves as the professional and educational association for more than 6,100 college athletics directors, associates, assistants and conference commissioners at more than 1,600 institutions throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. NACDA offers numerous educational and networking opportunities to its members. Additionally, NACDA administers the United States Sports Academy Directors’ Cup program, which honors the all-sports champion in each of the NCAA Divisions I, II and III and the NAIA. NACDA also publishes Athletics Administration, an informative national magazine considered the voice of college athletics administration, six times a year.
“THE SHIRT” NOW AVAILABLE FOR 2004 SEASON
For the 15th consecutive year, Notre Dame Student Activities and Government are sponsoring a T-shirt that benefits scholarship funds, student groups and service projects. In each of the past two years, the initial run of nearly 50,000 shirts sold out prior to the start of the season. In 2002, a record-setting total of 130,000 shirts were sold, with that initial run of 44,000 selling out within six weeks of its debut (at the time, it was one of the earliest sellouts in the history of the project). As a result, Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham began labelling the Shirt-clad crowd as the “sea of green.”
Over the past 14 years, the venture has more than $2.5 million in net profit for worthy causes and serves the dual purpose of promoting spirit and raising funds. Some of the proceeds supported students and employees who have incurred catastrophic accidents, while others benefitted endowment funds and additional monies were given to support service projects for student groups on campus.
“The Shirt 2004” is kelly green for an unprecendented third consecutive year, reminiscent of the original 1990 Shirt, and features this season’s motto, “Onward To Victory.” The short-sleeve shirt is traditionally worn by Notre Dame students and fans at the first home game of each football season. The cost of this year’s shirt is $15 and it is available on campus to the University community and the general public at the Hammes Bookstore, the information desk at the LaFortune Student Center, the Varsity Shop at the Joyce Center and the Alumni Association at the Eck Center. Orders also may be placed by telephone (1-800-647-4641) or on-line through the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.und.com).
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR 2004 FOOTBALL KICKOFF LUNCHEONS
Tickets are now on sale for the 2004 Notre Dame Kickoff Luncheons held the Friday prior to each Irish home football game. The luncheons feature Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham, Irish players and assistant coaches, plus special guests and other attractions.
Tickets are $18 each, with a handling fee of $3 (payment may be made with one check for more than one luncheon). There are 10 seats per table — and if you wish to sit as a group at the same table with other guests, please return all reservations in one envelope. Checks should be made payable to “University of Notre Dame” and mailed to: Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Telephone and credit card reservations are not accepted. A printed reservation form also is available on Notre Dame’s athletics web site at www.und.com.
The luncheons are held in the Joyce Center fieldhouse (north dome) on the Notre Dame campus, with a noon (EST) start. Be aware that advance reservations are required for tickets, and tickets are not routinely available at the door. This year’s luncheon dates are: Sept. 10 (Michigan), Sept. 24 (Washington), Oct. 1 (Purdue), Oct. 8 (Stanford), Oct. 22 (Boston College) and Nov. 12 (Pittsburgh).
All 2004 pep rallies will be held in the Joyce Center Arena (south dome) on Fridays before Saturday home games, beginning at 6 p.m. (EST). The Irish squad enters the arena at 6:30 p.m.
“NOTRE DAME EXPERIENCE” RETURNS FOR 2004 SEASON
For years, the Joyce Center Fieldhouse has been the “pregame meeting place” for several thousand Notre Dame alumni. In an effort to add to this tradition, the Notre Dame Athletics Department is providing an interactive fan experience for each of the 2004 home football games. For the third consecutive season, the “Notre Dame Experience” will combine the Notre Dame Alumni Association Hospitality Center with interactive inflatables, photo booths, autograph sessions, Notre Dame football trivia and stage activities. Gates open three hours prior to kickoff and will stay open until one hour after the game. Admission is free for all “Notre Dame Experience” events.
ORDER THE 2004 NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL PREVIEW MAGAZINE TODAY
This season marks the 11th edition of the Notre Dame Football Preview Magazine — an official publication by the University of Notre Dame athletic department. The 1994, ’95, ’96, ’97 and ’98 and 2000 editions were voted best in the nation in the special publications competition sponsored by the College Sports Information Directors of America. The preview magazine, published by Ave Maria Press, numbers nearly 100 pages, including game action shots of returning Irish players and coaches, position-by-position breakdowns and a feature on head coach Tyrone Willingham. It’s a collectors item perfect for autographs — with an emphasis on outstanding color photography unavailable in any other publication. The yearbook is priced at $10 (plus $5 for postage and handling) and can be ordered by calling 1-800-647-4641.
NEXT WEEK: MICHIGAN STATE
The Irish head back out on the road Sept. 18 when they pay a visit to Michigan State for a 7 p.m. (EDT) kickoff at Spartan Stadium. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN from East Lansing. Michigan State opened its season last weekend with a 19-14 loss at Rutgers. Like Notre Dame, the Spartans will open their home schedule this Saturday, playing host to Central Michigan.
The Irish lead the all-time series with MSU, 42-24-1, although the Spartans have gotten the better of Notre Dame lately, winning five of their last six encounters. However, the last time the Irish came to East Lansing, they pulled out a dramatic 21-17 victory, as reserve QB Pat Dillingham came off the bench and tossed the game-winning 60-yard touchdown pass to Arnaz Battle with 1:15 remaining.
Last season, Michigan State exacted some revenge by holding off a late Irish rally to win 22-16 at Notre Dame Stadium, marking the five consecutive time the Notre Dame-MSU matchup was decided by 10 points or less. In four of those games, the verdict came down to a touchdown of 40 yards or more in the fourth quarter, including a 40-yard interception return for a TD by Spartan defensive end Greg Taplin last season. The winner of this year’s contest will take home the Megaphone Trophy, sponsored by the Detroit alumni clubs of Notre Dame and Michigan State.