Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn drops back to pass

Game Notes: Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

Sept. 19, 2006

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Two-Minute Drill • No. 12/13 Notre Dame hits the road this week for a difficult matchup with undefeated Michigan State. The Irish come into the matchup following their 47-21 loss to No. 11 Michigan. The Spartans breezed past previously undefeated Pittsburgh, 38-23, at Heinz Field.

• Notre Dame and Michigan State will meet for the 70th time Saturday. The Irish lead the all-time series, 43-25-1. Notre Dame and the Spartans have played every season for the last nine years. In fact, the two schools played 36 consecutive years from 1959-94 before the series took a two-year hiatus in 1995 and 1996. The Irish own a narrow 17-13-1 record in games played in East Lansing.

• Saturday’s meeting will mark the 40th Anniversary of the 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State battle coined the “Game of the Century.” The Irish and Spartans fought to a 10-10 tie, but Notre Dame would go on to capture its 10th National Championship later that season. (see pages 2-4 for more information on the Notre Dame – Michigan State series).

A Notre Dame Win This Week Would…
… make Notre Dame 3-1 for the third consecutive season.
… extend Notre Dame’s winning streak on the road to seven games (longest since a nine-game stretch that spanned 1991-94).
… be its third consecutive victory over Michigan State in East Lansing.
… improve the Irish to 44-25-1 in the all-time series with the Spartans.
… improve the Irish to 18-13-1 in the all-time series with Michigan State in East Lansing.
… improve the Irish record to 45-25-2 all-time in night games.
… improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 12-4 overall, 1-1 against Michigan State and 4-3 against Big Ten foes.
… improve Weis’ Notre Dame road record to a perfect 7-0.
… improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 6-2 in September games.
… improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 4-0 following a loss.
… improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 814-267-42.
… improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Big Ten to 215-107-15.

A Notre Dame Loss This Week Would…
… make Notre Dame 2-2 for the first time since 2002.
… snap Notre Dame’s winning streak on the road at six games.
… snap the Irish’s winning streak over Michigan State in East Lansing at two games.
… be the eighth against the Spartans in the last 10 meetings.
… drop the Irish to 43-26-1 in the all-time series with the Spartans.
… drop the Irish to 17-14-1 in the all-time series with Michigan State in East Lansing.
… drop the Irish record to 44-26-2 all-time in night games.
… drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 11-5 overall, 0-2 against Michigan State and 3-4 against Big Ten foes.
… drop Weis’ Notre Dame road record to 6-1.
… drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 5-3 in September games.
… drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 3-1 following a loss.
… drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 813-268-42.
… drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Big Ten to 214-108-15.

Notre Dame – Michigan State Series Notes • Notre Dame and Michigan State first met on the gridiron in 1897, with the Irish earning a 34-6 victory.

• The two schools played nine times through 1910, with Notre Dame winning the first eight encounters by a combined score of 222-6. Following a six-year layoff, Notre Dame won five of the next six games with the Spartans from 1916-21.

• Notre Dame leads the series with Michigan State by a 43-25-1 count, including a 17-13-1 record in East Lansing. With a victory Saturday, the Irish would tie Michigan for the most victories by an MSU opponent in Spartan Stadium.

• Michigan State has won seven of the last nine games in the series, including five straight in Notre Dame Stadium, but the Irish have captured each of the last two meetings and 14 of the last 17 in Spartan Stadium.

• The Michigan State rivalry is the fourth-most frequent in Notre Dame history. Only Navy (79 games entering 2006), Purdue (77) and USC (77) have faced the Irish more times than the Spartans.

• Notre Dame’s 43 victories in the series against the Spartans is the fourth-highest total against an opponent in school history behind Navy (69), Purdue (50) and Pittsburgh (44).

• Notre Dame has entered the game with Michigan State nationally ranked on 39 previous occasions (22 of those games were played in Spartan Stadium). Notre Dame is 23-15-1 when ranked against Michigan State overall and 12-9-1 when those games took place in Spartan Stadium.

• Notre Dame has been ranked higher than Michigan State entering a matchup in the series 33 times, posting a 22-10-1 record. However, the Spartans have won five of the last six meetings under that scenario. The Irish are 12-5-1 when ranked higher than Michigan State in games at Spartan Stadium.

• The winner of Saturday’s game will claim the Megaphone Trophy, sponsored by the Detroit alumni clubs of Notre Dame and Michigan State.

• Over the last six meetings (dating back to 2000), the Notre Dame-Michigan State game has been decided by a touchdown or less, with the game-winning score coming late in the fourth quarter or overtime in five of the six meetings. Here’s a breakdown of the nail-biting heroics:

2000: Herb Haygood 68-yard TD pass from Jeff Smoker with 1:48 left in the 4th quarter (MSU 27-21).

2001: Charles Rogers 47-yard TD pass from Ryan Van Dyke with 7:51 left in the 4th quarter (MSU 17-10).

2002: Arnaz Battle 60-yard TD pass from Pat Dillingham with 1:15 left in the 4th quarter (ND 21-17).

2003: Greg Taplin 40-yard interception return with 6:55 left in the 4th quarter (MSU 22-16).

2004: Notre Dame builds a 28-7 third quarter lead before MSU rallies with 17 points in 31-24 ND win.

2005: Jason Teague’s 19-yd TD run in the first overtime gave the Spartans a 44-41 victory in Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish had rallied from a 21-point deficit to force overtime.

On This Date Notre Dame has played six previous games in its history on Sept. 23. The Irish are 4-2 all-time on this date, including a pair of meetings with Michigan State.

Sept. 23, 1978: Linebacker Bob Golic registers a school-record tying 26 tackles in a 28-14 loss to Michigan.

Sept. 23, 2000: Jeff Smoker’s 68-yard touchdown pass to Herb Haygood on 4th and 10 with 1:48 left gave the Spartans a 27-21 victory in East Lansing.

Sept. 23, 1989: Ricky Waters rushed for 89 yards and two touhdowns to lead the top-ranked Irish past the Spartans, 21-13, in Notre Dame Stadium.

Notre Dame vs. The Big Ten • Notre Dame has faced no other conference as often as the Big Ten. The Irish have played 336 all-time games against the 11 current members of the league. Notre Dame is 214-107-15 in those meetings. The Irish has played almost three times as many games against the Big Ten as any other conference. The Pac-10 (114) is the only other conference against whom Notre Dame has played at least 100 games.

• Notre Dame has faced Michigan State 69 times (43-25-1), second most of any Big Ten program. Purdue leads the Big Ten with 77 all-time games against Notre Dame (50-25-2) followed by the Spartans and Northwestern (37-8-2).

• Notre Dame will play four members of the Big 10 in 2006. In addition to Penn State and Michigan, the Irish will face Michigan State and Purdue. Notre Dame has played a member of the Big Ten every single season since 1915. In fact, the Irish will face four Big Ten schools in the same season for the first time since 1994. The Irish face Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue for the fifth consecutive season.

• Notre Dame has posted a 107-62-10 record against Big Ten opponents on the road.

Irish Record Setters In The Notre Dame-Michigan State Series

• 1987 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown returned two punts for touchdowns against Michigan State on Sept. 19, 1987.

• Phil Carter set a school record for rushes in a single-game (40) against the Spartans on Oct. 4, 1980. He also rushed for 254 yards that game, third most ever by an Irish running back.

• John Petitbon had a remarkable game against Michigan State on Oct. 28, 1950. Petitbon rushed for 170 yards on just 10 carries. The 17.0 yard per rush average is the second-highest in school history.

• Current senior QB Brady Quinn attempted 60 passes, threw for 467 yards and five touchdowns in last season’s game against Michigan State. The 60 pass attempts, 467 yards and five touchdowns are the second-most in school history. In the same game, Quinn tied the school record for completions in a single-game with 33.

• Former QB and current Notre Dame Director of Personnel Development, Ron Powlus, completed a school record tying 14 consecutive passes against Michigan State on Sept. 20, 1997.

• Current senior WR Jeff Samardzjia (Sept. 17, 2005) and former Irish WR Jim Mutscheller (Oct. 28, 1950) each registered three touchdown receptions in a single-game against Michigan State. The three touchdown catches is the second most in single-game school history.

1966 Michigan State-Notre Dame, Revisisted When the brutal battle in East Lansing was finally over, there was nothing left but inconsolable emptiness and frustration.

The epic battle between number-one-ranked Notre Dame and number-two Michigan State didn’t settle much of anything for either team. When the clock ticked its last second-hand sweep, exhausted and battered players, emotionally-drought coaches and frenzied fans could only look at the 10-10 tie in exasperation and disappointment.

“Nobody can be happy with a tie,” said Irish quarterback Terry Hanratty who had to leave the game in the first quarter after Bubba Smith rearranged his shoulder. “It was a helluva ballgame, but we were all so tired. I don’t think anyone wanted to go into a fifth quarter.”

The Irish, who had rallied from a 10-0 deficit early in the second quarter, had a chance to go for the win. Notre Dame had the ball on its 30-yard line with time for at least four passing plays. The Spartans were expecting the Irish to go for broke. But under coach Ara Parseghian’s strict orders, the Irish played it safe.

“We’d fought hard to come back and tie it up,” he explained. “After all that, I didn’t want to risk giving it to them cheap. They get reckless and it could cost them the game. I wasn’t going to do a jackass thing like that at this point.”

His players agreed.

“It was the worst kind of depression coming off the field after working that hard and coming out with a tie,” remembered pass-catching sensation Jim Seymour, who had a particularly disappointing day by dropping the only pass that ever came near him. “What people don’t realize is that we couldn’t throw the ball because they had set up a specific defense to stop the pass. Our quarterback was so run down because of his diabetic problem that he couldn’t throw the ball more than 10 yards. And they were really set for it. So why throw the ball for an interception and really hang yourself? Ara’s been questioned many times about that decision. . . . But there was nothing else he could do under the circumstances.”

Seymour was right. The Irish probably were lucky to survive with a tie. Their best halfback, Nick Eddy, had slipped getting off the train in East Lansing and fell on an already bangedup shoulder He wouldn’t even get in the game. Center George Goeddeke’s ankle fell victim to Bubba Smith in the first quarter, along with Hanratty.

But Coley O’Brien, who required two insulin shots a day to keep his diabetes in check, and sophomore Bob Gladieux proved able replacements.

After the Spartans had taken a 10-0 lead on Regis Cavender’s four-yard run and Dick Kenney’s 47-yard field goal, O’Brien directed the Irish 54 yards in four plays. He hit Gladieux with an 11-yard strike and Rocky Bleier for a nine-yard gain. O’Brien then lofted a perfect 34-yard spiral to Gladieux, who caught it on the goal line and stepped into the end zone.

The Irish finally caught up with the Spartans on the first play of the fourth quarter. After Notre Dame stalled on the Michigan State 10-yard line, Joe Azzaro kicked a 28-yard field goal to knot the score.

Notre Dame was dominating the second half, and the defense hadn’t let the Spartans any closer than they were when they had kicked the field goal. Linebackers Jim Lynch and Jim Horney nailed the talented Spartan runners for either minus yardage or no yardage on 16 rushing plays.

With five minutes left in the game, the Irish got a big break — the kind that decides ballgames. Safety Tom Schoen intercepted a wild Jimmy Raye pass and ran it back to the Spartan 18-yard line. Larry Conjar went straight ahead for two yards. But on the second play, halfback Dave Haley went wide to his left. Phil Hoag and Bubba Smith nailed him for an eight-yard loss. O’Brien’s third down pass wobbled incomplete, and Notre Dame had to settle for a 42-yard field goal try. Azzaro’s kick went wide to the right.

The Last Time
Michigan State 44, No. 10 Notre Dame 41 (OT)
Sept. 17, 2005, Notre Dame Stadium

(Associated Press) – The Spartans overcame a 21-point comeback by the Fighting Irish and pulled out their fifth straight win at Notre Dame Stadium with a 44-41 overtime victory on Saturday.

Jason Teague dashed 19 yards with an option pitch for the game-winning touchdown, handing Weis his first loss as Irish coach after starting the season 2-0 on the road.

“I told them you don’t get any medals for trying,” Weis said. “I’m never content when you end up losing.”

Drew Stanton led the Spartans offensively, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another. Michigan State amassed 488 yards total offense against the Irish. Stanton was 16-of-27 for 327 yards.

“We wanted to show that this program is back in the right direction,” Stanton said. “There’s no better way to do that than a rivalry game at Notre Dame.”

The Spartans (3-0) have made a habit of beating the Irish on their home turf, joining Purdue (1954-62) as the only opponent to win five straight at Notre Dame Stadium. Irish fans, many of them wearing the yellow of the school’s new spirit shirt, booed as the Spartans celebrated the victory at midfield.

“It’s good coming into a hostile environment and winning a game like this,” said Matt Trannon, who had five catches for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns.

Michigan State’s 12 wins at Notre Dame are the most by an Irish opponent.

Teague, who had been suspended a week earlier for Michigan State’s victory over Hawaii, said he had a hard time breathing at his teammates piled on him in the end zone.

“This is the best time of my life,” he said.

Teague credited Stanton for pitching the ball at the right time and his teammates for clearing his path to the end zone.

“I couldn’t have done it without these guys,” he said, pointing to his teammates.

The Fighting Irish (2-1) rallied from 21 points down in the third quarter to tie the score, but had to settle for a 44-yard field goal by D.J. Fitzpatrick on their OT possession and couldn’t make it stand up.

“When you come back like that, you’ve got a lot of emotion and you feel pretty good about yourself,” Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn said. “And then when you can’t come through with the victory, I think there’s the ability to be a big letdown.”

Quinn passed for a school-record five touchdowns and a career-high 487 yards, the second highest total in Notre Dame history. But it wasn’t enough.

Smith had said earlier in the week that the game would show whether the Spartans are worth a darn. It appears they are.

“Yeah, we’re OK,” he said. “We still have to get a lot better. We’re by no means where we need to be.”

Neither are the Irish, though wins over Pittsburgh and Michigan to start the season propelled Notre Dame into the top 10 for the first time since 2002.

It appeared for a while Michigan State would win easily when they went ahead 38-17 in the third quarter on a 65-yard TD screen pass from Stanton to Matt Trannon, who had 126 yards on five catches.

The Spartan defense, while it gave up some big plays and a 594 yards, came up big when it had to. On the second play of the second half, Sir Darean Adams picked off a pass from Quinn and returned it 30 yards for a TD to give the Spartans a 31-17 lead.

The Irish appeared ready to close to within a touchdown on first-and-goal from the 1. Notre Dame fullback Asaph Schwapp attempted to lunge across the middle with the ball ahead of him, but Domata Peko knocked the ball out and Scott Smith recovered for the Spartans on the 7.

Soon after Trannon scored to spread the lead to 21 points.

The Irish managed to close to 38-31 when Darius Walker scored on a 6-yard TD pass and Maurice Stovall, who had eight catches for 176 yards, scored on a 7-yard pass. The Irish had a chance to tie it earlier in the fourth quarter, but on fourth-and-1 from the Michigan State 20, linebacker David Herron Jr. stuffed Schwapp in a run up the middle. The Irish finally tied the score at 38 with 2:31 left on a TD catch by Jeff Samardzija, his third TD of the game.

Quinn became the first Irish quarterback to have two 400-yard passing games. Joe Theismann hold the school record with 576 yards at Southern California in 1970.

The Spartans improved to 9-1 against Top 10 teams since 1997. Their most recent previous win was 49-14 over No. 4 Wisconsin 49-14 last November. But it was only their second road win against a top 10 team in that time. The other was a 45-23 victory over No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus on Nov. 7, 1987.

Weis became just the third Notre Dame coach since 1913 to lose his home opener, joining Elmer Layden in 1934 and Lou Holtz in 1986.

Last Week Against Michigan • The Wolverines’ first quarter interception return for a touchdown by Prescott Burgess was the first by a Notre Dame opponent since Sir Darean Adams (Michigan State) on Sept. 17, 2005. The touchdown, only 41 seconds into the game, was the earliest by an Irish opponent since 1979 (when scoring times were included in game summaries). Burgess added a second interception in the third quarter to become the first player to record a pair of interceptions in one game since Josh Lay of Pittsburgh on Nov. 13, 2004.

• The 69-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne to Mario Manningham was the longest play from scrimmage for a Notre Dame opponent this season and longest since an 85-yard touchdown reception by Santonio Holmes of Ohio State in last season’s Fiesta Bowl.

• Michigan’s 20 first-quarter points were the most allowed by Notre Dame in a single quarter since Nov. 13, 2004 when Pittsburgh totaled 21 in the second quarter of a 41-38 victory. The 20 points are the most for an Irish foe in the first quarter since USC scored 21 in the opening stanza on Oct. 18, 2003.

• The Wolverines’ 34 first-half points were the most allowed by Notre Dame in an opening half since Michigan State posted 42 on Sept. 12, 1998. In fact, the 34 first-half points by Michigan were the most by an Irish opponent at Notre Dame Stadium since Purdue exploded for 45 points in the first half on Oct. 1, 1960. The 34 points is also the most by an opponent at Notre Dame Stadium in either the first or second half since USC scored 35 in the second stanza on Oct. 20, 1979.

• The 20-point (34-14) halftime deficit was the largest for the Irish since Nov. 1, 2003 when Florida State took a 23-0 lead into intermission.

• Mario Manningham is the first player to register three touchdown receptions in a single-game against Notre Dame since Pat Fitzgerald of Texas on Sept. 23, 1995.

• Michael Hart is the first player to have 30 or more carries against Notre Dame since Chris Perry of Michigan had 31 carries in 2003. Hart finished with 31 carries on the day. He finished the game with 124 rushing yards. That’s the first time an opposing back ran between 100-149 yards since Antonio Pittman of Ohio State ran for 136 yards in the 2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

• Michigan became the seventh team to ever score 40 or more points in a game at Notre Dame Stadium. The 47 points surrendered by the Irish were the most at home since a 51-19 loss to Purdue on Oct. 1, 1960. It also ties the second-most points scored by a visiting team at Notre Dame Stadium. Michigan State scored 47 points on Oct. 20, 1956.

• Notre Dame committed five turnovers on the day, the most for the Irish since Nov. 2, 2002 against Boston College.

• The last time Notre Dame was held to 50 or fewer rushing yards was on Nov. 5, 2005 versus Tennessee when the Irish were held to 48 yards rushing. The Irish had four yards of rushing in today’s game.

• Michigan DE LaMarr Woodley returned a fumble 54 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The last time an opponent returned a fumble for a touchdown against Notre Dame was on Oct. 19, 2002 when Marchello Graddy returned one 21 yards for Air Force.

• Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn was picked off in the first quarter. The interception was the first by Quinn in 143 attempts – a Notre Dame school record. The turnover was the first for the Irish in 2006 and the first dating back to the second quarter of the Stanford game a year ago. The no-turnover streak spanned 43 drives, 273 plays and 215:03 on the game clock.

• Irish senior QB Brady Quinn tossed three interceptions for the first time in a single-game since Sept. 11, 2004 against Michigan.

• Quinn recorded three touchdown passes in a single-game for the 10th time in his career.

• With his 13th completion of the game, Quinn surpassed 700 for his career.

• With his first-quarter interception, Notre Dame senior CB Chinedum Ndukwe recorded his second pick of the season and fourth of his career.

• Irish senior FB Ashley McConnell registered his first career reception and touchdown on the same play, a three-yard pass from Brady Quinn in the first quarter.

• Notre Dame senior P Geoff Price’s 59-yard punt in the third quarter was his fourth 50+ yard punt of the game and seventh of the season. Price set a school record (mimimum five punts) with a single-game average of 51.9. The previous school record was 51.6 set by Joe Restic against Air Force on Oct. 18, 1975.

• Irish senior DT Derek Landri’s blocked PAT was the first for Notre Dame since Nov. 21, 1998 against LSU.

• Following a 10-yard completion to David Grimes in the second quarter, Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn surpassed 9,000 career total yards.

• Notre Dame sophomore WR David Grimes entered today’s game with two career receptions. He had four on the afternoon, including a career-high 20-yard grab in the second quarter.

• The second-quarter touchdown catch for Irish senior WR Jeff Samardzija was his second of the season and 17th of his career. He moved into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time touchdown receptions list with 17.

• Irish senior TE John Carlson had a career-best 33-yard catch in the fourth quarter. Carlson’s previous career-high was a 32-yard grab against Penn State last week.

• Junior RB Darius Walker’s seven receptions equals a career-high, which was set last week versus Penn State and against Ohio State in the 2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

• Senior WR Jeff Samardzija’s 30 receiving yards moved him into 8th place all-time passing Malcolm Johnson (1995-98).

• Senior WR Rhema McKnight’s 76 receiving yards puts him over the 1,600-yard mark for his career. His five receptions on the day move him past Tony Hunter (1979-84) for 7th on the all-time receiving list.

• Junior RB Darius Walker’s 10 carries and 25 yards rushing were the second fewest of his career. His career lows came against BYU on Oct. 22, 2005 when he had seven carries for 17 yards.

Irish Road Warriors Notre Dame enters this weekend’s matchup with Michigan State riding a six-game road winning streak, its longest since a nine-game run that spanned four seasons (1991-94). The school record for consecutive victories on the road is 11, set on two occasions by Frank Leahy coached teams. Notre Dame won 11 straight dating from Sept. 28, 1946 to Nov. 6, 1948. Ironically enough, that streak ended with a 14-14 tie against USC. The Irish went on to win five consecutive after the tie before finally losing a road contest at Indiana. In all, Notre Dame was unbeaten in 17 straight road games. The Irish put together another 11-game victory stretch from Nov. 22, 1952 to Oct. 7, 1955. Second year Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis has opened his tenure at Notre Dame with six consecutive road victories. It is the longest road winning streak to open an Irish coaching career since Leahy went 9-0-1 over his first 10 road games.

All The “Night” Moves For the second time in the first four weeks of the season, Notre Dame will be playing at night when it visits Michigan State on Saturday. The Irish have won 63.4 percent of their all-time night games (44-25-2). Notre Dame’s lifetime record under the lights includes a 31-18-2 (.627) mark on the road. All together, the Irish are 4-0 in night games during head coach Charlie Weis’ tenure, with all four wins coming on the road (42-21 at Pittsburgh in 2005; 49-28 at Purdue in 2005; 38-31 at Stanford in 2005, 14-10 at Georgia Tech in 2006).

Brady’s Bunch Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn has spread his pass completions around through the first three games of 2006. Quinn has completed passes to eight different receivers in Notre Dame’s first three contests, a breakdown of four wide receivers, two tight ends and two running backs. Senior WR Rhema McKnight and junior RB Darius Walker have been Quinn’s favorite targets thus far. McKnight has grabbed 18 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns, while Walker has 18 receptions for 125 yards and one touchdown. Senior WR Jeff Samardzjia is next with 16 catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns. Quinn has thrown touchdown passes to a total of four different players this season: McKnight, Walker, Samardzjia and senior FB Ashley McConnell.

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Spartans Seeing Brady Senior QB Brady Quinn threw the first of what would eventually turn into four 400+ yard games last year in the 44-41 overtime loss to Michigan State. Quinn also became the first Irish quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in a single game (he would throw six against BYU later in 2005). He finished the game 33-of-60 for 487 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. It ranks as the second-best individual statistical performance by a Notre Dame quarterback – just behind Joe Theismann’s 33-for-58, 526-yard peformance at USC in 1970. Unfortunately, both games ended up in the loss column for the Irish.

Clock Winding Down, Brady At His Best Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn has conducted scoring drives to close the first half in each of the Irish’s first three games this season. With Notre Dame trailing Georgia Tech, 10-0, and just under five minutes to go in the first half, Quinn led the Irish on a 14 play, 80-yard scoring drive. He went 5-of-8 for 39 yards and also added 23 yards rushing on the drive, capped off by his five-yard touchdown scamper. Quinn was even more impressive in his two scoring drives against Penn State and Michigan. Both within the no-huddle, two-minute offense, he spearheaded Notre Dame’s seven play, 69-yard and 1:17 march just before halftime against the Nittany Lions. Quinn was 5-of-5 for 58 yards and a touchdown strike on the drive. He was equally impressive running the two-minute drill late in the second quarter against the Wolverines. Quinn went 7-of-7 for 71 yards and a touchdown during the Irish’s eight play, 72-yard and 2:10 drive.

Brady Quinn Ahead Of His 2005 Record Setting Pace Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn set 11 single-season school records in 2005 and eventually finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. After three games of 2006, Quinn is on a similar pace to his start last year.

Irish Defense Improved Despite Michigan Game Many might not realize that the Notre Dame defense has played extremely well over its first three games. Yes, the Irish surrendered 47 points to Michigan last weekend, but 14 of those points were Wolverine defensive touchdowns (directly off Notre Dame turnovers) and 10 more came off scoring drives of one and 27 yards (also set up by Irish turnovers). Despite the 47-point afternoon for Michigan, the Irish defense is much improved in 2006 when compared against 2005.

Front Four While Mike Hart rushed for 124 yards to lead Michigan’s 120-yard rushing attack, the Notre Dame front four really limited the vaunted, power running attack of the Wolverines. Michigan needed 41 carries to reach those 120 yards — just 2.9 yards per carry. In fact, 18 of Hart’s carries were for two yards or less, including nine for zero or negative yardage. Much of that is due in part to the play by the Irish front four. Trevor Laws, Victor Abiamiri, Ronald Talley and Derek Landri combined for 32 total tackles, including four for loss. Laws’ 10 tackles were a career-high and Talley’s seven tied his career-best.

Price is Right Despite the fact he entered this season with only two career punts, Geoff Price has made his presence known over Notre Dame’s first three games. After Price averaged 50.4 yards on five punts against Georgia Tech, he responded with a career-best 62 yard boot versus Penn State. He took his game to another level last weekend against Michigan. Price averaged a school-record 51.9 yards per kick (7-for-363) against the Wolverines. He even dropped two inside the 20-yard line. Price had four punts of at least 50 yards in the game. He has seven 50+ yard punts this season and has also dropped five inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Price moved into second in the NCAA this week with an 49.8 yard average.

Ndukwe Making Plays All Over The Field Notre Dame senior FS Chinendum Ndukwe is leading the much-improved Irish pass defense. Ndukwe is third on the team with 22 tackles, including 14 solo stops. He has added 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two pass break-ups and a forced fumbe. Ndukwe also has Notre Dame’s only two interceptions this season.

Samardzija Climbing Active WR Charts With 17 career receiving touchdowns, 117 catches and 1,736 receiving yards, senior Jeff Samardzija is climbing the charts among active NCAA wide receivers. Samardzija is currently tied for 8th in receiving touchdowns and 19th in receiving yards. He also ranks fourth in Notre Dame history in touchdown receptions and ninth in both receiving yards and receptions.

Rhema has McKnight to Remember After missing almost all of 2005 following a knee injury suffered during the second game last year, fifth-year senior WR Rhema McKnight returned to the gridiron with a vengeance at Georgia Tech. McKnight led the Irish with eight catches for 108 yards against the Yellow Jackets. After pacing Notre Dame in catches in 2003 and 2004, McKnight picked up a key 19-yard catch on 3rd and 9 on the final possession of the game, prohibiting Georgia Tech from getting the ball one last time. McKnight took another step toward full recovery in the rout of Penn State last weekend. He had five receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown. Following his five catch, 76 yard game against Michigan, McKnight ranks ranks seventh all-time at Notre Dame in receptions (121), 10th in career receiving yards (1,613) and t-10th in career touchdowns (9).

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Abiamiri Named to Hendricks Watch List Senior defensive end Victor Abiamiri was named to the 2006 Hendricks Award Preseason Watch List announced in June by the Hendricks Foundation. He has 13 tackles in 2006, including a season-high nine last week against Michigan. Abiamii picked up his 12th career sack two weeks ago Penn State. He moved into a tie for 10th place with Brandon Hoyte (2002-05) on the Notre Dame career list (since 1982). He needs just 1.5 more tackles for loss to enter Notre Dame’s all-time top 10 in that category as well. He has been a key member of Notre Dame’s defensive line since his freshman season in 2003 when he became just the fourth freshman to start on the defensive line for Notre Dame since 1991. Abiamiri enjoyed a great season in 2005 totaling 48 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, a team-high eight sacks and seven quarterback hurries helping him earn the team’s Lineman of the Year Award from the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

Harris Named to Outland Trophy Watch List Senior offensive tackle Ryan Harris was named to the 2006 Outland Trophy Watch List in June by the Football Writers Association of America. The award has been given annually to the nation’s top offensive or defensive interior lineman since 1946. Harris has started 35 career games at tackle, including the last 27 at left tackle protecting quarterback Brady Quinn’s blind side. Harris played a key role in 2005 as the team averaged 36.7 points per game and 477.3 yards of total offense. In 2004, he was named the team’s Westwood One/Guardian Life Insurance Guardian of the Year. Harris earned freshman All-America accolades from in 2003 and second-team freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News after becoming just the third true freshman lineman to start on the offensive line.

Quinn Ranks High Among Active QBs Quarterback Brady Quinn currently ranks in the top five among all active Division I-A quarterbacks in 11 categories ranging from passing charts to total offense lists. The following lists the categories he currently ranks in the top five:

CATEGORY RANK TOTAL CURRENT LEADER Pass Attempts 1st 1,257 — Total Off.-Yards 2nd 9,211 Kevin Kolb, Houston (10,632) Pass Yards 2nd 9,103 Kevin Kolb, Houston (10,035) Total Off.-Yds/Gm 3rd 236.2 Kevin Kolb, Houston (272.6) Total Off.-Plays 3rd 1,448 Kevin Kolb, Houston (1,613) Pass Completions 3rd 712 Kevin Kolb, Houston (745) Pass Yards/Game 3rd 233.4 Luke Getsy, Akron (264.6) Pass Touchdowns 3rd 64 Chris Leak, Florida (75) Pass Attempts/Gm 4th 32.2 Luke Getsy, Akron (40.2) Total Off.-TDs Responsible for 4th 69 Chris Leak, Florida (85) Total Off.-Yds/Play 5th 6.36 Jared Zabransky, Boise State (6.62)

2006 Notre Dame Schedule Among Toughest In NCAA Notre Dame’s schedule has been rated the ninth toughest in the country in the first three weeks of this season. Irish opponents have posted a perfect 6-0 overall record — a figure that does not include their games against Notre Dame.

Another Weis, Rockne Comparison Second year Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis has avoided any comparisons to any of the great all-time Irish head coaches, especially legendary head man Knute Rockne. However, Weis accomplished something after the victory over Penn State that only Rockne and himself can claim. With Notre Dame’s 41-17 rout of the Nittany Lions, Weis became just the second coach in Irish history to open his first two seasons in South Bend at 2-0. Rockne opened the 1918 and 1919 seasons with consecutive victories.

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In The Red Zone • Notre Dame was a perfect 2-of-2 in the red zone in the loss to Michigan last weekend. The Irish are now 10-of-11 (.90.9) in the red zone through the first three games of the season. Notre Dame has only settled for field goals on two of those occasions. Even more remarkable, the Irish is 55-of-66 (.833) in the red zone during the Charlie Weis era. Notre Dame has recorded 46 touchdowns compared to just nine field goals. In other words, the Irish register seven points around 70-percent of the time they enter the red zone over the past two seasons.

On Third & Fourth Down • Notre Dame was just 2-for-14 (.14.3) on third-down conversions against Michigan last weekend and now is 14-for-44 (.318) on the season. That statistic is way down from a year ago. The Irish converted 90-of-184 (.489) on third downs in 2005, which ranked seventh in the NCAA. While Notre Dame has struggled on third down, fourth down to this point of the season is a completely different story. The Irish are a 6-of-7 on fourth down over their first three games this season. In fact, Notre Dame leads the NCAA in fourth-down conversions.

Defense More Than Carried Its Weight Against Georgia Tech, Penn State Notre Dame held Georgia Tech and Penn State scoreless over for a total of nearly five quarters before the Nittany Lions kicked a field goal at the 11:29 mark of the third quarter on Sept. 9. The scoreless streak spanned 68:16 and was the longest such streak since the 2002 season. Notre Dame went 94:28 without allowing any points over a three-game stretch that included Navy, Rutgers and USC.

Quinn and the Notre Dame Record Book Quarterback Brady Quinn is in his fourth season as the starter. He has already made a lasting mark on the Irish football record book owning or sharing 32 school records. Since 1950, a Notre Dame quarterback has thrown for 300 yards or more 16 times. Quinn is responsible for seven of those performances – the most for any single Notre Dame quarterback. Quinn has thrown for 350 (vs. Boston College, 2003), 432 (vs. Purdue, 2004), 487 (vs. Michigan State, 2005), 327 (at Washington, 2005), 440 (at Purdue, 2005), 467 (vs. BYU, 2005) and 432 (at Stanford, 2005). Quinn is the only Notre Dame quarterback to throw for over 400 yards five times in a career (in fact, he is the only one to do it twice) – and in Notre Dame’s road game at Purdue in `05 he became the first to throw for more than 300 yards in three consecutive games. He also is the first Irish quarterback to throw for 300 or more yards four times in a season.

Quinn’s TD Passes Streak Brady Quinn tossed at least one touchdown pass in 16 games in a row for the Irish before the skid ended in the 2006 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, breaking John Huarte’s record of 10 set in 1964. The Dublin, Ohio, native totaled 40 scoring tosses during the run.

Quinn: A Touchdown Machine Brady Quinn accounted for two or more touchdowns in 10 of Notre Dame’s 12 games last season and had an eight-game streak of multiple touchdown performances snapped in the Fiesta Bowl – three (passing) at Purdue, two (one run, one pass) vs. USC, six (passing) vs. BYU, three (passing) vs. Tennessee, four (passing) vs. Navy, two (passing) vs. Syracuse and three (passing) at Stanford.

Quinn Threw 21 TDs in Notre Dame Stadium in 2005 Brady Quinn shattered the Notre Dame record for touchdown passes at Notre Dame Stadium in a season, exploding for 21 in 2005 (5 vs. Michigan State, 1 vs. USC, 6 vs. BYU, 3 vs. Tennessee, 4 vs. Navy, 2 vs. Syracuse). The previous record for touchdown passes in Notre Dame Stadium in a single-season was 11 by Ron Powlus (1994) and Jarious Jackson (1999). Quinn was so dominant that his total home field touchdown passes would have broken the previous single-season record, regardless of venue, of 19 held by Ron Powlus (1994). Quinn threw 11 touchdown passes away from Notre Dame Stadium (32 total).

Morton Selected to the 2006 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team Senior OL Bob Morton was one of 11 players in NCAA Division I-A chosen to the 2006 American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team. The two 11-man teams, a Division I-A team and a combined team from Divisions I-AA, II, III and the NAIA, honor players for their dedication and commitment to community service. Nominees have to be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or involved in other community service activities. Candidates have to display sincere concern and reliability, while also having made a favorable impression on the organizations with which they are involved. On the field success is not a criteria.

Young Makes ND History Still listed as the starter at right tackle entering this weekend, Sam Young made Notre Dame history at Georgia Tech becoming the first true freshman to start the season opener on the offensive line since freshmen became eligible in 1972. Young is just the fourth Irish freshman to start on the offensive line joining an elite club that includes teammate Ryan Harris as well as Brad Williams and Mike Rosenthal. Harris started the final eight games of the 2003 season, Williams made starts against Navy and Boston College in 1996 and Rosenthal started against Ohio State, USC and Air Force in 1995.

Defense Shines at Georgia Tech Notre Dame’s much-maligned defense rose to the occasion against a quick Georgia Tech team with very talented players at the skill positions. After hearing the cries of “617 yards” all summer, the defense responded by allowing just 259 yards of offense to the Yellow Jackets, the second-fewest total during the Charlie Weis era. The defense was at its best late in the game as they allowed just 71 yards of offense in the second half on 21 plays. Included in the second half effort was limiting Tech’s All-American WR Calvin Johnson to just 16 yards on two receptions. A key reason for the success was its effectiveness on third down where Georgia Tech converted on just 2-of-10 chances for the game and was 0-for-4 in the third and fourth quarters.

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Zbikowski’s Rapid Returns Safety Tom Zbikowski, a senior in 2006, has made a name for himself in the Notre Dame record books. Zbikowski scooped up a fumble and raced 25 yards for a touchdown two weeks ago against Penn State. With the return, Zbikowski became the Irish all-time leader in fumble return yards (100) and joined Tony Driver (1997-00) as the only Notre Dame players to ever return a pair of fumbles for touchdowns. Zbikowski, who has six career TD returns (two interceptions, two punts, two fumbles), has clearly established himself among the best big-play return specialists in Notre Dame history. In a three-game stretch against USC, BYU and Tennessee in 2005, he returned a punt or interception for a touchdown four times – the first Irish defensive player to accomplish such a feat. Zbikowski also returned a fumble 75 yards for a TD against Michigan State in 2004. With his interception and punt return for a touchdown against Tennessee on Nov. 5, Zbikowski became the first Irish player to accomplish that feat (interception return and punt return in the same game) since Nick Rassas against Northwestern in 1965. Rassas returned an interception 92 yards for a touchdown and a punt 72 yards for a score in Notre Dame’s 38-7 rout.

Grimes, West Kick Start Special Teams Unit A focal point in the off-season of Head Coach Charlie Weis and Special Teams Coach Brian Polian was to get better field position for the offense off of kickoff returns. Three games into 2006, it looks as if the efforts put in by the coaches and players in the off-season has paid off as the 25.0 yards per kickoff return is the 24th-best in Division I-A. Freshman George West fielded the opening kickoff of the season, and in his first collegiate touch he sprinted out 33 yards to set up the Irish offense. Not to be outdone was sophomore WR David Grimes who sprinted out almost to midfield on his only kick return of the game for 46 yards. Grimes ranks 20th in the county with an average of 27.29 per kick return.

Historic Notre Dame Stadium The 2006 football season marks the 76th year of Irish football in fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 387 games in the facility to date and own a 292-90-5 (.761) record in the “House that Rockne Built.” The Irish are 183-54-2 (.770) over the last 42 years at home. The most wins in a season by the Irish at home is seven by the 1988 national championship team and the longest home winning streak in Notre Dame football history is 28 games (from 11.21.42 through 9.30.50).

In Front of a Full House Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 184 of its previous 210 games, including 59 of its last 64 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season the 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands and the 2005 game at Washington were not sellouts). At Michigan in 2003, the Irish and Wolverines attracted the largest crowd in NCAA history (111,726), marking the third time in the history of the series that an NCAA attendance record was set. It also represented the seventh time in the last four seasons that Notre Dame has been 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, vs. Oregon State in the Insight Bowl in 2004 – the game set a Bank One Ballpark record for football configuration). Notre Dame and Michigan played before an over-capacity 111,386 at Michigan Stadium in September of 2005. The 2005 Washington game was played before less than a capacity crowd as 71,473 witnessed the Irish defeat the Huskies, 36-17, at Husky Stadium (capacity: 72,500) in Seattle. At Purdue, the Irish and Boilermakers played before 65,491 football fans, a Ross-Ade Stadium record (since the renovation of the facility in 2003).

Nine Veteran Starters Return to Lead Irish Defense A solid group of returning veterans returns to lead the Irish defense in ’06, led by nine starters from last season including four players entering their third season on the starting unit. A full off-season with the defensive coaching staff combined with a second season in defensive coordinator Rick Minter’s scheme as well as a talented crop of freshmen should alone make the Notre Dame defense better. Cornerback Ambrose Wooden (74 tackles in ’05) and safety Tom Zbikowski (71 stops in ’05) are the leading returning tacklers of the unit. While both figure to provide valuable leadership, other key returnees figure to be just as vital to the unit’s continued improvement. Chief among those returnees are senior defensive end Victor Abiamiri (eight sacks in ’05), senior tackles Derek Landri (eight tackles for loss in ’05) and Trevor Laws (33 tackles and two blocked field goals last season) and linebacker Maurice Crum, Jr. (57 tackles in ’05).

Samardzija’s Record Season Earned All-America Honors Wide receiver Jeff Samardzija returns for his senior season in 2006 after earning consensus first-team All-America honors in 2005 when he led the team with 77 catches for 1,249 yards and 15 touchdowns. He became Notre Dame’s first 1,000-yard receiver since 1970 on an 80-yard touchdown pass against Stanford on Nov. 26 of last season. Samardzija eventually broke Tom Gatewood’s single-season receiving yardage record against Stanford, pushing his season total to 1,190 yards and tied Gatewood’s single-season receptions mark. He also surpassed the single-season touchdown total as his 15 scoring receptions led the nation and bested Derrick Mayes’ previous record of 11 from 1994.

Samardzija Opened 2005 with TD Catches in Eight Straight Games Jeff Samardzija entered the 2005 campaign without a touchdown catch in his career, then proceeded to catch a touchdown pass in each of Notre Dame’s first eight games of last season. The two-sport athlete (also a top-line pitching prospect for the Chicago Cubs after he was drafted in the fifth round in this year’s Major League Baseball draft) became the first Irish receiver to begin the season with eight consecutive games with a touchdown catch – which made him the Notre Dame record holder for consecutive games with a touchdown reception. He surpassed Malcolm Johnson’s six-game run from 1998 against BYU. Samardzija, who also serves as the team’s holder on field-goal attempts, tied a Notre Dame record with three touchdown receptions versus Michigan State (later broken by teammate Maurice Stovall, who posted four touchdown receptions against BYU). Samardzija was the seventh player to catch three touchdown passes in a game and the first since Tom Gatewood versus Purdue in 1970.

Walker Rushed 1,000 Yards in Dramatic Fashion Running back Darius Walker became the ninth Irish player to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season with 1,196 yards on 253 carries and seven touchdowns last year. Walker surpassed the 1,000-yard barrier during a career-best 35-carry, 186-yard outing at Stanford during which he scored the winning touchdown and added a two-point conversion for the final score. Walker also set an Irish mark for receptions by a back with 43 for 351 yards and two scores. Walker’s ever against Stanford pushed him into the top-10 all-time on the single-season rushing yardage list as well.

Walker’s 100-Yard Games Darius Walker rushed for 100 yards seven times last season, marking the first time since 1993 that an Irish player posted seven or more 100-yard rushing performances in a season. Lee Becton ended the `93 campaign with seven consecutive 100-yard performances.

Older and Wiser The 2006 Notre Dame offensive line is one of the most experienced units in school history. The Irish offense boasts over 100 combined career starts on the line. Senior tackle Ryan Harris has started 35 Notre Dame games and led the veteran group in starting assignments. Seniors Bob Morton and John Sullivan were second and third with 31 starts and 21 career starts, respectfully, while senior Dan Santucci has 16 starts to his credit.

Quinn, Samardzija and Walker Named to Maxwell Award Watch List Senior quarterback Brady Quinn, senior wide receiver Jeff Samardzija and junior running back Darius Walker have been named to the 2006 Maxwell Award Watch List. The Maxwell Award is presented annually by the Maxwell Football Club to the top collegiate football player. Notre Dame’s three players on the Maxwell Award Watch List matches USC, Ohio State, Michigan and Miami (FL) for the most nominees. The list will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists in October before three finalists are named in November.

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Sullivan Named to Rimington Watch List Senior center John Sullivan has been named to the Rimington Trophy Spring Watch List. He joins 38 other centers on the list for the Dave Rimington Trophy, awarded annually to the most outstanding center in college football. The Boomer Esiason Foundation presents the award to the center who receives the most first team All-America votes determined by the AFCA, Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News and FWAA. Sullivan started the last seven games at center for the Irish in 2005, while making appearances in all 12 games. As a junior in 2004, he started all 12 games and called out all blocking assignments for the offensive line.

Quinn, Samardzija Named to Walter Camp Watch List Senior quarterback Brady Quinn and senior wide receiver Jeff Samardzija were two of 35 “players to watch” chosen by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The nation’s fourth-oldest individual college football award will have its watch list narrowed to 10 semi-finalists in early November before the winner is chosen based on voting conducted by the 119 Division I-A head coaches and sports information directors.

Zbikowski Named to Nagurski and Bednarik Watch Lists Senior defensive back Tom Zbikowski has been named to both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List and Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List for 2006. The Nagurski Trophy is given to the nation’s top defensive player at the Charlotte Touchdown Club annual awards banquet. The Bednarik Award is given annually to the nation’s top defensive player as voted on by head coaches, members of the Maxwell Football Club and various sports writers throughout the country. Zbikowski was named third-team All-America by the Associated Press after the 2005 season when he made 62 tackles and led the team with five interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. He also added two touchdowns on punt returns. Zbikowski has started 26 straight games and has scored touchdowns via interception return, punt return and fumble return during his Notre Dame career.

Notre Dame Stadium Gate A Now “All-America Gate” The University of Notre Dame’s 79 consensus All-America football players are now honored inside Gate A of Notre Dame Stadium, as part of a multi-year plan to theme the five entrance gates to Notre Dame’s home football facility. Each display inside Gate A at the stadium is a 10-by-16-foot Notre Dame blue powder-coated aluminum plate with the ND logo in gold at the top. The displays are entitled “Consensus All-Americans” in Notre Dame gold letters eight inches high across the top of the blue panel. Featured on the panels are authentic Notre Dame helmets with name plates representing the consensus All-Americans from Notre Dame, plus room for four future consensus All-Americans. The name plates are made of bronze, with black etched letters identifying each player’s name, year(s) he was named a consensus All-American, and hometown. A bronze plaque is also mounted on one of the two displays to explain how a consensus All-American is selected. Players accorded the majority of votes at their positions by selectors are designated consensus All-Americans. Current teams utilized in designation of consensus selections are those chosen by the Associated Press, the American Football Coaches Association, the Football Writers Association of America, the Walter Camp Foundation and The Sporting News. Wide receiver Jeff Samardzija in 2005 was Notre Dame’s most recent consensus pick – with the first coming in 1913 (quarterback Gus Dorais). Two-time consensus selections include Frank Carideo (1929-30), Marchy Schwartz (1930-31), Bob Dove (1941-42), George Connor (1946-47), John Lujack (1946-47), Bill Fischer (1947-48), Leon Hart (1948-49), Emil Sitko (1948-49), John Lattner (1952-53), Ross Browner (1976-77), Ken MacAfee (1976-77), Bob Crable (1980-81), Michael Stonebreaker (1988, 1990), Todd Lyght (1989-90), Chris Zorich (1989-90) and Aaron Taylor (1992-93). The displays were designed by Rockwell Group of New York and fabricated by Show Motion Inc., of Connecticut. The Notre Dame Monogram Club funded the project. There are plans to theme the other three entry gates at the Stadium — with the intention of creating specific recognition of Notre Dame’s national championships and its national championship coaches. Prior to the 2005 season, three-by-eight foot replica Heisman Trophies were added to the Gate B display, where pictures of all seven Irish Heisman winners were placed earlier. The honoring of Notre Dame’s Heisman Trophy winners took the form of seven individual panels installed within existing brick niches of the old stadium wall just inside Gate B. There is one display each for Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, Leon Hart, John Lattner, Paul Hornung, John Huarte and Tim Brown

Notre Dame Athletics in Print Four new books either about Notre Dame athletics or written by past or current Irish coaches will be available in bookstores this fall. Head coach Charlie Weis is scheduled to release his autobiography, NO EXCUSES, Oct. 10. With the help of national editor and author, Vic Carucci, the book will tell the remarkable story of his journey from being a student of Notre Dame to becoming head coach of his alma mater. Stories from his professional career of working in the NFL to personal events involving himself and his family will also be chronicled. Former head coach Lou Holtz’ autobiography, Wins, Losses, and Lessons hit bookshelves Aug. 15. Detailing stories from his youth to his days as a football head coach, this book is said to be a “reflective, inspiring and candid look back at an extraordinary life and career from a coaching legend.” Fighting Irish Legends, Lists and Lore is the latest book by Karen Heisler, wife of Notre Dame Senior Associate Athletic Director John Heisler, and “captures the history, tradition, and spirit of one of the nation’s most storied and revered athletic programs.” The book recounts stories of Notre Dame’s most famous athletes and coaches in every sport. Longtime writer and editor for Blue & Gold Illustrated Tim Priste released his latest book entitled, The New Gold Standard Aug. 16. The book takes readers inside head coach Charlie Weis’ first season at Notre Dame and how he “returned the program to its rightful (and historic) place among college football’s elite.”

Notre Dame Leads the Way in National Graduate Rate The graduation rate for student-athletes at the University of Notre Dame is the highest in the nation among Division I-A colleges and universities in an annual federal report for the Department of Education, and is the second highest in a new survey developed by the NCAA. Notre Dame’s federal graduation rate is 90.4 percent, according to statistics released in January by the NCAA, slightly ahead of Duke University at 89.6 percent as the best among the major football-playing schools of Division I-A. The federal rate is based on the raw percentage of student-athletes who entered an institution and graduated with six years. Students who leave or transfer, regardless of academic standing, are considered non-graduates. Notre Dame ranks second among Division I-A schools on another scale, called the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), which was developed last year by the NCAA. The 98 percent GSR is second only to the 99 percent of the U.S. Naval Academy, which, like all the military academies, is exempt from the federal survey because it does not offer grants-in-aid to student-athletes. The data for both surveys is based upon the entering classes from 1995 to 1998. The two graduation rate reports should not be confused with another new NCAA initiative, the Academic Progress Rate, which uses a series of formulas related to student-athlete retention and eligibility to measure the academic performance of all participants who receive a grant-in-aid on every team at every NCAA Division I college and university.

Football Ticket Demand Hits a Record High How much interest is there in University of Notre Dame football games for 2006? There’s enough that the Sept. 9 Notre Dame-Penn State game and the Sept. 16 Notre Dame-Michigan game qualify as the two highest-requested games in the history of Notre Dame’s ticket lottery. There’s enough that four ’06 home games rank in the all-time top 10 for requests — and all seven games rank in the top 30. There’s enough that the Nov. 25 Notre Dame-USC game in Los Angeles qualified as the most-requested road game in Irish ticket history. And there’s enough that the Notre Dame ticket office expects to mail refunds worth more than a record $11.7 million (compared to refunds of $5.2 million a year ago) to unsuccessful lottery participants in the University’s ticket distribution for contributing alumni, monogram winners, undergraduate parents and benefactors. There was a 37 percent increase in applications submitted to the ’06 lottery compared to a year ago. Notre Dame alumni making an annual contribution of $100 or more to the University are eligible to apply for two tickets to as many home and away football games as they choose. In excess of 30,000 tickets per game are available for each home contest for contributing alumni. Any time the number of applications exceeds the supply, a lottery is held – and lotteries were required for all seven 2006 home games (meaning every home game automatically sold out). Demand was highest for the Sept. 9 home game vs. Penn State (66,670 tickets requested) and the Sept. 16 home game vs. Michigan (61,631), making those games the two highest-demanded home games in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. The previous all-time high was 59,368 requests for the 2001 home game against West Virginia. The high in 2005 was 54,211 for the USC game at Notre Dame Stadium. Other high-demand home games in ’06 are contests against North Carolina (54,838 requests for sixth all-time), UCLA (51,933 for 10th all-time), Stanford (50,491 for 13th all-time) and Purdue (47,655 for 17th all-time). The high demand for road games came for the regular-season finale at USC (an all-time record 33,251 requests). Notre Dame receives 15,000 tickets as the visiting team in that contest.

New Fighting Irish All-Access Package Launched on Aug. 4 The University of Notre Dame official athletic website,, entered a new era on Friday, Aug. 4. The Fighting Irish All-Access package underwent a complete overhaul and will bring Notre Dame alumni and fans full coverage free of charge for the 2006-07 season. Irish fans will no longer be required to subscribe or sign up for audio/video coverage on It features a new media player, which includes a bigger display screen and easier access to’s multimedia offerings. As part of the new Fighting Irish All-Access launch, the crew will post a bevy of video offerings from a variety of Irish sports and the University archives – just the first step toward developing into the top source for Fighting Irish fans on the world wide web. Check for more details.

Former Heisman Winners to be Honored at Notre Dame Home Games All former Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winners will be featured on home game tickets as well as the corresponding game programs and schedule cards this season. The seven winners or family members of the winners have been invited back to Notre Dame to be honored during the weekend their likeness is featured on the game ticket and program. Angelo Bertelli graces the cover of the Penn State game, Johnny Lujack is on the Michigan game cover, John Lattner is featured during the Purdue weekend, Leon Hart will be honored at the Stanford game, Paul Hornung will be on the cover of the UCLA game, the North Carolina game ticket and program will honor John Huarte, while Tim Brown will be featured at the Army game. Lujack will serve as an honorary captain for the coin toss against the Wolverines Saturday.

1966 National Championship Team to be Honored Purdue Weekend This season marks the 40th anniversary of the 1966 Notre Dame football team that won the national championship and the team will be honored during its reunion on the Purdue game weekend. The `66 squad averaged over 36 points per game while permitting just five touchdowns on defense. That Irish squad posted a 9-0-1 record including three wins over top-10 teams with an average margin of victory in those contests of 33.7 points. Head coach Ara Parseghian won his first of two titles and tied Frank Leahy (later matched by Dan Devine) in the process as the quickest Notre Dame head coach to win a national championship, doing so in his third campaign.