Oct. 29, 2007
GAME 9: NOTRE DAME (1-7) vs. NAVY (4-4)
Saturday, November 3, 2007
TIME: 2:43 p.m. ET
SITE (CAPACITY): Notre Dame Stadium (80,795); Notre Dame, Ind.
TICKETS: The game is officially sold out making it the 197th 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 245 of their last 246 home games.
TV: NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), David Gibson (producer) and John Gonzalez (director). NBC will stream a live 30 min. pre-game show (2-2:30 p.m.) and post-game show on NBCSports.com.
RADIO: For the 40th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are to be broadcast on approximately 200 stations in 50 states by Westwood One with Don Criqui (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Jeff Jeffers providing pre-game, halftime and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159) and will be streamed live on the Irish official athletics website at www.und.com.
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 nine of this notes package for more information on Irish football radio and television shows.
WEB SITES: Notre Dame (und.com), Navy (navysports.com).
REAL-TIME STATS: Live in-game statistics will be provided through CSTV Online’s Gametracker via each school’s respective official athletic websites.
POLLS: Notre Dame and Navy each failed to receive any votes in either the Associated Press or USA Today coaches polls.
SERIES INFO: Notre Dame and Navy will play one another for the 81st consecutive year on Saturday, making it the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. The Irish hold a 70-9-1 (.881) edge in the series, including a current 43-game winning streak that is the longest against one opponent in NCAA history. Notre Dame and Navy have met every year since 1927, playing 51 times at neutral sites and 29 times at Notre Dame Stadium. (see All-Time Series Results on page 2 of the PDF notes package).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Notre Dame has won 43 consecutive games in the series. Navy’s last win came on Nov. 2, 1963, when Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach helped Navy claim a 35-14 victory at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame’s 43 straight wins rank as the longest winning streak by one team over another in NCAA history (the next highest active streak is 22 straight victories by Tennessee over Kentucky).
NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH Charlie Weis: A record combined win total for the first two seasons of any Notre Dame head football coach, consecutive Bowl Championship Series appearances for the first time in Irish history, and the two most accomplished passing seasons in Notre Dame football annals – those are the most notable by-products of the first two seasons of the Charlie Weis era in South Bend. Weis (Notre Dame, 1978), owner of four Super Bowl-champion rings as products of a stellar 15-season career as a National Football League assistant coach, wasted no time putting his signature stamp on his alma mater’s program in his first two years as Irish head coach in 2005 and 2006. The Irish finished his inaugural season with a 9-3 mark and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame followed that campaign with a 10-3 record last season and another BCS Bowl berth (Sugar). In addition to leading one of three schools to consecutive BCS bowl games, Weis guided the Irish to their most wins over any two-year span since 1993-94. He is 2-0 against Navy.
NAVY HEAD COACH PAUL JOHNSON: Paul Johnson (Western Carolina, 1979) took over a Navy program that had posted a 1-20 record the previous two years before his arrival in 2002. After a 2-10 mark in his first year, the Midshipmen has achieved what many thought was no longer possible at an Academy, as Johnson has brought the Midshipmen back into the national spotlight with a 35-15 (.700) record over the last four years and has led Navy to a school-record four-straight bowl games and a school-record four-consecutive Commander-In-Chief’s Trophies. The 35 wins are the second most in program history over a four-year time span. Johnson’s triple option offense has been the backbone to the program’s success as the Mids have led the nation in rushing three of the last five years. Last year, the Mids averaged a school-record 327.4 yards per contest. In 2005, despite returning the fewest starters in the country, Johnson led the Midshipmen to an 8-4 record, a third-consecutive bowl game and a school-record second-straight bowl win. He is 0-2 against Notre Dame.
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Be the 44th consecutive victory over Navy (already an NCAA record for one team against another).
- Be the 22nd straight victory over the Midshipmen inside Notre Dame Stadium.
- Improve Notre Dame to 72-9-1 (.884) in the all-time series with Navy.
- Improve the Irish to 27-3-0 (.900) in the all-time series with the Midshipmen in South Bend.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 21-13 overall, 3-0 against Navy and 5-0 against Service Academies.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame home record to 11-7 (.611).
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 8-1 (.889) in November games.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 6-7 (.462) following a defeat.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 17-4 (.810) all-time against Navy.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 10-2 (.833) all-time against the Midshipmen in South Bend.
- Improve Notre Dame to 65-5 (.929) all-time against an unranked Midshipmen squad.
- Improve Weis’ record to 15-10 (.600) in afternoon games.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 823-276-42 (.740).
- Improve the Irish all-time home record to 298-94-5 (.759).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Service Academies to 130-22-5 (.844).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time home record against the Service Academies to 45-7 (.865).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 61-14-2 (.805) when it plays after a bye week (since 1900).
- Improve Notre Dame’s record to 28-5 (.848) when it plays after a bye week (since 1984).
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Snap Notre Dame’s 43-game winning streak over (already an NCAA record for one team against another).
- Snap the 21-game winning streak over the Midshipmen inside Notre Dame Stadium.
- Drop Notre Dame to 71-10-1 (.872) in the all-time series with Navy.
- Drop the Irish to 26-4 (.867) in the all-time series with the Midshipmen in South Bend.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 20-14 overall, 2-1 against Navy and 4-1 against Service Academies.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame home record to 10-8 (.556).
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 7-2 (.778) in November games.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 5-8 (.385) following a defeat.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 16-5 (.762) all-time against Navy.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 9-3 (.750) all-time against the Midshipmen in South Bend.
- Drop Notre Dame to 64-6 (.914) all-time against an unranked Midshipmen squad.
- Drop Weis’ record to 14-11 (.560) in afternoon games.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 822-277-42 (.739).
- Drop the Irish all-time home record to 297-95-5 (.754).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Service Academies to 129-23-5 (.838).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time home record against the Service Academies to 44-8 (.846).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 60-15-2 (.792) when it plays after a bye week (since 1900).
- Improve Notre Dame’s record to 27-6 (.818) when it plays after a bye week (since 1984).
NOTRE DAME-NAVY SERIES NOTES
- Notre Dame and Navy will play one another for the 81st consecutive year on Saturday, making it the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. The Irish hold a 70-9-1 (.881) edge in the series with the Midshipmen, including a current 43-game winning streak that is the longest against one opponent in NCAA history. Notre Dame and Navy have met every year since 1927, playing 51 times at neutral sites and 29 times at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Notre Dame has had tremendous success against the U.S. service academies over the years, posting a 129-22-5 (.842) combined record against Army, Navy and Air Force. The Irish are 36-1 (.972) against the service academies since 1986, with the only loss being a 20-17 overtime setback against Air Force in 1996 at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Notre Dame, Navy, Army and Western Kentucky are the only four independents playing Division I-A football this season.
- Navy and Notre Dame is the longest series in Irish football history (80 meetings). Notre Dame has faced Purdue and USC 79 times.
- Notre Dame has won 43 consecutive games in the series. Navy’s last win came on Nov. 2, 1963, when Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach helped Navy claim a 35-14 victory at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame’s 43 straight wins rank as the longest winning streak by one team over another in NCAA history (the next highest active streak is 22 straight victories by Tennessee over Kentucky).
- In addition to the 29 series games at Notre Dame, the schools have met in seven other American cities (Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, East Rutherford (N.J.), Orlando, Philadelphia and Raljon, Md.), as well as Dublin, Ireland. Notre Dame is 44-6-1 (.890) against Navy at neutral sites, including an active 22-game winning streak that began with a 20-12 Irish win at Philadelphia’s Municipal (John F. Kennedy) Stadium in 1962.
- The Irish have scored 30 or more points in 17 of the past 21 meetings with Navy. Dating back to the 1986 contest, Notre Dame has averaged 38.8 points per game in the series, including five 50-point eruptions and back-to-back 58-point outbursts in 1993 and 1994. And, the Irish have scored more points against the Midshipmen (2,178) than any of the other 134 opponents in school history. Notre Dame topped the 2,000-point mark against Navy in 2001 on an eight-yard touchdown run by Terrance Howard in the third quarter of a 34-16 Irish victory.
NOTRE DAME VS. SERVICE ACADEMIES
- Notre Dame has won almost 85 percent of its games (129-22-5) vs. teams from the three service academies (Army, Navy and Air Force).
- The Irish have won 15 consecutive games against the service academies, and they are 36-1 (.970) against these schools since 1986 (including a 18-1 mark at home). The only defeat in that time was a 20-17 overtime loss to Air Force in 1996 at Notre Dame Stadium.
- More than half (80) of Notre Dame’s 156 games against service academies, and more than half of its victories (70) have come against Navy, part of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country.
- Notre Dame and Army met every season from 1913-47 with the exception of 1918. During an 11-season span from 1937-47, one or both teams were ranked, including six meetings when either side was first or second in the nation, and back-to-back “No. 1 vs. No. 2” matchups in 1945 and 1946. However, the Irish and Black Knights have played just 15 times since 1947, with Notre Dame winning 14 of those encounters.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played 15 previous games in its history on Nov. 3. The Irish are 10-3-2 all-time on this date. The Irish have recorded four shutouts on Nov. 3 (1906, 1928, 1951, 1979). Notre Dame has played Navy on eight different occasions on this date in its history, including the 6-6 tie with the Middies in Cleveland — the only matchup in the all-time series with both teams ranked among the top three. The Irish were ranked #2 and Navy was #3.
Nov. 3, 1984: Steve Beuerlein tossed four interceptions, but the Irish were still able to come away with an 18-17 victory over Navy. The four INTs are tied for the third most in single-game school history. Allen Pinkett rushed for 166 yards on 37 carries.
Nov. 3, 1951: Notre Dame punter Harry Stevenson was called into duty on 11 different occasions in a 19-0 victory over Navy. The 11 punts are tied for the sixth-most in single-game Irish history.
NOTRE DAME-NAVY CONNECTIONS
- Two current Notre Dame Olympic sports head coaches have past experience as head coaches at Navy. Men’s tennis head coach Bob Bayliss, now in his 19th year at Notre Dame, spent the first 15 years of his head coaching career at Navy (1970-84). Ninth-year Notre Dame women’s rowing coach Martin Stone held the same position at Navy for six years prior to joining the Irish staff in Oct. of 1997.
- Notre Dame Deputy Director of Athletics Missy Conboy’s husband, Bill Mountford, played for Bayliss at Navy.
- Notre Dame assistant director of club sports Dave Brown was a professor, head squash coach and assistant tennis coach at the Naval Academy from 1978-98.
- Notre Dame’s roster features two players from the state of Maryland. Navy’s roster has three players from the state of Indiana.
- A number of players from Navy and Notre Dame either attended the same high school or hail from the same hometown. (see PDF of game notes for full chart)
NOTING THE USC GAME
- The game officially was sold out, making it the 196th 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 now have played in front of sellouts in 244 of their past 245 home games.
- The Irish won the coin toss, but deferred to the second half. It marked the first time in head coach Charlie Weis’ three-year tenure that he has chosen to defer the opening kickoff. Notre Dame proceeded to register its first three-and-out of the season on an opponent’s opening drive of the game.
- Notre Dame has started five different freshmen this season, including HB Armando Allen and QB Jimmy Clausen against Penn State (first time since 1972, when freshmen were made eligible, that Notre Dame started rookies at quarterback and tailback in the same game). The Irish added another first in terms of freshman starts. Notre Dame started two freshmen at wide receiver (Golden Tate and Duval Kamara) for the first time since Oct. 30, 1982, against Navy (Meadowlands). The two freshmen that started at wideout that afternoon were Milt Jackson and Mike Haywood (the current Irish offensive coordinator).
- USC went ahead 7-0 after the Trojans took possession deep in Irish territory, after a punt struck Notre Dame DB Munir Prince and USC recovered at the Irish 10-yard line. The scoring drive took only one play and three seconds. USC benefitted from another Notre Dame turnover deep in its own territory to open the second half. The Trojans recovered a senior HB Travis Thomas fumble at the Notre Dame 13-yard line and took only three plays to push their advantage to 24-0. The touchdown drives were the 10th and 11th this season for a Notre Dame opponent that failed to cover at least 45 yards. It was the 19th and 20th scoring drive (field goal or touchdown) for an Irish opponent in 2007 of 45 yards or less. In fact, Notre Dame opponents have totaled 13 scoring drives of under 25 yards (five went for touchdowns).
- The turnovers were the 15th and 16th of the season for the Irish (ninth fumble lost). Notre Dame’s foes have turned those turnovers into 64 points.
- The Irish blocked a punt for the first time this season (when junior FS David Bruton literally took the ball off of USC punter Greg Wiodneck’s foot). The punt block was the first for Notre Dame since junior LB Steve Quinn blocked a punt against the Trojans in last season’s meeting.
- Notre Dame’s ensuing drive after the blocked punt started at the USC 29-yard line, but the Irish were unable to come away with any points (freshman PK Brandon Walker’s 40-yard field goal was blocked).
- The following Notre Dame players extended streaks for consecutive starts: senior ILB Maurice Crum, Jr. (33), senior DE Trevor Laws (33), senior C John Sullivan (20), sophomore OT Sam Young (20), senior CB Terrail Lambert (17) and senior SS Tom Zbikowski (14).
- With junior QB Evan Sharpley earning his first career start for Notre Dame, the Irish already have seen 23 (10 on defense, 13 on offense) different players register their first career starts this season.
- The 17 combined points in the first half between USC and Notre Dame was the lowest combined point total at halftime in the series history since 1998 (when the Trojans and Irish were tied, 0-0). Over the previous eight meetings, the two teams averaged nearly 31 combined points in the opening 30 minutes. Most notably, Notre Dame and USC combined for 42 points (USC 28, ND 14) in the first half of the 2003 game.
- Vidal Hazelton’s 48-yard touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez was the second-longest reception for a Notre Dame opponent this season. Chris Bell of Penn State had a 51-yard reception on Sept. 8. Hazelton’s catch was the longest touchdown reception by an Irish opponent in 2007.
- Notre Dame was shut out at home for the first time since Florida State blanked the Irish, 37-0, on Nov. 1, 2003.
- Junior NT Pat Kuntz registered his eighth pass break-up of the season on USC’s opening drive of the game. He added his ninth pass knockdown later in the second quarter. Kuntz, who already has surpassed last year’s team-leader Chinedum Ndukwe (6), needs just one more pass deflection to crack the single-season Irish top 10. He would become only the second non-defensive back on the list (David Martin, 1966).
HOW DO THEY STACK UP?
Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines:
ND OL 305.0 lbs. vs. NAVY DL 260.7 lbs.
ND DL 284.3 lbs. vs. NAVY OL 278.4 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
ND WR/TE 6′ 1″ vs. NAVY DB 5′ 10 Â¾”
ND DB 6′ 0″ vs. NAVY WR/TE 6′ 1″
IN FRONT OF A FULL HOUSE
- Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 199 of its previous 227 games, including 74 of its last 81 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, the 2005 game at Washington and the 2007 game at UCLA 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. Including last year’s game at Georgia Tech, the Irish have been part of establishing a new stadium attendance record seven times since 2001. The list also includes: at Nebraska and Texas A&M in 2001, at Air Force and Florida State in 2002, 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. At Purdue in `05, the Irish and Boilermakers played before 65,491 football fans, a Ross-Ade Stadium record (since the renovation of the facility in 2003). Penn State drew the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history for the meeting with the Irish earlier this season.
- Notre Dame did not become the first school in NCAA history to ever play three regular season road games before crowds of 100,000. Both Penn State and Michigan exceeded that mark, but UCLA fell short.
- A total of 20 different players have started on offense for Notre Dame this year. Of those 20 players, only six had started in their Irish careers prior to this season. Among the six players, two had started three or fewer games at their position (Jr., FB, Asaph Schwapp – 3, Sr., HB, Travis Thomas – 2).
- Through eight games, there have been 88 total starts on the offense. (see PDF notes package for complete charts and breakdown)
COMING OFF A REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULED BYE WEEK
Notre Dame has won more than 80 percent of its games (60-13-2, .813) when it plays after a bye week (since 1900). The Irish have an even higher percentage (27-4, .871) playing after an off week since 1984.
YOUTH ON SERVE
- A total of 68 different players have seen action this fall for Notre Dame. Of those 68 players, 37 are either freshmen or sophomores. The Irish have played 11 true freshman through their first eight games and five (Jimmy Clausen, Armando Allen, Golden Tate, Kerry Neal and Duval Kamara) have started.
- Notre Dame has already had 23 (10 on defense, 13 on offense) different players register their first career starts this season. They include HB Armando Allen, QB Jimmy Clausen, DB Raeshon McNeil, WR George West, WR Golden Tate, FS David Bruton HB James Aldridge, ILB Toryan Smith, OG Dan Wenger, ILB Anthony Vernaglia, OLB Kerry Neal, DE Dwight Stephenson, Jr., OT Paul Duncan, OG Matt Carufel, OG Mike Turkovich, WR Robby Parris, TE Will Yeatman, OLB John Ryan, DE Derrell Hand, NT Pat Kuntz, RG Eric Olsen, WR Duval Kamara and QB Evan Sharpley. The Irish have also used freshman place kicker Brandon Walker, sophomore kickoff specialist Nate Whitaker and sophomore punter Eric Maust.
- With freshmen Jimmy Clausen and Armando Allen each starting against Penn State, it marked the first time since freshmen were made eligible in 1972 that Notre Dame started rookies at both quarterback and tailback.
- In the game against USC, Notre Dame started two freshmen at wide receiver (Golden Tate and Duval Kamara) for the first time since Oct. 30, 1982, against Navy (Meadowlands). The two freshmen that started at wideout that afternoon were Milt Jackson and Mike Haywood (the current Irish offensive coordinator).
- Notre Dame played nine freshmen in the season-opening loss to Georgia Tech. It was tied for the fourth most freshmen to take the field in a season-opener since 1972.
- The Irish returned just five senior lettermen and eight junior lettermen. Of those 13 upperclassmen, only six had ever started a game for Notre Dame prior to this season.
- Notre Dame returned just 30 letterwinners to the 2007 team. The total is the third lowest (or 117th) in the nation.
- The Irish lost 28 lettermen from the 2006 team that finished 10-3 and earned a spot in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The total is tied for the fifth most in the country.
Eleven true freshmen have played for Notre Dame this season. HB Armando Allen, QB Jimmy Clausen, HB Robert Hughes, WR Duval Kamara, OLB Kerry Neal, TE Mike Ragone, OT Matt Romine, OLB Brian Smith, WR Golden Tate, PK Brandon Walker and NT Ian Williams all have made significant contributions in 2007, giving Irish fans good reason to feel optimistic about the future.
Allen (184) and Hughes (42) are second and third on the team in rushing. Allen is fourth on Notre Dame with 16 receptions for 61 yards. He has also added 22 kick returns for 455 yards (20.7 yards per return). Hughes picked up his first career touchdown against Michigan State.
Kamara is third on the Irish in receiving with 19 receptions for 188 yards — good for 9.9 per catch. He had six grabs for 68 yards, including his first career touchdown earlier this season against Purdue.
Tate caught three passes for 104 yards and one touchdown at Purdue. He not only became the first freshman to catch a touchdown pass since Maurice Stovall (Nov. 23, 2002 against Rutgers), but also became the first Notre Dame freshman to surpass 100 yards receiving in a game since Derrick Mayes (100 yards on two catches) against Pittsburgh on Oct. 10, 1992. He has five receptions for 126 yards — good for an astounding 25.2 yards per grab. Tate also ranks 73rd in the NCAA with a 23.42 yards per kick return.
Clausen has started six games this fall, becoming just the eighth freshman quarterback to start for Notre Dame since 1950. He has completed 81-of-141 (57.4%) for 618 yards and one touchdown.
Williams, Smith and Neal have been major additions to the Irish defense this fall. Neal has started three of the last four games at outside linebacker. He has registered 11 tackles (six solo), including a sack. Neal has added three pass break-ups, two quarterback hurries (stat only tracked in home games) and a 11-yard fumble return setting up an Irish field goal against UCLA. Smith has played in seven games and has registered 10 tackles (five solo), including two for loss and one sack. He has recorded a forced fumble and became the first freshman to return an interception for touchdown since 1976. Smith raced 25 yards to bring Notre Dame within six points, 20-13, against #4 Boston College. Williams leads all Irish first-year players with 19 total tackles (12 solo). He has a half tackle for loss.
Ragone has seen action in seven games, mostly on special teams, while Romine played in two games before suffering an injury that has sidelined him the last five weeks.
Walker has handled the kicking duties the entire season. He is 4-of-7 on the season, including a career-best 48 yard kick at UCLA. Walker is the first left-footed kicker for Notre Dame since Harry Oliver in 1981.
MORE ON THE YOUTH
Notre Dame used a total of 61 players in the season opener against Georgia Tech. An incredible 31 of those players were either freshmen or sophomores, including five that started. Just over 50% of the players on the field were in their first or second year with the Irish. On the other hand, Georgia Tech started just one freshmen or sophomore and played only 19 first or second year players.
The 31 freshmen and sophomores playing in a season opener stands as the most in Irish history. The previous high for first and second year players in a Notre Dame season opener came during the 1983 and 1989 seasons (29).
NEWCOMERS THROWN INTO ACTION
In the season opening loss against Georgia Tech, nine members of the 2007 signing class saw their first action. Armando Allen (Fr., HB), Jimmy Clausen (Fr., QB), Robert Hughes (Fr., HB), Duval Kamara (Fr., WR), Kerry Neal (Fr., LB), Matt Romine (Fr., OT), Golden Tate (Fr., KR), Brandon Walker (Fr., PK) and Ian Williams (Fr., NT) each played in their first season with the Irish. In addition to those nine players from the 2007 signing class making their Notre Dame debuts versus Georgia Tech, the following players saw action in an Irish uniform for the first time: Thomas Bemenderfer (Jr., OC), Dan Wenger (So., OG), Demetrius Jones (So., QB), Leonard Gordan (So., DS/DC), Luke Schmidt (So., FB), Paddy Mullen (So., DT) and Kallen Wade (So., DE). In all, 16 of the 61 players that played against Georgia Tech for Notre Dame were making their first ever appearance in an Irish uniform.
MORE ON THE FRESHMEN
Notre Dame used nine freshmen in its season opening loss to Georgia Tech. It was tied for the fourth most used in an opener since the freshman eligibility rule became enacted in 1972. The Irish used 11 freshmen in the 2006 opener against the Jackets. A total of 14 frosh played in the 36-13 win over Virginia in the 1989 Kickoff Classic and 12 saw action in the 52-6 blowout of Purdue in 1983.
Five offensive players and four players on the defensive side of the ball picked up their first career starts in the loss against Georgia Tech. George West (X), Paul Duncan (LT), Michael Turkovich (LG), Dan Wenger (RG) and Demetrius Jones (QB) each started the game for the first time for the Irish offense, while Pat Kuntz (NT), John Ryan (OLB), Anthony Vernaglia (OLB) and David Bruton (FS) hit the field the first play for the Notre Dame defense.
- Notre Dame will face eight teams that went to bowl games last year: Georgia Tech (Gator), Penn State (Capital One), Michigan (Rose), Purdue (Champs), UCLA (Emerald), Boston College (Meineke Car Care), USC (Rose) and Navy (Meineke Car Care).
- Notre Dame is the only school in the country to face a school from a BCS conference over the first eight weeks of 2007. The next longest streak to open this season is four (Florida Atlantic). The Irish also play a total of 10 BCS affiliated schools (which is tied for second most in the NCAA).
- The Irish take on Duke for the first time since 1966. Notre Dame leads the brief all-time series, 2-1. The Irish blanked the Blue Devils, 64-0, in the last meeting.
- Notre Dame travelled to the Rose Bowl for the first time since Knute Rockne brought his eventual national champion 1924 squad to Pasadena to face Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The `24 team featured the Shock Troops, Seven Mules and the famous Four Horsemen.
- Notre Dame is one of 12 I-A teams (only two other BCS schools) to play six straight weekends to open the season and have four of the six games on the road. The others are Akron, Buffalo, Florida International, Eastern Michigan, Duke, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), San Jose State, Troy, Utah State and West Virginia.
- Notre Dame’s schedule is ranked as the second most difficult in the country by Sagarin. Washington is the only school rated with a tougher schedule.
- Five of Notre Dame’s opponents to this point rank in the top-21 in total defense and scoring defense.
- Five of Notre Dame’s opponents to this point rank in the top-17 in rush defense and all eight opponents rank in the top-40 in rush defense.
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
Notre Dame is one of just five NCAA Division I-A programs that has never faced a non-Division I-A opponent since the current division setup was established in 1978 (the division’s names have undergone a change this year, but the setup is still the same). The four remaining schools that have yet to play a non-Division I-A opponent since the advent of the current format are Michigan State, USC, UCLA and Washington. The list stood at seven entering this season, but Michigan and Ohio State each opened its respective seasons with Appalachian State and Youngstown State on Sept. 1.
IRISH ADD HERALDED SIGNING CLASS
This preseason, Notre Dame has welcomed another outstanding recruiting class under third-year head coach Charlie Weis. The Irish signing class has been ranked as high as fifth (tied) in college football.
IRISH STRONG IN NOVEMBER
Notre Dame enters the Navy game having won seven of its last eight games in the month of November (all under current head coach Charlie Weis). Since the 1988 season, Notre Dame is 46-20-1 (.694) in November and was 22-11-1 (.662) in November in the 1990s.