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Football Set To Entertain The Pittsburgh Panthers In Notre Dame Stadium Saturday

Nov. 9, 2004

Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh Live Game Coverage

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The Date and Time: Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004 at 2:30 p.m. EST.

The Site: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795/Natural Grass) in Notre Dame, Ind.

The Tickets: They’re all sold — with this being the 179th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium (the first 130 coming at the old 59,075 capacity). The Pittsburgh game marks the 227th home sellout in the last 228 games (dating back to 1964). It also is the 170th sellout in the last 195 Irish games and the 34th in the last 36 games involving Notre Dame, dating back to the end of the 2001 season (only last year’s game at Stanford and this year’s Navy game were not sellouts).

The TV Plans: NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Pat Haden (analysis), Lewis Johnson (sideline), David Gibson (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 All Notre Dame football games may be heard in South Bend on U93-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 Pittsburgh game, via the Notre Dame ( and Pittsburgh ( athletics web sites.

Web Sites: Notre Dame (, Pittsburgh (


The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (6-3) play their final home game of the 2004 season this Saturday, Nov. 13, when they play host to the Pittsburgh Panthers (5-3) at Notre Dame Stadium. The contest will be televised nationally by NBC, marking the 146th consecutive Irish football game to be broadcast across the country by one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN).

Notre Dame faces Pittsburgh fresh off an upset victory over then-No. 9 ranked Tennessee in Knoxville. The Irish used a hard-hitting, opportunistic defense to take the victory over the Volunteers before a crowd of 107,266 at Neyland Stadium. Linebacker Mike Goolsby’s 26-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the third quarter was the difference in the game, giving the Irish a 14-10 lead. The defense made that lead hold to the end as the teams traded field goals after that and the Irish became bowl eligible with their sixth victory of the season.

Offensively, sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn passed for 118 yards and one touchdown while completing 12 of 23 attempts. Despite being held to a season-low 216 yards of total offense, the Irish forged an effective rushing game when they needed it, driving 44 yards in five plays early in the fourth period to extend their lead to 17-13 and milking precious time late in the game. Freshman tailback Darius Walker rushed for a game-high 70 yards on nine carries, including a key 32-yard dash that set up the Irish’s lone offensive touchdown of the game (an 8-yard pass from Quinn to junior tight end Anthony Fasano).

The Irish defense held Tennessee to 58 rushing yards and accumulated five sacks, nine tackles for loss and one interception. Senior defensive end Justin Tuck broke the Notre Dame career sacks record with two sacks against the Vols while Goolsby had a game-high 14 tackles, one sack and the decisive interception. The defensive performance against the rush marked the sixth time this season that the Notre Dame defense has held an opposing team below 100 yards on the ground.


• Saturday’s game will mark the 62nd meeting between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh, with the Irish holding a 43-17-1 series lead. The Irish also own a 19-8-0 record against the Panthers in Notre Dame Stadium, including a current six-game streak over Pittsburgh at Notre Dame Stadium dating to a 10-9 loss in 1986.

• Notre Dame has won 11 of its last 12 games against Pittsburgh, including a 20-14 victory in their last meeting on Oct. 11, 2003 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Irish also have won 25 of their last 31 contests against the Panthers, dating back to 1964 (Ara Parseghian’s first as Notre Dame’s head coach).

• In the most recent meeting at Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish took a 14-6 victory over the Panthers on Oct. 12, 2002.

• Over the last 12 games in the series, Notre Dame has outscored the Panthers, 434-168, topping the 40-point mark six times in that span and producing an average score of 36-14.

• Notre Dame is 73-29-3 (.709) all-time against schools from the state of Pennsylvania, with the Pittsburgh series accounting for more than half of the games played (62) and the Irish victories (43).


• Notre Dame will improve its overall series lead over Pittsburgh to 44-17-1.

• The Irish will earn their 12th win over Pittsburgh in the last 13 series meetings and their 26th victory in the last 32 contests with the Panthers.

• Notre Dame will record its 44th series win over Pittsburgh, breaking a tie with Michigan State for the third-most victories against one opponent behind its 68 wins over Navy and 49 wins over Purdue. Those 44 victories also will continue to rank as the second-highest total ever by a Pittsburgh opponent, topped only by Penn State, which has defeated the Panthers 50 times.

• The Irish will card their seventh consecutive home win in the series since Oct. 28, 1989, when they defeated the Panthers, 45-7 at Notre Dame Stadium.

• Notre Dame will chalk up its 23rd win in its last 32 games against BIG EAST Conference opposition. The Irish also will move to 63-26-1 (.706) all-time against BIG EAST schools.

• Notre Dame will improve to 40-18 (.689) in November games since 1988, including a 7-3 mark under head coach Tyrone Willingham.


• Pittsburgh will register its second win over Notre Dame since 1987 and will cut the overall series lead for the Irish to 43-18-1.

• Notre Dame will lose to a BIG EAST opponent for the fourth consecutive time (Boston College and Syracuse in 2003; Boston College and Pittsburgh in 2004).

• Notre Dame will have lost three home games in a season for only the eighth time in school history (1933, `56, `63, `83, `84, `86, and 2003).


• The teams first played in 1909, ’11 and ’12 (all at Pittsburgh’s legendary Forbes Field), with Notre Dame picking up two wins and a tie and shutting out Pittsburgh in all three contests. The series resumed from 1930-37 before taking a five-year break. It picked up again from 1943-54, took 1955 off, and then played every year in a 23-season stretch (1956-78) before taking a four-year hiatus in the series. The Irish and Panthers met in 1982 and ’83, every season from 1986-92, and then 1996, ’97, ’99, 2001, ’02 and `03. The teams are scheduled to meet next season, as well.

• Notre Dame was the opponent in Pittsburgh’s final game at Pitt Stadium — the Panthers won, 37-27. Pittsburgh now plays its home games at Heinz Field, also home of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.

• Beginning in 1943, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh have met in 52 of the last 66 seasons (including 2004), with no gaps in the series of more than three years during that period.

• Pittsburgh notched its highest point total ever in the series (37) in its 1999 meeting with Notre Dame; conversely, the Irish have topped the 37-point level 20 times against the Panthers, including an eight-game stretch from 1965-72.

• Three of the 10 biggest victory margins in Notre Dame history have come against Pittsburgh: by 58 in 1944 (58-0), by 56 in 1965 (69-13), and by 54 in 1996 (60-6).


• Notre Dame running backs/special teams coach Buzz Preston and Pittsburgh offensive line coach Tom Freeman worked on the same staff at Hawaii in 1980. Preston was a graduate assistant for the Rainbow Warriors, while Freeman tutored UH’s offensive line.

• Notre Dame assistant coordinator of strength and conditioning Tony Rolinski worked in the Pittsburgh strength and conditioning department from 1994-96 while attaining his master’s degree in exercise physiology from the school. He then was the head strength coach at North Hills High School in Pittsburgh before serving as the head strength and conditioning coach at Duquesne in 1997-98.

• Ninth-year Irish women’s lacrosse coach Tracy Coyne is a Pittsburgh native and a 1978 graduate of Cenevin High School (which also produced Notre Dame All-America QB Tom Clements, who led the Irish to the 1973 national title and currently is the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills). In addition, Coyne worked in the Pittsburgh athletic department in 1985 as an administrative assistant to the senior woman administrator.

• Notre Dame assistant strength and conditioning coach Lisa Shall served as a strength and conditioning intern at Pittsburgh in the early part of 2000.

• Notre Dame’s all-time football roster includes more than 2,500 players who have appeared in at least one career game, with 18 hailing from Pittsburgh: RG Frank Winter (1898-1901), QB Clarence Diebold (1900), LG Lee Diebold (1910), HB John McSorley (1926-27), T Joe Papa (Kiski Prep, 1938-40), QB Joe Gasperella (Vandergrift HS, 1944-45), LG Ed Fay (Central Catholic HS, 1944-45), E Ray Jonardi (Baldwin HS, 1949-50), HB Dave Flood (Langley HS, 1950-52), T Bill McCarthy (North Catholic HS, 1951), FB Don Schaefer (Central Catholic HS, 1953-55), HB Tom Mittelhauser (South Hills Catholic HS, 1963), PK Joe Azzaro (Central Catholic HS, 1964-67), OG/LB Dan Dickman (North Catholic, HS, 1967), LB John Cloherty (Churchill Area HS, 1969-71), QB Jim Bulger (Central Catholic HS, 1970-71), FB Ray Zellars (Oliver HS, 1991-94) and OG Rob Mowl (Woodland Hills HS, 1998). Of the players listed, Zellars had the longest stint as a starter (in 1993 and ’94).


• Notre Dame’s all-time football roster includes 18 quarterbacks from the state of Pennsylvania, highlighted by some of the most noteworthy QBs in the program’s history: John Lujack (Connelsville/Connelsville HS, 1943, ’46-’47), Bob Williams (Wilkes-Barre/G.A.R., 1956-58), Terry Hanratty (Butler/Butler HS, 1966-68), Tom Clements (McKees Rocks/Cenevin HS, 1972-74), Joe Montana (Monongahela/Ringgold HS, 1975, ’77-’78) and Ron Powlus (Berwick/Berwick HS, 1994-97).

• Lujack played on three national title teams and won the 1947 Heisman Trophy while Williams backed up Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung in 1956 before starting in ’57 and ’58. Williams made some key plays on both sides of the ball in the 7-0 win at Oklahoma in ’57, halting the Sooners’ NCAA-record 47-game winning streak. Hanratty was a three-year starter and helped the Irish win the 1966 national championship. Clements also was a three-year starter and led the Irish to a national title in his junior season (1973). Montana backed up Rick Slager in 1975 and was injured in 1976 before guiding the Irish to the 1977 national title (he also started in ’78 and led Notre Dame to a legendary 35-34 comeback victory over Houston in the Cotton Bowl).

• Hanratty completed 58.9 percent of his passes in 1968 (fourth in Irish history) while his 366 passing yards vs. Purdue in 1967 remain second all-time at Notre Dame. He also ranks sixth at Notre Dame for career passing yards (4,152) and TDs (27) and fifth with 304 completions.

• Clements ranks ninth in Irish history with 265 completions (in three seasons).

• Montana ranks eighth at Notre Dame with 268 career completions (in three years) while his 141 completions in 1978 rank fifth all-time.

• Powlus owns the Irish career record for completions (558) while ranking second in season and career completion percentage (.611 in 1997, .575 career) and lowest career interception ratio (.0278, 27 of 969). He also owns Irish records for career passing yards (7,602), TD passes in a season (19 in 1994) and career TD passes (52) while sharing the school record for TD passes in a game (four, three times).

• Pittsburgh and the surrounding western Pennsylvania area have produced a number of Irish QBs including Lujack, Williams, Hanratty, Montana, Clarence Diebold (Pittsburgh, starter in 1900), Joe Gasperella (Pittsburgh/Vandergrift HS, ’44-’45), Jim Bigelow (Glenshaw/Shaler HS, ’52-’54 reserve), Pat Steenberge (Erie/Cathedral Prep, ’70-’71), Jim Bulger (Pittsburgh/Central Catholic HS, ’70-’71 reserve), Ken Karcher (Glenshaw/Shaler HS, ’81-’82), and Paul Failla (Sewickley/North Allegheny HS, ’91-’93).

• Other Notre Dame QBs from Pennsylvania have included Philadelphia natives Vince McNally (Roman Catholic HS, ’25-’26), Charles McKinney (’26-’27 reserve) and Bill Whiteside (LaSalle HS, ’49-’50), plus John Mazur (Plymouth/Plymouth HS, backup in ’49-’50, starter in ’51) and Cliff Brown (Middletown/Middletown Area HS, ’71-’73).


• Notre Dame’s 2004 roster includes six Pennsylvania natives: sophomore LB Joe Brockington (Palmyra/Palmyra HS), junior OT Brian Mattes (Larksville/Wyoming Valley West HS), junior OL Jamie Ryan (Tamaqua/Marian Catholic HS), junior FB Nate Schiccatano (Coal Township/Southern Columbia HS), junior WR Maurice Stovall (Philadelphia/Archbishop Carroll HS) and sophomore RB Travis Thomas (Washington/Washington HS).

• Between the two teams, eight players hail from the Tampa-St. Petersburg (Fla.) region — Notre Dame senior CB Preston Jackson (Hillsborough HS), senior CB Dwight Ellick (Wharton HS) and freshman LB Maurice Crum, Jr. (Tampa Bay Tech HS) join Pittsburgh sophomore LB Joe Clermond (Chamberlin HS), sophomore WR Greg Lee (Chamberlin HS), senior RB Darren McCray (Lakewood Senior HS), junior LB Charles Sallet (Armwood HS) and senior WR Joe Stephens (Armwood HS) as Tampa area natives.

• Four of the combatants in this year’s game were teammates at Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio — Notre Dame sophomore S Chinedum Ndukwe and sophomore QB Brady Quinn, along with Pittsburgh sophomore P Adam Graessle and junior DL Eric Fritz. In 2001 (Fritz’s senior year), the quartet helped lead the Shamrocks to a 9-4 record, a regional championship and a berth in the state semifinals. In 2002, Ndukwe, Quinn and Graessle were on hand to guide Dublin Coffman to an 8-3 record (Quinn was the holder on Graessle’s placement kicks). Pittsburgh quarterbacks coach Bryan Deal was both an assistant and head coach at Dublin Coffman from 1988-94 before taking over as head coach at newly-formed Dublin Scioto High School from 1995-96.


• Pittsburgh stands as the fifth-most common opponent in Irish football history, facing Notre Dame for the 62nd time this season.

• Notre Dame plays its five most common opponents this season (Navy, Purdue, USC, Michigan State and Pittsburgh).

• The Irish have played 134 different teams in 116 seasons of varsity football, with the most common opponents in Irish football history as follows (number of games are updated to include all 2004 games):

    Opponent    Games   ND series record    Navy        78  68-9-1    Purdue      76  49-25-2    USC     76  42-28-5    Michigan State  68  43-24-1    Pittsburgh  62  43-17-1    Army        48  36-8-4    Northwestern    47  37-8-2    Georgia Tech    32  26-5-1    Michigan    32  13-18-1


With their 17-13 win over Tennessee, the Fighting Irish are the FedEx Orange Bowl National Team of the Week, as selected by the pollsters of the FWAA’s Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll for games of the weekend of Nov. 6. Other nominees for the weekend included Clemson, Cincinnati, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. The FWAA has named a national team of the week since the 2002 season. This is the first season that the award has been sponsored by the FedEx Orange Bowl. The 16 pollsters of the Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll decide the weekly honor. The FWAA will name the FedEx Orange Bowl National Team of the Week through Nov. 29.


Notre Dame’s 17-13 victory over then-No. 9 Tennessee last Saturday marked the Irish’s second win this season over an opponent ranked in the top 10 at game time. The Irish and Auburn are the nation’s only teams to own two victories over top 10-ranked foes in 2004. Notre Dame knocked off then-No. 7 Michigan, 28-20, on Sept. 11 and followed with the win Saturday at Tennessee. Auburn owns victories over then-No. 5 LSU on Sept. 18 and over then-No. 10 Tennessee on Oct. 2.


Notre Dame’s win at Tennessee vaulted the Irish back into the top 25 at No. 24 in the latest Associated Press college football rankings released Sunday afternoon. The Irish are ranked for the second time this season by AP, but remain unranked in the latest edition of the ESPN/USA Today college football rankings. Previously this season, Notre Dame was ranked 24th by AP and 25th by ESPN/USA Today polls of Oct. 17 entering the Boston College game.


Notre Dame’s penchant for playing the best teams in the country is well known. Since 1987, the Irish have played 85 games against ranked opponents, an average of nearly five games per season. Notre Dame has posted a record of 45-38-2 (.541) in those games, including a 23-13-1 (.635) mark against ranked teams at home. Here’s how the Irish have done against Top 25 teams over the past 18 years:

Season  Home    Road/Ntrl.  Total   Season  Home    Road/Ntrl.  Total1987    2-0 1-2 3-2 1996    1-1 1-0 2-11988    2-0 2-0 4-0 1997    1-1 1-3 2-41989    3-0 3-1 6-1 1998    1-0 0-1 1-11990    2-1 3-1 5-2 1999    1-1 0-3 1-41991    1-1 1-2 2-3 2000    2-1 0-2 2-31992    2-1-1   2-0 4-1-1   2001    0-1 0-2 0-31993    1-1 2-0 3-1 2002    1-0 3-2 4-21994    0-1 0-2-1   0-3-1   2003    0-2 1-2 1-41995    2-0 1-2 3-2 2004    1-1 1-0 2-1                Totals  23-13-1 22-25-1 45-38-2


Notre Dame’s victory at Tennessee last Saturday continued a long-developing trend. The Irish have been one of college football’s most successful road teams over the course of the last 17 seasons (since 1988). During that span, the Irish have the nation’s 10th-best record in games played at opponent home stadiums with a mark of 49-27-2 (.641). Thus far this season, the Irish have a 2-1 mark at opposing stadiums (plus a win over Navy at a neutral site). Here’s a listing of the nation’s top 10 road teams from 1988 to the present:

School  W   L   T   Pct.1. Miami (Fla.) 68  19  0   .7822. Fla State    61  19  0   .7633. Tennessee    57  18  2   .7534. Michigan 57  22  3   .7135. Nebraska 54  24  1   .6906. Ohio State   53  24  2   .6847. Florida  45  22  1   .6798. Colorado 54  27  1   .6659. Alabama  51  27  0   .65410. Notre Dame  49  27  2   .641


Success running the football has been a key to success in the win column for Notre Dame this season. In the Irish’s six victories, Notre Dame has averaged 150.8 yards per game on the ground and 3.4 yards per rushing attempt (905 yards on 265 carries). In the Irish’s three losses, Notre Dame has averaged 63.7 yards per game via the rush and 2.1 yards per attempt (191 yards on 91 carries). Notre Dame’s best rushing performance in a victory this year is a 204-yard effort against Navy. The worst Irish rushing performance in a 2004 victory was the 98-yard outing last Saturday at Tennessee. Here’s a comparison of Notre Dame’s rushing totals for wins compared to losses:

RUSHING GAME IN WINS (6)            RUSHING GAME IN LOSSES (3)Opponent    Att.    Yards   Avg.    TD  Opponent    Att.    Yards   Avg.    TDMichigan    40  135 3.4 2   BYU     21  11  0.5 0at MSU  48  173 3.6 2   Purdue      36  76  2.1 1Washington  46  146 3.2 1   Boston College  34  104 3.0 2Stanford    51  149 2.9 3   Totals      91  191 2.1 3vs. Navy    44  204 4.6 3at Tennessee    36  98  2.7 0Totals  265 905 3.4 11


Notre Dame has been solid on both sides of the ball in the red zone (inside the 20-yard line). On offense, the Irish have made 27 trips to the red zone this year, coming away with 17 touchdowns (a .630 TD percentage). Conversely, opponents have visited the red zone 24 times against Notre Dame, but have just eight touchdowns (a .333 TD percentage).


One of the key (and sometimes overlooked) aspects of Notre Dame’s success this season has been its ability to maintain excellent field position. After starting 11 of 15 drives against BYU at or inside their own 20-yard line, the Irish have started 75 of their last 107 drives in “plus territory” — outside their own 20-yard line — with 24 drives that began in their opponent’s half of the field.


The Irish have caused 20 turnovers (11 FUM, 9 INT) this season and have made the most of their opportunities. Notre Dame has parlayed those takeaways into 69 points, which accounts for 31.4 percent of the Irish scoring (220 points) thus far in 2004.


Notre Dame came up with a Willingham-era record six turnovers (3 FUM, 3 INT) on Sept. 18 at Michigan State and followed up with five more turnovers one week later against Washington, marking the fourth consecutive week the Irish had at least two takeaways. That should come as no surprise to many — since the 2001 season, Notre Dame has forced two or more turnovers in 31 of its 44 games, including 24 contests where they came up with at least three takeaways. In this week’s NCAA statistical rankings, the Irish are 18th in the country in turnover margin (+0.78 per game, +7 overall).


The Notre Dame run defense has been exceptionally sturdy since head coach Tyrone Willingham and defensive coordinator Kent Baer arrived on the scene in 2002. Over the last three seasons, the Irish have held 20 of 34 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing, including six games this year (BYU – 22; Michigan – 56; Purdue – 99; Stanford – 67; Boston College – 62; Tennessee – 58). In fact, Notre Dame opponents are averaging 2.7 yards per carry this season.

In 2002, Notre Dame was ranked 10th in the nation in rushing defense, followed by a No. 29 national ranking last year. Through their first nine games this season, the Irish are 10th in the country in rushing defense, allowing an average of 95.22 yards on the ground.


Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn continues to develop into Notre Dame’s leader on offense and is on pace to a record-setting season in his second year with the Irish. Quinn threw for 118 yards and one touchdown against Tennessee, completing 12 of 23 attempts without an interception. Earlier this season, he turned in a career-best performance in a loss to Purdue, completing 26 of 46 passes for 432 yards and one touchdown, the highest individual passing yardage total in Notre Dame Stadium history, the second-highest in school history (behind Joe Theismann’s 526 yards at USC in 1970) and the sixth-best total by any quarterback in the country this year. In addition, Quinn’s .565 completion percentage was the second-best of his career (minimum 15 attempts), topped only by his .590 mark (23 of 39) last year at Boston College.

Quinn was particularly sharp in outings against Washington and Purdue, completing 43 of 78 passes (.551) for 698 yards and five touchdowns with only one interception — good for a 148.89 pass efficiency rating. In fact, his three-game stretch against Michigan State, Washington and Purdue is the second-best in Notre Dame history for most passing yards in three consecutive games, as noted below:

    Player  Season  Three-Game Passing Yardage1.  Joe Theismann   1970    947 (272 - Georgia Tech; 149 - LSU; 526 - USC)2.  Brady Quinn   2004    912 (215 - Michigan St.; 265 - Washington; 432 - Purdue)3.  Rusty Lisch 1979    849 (227 - Air Force; 286 - USC; 336 - South Carolina)4.  Steve Beuerlein 1986    828 (248 - Navy; 269 - SMU; 311 - Penn State)5.  Jarious Jackson   1999    814 (302 - Michigan; 267 - Purdue; 245 - Michigan State)6.  John Huarte   1964    783 (209 - UCLA, 300 - Stanford; 274 - Navy)7.  Terry Hanratty 1968    738 (202 - Oklahoma; 294 - Purdue; 242 - Iowa)8.  Ron Powlus  1995    716 (200 - Vanderbilt; 273 - Texas; 243 - Ohio State)9.  Joe Montana 1977    705 (260 - Navy; 273 - Georgia Tech; 172 - Clemson)

For the season, Quinn ranks 47th in the nation in total offense (216.8 yards per game) and 57th in passing efficiency (124.52), while his 2,008 passing yards through nine games put him on pace to challenge Jarious Jackson’s school record of 2,753 yards in 1999. There have been only seven 2,000-yard passing seasons in school history, listed as follows:

    Player  Season  Passing Yardage1.  Jarious Jackson   1999    2,7532.  Joe Theismann   1970    2,4293.  Steve Beuerlein 1986    2,2114.  Rick Mirer  1991    2,1175.  Ron Powlus  1997    2,0786.  Joe Montana 1978    2,0107.  Brady Quinn   2004    2,008       2,454 (projected)


Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn has spread his pass completions around this season. Quinn has completed passes to 18 different receivers in those nine contests, a breakdown of seven wide receivers, six running backs, four tight ends and two passes to himself (caught off of deflections vs. Washington and Purdue). Junior wide receiver Rhema McKnight has been Quinn’s favorite target thus far, grabbing 31 passes for 466 yards and two touchdowns. Junior tight end Anthony Fasano is next with 19 catches for 286 yards and two scores. Junior wide receiver Maurice Stovall has 16 catches for 232 yards while senior wide receiver Matt Shelton has 14 catches for 377 yards and four touchdowns and sophomore wide receiver Jeff Samardzija has accounted for 12 catches for 185 yards. Quinn has tossed touchdown passes to four different players this season: McKnight, Shelton (five times), Fasano (twice) and senior fullback Rashon Powers-Neal.


A total of 20 different Notre Dame players have caught passes this season. Research indicates this is only the second time in the history of Notre Dame football that such a high number of different players have made catches in a season. The only other time this has occurred was in 1962.


Senior wide receiver Matt Shelton has emerged as a big-play threat for the Irish this season. Shelton ranks fourth on the team with 14 catches for 377 yards (26.9 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. He enjoyed a career day (of sorts) against Washington when he nabbed a career-best four catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns, including scoring catches of 27 and 24 yards. One week earlier at Michigan State, Shelton snared three passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, including gains of 53, 35 and 35 yards. Shelton has averaged 38.3 yards on his six career touchdown grabs (33 vs. Boston College, 27 and 24 vs. Washington, 35 at MSU, 46 vs. Michigan, 65 at Stanford in ’03).


Freshman running back Darius Walker is on the way to posting one of the top rushing totals by a freshman in Notre Dame history. His 70-yard effort at Tennessee moved him into third place on Notre Dame’s freshman rushing list. He needs 129 yards to surpass Autry Denson for second and 190 yards to break Jerome Heavens’ mark set in 1975. Here’s a rundown of the top freshman rushers in Irish football history:

    Player  Year    Yards1.  Jerome Heavens  1975    7562.  Autry Denson    1995    6953.  Darius Walker   2004    5674.  Randy Kinder    1993    5375.  Allen Pinkett   1982    532


After sitting out Notre Dame’s opener at BYU, freshman running back Darius Walker has provided a consistent threat in the Irish running game by averaging 70.9 yards rushing per game the past eight contests (567 yards on 145 carries). Walker made a big splash in his home debut vs. Michigan, rushing 31 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-20 Irish win. He followed up with another solid effort at Michigan State, rushing for 98 yards on 26 carries, before running for 81 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries versus Washington. His Michigan performance was good enough for The Sporting News and Sporting News Radio to name the Lawrenceville, Ga., native as its National Player of the Week, and for to tab him as the National Freshman of the Week for Sept. 11.

Walker’s numbers in his debut game vs. Michigan also put him among some select company in Notre Dame history:

• First Irish freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game since Julius Jones had 146 yards against Navy on Oct. 30, 1999.

• First Notre Dame freshman to score two touchdowns in a game since Matt LoVecchio ran for two scores at USC on Nov. 25, 2000.

• First Irish rookie to score in a home opener since Sept. 29, 1979, when Tony Hunter caught a 14-yard touchdown pass in a 27-3 win over Michigan State. Walker also is the first freshman to score two touchdowns in a home opener since at least 1970.

• First Notre Dame freshman running back to score twice in a game since Nov. 18, 1995, when Autry Denson rushed for two touchdowns in a 44-14 win at Air Force. (Note: Julius Jones did score twice vs. Boston College on Nov. 20, 1999, but one of his touchdowns came as a punt returner).


Senior linebacker Mike Goolsby earned National Defensive Player of the Week honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation for his performance in the 17-13 victory at Tennessee last Saturday. Not only did Goolsby post a game-high 14 tackles (seven solos) and a quarterback sack, he also intercepted at Tennessee pass in the third period and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown that provided the winning points in Notre Dame’s first road victory over a top 10 opponent in eight years (27-24 at No. 6 Texas on Sept. 21, 1996).


Senior linebacker Mike Goolsby has made a resounding return to the Notre Dame lineup this season after missing the entire 2003 slate with an injury. Goolsby has been credited with a team-high 84 tackles (9.3 per game) while leading the team in five of nine games thus far. The Joliet, Ill., native rolled up career-best tackle totals his first two games of the year, tallying 11 stops at BYU and 14 tackles against Michigan, added 12 tackles vs. Navy and matched his career-best with 14 stops at Tennessee. His performance against the Vols, which also included a sack and an interception he returned for a decisive touchdown, earned him National Defensive Player of the Week honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation.


Senior linebacker Brandon Hoyte has been a catalyst for Notre Dame’s physical play on defense thus far this season, making several big hits and tackles for losses. Hoyte enters the Pittsburgh game with 60 tackles to rank second on the team, but his knack for making big hits has been a hallmark of his play thus far in 2004. Hoyte has forced three fumbles this season, collected three quarterback sacks and has seven tackles for loss (30 yards). Hoyte posted a career-best 16 stops vs. Navy, the most by an Irish player since Courtney Watson had 18 tackles at Nebraska in 2001.


With two sacks at Tennessee, senior defensive end and All-America candidate Justin Tuck took full ownership of the Notre Dame career quarterback sacks record with a total of 24.5. The Kellyton, Ala., native set a school record with 13.5 sacks last year and has added six sacks so far this season. With one sack vs. Michigan, he passed Mike Gann (1982-84) for second place on the Irish career list behind Kory Minor’s 22.5 sacks from 1995-98. He later tied the mark with a share of a sack against Boston College. 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  Position    Years   Sacks1.  Justin Tuck   DE  2002-present    24.52.  Kory Minor  OLB 1995-98 22.53.  Mike Gann   DT  1982-84 214.  Bryant Young    DT  1990-93 185.  Anthony Weaver DE  1998-01 176.  Bert Berry  LB  1993-96 16.5


Senior defensive end and All-America candidate Justin Tuck has been a force to be reckoned with for opposing offenses this season, racking up impressive totals as a pass rusher and a run stopper. In addition to his team-leading sack total of 6 (for 18 yards), he has garnered a team-high 13 tackles for losses totalling 56 yards. No other Irish defender has more than eight TFLs through nine games this season. Tuck has accomplished all of this while dealing with double-teams and offensive game plans designed to reduce his impact as a pass rusher and defensive force. His 38 total tackles rank sixth on the team. Here’s a summary of Tuck’s year-by-year totals to this point in his Notre Dame career:

            TACKLES                              FUMBLESYear    Time    G-S TT  UT  AT  TFL QBH Sacks    FF FR  PBU Int2001                        Did Not Play2002    180:24  13-1    44  33  11  10-36    1      5-26     1  0-0 5   0-02003    225:22  12-10   73  43  30  19-117   0  13.5-106     3  0-0 2   0-02004    213:27  9-9 38  19  19  13-56    0      6-38     0  0-0 0   0-0Totals  619:13  34-20   155 95  60  42-209   1  24.5-170     4  0-0 7   0-0


Senior punter D.J. Fitzpatrick has shown considerable improvement this season. Fitzpatrick currently ranks 32nd in the nation with a 42.3-yard punting average, a jump of almost six yards per kick from last year’s average (36.84). He has 13 punts of at least 50 yards, including a career-long 67-yarder vs. Boston College, and has dropped 23 punts inside the opposition’s 20-yard line and is helping Notre Dame to hold its opponents to only 6.9 yards per punt return. Earlier this season, he had career-best outings in consecutive games, averaging 46.0 yards on seven attempts against Washington (including four punts of at least 50 yards and four punts downed inside the UW 20) and an impressive 49.3 yards on three punts against Purdue. His totals through eight games are on pace to rank among the 10 best punting seasons in Notre Dame history:

    Player, Year    Punts   Yards   Average1.  Craig Hentrich, 1990    34  1526    *44.92.  Craig Hentrich, 1989    26  1159    44.63.  Craig Hentrich, 1992    35  1534    43.84.  Joe Restic, 1975    40  1739    43.55.  Hunter Smith, 1996  44  1906    43.36.  Craig Hentrich, 1991    23  986 42.97.  Brian Doherty, 1973 39  1664    42.78.  Hunter Smith, 1997  50  2132    42.69.  Blair Kiel, 1982    *77 *3267   42.410.  D.J. Fitzpatrick, 2004    58  2452    42.3*denotes school record


Including six close games this season, Notre Dame is 13-5 (.722) in “one-possession games” (decided by eight points or less) since Tyrone Willingham took over as the Irish head coach in 2002. The only times the Irish have not won a close ball game under Willingham’s guidance were against Boston College in 2002 (14-7), 2003 (27-25) and 2004 (24-23), Michigan State in 2003 (22-16) and BYU in 2004 (20-17). The one-possession games in 2004 have been as follows: BYU (17-20 L), Michigan (28-20 W), Michigan State (31-24 W), Stanford (23-15 W), Boston College (23-24 L) and Tennessee (17-13 W).


The return game has been a source of strength for Notre Dame in recent years. The Irish have logged 29 returns (punts, kickoffs, fumbles, interceptions) for touchdowns during the past six seasons (1999-2004), a figure that ranks tied for 10th in the country during that stretch. Here’s a look at the national leaders in touchdown returns since ’99 (research courtesy University of Colorado):

    Team    1999    2000    2001    2002    2003    2004    Bowls   Total1.  Miami (Fla.)    3   13  11  5   9   6   1   482.  Virginia Tech   8   6   7   7   10  5   1   443.  Oklahoma    4   7   6   8   9   3   1   38    Kansas State    9   5   2   12  6   4   0   385.  Colorado    5   4   7   7   1   6   4   346.  Nebraska    6   7   5   6   4   2   3   33    USC 9   4   8   1   8   3   0   338.  N.C. State  3   2   4   9   10  2   1   319.  Fresno State    5   5   3   5   4   6   2   3010. Notre Dame  4   6   4   9   3   3   0   29    Texas Tech  3   7   8   5   3   2   1   2912. East Carolina   7   5   4   5   4   0   3   28    San Jose State  5   7   1   7   5   3   0   28


• During the past 18-plus seasons (’86-’04), Notre Dame has produced 83 touchdowns via kickoff, punt, interception and fumble returns — with the most recent touchdown runback coming last Saturday on senior linebacker Mike Goolsby’s 26-yard interception return at Tennessee.

• Notre Dame has scored three touchdowns via returns this season, all coming by the defense (INT returns by Preston Jackson [at BYU) and Mike Goolsby [at Tennessee] and a fumble return by Tom Zbikowski [at Michigan State]).

• In contrast, opponents in the past 18 seasons have combined for 25 total TD returns vs. the Irish.

Here’s a year-by-year breakdown of the Irish return touchdowns since 1986:

Year PU KO INT FUM Year PU KO INT FUM1986 0 2 0 0 1997 0 2 1 01987 3 0 1 0 1998 0 0 2 31988 2 2 3 0 1999 1 0 2 11989 2 2 3 0 2000 2 1 1 21990 0 2 0 0 2001 0 1 2 11991 1 1 2 0 2002 2 1 4 21992 0 1 0 0 2003 1 0 0 21993 2 1 2 1 2004 0 0 2 11994 0 0 1 1 ND (83) 21 17 28 171995 1 0 2 1 Opp. (25) 7 4 9 51996 4 1 0 2


The Notre Dame football program reached a historic milestone with its Oct. 9 victory vs. Stanford, becoming just the second current NCAA Division I-A program to amass 800 all-time wins. The Irish currently rank second in NCAA history with 801 wins, trailing only Michigan’s 840 victories, although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than Notre Dame.

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 21-13 (.618) 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 and a 6-3 mark thus far in 2004.

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-plus years as a college head coach, Willingham has compiled a solid 65-49-1 (.570) record and has guided his teams to bowl games on five occasions. This year’s Irish team is now bowl-eligible.

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 served on the coaching staffs at North Carolina State (1983-85) and Rice (1986-88).


Senior linebacker Derek Curry has been named to the 2004 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team, the AFCA announced Sept. 15. Curry was one of only 11 football student-athletes chosen for the NCAA Division I-A Team. Another 11 student-athletes were named to the team representing schools from NCAA Divisions I-AA, II, III and NAIA.

Nominations for the Good Works Team are submitted to the AFCA by college sports information departments. Nominees must be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or involved in other community service activities and must display sincere concern and reliability, while also having made a favorable impression on the organizations with which they are involved. Athletic ability is not a criterion.

Curry is currently in his third season as a starting linebacker for the Irish. A three-time monogram winner at Notre Dame, Curry has distinguished himself as one of the team’s undisputed leaders. In addition to his prowess on the football field, Curry has been a three-year volunteer for the Student-Athlete Advisory Council Pediatric Oncology Christmas Party; has volunteered at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of downtown South Bend and the Robinson Community Learning Center; is in his third year of “Iron Sharpens Iron”, an interdenominational Christian group at Notre Dame that brings students together in worship, prayer and bible studies; has volunteered for two years at “There Are Children Here”; and is a huddle leader for the Notre Dame chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Curry is the third Notre Dame football player named to the squad over the past six seasons. Grant Irons received the award as a junior in 1999 and went on to be a rare five-year monogram winner and two-time captain with the Irish while playing at linebacker and defensive end. He served as president of Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council and was involved in numerous community service programs at Notre Dame and in the surrounding South Bend community.

All-America linebacker Courtney Watson received the honor in 2003. Watson was responsible for creating and developing the football team’s community service initiative entitled “Tackle The Arts”, an interactive approach that helps inspire children to explore different areas of the arts including reading, creative writing and poetry, drawing and music. Watson also installed a food drive dimension to the event and combined with current Irish players Brandon Hoyte and Dan Stevenson as hosts of a picnic for at-risk children in the South Bend area. He regularly made surprise visits to the pediatric floor at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, addressed the Jackson Middle School football team at its banquet and participated in the St. Joseph County City Bureau Youth Fest. On a campus level, Watson was nominated and then elected a member of the Notre Dame Student Senate in 2002-03 and served as a member of the Residence Life and Academic Council committees.


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. Heading into the Nov. 13 game vs. Pittsburgh, the Irish have posted 178 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium and 226 in their last 227 home games.

The top 10 games in terms of alumni ticket demand at Notre Dame Stadium:

    Game            Year    Attendance    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


The two games remaining on Notre Dame’s 2004 football schedule comprise the fourth-most difficult slate in the country, according to NCAA figures released Sunday. Notre Dame’s two opponents yet to be played have compiled a 13-3 record (.812) against other Division I-A opponents. The Irish trail only Arizona, Alabama and Baylor in that category. Here’s the top 10 listing for teams based on remaining games (team records in parentheses):

        Team    Opp. Record Pct.    This Week    1.  Arizona (2-7)   16-2    .888    at USC (9-0)    2.  Alabama (6-3)   14-2    .875    at LSU (6-2)    3.  Baylor (3-6)    15-3    .833    at Oklahoma State (6-3)    4.  Notre Dame (6-3)    13-3    .812    Pittsburgh (5-3)    5.  Georgia (8-1)   12-3    .800    Auburn (9-0)    6.  Georgia Tech (5-3)  18-5    .782    Connecticut (5-3)    7.  Minnesota (6-4) 7-2 .777    Iowa (7-2)        Texas A&M (6-3) 14-4    .777    Texas Tech (6-3)        Iowa (7-2)  14-4    .777    at Minnesota (6-4)        BYU (5-4)   14-4    .777    New Mexico (5-4)        UCLA (5-4)  14-4    .777    at Oregon (5-4)        Nebraska (5-4)  14-4    .777    at Oklahoma (9-0)        Wyoming (6-3)   14-4    .777    Utah (9-0)


Notre Dame’s 11 opponents for 2004 have combined to form the nation’s fifth-toughest schedule overall based on a combined 54-30 mark (.642) by Irish opponents in games played to date against Division I-A schools, according to NCAA figures released this week. Texas A&M leads list with a 59-27 mark (.686) by its opponents, followed by Arizona, North Carolina and Baylor. Here’s the top 10 listing for teams based on their cumulative schedules (team records in parentheses):

        Team    Opp. Record Pct.    This Week    1.  Texas A&M (6-3) 59-27   .686    Texas Tech (6-3)    2.  Arizona (2-7)   53-28   .654    at USC (9-0)    3.  North Carolina (4-5)    46-25   .647    at Wake Forest (4-4)    4.  Baylor (3-6)    51-28   .645    at Oklahoma State (6-3)    5.  Notre Dame (6-3)    54-30   .642    Pittsburgh (5-3)    6.  Arizona State (7-2) 54-32   .627    Washington State (4-5)    7.  Arkansas (3-5)  52-31   .626    Mississippi (3-5)    8.  Temple (1-8)    44-28   .611    Syracuse (5-4)    9.   Miami (6-2)    49-32   .604    at Virginia (7-1)    10. Oklahoma (9-0)  52-34   .604    Nebraska (5-4)


The following is a look at Notre Dame opponents’ upcoming games. Since 1977, when the NCAA started rating strength of schedule, Notre Dame’s schedule has been rated the most difficult five times (1978, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995) and has appeared in the top 30 a total of 22 times in the last 27 years. The 2004 Irish ledger currently is the toughest in the nation, based on cumulative opposition.

Opponent (Ranking*) '04 Record  '03 Record  Nov. 13 Nov. 20BYU  5-4    4-8 New Mexico  at UtahMichigan (9/9)  8-1 10-3    Northwestern    at Ohio StateMichigan State  4-5 8-5 Wisconsin   at Penn StateWashington  1-8 6-6 California  at Washington StatePurdue   5-4    9-4 Ohio State  IndianaStanford    4-5 4-7 Oregon State    at CaliforniaNavy     7-2    8-5 Idle    RutgersBC (21/21)  6-2 8-5 at West Virginia    at TempleTenn. (15/18)   7-2 10-3    Idle    at VanderbiltPittsburgh  5-3 8-5 at Notre Dame   IdleUSC (1/1)   9-0 12-1    Arizona Idle

* – current Associated Press poll ranking listed first, followed by ESPN/USA Today poll ranking

Notre Dame Opponents’ Combined Record in 2003: 89-49 (.645); Record in 2004: 61-36 (.629)


Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 169 of its previous 194 games, including 33 of its last 35 games dating back to the end of the 2001 season (the ’03 game at Stanford and this year’s game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands were not sellouts). 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).


With the Tennessee game televised nationally by CBS, the Irish extended their streak of appearances on one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN) to 145 straight games, a stretch that spans nearly 11 full seasons (1993-2004). The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was 12 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 South Bend 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 ESPN1992    4   3   1   --  --1993    12  7   4   --  11994    12  7   5   --  --1995    12  6   4   1   11996    11  6   2   2   11997    13  6   3   2   21998    12  7   3   2   --1999    12  7   3   1   12000    12  6   3   3   --2001    11  6   4   --  12002    13  7   4   1   12003    12  6   5   --  12004    8   5   --  2   2Totals  145 79  41  14  11


Notre Dame is 172-86-3 (.665) 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 200-114-4 (.635) 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 (lost 1) 66-26-1 (.715)

ABC (lost 3) 44-35-2 (.556)

CBS (won 8) 24-11-0 (.686)

ESPN/ESPN2 (won 1) 20-11-0 (.645)

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 172-86-3 (.665)


ABC (lost 2) 24-25-1 (.490)

CBS (won 1) 4-2-0 (.667)

Big Ten Syndication 1-0-0 (1.000)

TBS 0-1-0 (.000)

Totals 29-28-1 (.509)


NBC’s coverage of Notre Dame’s 28-20 win over No.8 Michigan on Sept. 11 delivered a 4.0 national rating/10 share, making it the highest-rated season opener since a 5.1/14 on Sept. 5, 1998 for a 36-20 Irish win over fifth-ranked Michigan, according to Nielsen Media Research. The 4.0/10 represents a 29 percent hike over last year’s opener — a 29-26 overtime win over Washington State that produced a 3.1/8. It’s the best rating for any Notre Dame telecast on NBC since a 4.4/11 vs. Boston College on Nov. 2, 2002. 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 in their fourth full season broadcasting the action for NBC in ’04.


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


According to an ESPN Sports Poll of nearly 7,000 college sports fans ages 12 and older taken from January 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.


Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White is the new president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association for 2004-05. His appointment became effective Sept. 27 at the Association’s annual meeting in Dallas. White, who is now in his fifth year at Notre Dame, served as first vice president in 2003-04 under Gene DeFilippo, director of athletics at Boston College. In addition to his new leadership role with the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, White also is the third vice president of NACDA, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, for 2004-05.


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.


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 was the first time a school won the national championship on the football field — as Notre Dame did, finishing 12-0 after a Fiesta Bowl win over unbeaten West Virginia — and in the classroom. Including the special mention category, the Irish have received some sort of recognition in 23 of 24 years the award has been presented — with Duke next at 21.


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.


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

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 remaining luncheon date is 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.


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, football trivia and stage activities. Gates open three hours prior to kickoff and admission is free for all “Notre Dame Experience” events.


The NCAA statistical rankings for Notre Dame and Pittsburgh in 2004 (top 50 only):

Team Rankings       Notre Dame  PittsburghRushing Offense     121.8       107.8Passing Offense     48th at 226.2   23rd at 243.6Total Offense       348.0       351.4Scoring Offense     24.4        47th at 27.3Rushing Defense     10th at 95.2        37th at 125.6Pass Defense        253.1       265.6Pass Eff. Def.      122.39      45th at 116.69Total Defense       45th at 348.3   391.3Scoring Defense     28th at 18.8        23.5Net Punting         19th at 38.5        42nd at 36.9Punt Returns        8.9     5.0Kickoff Returns     17.2        47th at 21.0Turnover Margin     18th at +0.78   15th at +0.88                (+7 overall)        (+7 overall)
Individual Rankings Notre Dame PittsburghPassing Efficiency Tyler Palko 45th at 130.27Total Offense Brady Quinn Tyler Palko 47th at 216.8 25th at 255.3Receptions Per Game Greg Lee 48th at 5.0Receiving Yards Per Game Greg Lee 8th at 104.0Punting D.J. Fitzpatrick Adam Graessle 32nd at 42.3 9th at 44.7Kickoff Returns Marcus Furman 16th at 27.4Field Goals Josh Cummings 14th at 1.5Scoring Josh Cummings 48th at 7.5


Notre Dame takes its final off weekend of the 2004 schedule following the Pittsburgh game and preceding the Nov. 27 regular season finale at USC. During the past two decades (1984-present), the Irish have taken full advantage of their week off, posting a 24-2 (.923) record in their first game after a regularly-scheduled bye week, including a current 15-game winning streak in those games.

Notre Dame will return to the gridiron Nov. 27 when it ventures to Los Angeles for a 8 p.m. (EST) matchup with No. 1 USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum — ABC will televise the game. The Trojans (9-0) will play host to Arizona this weekend, then take a weekend off on Nov. 20 before playing the Irish.