Jeff Samardzija and Rhema McKnight celebrate a touchdown against Purdue in Notre Dame's 35-21 victory over the Boilermakers last weekend.

Irish Ready To Face First Of Three Pac-10 Teams This Season

Oct. 4, 2006


(#12 AP/# 12 USA Today) Notre Dame (4-1) vs. Stanford (0-5)

The Date and Time
Saturday, Oct. 7, 2006, at 2:43 p.m. EDT

The Site
Notre Dame Stadium (80,795, grass surface) in Notre Dame, Ind.

The Tickets
The game is officially sold out making it the 189th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Notre Dame home football game has been a sellout except one – a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. The Irish have now played in front of sellouts in 237 of their last 238 home games.

The TV Plans
NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis), Lewis Johnson (sideline), David Gibson (producer) and John Gonzalez (director). NBC will stream a live 30 minute pre-game and post-game show on

The Radio Plans
For the 39th consecutive season all Notre Dame football games are to be broadcast on approximately 300 stations in 50 states by Westwood One with Don Criqui (play-by-play) and former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis) with Jeff Jeffers providing pre-game, halftime and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159 for the Stanford game) and it will be streaming live on the Notre Dame official athletics website at

All Notre Dame home games may be heard in South Bend on U93-FM (92.9) and WDND-AM (1490) with pre-game analysis featuring Sean Stires and Vince DeDario. The post-game show is hosted by Jack Nolan and features former Notre Dame players Reggie Brooks and Mirko Jurkovic. See page 11 of this notes package for more information on Irish football radio and television shows.

Real-Time Stats
Live in-game statistics are available through CSTV’s Gametracker via each school’s official athletic website.

Web Sites
Notre Dame (
Stanford (

Two-Minute Drill

• No. 12/12 Notre Dame returns to Notre Dame Stadium this weekend for a matchup with Pac 10 foe Stanford. The Cardinal (0-5) are the first Irish opponent this season to enter the game with a defeat. The Irish come into the game following their 35-21 victory over in-state rival Purdue. Meanwhile, Stanford was blanked 31-0 at UCLA and have lost seven straight games dating back to the end of last season.

• Notre Dame and the Cardinal will meet for the 21st time in series history on Saturday. The Irish lead the all-time series, 14-6-0, and have won the last four meetings. Notre Dame and Stanford have played each of the past nine years. The Irish are 8-2-0 all-time against the Cardinal in Notre Dame Stadium, including victories in each of the last five games. (see pages 2-4 for more information on the series).

• The series began on Jan. 1, 1925 (the end of the 1924 season) when Notre Dame’s famed Four Horsemen and Knute Rockne travelled across the country to meet Stanford’s Pop Warner and Ernie Nevers. Notre Dame’s 27-10 victory earned the Irish their first-ever national championship.

• The winner of the Notre Dame-Stanford series receives The Legends Trophy, a combination of Irish crystal and California redwood. The trophy was presented for the first time in 1989 by the Notre Dame Club of the San Francisco Bay Area.

• Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn is approaching yet another milestone. He enters the game against Stanford with 9,738 yards, just 242 yards from becoming the 32nd player in NCAA history to eclipse 10,000 yards passing.

A Win This Weekend Would…

… make Notre Dame 5-1 for the first time since 1998.
… be the third straight victory for the Irish
… be the fifth consecutive victory over Stanford overall and sixth straight win against the Cardinal in Notre Dame Stadium.
… improve Notre Dame to 15-6-0 in the all-time series with Stanford.
… improve the Irish to 9-2-0 in the all-time series with the Cardinal in Notre Dame Stadium.
… improve a ranked Irish squad to 11-2 all-time against the Cardinal.
… improve Notre Dame to 15-3 all-time against an unranked Stanford squad.
… improve Weis’ record to 14-4 overall, 2-0 against Stanford and 3-1 against Pac 10 foes.
… improve Weis’ home record to 7-3.
… improve Weis’ record to 3-1 in October games.
… improve Weis’ record to 8-4 in afternoon games.
… improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 816-267-42.
… improve the Irish’s all-time record at home to 294-90-5.
… improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Pac-10 to 75-39-6.

A Loss This Weekend Would…

… make Notre Dame 4-2 for the second consecutive season.
… snap the Irish’s two-game winning streak.
… snap Notre Dame’s four-game winning streak over Stanford overall and their five-game winning streak over the Cardinal in Notre Dame Stadium.
… be the first for the Irish against Stanford in Notre Dame Stadium since 1992 (also the last time a ranked Irish squad lost to the Cardinal).
… drop Notre Dame to 14-7-0 in the all-time series with Stanford.
… drop the Irish to 8-3-0 in the all-time series with the Cardinal in Notre Dame stadium.
… drop a ranked Notre Dame squad to 10-3 all-time against Stanford.
… drop the Irish to 14-4 all-time against an unranked Stanford team.
… drop Weis’ record to 13-5 overall, 1-1 against the Cardinal and 2-2 against Pac 10 foes.
… drop Weis’ home record to 6-4.
… even Weis’ record to 2-2 in October games.
… drop Weis’ record to 7-5 in afternoon games.
… drop the Irish’s all-time record to 815-268-42.
… drop Notre Dame’s all-time record at home to 293-91-5.
… drop the Irish’s all-time record against the Pac-10 to 74-40-6.

Notre Dame – Stanford Series Notes

• Notre Dame and the Cardinal will meet for the 21st time in series history on Saturday. The Irish lead the all-time series, 14-6-0, and have won the last four meetings. Notre Dame and Stanford have played each of the past nine years.

• The series began on Jan. 1, 1925 (the end of the 1924 season) when Notre Dame’s famed Four Horsemen and head coach Knute Rockne travelled across the country to meet Stanford’s Pop Warner and Ernie Nevers. Notre Dame’s 27-10 victory earned the Irish their first-ever national championship and the first of four national crowns to come via bowl wins.

• Notre Dame has won the previous four meetings with Stanford, which is the longest winning streak for either school in the all-time series.

• Notre Dame is 8-2 all-time at Notre Dame Stadium against the Cardinal, including five consecutive victories.

• The Cardinal’s only two victories in the 10 meetings in Notre Dame Stadium happened in back-to-back visits. Stanford, 1-3 entering the game, shocked the top-ranked Irish, 36-31, in 1990. Then, in 1992, the 19th-ranked Cardinal, with Bill Walsh as their head coach, beat seventh-ranked Notre Dame, 33-16.

• Notre Dame and Stanford have met every season since 1997, with the Irish holding a 6-3 advantage in the series during that time. The two teams also met seven consecutive times from 1988-1994 and the Irish were ranked in every meeting during the run. Notre Dame finished that seven-game stretch with a 5-2 record against Stanford.

Notre Dame vs. The Pac-10

• Notre Dame is 74-39-6 (.647) all-time against teams from the Pac-10 Conference. Stanford represents the first Pac-10 opponent for the Irish this season, but Notre Dame will also face UCLA (Oct. 21) and USC (Nov. 25) later in the year.

• The 118 games against Pac-10 teams is the second-most for the Irish against any conference. The Big Ten Conference (338) represents the most games played against Notre Dame, followed by the Pac-10 and and the ACC (102).

• Notre Dame has a winning series record versus nine of the Pac-10 teams. Most of those games (77) have come versus USC (42-30-5), while the Irish have faced Stanford (14-6-0) 20 times.

• Notre Dame has played a handful of games vs. California (4-0), Washington (6-0), Arizona (2-1), Oregon (1-0-1), Oregon State (0-2) and UCLA (2-0). Notre Dame and Arizona State met for the first time in 1998, while the Irish met Oregon State for the second time in the 2004 Insight Bowl. Notre Dame played its first-ever game against Washington State in 2003, downing the Cougars, 29-26, in overtime.

• Notre Dame has posted a 42-14-1 record against Pac-10 opponents at home.

On This Date

Notre Dame has played 16 games in its history on Oct. 7. The Irish are 14-1-1 all-time on this date, including a 2-0 mark against Stanford. The Irish have registered eight shutouts on this date over their 118 year history.

Oct. 7, 1995: Notre Dame CB Allen Rossum returned a interception 76 yards to help the Irish win at Washington, 29-21. The “pick six” occurred with 28 seconds left to seal the victory and the return is the fifth longest in school history.

Oct. 7, 1978: Notre Dame LB Bob Golic registered 18 tackles in a 29-25 victory over Michigan State. The 18 tackles are tied for the 10th most ever in Irish single-game history. Golic is ranked four times among the top 10 for tackles in a single-game.

Last Week Against Purdue

• With Notre Dame’s touchdown on the game’s opening drive, the Irish recorded a touchdown on their opening drive of the game for the first time in 2006 and ninth time in head coach Charlie Weis’ 17th career game on the sidelines.

• Notre Dame scored 14 points in the first quarter. The Irish had totaled just 10 points in the first quarter over their first four games of 2006.

• With junior RB Darius Walker’s 146 rushing yards, Notre Dame has had a running back eclipse the 100-yard barrier on 217 different occasions in its 118-year history of football.

• The Irish second-quarter scoring drive that lasted 5:46 was the longest Notre Dame scoring drive of the season. The previous season-long scoring drive was 5:29 at Georgia Tech.

• The Irish recorded 22 first downs in the first-half, equaling their single-game high for the entire 2006 season (Notre Dame had 22 in the 41-17 victory over Penn State).

• Notre Dame’s 28 first-half points are the most for the Irish in a first half since they scored 28 against Navy on Nov. 12, 2005.

• The Irish have totaled 42 first downs in the first half of the past two meetings with Purdue. Notre Dame had 22 Saturday in the opening half and 20 last season. • Purdue sophomore WR Selwyn Lymon had eight catches for 238 yards. That is the most receiving yards ever against a Notre Dame team.

• Purdue junior QB Curtis Painter had 398 yards passing. That is the most passing yards against Notre Dame since USC’s Matt Leinart threw for 400 yards on Nov. 27, 2004.

Freshman WR Darrin Walls

• on the game’s opening kickoff, returned his first career kickoff 28 yards. Walls is the first player other than sophomore WR David Grimes or freshman WR George West to return a kick this season.

Senior QB Brady Quinn

• completed a pass in his 41st consecutive game, now just two games shy of Ron Powlus’ (1994-97) school record of 43 straight games with a completion.

• his two touchdown passes give him 71 for his career.

• surpassed 9,500 career yards passing following his first-quarter, 10-yard completion to senior WR Rhema McKnight. The pass attempt also gave him 1,300 for his Irish career. Quinn also went over 1,500 career plays for Notre Dame.

• his five-yard completion to junior RB Darius Walker was the 750th completion of his Notre Dame career.

• with his 316 passing yards on the day, he has totaled 1,485 yards passing against Purdue in his career.

• eclipsed 250 yards passing in a single-game for the 19th time and 300 yards passing for the ninth career time.

Junior RB Darius Walker

• moved past Emil Sitko (1946-49) for 10th on the all-time rushing list following his first-quarter, 13-yard carry.

• recorded his second rushing touchdown this season, 18th career rushing touchdown and 20th touchdown overall.

• his 13-yard, second-quarter rush moved him past Tony Brooks (1987-91) for ninth on the Notre Dame all-time rushing list.

• moved past Randy Kinder (1993-96) for eighth on the Irish all-time rushing list following his six-yard dash in the second-quarter.

• eclipsed the 100-yard mark following a five-yard carry in the second quarter. The 100-yard rushing effort was his first of 2006 and 10th of his career.

• converted nine of Notre Dame’s 22 first downs in the opening half.

• with his 54 yards receiving in the first half, he passed Bob Scarpitto (1958-60) for sixth on the all-time receiving yards list by a running back. He also passed Marc Edwards (1993-96), Ricky Watters (1987-90), Mark Green (1985-88) and John Lattner (1951-53) en route.

• eclipsed his previous season-high for carries in a game with 31 (matching the second-most of his career) Saturday.

• passed Jerome Bettis (1990-92) for 10th on the all-time total offense yards list.

• moved ahead of George Gipp (1917-20) for seventh on the Irish all-time rushing following his five-yard rush midway through the third quarter.

• his 219 all-purpose yards (146 rushing, 73 receiving) marked the second time in his career that he has eclipsed 200 all-purpose yards in a game. The first time was against Stanford on November 26, 2005, when he gained 241 yards (186 rushing, 55 receiving).

• recorded a new career-high with nine receptions.

Freshman WR George West

• recorded his first career rush and first career touchdown on his 11-yard scoring scamper to give Notre Dame a 7-0 first- quarter lead.

Freshman K Ryan Burkhart

• made his Notre Dame debut with a kickoff following the Irish’s first quarter touchdown.

Senior TE John Carlson

• on his third reception of the game he moved past Pete Chryplewicz (1996) and Ken MacAfee (1975) for eighth on the single-season Irish receiving yards-list by a tight end. Senior WR Chase Anastasio

• recorded his first reception of the season on a 15-yard catch in the second quarter.

Senior WR Jeff Samardzjia

• recorded his first career rushing touchdown on his first rush of the 2006 season. The touchdown was his fifth overall this season and 20th of his career.

Senior WR Rhema McKnight

• his third-quarter touchdown was his second touchdown catch of the game and sixth of the season. He now has 13 for his career passing Tim Brown (1984-87) and Bobby Brown (1996-99) for seventh on the Irish all-time receiving TD list.

• had career-high 10 catches for 135 in his career, which places him fourth on the all-time Notre Dame career receptions list. He passed Ken MacAfee (1974-77), Derrick Mayes (1992-95) and Maurice Stovall (2002-05).

• moved into eighth on the all-time receiving yard list with 1,803 career yards receiving, passing Malcolm Johnson (1995-98) and Ken MacAfee (1974-77).

Senior DE Victor Abiamiri

• his tackle for loss gave him 30.5 for his career which moved him past Jim Stock (1972-74) for ninth on the all-time Notre Dame career list.

The Last Time
No. 6 Notre Dame 38, Stanford 31
Nov. 26, 2005, Stanford Stadium

(Associated Press) – If Notre Dame hadn’t already shown it, the Fighting Irish believe they drove the point home that they are deserving of a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

The Irish needed every last yard from Brady Quinn and Darius Walker to become eligible for their first BCS appearance in five years.

Walker ran 6 yards for the winning touchdown with 55 seconds remaining, then took a direct snap in for the 2-point conversion, and the sixth-ranked Fighting Irish all but assured themselves of playing in one the four marquee bowl games with a 38-31 victory over Stanford on Saturday night.

“We play for 60 minutes, that’s just all there is to it. We’ve got the talent on this team, but it’s more than that,” said Irish receiver Jeff Samardzija, who caught two touchdown passes as part of his career day.

Quinn passed for 432 yards and three touchdowns but also threw two interceptions, and Notre Dame survived a wild final few minutes for its fifth straight victory since a 34-31 loss to No. 1 USC on Oct. 15. Walker ran for a career-high 186 yards on 35 carries.

The Irish (9-2) won seven of their final eight games under first-year coach Charlie Weis, who made a key decision to switch kickers in the fourth quarter then gave his team a major scare when he switched back to starter D.J. Fitzpatrick.

After missing an extra point and a 42-yard field goal attempt earlier in the game, Fitzpatrick missed a 29-yard field goal wide left with 2:15 to play that could have provided Notre Dame a two-score lead.

Stanford took advantage.

The Cardinal, who will miss a postseason trip in coach Walt Harris’ first year, went ahead 31-30 with 1:46 left after backup quarterback T.C. Ostrander’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Matt Traverso. Ostrander set up the score with a 76-yard completion to Mark Bradford.

“We went back and forth the whole game,” Weis said. “But I think the great thing about this football team is, earlier this year, before I got here, I didn’t know if they understood how to win games like this. … I’ve had a lot of games with this kind of pressure, it’s just that they haven’t had it.”

Travis Thomas ran 8 yards for a score with 9:44 left for the Irish, who played in front of three representatives from the Fiesta Bowl and beat Stanford for the fourth straight time – having a much tougher time than they did in a 57-7 rout of the Cardinal here in 2003 in Tyrone Willingham’s return to The Farm.

Samardzija increased his school-record single-season touchdown receptions mark to 15 and finished with nine catches for a career-high 216 yards to become Notre Dame’s third career 1,000-yard single-season receiver. Maurice Stovall had seven catches for 136 yards and a TD.

Notre Dame could receive big money from this victory, too – at least $14 million for playing in the BCS.

Starting next year, Notre Dame will be guaranteed a projected $1.3 million from the BCS and would only receive about $4.5 million if the Irish play in one of the top bowls.

But Stanford made a game of it in the final event at 84-year-old Stanford Stadium, which will undergo a $90 million facelift to transform the venue into a state-of-the-art facility for 2006.

The Cardinal finished 5-6 against the second-toughest schedule in the nation and missed a chance at the school’s first trip to the postseason since 2001.

“There’s no such thing as a moral victory, but I’m proud that our guys fought their way back,” Harris said. “That’s the fighting attitude we have to have. We’re going to lose some very fine football players. We have talented players here but we have to have more of them. We have to create depth.”

The Cardinal certainly will be left to think all winter about a 20-17 loss to UC Davis – a team making the transition from Division II to Division I-AA – in Harris’ home debut.

Construction began immediately after the clock expired, with three bulldozers and three dump trucks pulling onto the field to start pulling up dirt. A ceremony was held at halftime in honor of the stadium with dozens of former players in attendance.

Quinn’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Stovall with 8:43 left in the third quarter gave the Irish the lead, but Fitzpatrick missed the extra point. Quinn completed 25 of 38 passes, overcoming his early mistakes to calmly lead the Irish on the winning drive.

Ostrander replaced starter Trent Edwards, who had been forced out of the previous two games with injuries and apparently re-aggravated a problem in his throwing arm. Ostrander came in to begin Stanford’s second series of the third quarter and finished 11-for-15 for 197 yards and a touchdown.

“After we scored that last touchdown, I felt so good,” Ostrander said. “We worked so hard and we had a shot. It wasn’t over. And now our best leaders go without having gone to a bowl game. That’s really hard for the rest of us.”

The Irish led 7-0 15 seconds into the game after Quinn hit Samardzija for an 8 0-yard TD pass. On Notre Dame’s next possession, Kevin Schimmelmann intercepted a pass by Quinn – just the sixth pick of the year by Quinn – to set up Edwards’ 27-yard TD pass to Bradford that tied the game at 7 with 11:38 left in the first quarter.

Quinn connected with Samardzija again on Notre Dame’s next series with a 7-yard scoring pass. The Cardinal tied it on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Justin McCullum 8:14 before halftime.

Brady Quinn Boiling Hot Against Purdue

Purdue must think the Notre Dame senior signal caller wore an Irish uniform for 10 years. Quinn put together a remarkable career in four games against the Boilermakers. He blitzed the Purdue defense for 1,485 yards passing and seven touchdowns. In Quinn’s last three games against the Boilermakers, he has thrown for 432 yards (2004), 440 (2005) and 316 (2006) — the outings in 2004 and 2005 rank fourth and fifth respectively on the ND single-game list. Quinn went 29-for-38 with two touchdowns last weekend against Purdue. Combined with last year’s game in West Lafayette, Quinn completed 58-for-74 (78.4) and five touchdowns.

Quinn Approaching Rarified Air

Senior QB Brady Quinn has tossed 71 career touchdown passes over his brilliant four-year Irish career. Quinn has tossed 45 TD passes over his last 17 games — an average of 2.65 per game. At his current pace, Quinn would finish his career with 11,981 yards passing and 92 touchdown passes. He would become just the ninth player in NCAA Division I history to surpass 11,500 yards passing and 10th to ever pass for 90 or more career TD passes.

Darius Walker Running Into Irish History

Junior RB Darius Walker has led the Irish in rushing each of the past two seasons and will most likely do it again in 2006. Walker has rushed for 373 yards over Notre Dame’s first five games. He would be the seventh running back in school history to lead the Irish in rushing three consecutive seasons and the first since Julius Jones (2000-01, 2003). Walker would be the first running back to lead Notre Dame in rushing over his first three seasons since Emil Sitko (1946-49). Sitko actually led Notre Dame in rushing each of his four seasons.

Walker also ranks among the active NCAA career leaders in seven different categories. He ranks fifth in all-purpose plays per game (22.0), eighth in total all-purpose plays (617), ninth in career rushes (532), ninth in career rushes per game (19.0), 16th in career rushing yards (2,355), 16th in career rushing yards per game (84.1) and 18th in all-purpose yards per game (106.9).

McKnight & Carlson Moving The Chains

Senior WR Rhema McKnight and senior TE John Carlson have combined to earn 37 first downs this season. McKnight has 32 receptions this year and 22 of them have resulted in a first down, while Carlson has registered a first down on 15 of his 22 catches.

Charlie And The Irish Offensive Factory

Second year head coach Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame with a tremendous reputation as one of the premier offensive minds in all of the NFL. The Irish saw immediate results in 2005, setting 11 school records, including passing yards (3,963), touchdown passes (32), total offense yards (5,728) and total points (440). After Notre Dame scored 40 points against Michigan State two weeks ago, the Irish have surpassed the 40-point barrier on eight separate occasions in Weis’ 17 games as head coach. Prior to Weis’ arrival, Notre Dame had eclipsed 40 points just nine times in its previous 97 contests. In addition, the Irish had 83 separate 100-yard receiving games over its first 116 seasons of football, but Notre Dame has had 15 the past two years under Weis. To put those numbers in perspective, Notre Dame averaged a 100-yard receiving effort every 13 games. Under Weis, the Irish is almost recording a 100-yard receiving effort every game.

McKnight & Samardzija Rank Among Nation’s Top Receiving Duo

The senior WR tandem of Rhema McKnight and Jeff Samardzjia each rank among the top 10 in ND history for career receiving yards and receptions. McKnight ranks fourth in school history with 135 career catches and seventh in school history with 1,803 yards receiving. Samardzjia is tied for sixth place all-time with 128 career receptions and is just three catches shy of Maurice Stovall for fifth. His 1,895 yards receiving is seventh best in ND history, while his 19 career TD receptions is second-best in school history. McKnight is among the top 20 in the NCAA among active receivers in catches. Samardzjia is also among the top 20 in receptions, as well as yards and yards per catch. He ranks eighth in TD catches. Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett, USC, are the only other teammates to be ranked among the top 20 in the NCAA among any of those four categories.

Irish Triple Option Passing Attack

The Notre Dame offense has its own version of the triple option in the passing game. The Irish have three players, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and John Carlson, each rank among the top 70 in the NCAA in receiving yards per game. Notre Dame and New Mexico State are the only two schools that have three student-athletes in the top 70. Notre Dame also has a fourth receiving option as Darius Walker is tied for team lead with 32 catches. Walker is actually tied with senior WR Rhema McKnight for 16th in the NCAA in receptions per game.

Darius Walker The Runner vs. Darius Walker The Receiver

Junior RB Darius Walker set a new single-game, career-high with nine receptions last Saturday against Purdue. He had registered seven catches in a game on three different occasions, including twice in 2006. Walker has 32 receptions in 2006 and is tied with senior WR Rhema McKnight for the Irish team-high. He also leads the NCAA in receptions by a running back. Already the Notre Dame career leader in catches by a running back (85), Walker is on pace to shatter his own single-season record (43) for receptions by a running back.

Need A First Down, Dial Darius Walker

Junior RB Darius Walker touched the football 27 different times in the first-half against the Boilermakers last weekend. Of those 27 touches, nine resulted in a first down for the Irish. Walker added three more first down conversions in the second-half and finished the afternoon with 12.

Walker Early & Often

Junior RB Darius Walker had 20 carries and seven receptions in the first-half against Purdue. He finished with a season-high 31 carries and career-high nine catches. The 40 touches in a single-game tied his previous career-high. Walker recorded 40 touches (35 rushes, 5 receptions) against Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.

Five Straight Undefeated Opponents To Open The Season

Notre Dame always plays one of the top schedules in all of college football, but the Irish took that to the ultimate extreme this season. Notre Dame faced an undefeated opponent each of its first five games this season. Notre Dame’s opponents, Georgia Tech, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue, are a combined 18-2 (excluding the game with the Irish) and one of those losses for a Notre Dame opponent was Penn State’s loss at No. 1 Ohio State. The 1999 Notre Dame squad was the last Irish team to face five consecutive undefeated foes to open the season.

Price is Right

Despite the fact he entered this season with only two career punts, Geoff Price has made his presence known across the country for Notre Dame. Price leads the NCAA in punting with a per kick average of 47.5. He not only has dropped eight punts inside the 20-yard line, including three last weekend against Purdue, but also has eight punts of 50 or more yards. Price has averaged 50+ yards in punts in two separate games, including a school-record 51.9 yards per kick (7-for-363) against Michigan.

Ndukwe Making Plays All Over The Field

Notre Dame senior FS Chinedum Ndukwe, who played his freshman year with the Irish as a wide receiver, has taken his game to another level in 2006. Ndukwe started all 12 games last season and made 52 tackles. He leads Notre Dame with 37 tackles, 22 solo stops, this season. Ndukwe, who came up with a huge forced fumble and fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter to help the Irish rally past Michigan State, has added two interceptions, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, three pass break-ups, two forced fumbles, two quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.

Terrail Lambert Derails Opposition

Junior CB Terrail Lambert undoubtedly etched his name along side some of the all-time Notre Dame legends following his performance against Michigan State. His 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter capped the Irish’s thrilling 40-37 come-from-behind victory over the Spartans. The pick was not only his first career interception, but was Notre Dame’s first interception return for a touchdown since junior CB Leo Ferrine had a 16-yard “pick six” against Syracuse last year. Lambert was also the first Irish defender with two interceptions in the same game since Sept. 21, 2002, when Gerome Sapp had two picks at Michigan State in a 21-17 Notre Dame victory. While Lambert has yet to start a game for the Irish in 2006, he is fifth on the team with 21 tackles, including a career-best 11 stops last weekend against Purdue. He also chipped in with a forced fumble and fumble recovery on the same play.

Maurice Crum, Jr. Making Crumbs Of Ball Carriers

Junior LB Maurice Crum, Jr. is second on Notre Dame with 36 tackles. He leads the Irish defense with six tackles for loss, including a sack. Crum has also added a forced fumble. He had a career-high 14 tackles earlier this season against Penn State. The 14 tackles are the most for an Irish player since Corey Mays had 14 against Navy on Nov. 12, 2005.

The Firm of Laws & Landri Yields Immediate Results

The senior defensive tackle duo of Trevor Laws and Derek Landri spearheaded an Irish rush defense that limited Purdue to just 95 yards rushing. Landri had three tackles and two quarterback hurries, while Laws added a couple tackles. Laws and Landri rank fourth (23) and sixth (19), respectively, in tackles for Notre Dame. The interior tackle duo has combined for six tackles for loss, three sacks and two quarterback hurries. Laws and Landri were instrumental in neutralizing the vaunted, power running attack of Michigan. The Wolverines needed 41 carries to reach 120 yards — just 2.9 yards per carry. In fact, 18 of Mike Hart’s carries were for two yards or less, including nine for zero or negative yardage. Laws’ 10 tackles were a career-high and Landri’s six tied his season-high.

In The Red Zone

• Notre Dame was 5-of-6 in the red zone, including five touchdowns, in the victory over Purdue last weekend. The Irish are now 17-of-19 (.895) in the red zone through the first five games of the season. Notre Dame has only settled for field goals on two of those occasions. Even more remarkable, the Irish are 62-of-74 (.838) in the red zone during the Charlie Weis era. Notre Dame has recorded 53 touchdowns compared to just nine field goals. In other words, the Irish register seven points just over 85 percent of the time they enter the red zone over the past two seasons. Conversely, Notre Dame’s opponents have scored on 13-of-15 trips into the red zone in 2006, but only 8-of-15 (.533) have resulted in touchdowns.

On Third & Fourth Down

• Notre Dame was 8-of-14 (.571) on third-down conversions against Purdue last weekend and now is 23-for-69 (.333) 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 10-of-12 on fourth down over their first five games this season. In fact, no team has more 4th down conversions than Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Excels On Game’s Opening Drive

Since Charlie Weis took over the Irish football program, he has always chosen to receive the ball when winning the coin toss. It is not hard to understand why Weis prefers to put his offense on the field to start a game. Over Notre Dame’s 17 drives that opened games, the Irish have scored a touchdown a remarkable nine times. The Irish took the opening kickoff against Purdue last weekend and marched 70 yards on seven plays to grab a 7-0 lead. It was the first time in 2006 that Notre Dame scored on the game’s opening drive.

John Carlson Turning In All-American Type Season

Notre Dame senior TE John Carlson has exploded onto the college football scene in 2006. He has 22 receptions for 359 yards — good for an average of 63.8 yards a game. Despite the season being just five games old, Carlson has already risen among the top 10 for yards by a tight end in a single-season (Carlson’s 359 yards rank seventh in single-season Irish history). His 16.3 yards per catch leads the entire Irish receiving corp. In fact, Carlson is 35th, nationwide, in total receiving yards and third among tight ends. He also ranks 45th overall in receiving yards per game and third in the category among tight ends. With Carlson’s recent 121 yard effort against Michigan State, he became the first Irish tight end to eclipse 100 yards receiving in a game since Anthony Fassano had 155 yards against Purdue on Oct. 2, 2004.

Irish Road Warriors

Notre Dame extended its current road winning streak to seven games with its victory over Michigan State in East Lansing. The seven-game road winning streak is the 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. The seven-game road winning streak also also happens to be the first seven road games for second year Irish head coach Charlie Weis. It is the longest road winning streak to open a Notre Dame coaching career since Leahy went 9-0-1 over his first 10 road games.

Irish Comeback For The Ages

From the 7-0 victory over Oklahoma in 1957 snapping the Sooners 47-game winning streak, to Harry Oliver’s 51-yd field goal as time expired to defeat Michigan in 1980, to the 31-30 victory over top-ranked Miami in 1988 en route to the school’s 11th national championship, Notre Dame has been part of some unbelievable football games over its 118 years of football. The comeback victory over Michigan State last weekend will sit along side those previously mentioned games.

The Irish overcame a 16-point fourth quarter deficit against the Spartans (actually trailed 37-21 with just under nine minutes remaining), the largest deficit entering the fourth quarter the Irish have overcome since the 1979 Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1, 1979) when Notre Dame trailed Houston, 34-12, with just under eight minutes to go in the game and came back to win, 35-34. Joe Montana threw the winning touchdown pass to Kris Haines as time expired (Joe Unis kicked the deciding PAT) in what was later termed “The Chicken Soup Game.”

Notre Dame Little Too Unselfish

Ervin Baldwin of Michigan State was the third Notre Dame opponent to register a defensive touchdown in consecutive weeks against Michigan and the Spartans. The Wolverines had a pair of defensive scores in their victory over the Irish. Prior to the Sept. 16 against Michigan, the Irish had allowed just three defensive touchdowns total in their previous 34 games.

Notre Dame Defense Comes Through Late

After the Irish defense surrendered 31 points in the first half to Michigan State, it would have been hard to imagine that the same defensive group could possibly turn the game into Notre Dame’s favor, but that is exactly what happened. The Irish allowed just six points after halftime and limited the Spartans to 128 total yards on their 33 second half plays. Drew Stanton was just 2-for-9 (both completions coming on Michigan State’s final drive) for 23 yards. Notre Dame also forced three takeaways, two interceptions and one fumble. In fact, the Irish turned over the Spartans on their final three possessions.

Brady Takes Game To Another Level In 4th Quarter

Quinn is on pace for another record-setting season for Notre Dame. The senior QB is on pace for 3,645 yards passing and 34 touchdown passes. Quinn would eclipse 30 TD passes and 3,000 yards for the second consecutive season. As impressive as those numbers are, take a look at these. Quinn has been at his best in the fourth quarter of Notre Dame’s first five games. He is 24-of-37, nearly 65 percent, for 375 yards and four TD passes in the final quarter this season.

Weis Guys a Resilient Bunch

Notre Dame is 12-4 under head coach Charlie Weis. Even more impressive than his .750 winning percentage, is the Irish’s perfect 4-0 record under Weis following a loss. Notre Dame’s average margin of victory in those four games is 13 points.

Clock Winding Down, Brady At His Best

Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn 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.

Spartans Seeing Brady

After senior QB Brady Quinn threw for 487 yards and five TD passes in the 2005 meeting with Michigan State, many figured it would be near impossible to repeat that type of performance in 2006. Well, let’s just say that Quinn met the task. He threw for 319 yards and five touchdowns. Quinn has thrown for five or more TD passes in one game on three separate occasions and two have come against the Spartans. For his career, he was 71-of-137 for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns against the Spartans.

Brady’s Bunch

Notre Dame senior QB Brady Quinn has spread his pass completions around through the first five games of 2006. Quinn has completed passes to nine different receivers, a breakdown of five 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 and Walker have each grabbed 32 passes. McKnight has recorded 433 yards and six touchdowns, while Walker has 213 yards and one touchdown. Senior WR Jeff Samardzija is next with 27 catches for 319 yards and four touchdowns. Senior TE John Carlson has 22 receptions for 359 yards and one TD. Quinn has thrown touchdown passes to a total of five different players this season: Carlson, McKnight, Walker, Samardzjia and senior FB Ashley McConnell.

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.

Irish Lead the Way in National Graduate Rate

The graduation rate for student-athletes at 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 the Academic Progress Rate, which uses formulas related to student-athlete retention and eligibility to measure the academic performance of all participants who receive a grant-in-aid at every NCAA Division I college and university.

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 17 tackles in 2006, including a season-high nine against Michigan. Abiamiri picked up his 12th career sack earlier this year against Penn State. He moved into a tie for ninth place with Wally Kleine (1983-86) on the Notre Dame career list (since 1982). He also ranks 10th on the all-time Irish tackles for loss list. 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 37 career games at tackle, including the last 29 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.

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.

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 17 times. Quinn is responsible for eight 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), 432 (at Stanford, 2005) and 319 (at Michigan State, 2006). 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.

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 against Penn State earlier this season. 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 388 games in the facility to date and own a 293-90-5 (.761) record in the “House that Rockne Built.” The Irish are 184-54-2 (.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 186 of its previous 212 games, including 61 of its last 66 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).

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 37 Notre Dame games and led the veteran group in starting assignments. Seniors Bob Morton and John Sullivan were second and third with 33 starts and 23 career starts, respectfully, while senior Dan Santucci has 18 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.

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.

Former All-American Jerome Bettis Named 2006 Most Caring Athlete

By Dennis McCafferty

Jerome Bettis came to South Bend, Ind., in 1990, ready to play football and get a good education. Almost immediately, Bettis remembers, he was transformed by Notre Dame in ways that went far beyond the Fighting Irish’s storied sporting traditions of “Touchdown Jesus,” Knute Rockne and 11 national titles.

In fact, it was the Catholic university’s culture of community service that sparked the young man’s passion for helping others. “Notre Dame is about a lot more than football and tradition,” says Bettis, taking a break during a photo shoot for this weekend’s magazine cover. “You’re in the national spotlight all the time, and they stress community and character there. Man, I was never exposed to anything like that. Shortly after I got there, I understood that Notre Dame could be used as a platform to try to influence other young people’s lives and hopefully do some good.”

So the freshman Bettis returned to his Detroit home on breaks, determined to reach out to other inner-city young people at churches and rec centers about making the right choices in life. Since then, Bettis has continued to take advantage of his place on the public stage when it comes to making a difference. His Detroit- and Pittsburgh-based Jerome Bettis The Bus Stops Here Foundation, among other efforts, has sent more than 5,000 inner-city kids from ages 8 to 18 to the JB Football Camp in Detroit, has awarded no fewer than 30 college scholarships, has built or renovated playgrounds in struggling areas and has attempted to bridge the digital divide by teaching computer literacy to more than 200 children. The latter effort is called the Cyber Bus program, and Bettis is especially gratified when he gets a sense of the impact it makes.

“We not only teach kids how to use a computer,” he says, “but we teach them how to tear one down and build it back up. I had one little girl who amazed me, building a computer from its parts and adding stuff like extra memory. I used to get my haircut in Pittsburgh where her mom went, and one day she told me, ‘Cyber Bus helped my daughter get to college.’ That’s something you always remember.”

The running back has just finished a future Hall of Fame career as a Pittsburgh Steeler. His punishing profile earned him the nickname “the Bus,” thus the name of his charitable foundation. And Bettis’ profile has grown in other ways this year, as he joined NBC as a studio analyst for “Football Night in America,” part of the network’s much-anticipated prime-time Sunday package. Anyone who knows football realizes that Bettis capped off his playing career in storybook fashion, winning the Super Bowl in his last game, in his hometown of Detroit. When it comes to raising foundation support, a good story like that never hurts.

“People always want to come up to you and shake your hand and talk to you and get their picture taken with you,” he says. “But even more so after the Super Bowl. They come up to me saying they’re so happy I finally got my championship ring. And, sure, that builds up the kind of energy and interest that helps me bring more attention to my foundation.”

And these days, there’s another change that’s increasing his zeal for The Bus Stops Here: his 20-month-old daughter, Jada Bettis, with wife Trameka. Having Jada in his life has added to his perspective when he works on a new foundation project.

“Anytime I see a place that needs a playground now, I think about her,” Bettis says. “As a parent, I know how important playgrounds are for children when it comes to developing physically and having a safe outlet for activities. And it helps them work on their social skills, too. So when I see a place without one, it makes me all the more determined to do something about it.”

Notre Dame Makes First Offer Of Football Season Tickets In Three decades; Revenue To Fund Repairs To Stadium

To fund repairs to historic Notre Dame Stadium, the University of Notre Dame announced today the sale of 5,000 football season tickets beginning in 2007 – the first such offering in more than three decades. The University also announced that, in response to unprecedented demand, it is instituting changes to several policies that will increase ticket access for alumni in the general football ticket lottery.

The 5,000 season tickets will be sold first to people directly affiliated with Notre Dame and then to the general public. In addition to the face value of the tickets, the cost will include an annual ticket rights fee based on seat location: $2,000 per ticket for sideline seats, $1,500 for corner seats, and $1,250 for end zone seats.

The revenue generated through the ticket plan will be used to assist in paying for repairs and ongoing preservation of the 76-year-old Notre Dame Stadium’s original seating bowl. The exact cost of the project is yet to be finalized, but is expected to exceed $40 million.

University officials studied other revenue-generating options – including the addition of luxury boxes – before deciding on the ticket rights fees.

“Notre Dame Stadium is a legendary landmark in American athletics, and we are committed to preserving and maintaining both its structural integrity and its historic look and feel,” said John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president of the University. “By providing a rare opportunity to purchase Notre Dame football season tickets, we are developing revenue for this important project, giving fans a chance to invest in the future of `The House that Rockne Built,’ and protecting current and future resources necessary for our primary mission of teaching and research excellence.”

Engineering studies have indicated that the structural supporting frame of the stadium remains in good condition. However, freeze/thaw damage over three-quarters of a century has led to deterioration of the seating bowl concrete. Stadiums of the same vintage as Notre Dame’s facility at the University of Michigan and Ohio State and Purdue Universities have faced similar maintenance issues in recent years. The repair project was to begin last spring, but the University put it on hold to conduct further engineering analysis.

Fans interested in purchasing season tickets can find information on the process on the Web at A waiting list for the potential future sale of season tickets will be established after all of the current allotment has been sold.

Affleck-Graves emphasized that none of the new season tickets will be drawn from tickets currently available in the general alumni lottery. The 5,000 tickets will come from season tickets that have been returned over the past several years, as well as a reduction in internal University ticket allocations, he said.

Though unrelated to the season ticket offering, the University also has responded to the high demand for Irish football tickets in the 2006 general alumni ticket lottery by revising policies that will reallocate tickets among several groups in order to increase opportunities in the general lottery.

“Notre Dame has the most inclusive alumni ticketing process of any high-demand program in the nation, and we remain committed to continuing that access,” Affleck-Graves said.

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.