Oct. 11, 2004
The Date and Time: Saturday, Oct. 16, 2004 at Noon EDT (11:00 a.m. EST in South Bend).
The Site: Giants Stadium (71,000/Natural Grass) in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Tickets: A limited number of tickets still remain available — should the Navy game sell out, it will be the 168th sellout in the last 192 Irish games and the 32nd in the last 33 games involving Notre Dame, dating back to the end of the 2001 season (only last year’s game at Stanford was not a sellout).
The TV Plans: CBS national telecast with Craig Bolerjack (play-by-play), Spencer Tillman (analysis), Dwayne Ballen (sideline), Steve Scheer (producer) and Andy Goldberg (director).
The Radio Plans: For the 37th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are broadcast on more than 300 stations in all 50 states by Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis), Larry Michael (pregame/halftime) and Al Smith (producer). A live broadcast from the Notre Dame student station, WVFI, also is available via the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com. All Notre Dame football games may be heard in South Bend on U93-FM (92.9) with pre- and post-game analysis featuring Sean Stires, Shawn Lewallen, Jack Nolan, Mirko Jurkovic, Reggie Brooks and Vince DeDario. All Irish games also are carried live in the Chicago market on ESPN Radio 1000.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), Navy (www.navysports.com).
NOTRE AND NAVY SET TO MEET FOR 78TH TIME SATURDAY AT THE MEADOWLANDS
Notre Dame (4-2) will renew the nation’s longest intersectional rivalry Saturday, taking on undefeated Navy team at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., with kickoff slated for noon (EDT). The contest will be televised nationally by CBS, marking the 143rd consecutive Irish football game to be broadcast across the country by one of the four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN).
Notre Dame enters the Navy contest off a 23-15 victory over Stanford last Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium, a game in which the Irish overcame a 15-10 fourth quarter deficit to take the victory from the Cardinal. The Irish used a resurgent rushing game to forge the victory as senior tailback Ryan Grant celebrated his return from injury with two rushing touchdowns and 67 yards on 19 carries, while the Notre Dame offense produced 149 rushing yards and controlled the ball for more than 36 minutes.
The Notre Dame defense held the Stanford offense to 67 yards on the ground, the fifth time in six games this season that the Irish have held an opponent under 100 yards rushing and the 18th time in the last 31 games that the Irish have done so. The Cardinal also converted just three of 14 third-down attempts and were limited to a single touchdown in four trips to the red zone.
The Midshipmen (5-0) enter the contest unbeaten for the first time since 1978 and just the third time in 40 seasons. Navy is looking to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season with a victory, a triumph that also would snap the longest winning streak by one opponent over another in NCAA history (Notre Dame’s current 40-game win streak over the Midshipmen dates back to 1963). Navy’s success has been defined by an efficient offense and a disciplined approach that has made them one of college football’s least-penalized teams this season (sixth at only 4.4 infractions per game).
According to NCAA statistics report of Oct. 10, Navy ranks sixth nationally in rushing offense averaging 267.4 yards per game on the ground. The Midshipmen also rank among the country’s most efficient passing offenses (sixth, 165.70 rating). Quarterback Aaron Polanco leads the offense with an average of 92.8 yards per game on the ground (35th nationally) while fullback Kyle Eckel averages 77.4 rushing yards per game. Polanco ranks among the top 50 in total offense at 205.4 ypg. Defensively, sophomore rover Hunter Reddick ranks fifth nationally in interceptions with an average of 0.6 per game (three in five games).
NOTRE DAME-NAVY SERIES NOTES
â€¢ Notre Dame and Navy will play one another for the 78th consecutive year on Saturday, making it the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. The Irish hold a 67-9-1 (.877) edge in the series with the Midshipmen, including a current 40-game winning streak that is the longest against one opponent in NCAA history.
â€¢ Saturday’s game will mark the 50th time Notre Dame and Navy have played at a neutral site, with the Irish owning a 42-6-1 (.867) record in such games.
â€¢ The Irish and Midshipmen will be playing at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., for the sixth time in the series with Notre Dame owning a 5-0 advantage over Navy at the home of the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets.
â€¢ Notre Dame has had tremendous success against the U.S. service academies over the years, posting a 124-22-5 (.838) combined record against Army, Navy and Air Force. The Irish also are 31-1 (.969) 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.
â€¢ Notre Dame and Navy are the only two independents playing Division I-A football this season.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
â€¢ Notre Dame will extend its NCAA-record winning streak over Navy to 41 consecutive games, dating back to the 1963 season.
â€¢ The Irish will improve to 68-9-1(.878) all-time against the Midshipmen, including a 43-6-1 (.870) mark at neutral sites.
â€¢ Notre Dame will move its career record against the service academies to 125-22-5 (.839), including a 65-11-4 (.838) record at neutral sites and a 32-1 (.970) mark since 1986. It also will be the 11th consecutive win for the Irish over a service academy, dating back to a 20-17 overtime loss to Air Force in 1996.
â€¢ Notre Dame will remain perfect in 11 all-time games at Giants Stadium, including all six matchups with Navy at the NFL venue. In fact, the Irish will see their record in current NFL stadiums rise to 23-6-2 (.800), registering their first victory at an NFL site since a 22-0 win over Maryland in Kickoff Classic XX on Aug. 31, 2002 at Giants Stadium (Tyrone Willingham’s debut at Notre Dame).
IF NAVY WINS …
â€¢ The Midshipmen will end Notre Dame’s 40-game series winning streak, ending an NCAA record for the most consecutive victories against one opponent in college football history. It will be Navy’s first victory over the Irish since 1963, when Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach led the Midshipmen to a 35-14 win at Notre Dame Stadium.
â€¢ Navy will defeat the Irish for the first time outside of Notre Dame Stadium since Oct. 29, 1960, when they claimed a 14-7 win at Philadelphia’s John F. Kennedy Stadium.
â€¢ Navy will be the first service academy to defeat Notre Dame since Air Force claimed a 20-17 overtime victory in 1996, snapping a 10-game Irish winning streak against the academies.
â€¢ Navy will be the first team to defeat Notre Dame at Giants Stadium in 11 all-time visits by the Irish.
NOTRE DAME-NAVY SERIES HISTORY
â€¢ Navy and Notre Dame are meeting for the 78th time this season, the longest series in Notre Dame football history. This year’s Notre Dame-Purdue and Notre Dame-USC games are the 76th in those series (tied for second-longest in school history).
â€¢ Notre Dame leads the Navy series, 67-9-1 (.877), in the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. The Irish and Midshipmen have met every year since 1927, playing 49 times at neutral sites and 28 times at Notre Dame Stadium.
â€¢ Notre Dame has won 40 consecutive games in the series. Navy’s last win came in ’63, when Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach helped Navy claim a 35-14 victory at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame’s 40 straight wins rank as the longest winning streak by one team over another in NCAA history (note: Nebraska’s current streak of 36 wins in a row over Kansas which began in 1969 is second on this list, following the Huskers’ 14-8 win over the Jayhawks back on Oct. 2).
â€¢ In addition to the 28 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 42-6-1 (.867) against Navy at neutral sites, including an active 21-game winning streak that began with a 20-12 Irish win at Philadelphia’s Municipal (John F. Kennedy) Stadium in 1962.
â€¢ The Irish have scored 30 or more points in 15 of the past 19 meetings with Navy. Dating back to the 1985 contest, Notre Dame has averaged 39.0 points per game in the series, including five 50-point eruptions and back-to-back 58-point outbursts in 1993 and ’94. And, the Irish have scored more points against the Midshipmen (2,071) 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-NAVY CONNECTIONS
â€¢ Notre Dame defensive line coach Greg Mattison spent two seasons (1987-88) as the defensive line coach at the Naval Academy.
â€¢ Irish running backs coach Buzz Preston worked with three Navy coaches during his tenure at Hawaii — head coach Paul Johnson, slotbacks coach Jeff Monken and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Ken Niumatalolo. Preston was the wide receivers/defensive backs/special teams coach at UH from 1987-93, while Johnson was the Hawaii offensive coordinator from 1987-94. Monken was a graduate assistant coach for the Rainbow Warriors from 1989-90, and Niumatalolo was a three-year letterwinner as a quarterback for Hawaii from 1987-89, moving on to assume a graduate assistant post from 1990-92, and later an assistant coaching position from 1992-94. In addition, Navy quarterbacks/fullbacks coach Ivin Jasper was a three-year letterwinner at quarterback and slotback for the Rainbow Warriors from 1991-93.
â€¢ Seven players on Notre Dame’s 2004 roster will be returning to their home state of New Jersey: freshman LB Abdel Banda (Orange, N.J./The Delbarton School), senior SS Lionel Bolen (Westhampton, N.J./Rancocas Valley), senior DE Kyle Budinscak (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater Raritan), junior TE Anthony Fasano (Verona, N.J./Verona), freshman DB Leo Ferrine (Springfield, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep), senior ILB Brandon Hoyte (Parlin, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial) and freshman DB Junior Jabbie (Parlin, N.J./The Hun School).
â€¢ Two other Irish players are from the New York City/Long Island area: junior K Craig Cardillo (Hauppauge, N.Y./Hauppauge), senior RB Ryan Grant (Nyack, N.Y./Don Bosco Prep) and senior RB Marcus Wilson (Staten Island, N.Y./Poly Prep).
â€¢ Seventh-year Navy director of strength and conditioning and operations Kirk Woolfolk was Notre Dame’s strength and conditioning coordinator for three years (1995-98).
â€¢ Two current Notre Dame Olympic sports head coaches have past experience as head coaches at Navy. Irish men’s tennis head coach Bob Bayliss — now in his 18th year at Notre Dame — spent the first 15 years of his head coaching career at Navy (1970-84). Seventh-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 October 1997.
â€¢ Irish senior associate athletics director Missy Conboy’s husband, Bill Mountford, played for Bayliss at Navy.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ Irish associate director of ticketing Maja Hansen spent five years (1998-2003) as assistant director of ticket operations at Navy.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND NAVY MET
Placekicker D.J. Fitzpatrick booted a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give Notre Dame a 27-24 victory over Navy before another capacity crowd of 80,795 fans at Notre Dame Stadium. The kick extended an NCAA-record 40-game winning streak for the Irish over the Mids, beginning in 1964.
Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only hero for Notre Dame, as running back Julius Jones had another dominating performance on the ground. The Big Stone Gap, Va., native rushed a career-high 33 times for 221 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the fourth player in school history to post multiple 200-yard games in a single season.
Quarterback Brady Quinn also showed remarkable poise in the closing moments, leading the Irish on an 11-play, 62-yard drive in the final two minutes to set up Fitzpatrick’s winning kick. Quinn wound up connecting on 14 of 27 passes for 137 yards with one touchdown.
It was evident from the outset that this game would be decided on the offensive side of the ball. Both teams drove into opposing territory on their first possessions, but came away empty. Notre Dame was the first to crack the scoreboard, as Jones bounced off a pair of would-be tacklers and scurried 48 yards off the left side for the score with 5:06 left in the first quarter.
That lead lasted all of 12 seconds, as Navy’s Tony Lane knotted the game with a 65-yard TD run on the Mids’ first play after the Jones score. From there, the game was a battle for field position, with Navy holding an edge for much of the first half, pinning the Irish inside their 20-yard line twice.
The Midshipmen took a 10-7 lead when Eric Rolfs kicked a 35-yard field goal early in the second quarter and it appeared that margin would hold up going into halftime, but Quinn had other ideas. He piloted the Irish offense 58 yards in 10 plays before lofting a two-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rhema McKnight with 14 seconds left in the half.
Navy countered and regained the lead early in the third quarter. Thanks to a short punt by Fitzpatrick, the Mids were set up at the Irish 40-yard line and they needed just six plays to find the end zone. Fullback Kyle Eckel scored from five yards out to give his team a three-point lead with 5:50 left in the third quarter. Again, that edge didn’t last, as the Irish went right back downfield, taking just over three minutes to move in front. Jones did the honors with his second TD of the day from 12 yards away.
For a third time, Navy tried to deliver the knockout punch, using another short field to set up a one-yard plunge by Eckel with 9:53 to play. However, the Irish wouldn’t falter, as Fitzpatrick kicked a 30-yard field goal four minutes later to tie the game and set the stage for his last-second heroics.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND NAVY MET AT GIANTS STADIUM
Behind a balanced offense that rolled up 476 yards, 10th-ranked Notre Dame defeated Navy, 38-7, on Oct. 31, 1992 in East Rutherford, N.J., at Giants Stadium. The Irish worked equally well with the run and the pass in the victory, rushing for 223 yards and throwing for 253 yards on the day.
Quarterback Rick Mirer led Notre Dame with 221 yards passing, completing passes to 10 different receivers in the contest. Meanwhile, tailback Reggie Brooks ran for 95 yards and a touchdown and also caught a TD pass for the Irish, who were without the services of fullback Jerome Bettis and two offensive linemen due to injury or illness.
Notre Dame kept Navy on its heels throughout the game, scoring on five of its first six possessions and taking a 31-0 halftime lead. Jeff Burris got the ball rolliing with a five-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, setting the stage for a 24-point Irish eruption in the second period. Brooks scored twice in the quarter on a 24-yard reception and a four-yard run, and Mirer capped the surge by flipping a three-yard TD pass to tight end Irv Smith with 19 seconds to go before halftime.
The Midshipmen did not cross midfield until 12:55 remained in the game, but did break the shutout on Tom Pritchard’s 22-yard catch from Jason Van Matre with just under five minutes to go. However, that score was neutralized with a nine-yard run by Irish tailback Lee Becton with 1:44 left to account for the final margin.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE SERVICE ACADEMIES
â€¢ Notre Dame has won almost 84 percent of its games (124-22-5) vs. teams from the three service academies (Army, Navy and Air Force).
â€¢ The Irish have won 10 consecutive games against the service academies, and they are 31-1 (.969) against these schools since 1986 (including a 16-1 mark at home). The only defeat in that time was a 20-17 overtime loss to Air Force in 1996 at Notre Dame Stadium.
â€¢ More than half (77) of Notre Dame’s 151 games against service academies, and more than half of its victories (67) have come against Navy, part of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country.
â€¢ 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 14 times since 1947, with Notre Dame winning 13 of those encounters. Their last meeting came in 1998, with the Irish pulling out a 20-17 win at home. Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Army, 36-8-4 (.792).
KEEP AN EYE ON THE UNUSUAL AGAINST NAVY
If history is any indication, expect the unexpected when Notre Dame takes on Navy this weekend. In five of the past eight meetings between the Irish and Midshipmen, one of the two teams has scored at least one touchdown on defense or special teams. This recent trend began with the 1996 game in Dublin, Ireland, when Notre Dame defensive end Renaldo Wynn scored on a 24-yard fumble return. In 1999, Navy scored twice in an unorthodox manner, as Chris Oliver recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a TD and David Alexander scored on a 20-yard interception return. In 2000, Irish free safety Tony Driver tied an NCAA record with two fumble returns for touchdowns, both coming less than seven minutes apart in the first quarter at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. In 2001, Notre Dame strong safety Gerome Sapp got his team going with a 39-yard fumble return for a touchdown early in the first quarter. Then, in 2002, Irish cornerback/return specialist Vontez Duff ran back a third-quarter kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to help the Irish defeat the Midshipmen in Baltimore.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Notre Dame will be playing at Giants Stadium for first time since 2002, when the Irish downed Maryland, 22-0, in Kickoff Classic XX. Saturday’s game with Navy also will be Notre Dame’s 11th visit to the East Rutherford, N.J., facility that is home to the NFL’s New York Giants and Jets, as well as Major League Soccer’s MetroStars. The Irish have never lost at the Meadowlands, thanks to five wins over Navy (1980, 1982, 1984, 1990 and 1992), three over Army (1977, 1983 and 1995) and one each over Virginia (1989) and Maryland (2002).
Overall, Notre Dame is 22-6-2 (.767) when playing in a current NFL stadium (Giants Stadium 9-0, Soldier Field 8-0-2, Gator Bowl/Alltel Stadium 1-2, Sun Devil Stadium 1-2, Superdome 1-1, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium/FedEx Field 1-0, Ravens/M&T Bank Stadium 1-0, Hoosier/RCA Dome 0-1).
NEW JERSEY AND U(ND): PERFECT TOGETHER
Notre Dame enters the Navy game with a 13-0 all-time record in New Jersey, including a 10-0 mark at Giants Stadium. Of the other three Irish wins in the Garden State, two came at Princeton’s Palmer Stadium in 1923 (25-2) and 1924 (12-0), and the third was a 45-17 triumph at Rutgers Stadium in 2000.
THE QUINN-TESSENTIAL QUARTERBACK
Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn continues to develop into Notre Dame’s leader on offense and is on pace to a record-setting season in his second yard with the Irish. Against Stanford, he compiled a solid performance by completing 11 of 24 attempts for 173 yards without an interception or a touchdown. He also rushed for a score on a two-yard sneak in the fourth period, his second rushing score of the season. One week earlier, he turned in a career performance in a loss to Purdue when he completed 26 of 46 passes for 432 yards and one touchdown, rolling up the highest individual passing yardage total in Notre Dame Stadium history, the second-highest in school history (behind Joe Theismann’s 526 yards at USC in 1970) and the sixth-best total by any quarterback in the country this year. In addition, Quinn’s .565 completion percentage was the second-best of his career (minimum 15 attempts), topped only by his .590 mark (23 of 39) last year at Boston College.
Quinn was particularly sharp in outings against Washington and Purdue, completing 43 of 78 passes (.551) for 698 yards and five touchdowns with only one interception — good for a 148.89 pass efficiency rating. In fact, his three-game stretch against Michigan State, Washington and Purdue is the second-best in Notre Dame history for most passing yards in three consecutive games, as noted below:
Player Season Three-Game Passing Yardage Joe Theismann 1970 947 (272 - Georgia Tech; 149 - LSU; 526 - USC) Brady Quinn 2004 912 (215 - Michigan St.; 265 - Washington; 432 - Purdue) Steve Beuerlein 1986 828 (248 - Navy; 269 - SMU; 311 - Penn State) Jarious Jackson 1999 814 (302 - Michigan; 267 - Purdue; 245 - Michigan State) John Huarte 1964 783 (209 - UCLA, 300 - Stanford; 274 - Navy) Terry Hanratty 1968 738 (202 - Oklahoma; 294 - Purdue; 242 - Iowa) Ron Powlus 1995 716 (200 - Vanderbilt; 273 - Texas; 243 - Ohio State) Joe Montana 1977 705 (260 - Navy; 273 - Georgia Tech; 172 - Clemson)
For the season, Quinn ranks 23rd in the nation in total offense (250.8 yards per game) and 46th in passing efficiency (129.09), while his 1,529 passing yards through six games put him on pace to eclipse Jarious Jackson’s school record of 2,753 yards in 1999. In fact, there have been only six 2,000-yard passing seasons in school history, listed as follows:
Player Season Passing Yardage Jarious Jackson 1999 2,753 Joe Theismann 1970 2,429 Steve Beuerlein 1986 2,211 Rick Mirer 1991 2,117 Ron Powlus 1997 2,078 Joe Montana 1978 2,010 Brady Quinn 2004 2,803 (projected)
SHELTON GETS IT DONE
Senior wide receiver Matt Shelton produced another solid outing against Purdue with three catches for 61 yards. For the season, Shelton ranks fourth on the team with 11 catches for 304 yards (27.6 yards per catch) and four touchdowns. Shelton enjoyed a career day (of sorts) against Washington when he nabbed a career-best four catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns, including scoring catches of 27 and 24 yards. One week earlier at Michigan State, Shelton snared three passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, including gains of 53, 35 and 35 yards. A big-play specialist at Notre Dame, Shelton has averaged 39.4 yards on his five career touchdown grabs (27 and 24 vs. Washington, 35 at MSU, 46 vs. Michigan, 65 at Stanford in ’03).
WINNING THE FIELD POSITION BATTLE
One of the key (and sometimes overlooked) aspects of Notre Dame’s success this season has been its ability to maintain excellent field position. After starting 11 of 15 drives against BYU at or inside their own 20-yard line, the Irish have started 50 of their last 71 drives in “plus territory” — outside their own 20-yard line — with 17 drives that began in their opponent’s half of the field.
The Irish have caused 16 turnovers (10 FUM, 6 INT) this season and have made the most of their opportunities. Notre Dame has parlayed those takeaways into 52 points, which accounts for 34 percent of the Irish scoring (153 points) thus far in 2004.
THE FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT
Notre Dame came up with a Willingham-era record six turnovers (3 FUM, 3 INT) on Sept. 18 at Michigan State and followed up with five more turnovers one week later against Washington, marking the fourth consecutive week the Irish had at least two takeaways. That should come as no surprise to many — since the 2001season, Notre Dame has forced two or more turnovers in 30 of its 42 games, including 24 contests where they came up with at least three takeaways. Heading into this weekend’s game with Navy, the Irish are 25th in the country in turnover margin (+0.83 per game, +5 overall).
STOPPING THE RUN IS JOB ONE FOR IRISH
The Notre Dame run defense has been exceptionally sturdy since head coach Tyrone Willingham and defensive coordinator Kent Baer arrived on the scene in 2002. Over the last three seasons, the Irish have held 18 of 31 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing, including four games this year (BYU – 22; Michigan – 56; Purdue – 99; Stanford – 67). In fact, Notre Dame opponents are averaging 2.8 yards per carry through the first six games this season.
In 2002, Notre Dame was ranked 10th in the nation in rushing defense, followed by a No. 29 national ranking last year. Through their first six games this season, the Irish are 12th in the country in rushing defense, allowing an average of 86.8 yards on the ground.
WALKER POSTS UNPRECEDENTED FRESHMAN PRODUCTION
After sitting out Notre Dame’s opener at BYU, freshman running back Darius Walker has provided a consistent threat in the Irish running game by averaging 87.2 yards rushing per game the last five contests (436 yards on 119 carries). Walker made a big splash in his home debut vs. Michigan, rushing 31 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-20 Irish win. He followed up with another solid effort at Michigan State, rushing for 98 yards on 26 carries, before running for 81 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries versus Washington. His Michigan performance was good enough for The Sporting News and Sporting News Radio to name the Lawrenceville, Ga., native as its National Player of the Week, and for Rivals.com to tab him as the National Freshman of the Week for Sept. 11.
Walker’s numbers in his debut game vs. Michigan also put him among some select company in Notre Dame history:
â€¢ First Irish freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game since Julius Jones had 146 yards against Navy on Oct. 30, 1999.
â€¢ First Notre Dame freshman to score two touchdowns in a game since Matt LoVecchio ran for two scores at USC on Nov. 25, 2000.
â€¢ First Irish rookie to score in a home opener since Sept. 29, 1979, when Tony Hunter caught a 14-yard touchdown pass in a 27-3 win over Michigan State. Walker also is the first freshman to score two touchdowns in a home opener since at least 1970.
â€¢ First Notre Dame freshman running back to score twice in a game since Nov. 18, 1995, when Autry Denson rushed for two touchdowns in a 44-14 win at Air Force. (Note: Julius Jones did score twice vs. Boston College on Nov. 20, 1999, but one of his touchdowns came as a punt returner).
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn has spread his pass completions around through Notre Dame’s first six games of the 2004 season. Quinn has completed passes to 15 different receivers in those six contests, a breakdown of seven wide receivers, five running backs, two tight ends and two passes to himself (caught off of deflections vs. Washington and Purdue). Junior wide receiver Rhema McKnight has been Quinn’s favorite target thus far, grabbing 21 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns. Junior tight end Anthony Fasano is next with 15 catches for 256 yards and two scores. Senior wide receiver Matt Shelton has 11 catches for 304 yards and four touchdowns while sophomore wide receiver Jeff Samardzija (10 for 172) and junior wide receiver Maurice Stovall (10 for 122) both have 10 catches to their credit this season. Quinn has tossed touchdown passes to four different players this season: McKnight, Shelton (four times), Fasano (twice) and senior fullback Rashon Powers-Neal.
BE LIKE MIKE
Senior linebacker Mike Goolsby has made a resounding return to the Notre Dame lineup this season after missing the entire 2003 slate with an injury. Through six games this season, Goolsby has been credited with 51 tackles (8.5 per game) while leading the team in four of six games thus far. In fact, the Joliet, Ill., native rolled up career-best tackle totals his first two games of the year, tallying 11 stops at BYU and 14 tackles against Michigan.
HOYTE MAKING BIG PLAYS
Senior linebacker Brandon Hoyte has been a catalyst for Notre Dame’s physical play on defense thus far this season, making several big hits and tackles for losses. Hoyte enters the Navy game with 29 tackles to rank tied for fifth on the team, but his knack for making big hits has been a hallmark of his play thus far in 2004. Hoyte has forced three fumbles this season, collected one sack and has four tackles for loss (17 yards).
PAPER OR PLASTIC?
With 22 career sacks, senior defensive end and All-America candidate Justin Tuck is on the verge of becoming Notre Dame’s all-time leader in that category. The Kellyton, Ala., native set a school record with 13.5 sacks last year and has added 3.5 sacks so far this season. With one sack vs. Michigan, he passed Mike Gann (1982-84) for second place on the Irish career list behind Kory Minor’s 22.5 sacks from 1995-98. Here’s a look at the Irish career sack leaders since 1982 (when Notre Dame began recognizing sacks as a separate statistic — prior to that, they were labeled “tackles for loss”):
Player Seasons Sacks
Kory Minor 1995-98 22.5
Justin Tuck 2002-04 22
Mike Gann 1982-84 21
Bryant Young 1990-93 18
Anthony Weaver 1998-01 17
Bert Berry 1993-96 16.5
FITZPATRICK SHARP IN THE PUNTING GAME
Senior punter D.J. Fitzpatrick has shown considerable improvement this season. Fitzpatrick currently ranks 28th in the nation with a 42.7-yard punting average, a jump of almost six yards per kick from last year’s average (36.84), and he also has 10 punts of at least 50 yards, including a career-long 59-yarder vs. Purdue. In addition, the Granger, Ind., product has dropped 15 punts inside the opposition’s 20-yard line and is helping Notre Dame to hold its opponents to only 6.5 yards per punt return. Earlier this season, he had career-best outings in consecutive games, averaging 46.0 yards on seven attempts against Washington (including four punts of at least 50 yards and four punts downed inside the UW 20) and an impressive 49.3 yards on three punts against Purdue.
RETURN TO SENDER
The return game has been a source of strength for Notre Dame in recent years. The Irish have logged 28 returns (punts, kickoffs, fumbles, interceptions) for touchdowns during the past six seasons (1999-2004), a figure that is tied for seventh in the country during that stretch. Here’s a look at the national leaders in touchdown returns since ’99 (research courtesy of the University of Colorado):
Team 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Bowls Total Miami (Fla.) 3 13 11 5 9 4 1 46 Virginia Tech 8 6 7 7 10 3 0 41 Kansas State 9 5 2 12 5 2 0 35 Colorado 5 4 7 7 1 3 4 31 Nebraska 6 7 5 6 4 0 3 30 N.C. State 3 2 4 9 10 1 1 30 NOTRE DAME 4 6 4 9 3 2 0 28 East Carolina 7 5 4 5 3 0 4 28 Fresno State 5 5 3 5 4 4 2 28 Texas Tech 3 7 8 5 3 1 1 28
THEY SHALL RETURN
â€¢ During the past 18-plus seasons (’86-’04), Notre Dame has produced 82 TDs via kickoff, punt, interception and fumble returns — with the most recent TD runback coming earlier this season on sophomore safety Tom Zbikowski’s 75-yard fumble return at Michigan State.
â€¢ In contrast, opponents in the past 18 seasons have combined for 25 total TD returns vs. the Irish.
â€¢ Here’s a year-by-year breakdown of the Irish return touchdowns since 1986:
Year PU KO INT FUM Year PU KO INT FUM1986 0 2 0 0 1997 0 2 1 01987 3 0 1 0 1998 0 0 2 31988 2 2 3 0 1999 1 0 2 11989 2 2 3 0 2000 2 1 1 21990 0 2 0 0 2001 0 1 2 11991 1 1 2 0 2002 2 1 4 21992 0 1 0 0 2003 1 0 0 21993 2 1 2 1 2004 0 0 1 11994 0 0 1 1 ND (82) 21 17 27 171995 1 0 2 1 Opp. (25) 7 4 9 51996 4 1 0 2
Including four close games this season, Notre Dame is 12-4 (.750) in “one-possession games” (decided by eight points or less) since Tyrone Willingham took over as the Irish head coach in 2002. The only times the Irish have not won a close ball game under Willingham’s guidance were against Boston College in 2002 (14-7) and 2003 (27-25), Michigan State in 2003 (22-16) and BYU in 2004 (20-17). The one-possession games in 2004 have been as follows: BYU (17-20 loss), Michigan (28-20 win), Michigan State (31-24 win) and Stanford (23-15 win).
IRISH HEAD COACH Tyrone Willingham
A veteran with 27 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and professional levels, Tyrone Willingham is in the midst of his third season as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame in 2004. Willingham has a record of 19-12 (.613) in two-plus seasons with the Irish, leading Notre Dame to a 10-3 record and a trip to the Gator Bowl in 2002 before a 5-7 campaign in 2003 and a 4-2 start in 2004.
In 2002, Willingham became the first Irish head coach ever to win 10 games in his first season, was named the ESPN/Home Depot College Coach of the Year, the Scripps College Coach of the Year, the Black Coaches Association Male Coach of the Year and received the George Munger Award College Coach of the Year by the Maxwell Football Club of Philadelphia. In addition, he made history in 2002 as the first college football coach ever to earn The Sporting News Sportsman of the Year award. In nine-plus years as a college head coach, Willingham has compiled a solid 62-47-1 (.574) record and has guided his teams to bowl games on five occasions.
Willingham was introduced as the new Irish mentor on Jan. 1, 2002, following seven seasons as the head coach at Stanford. He compiled a 44-36-1 (.549) record during his tenure at Stanford, guiding the Cardinal to four bowl games, including the Rose Bowl following the 1999 season. Willingham was a two-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year (1995 and 1999), the only Stanford coach to earn that award more than once, and he was a finalist for national coach-of-the-year honors in ’95 and ’99. All told, Willingham spent 10 years at Stanford, initially serving as running backs coach from 1989-91.
Between his stints with the Cardinal, Willingham coached in the professional ranks for three seasons (1992-94) with the Minnesota Vikings, helping his team win a pair of NFC Central Division championships and reach the playoffs all three years. Willingham began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Michigan State, in 1977, before moving to Central Michigan as the defensive secondary coach for two years (1978-79). He returned to MSU from 1980-82, working with the secondary and special teams units, and also served on the coaching staffs at North Carolina State (1983-85) and Rice (1986-88).
CURRY NAMED TO AFCA GOOD WORKS TEAM
Senior linebacker Derek Curry has been named to the 2004 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team, the AFCA announced Sept. 15. Curry was one of only 11 football student-athletes chosen for the NCAA Division I-A Team. Another 11 student-athletes were named to the team representing schools from NCAA Divisions I-AA, II, III and NAIA.
Nominations for the Good Works Team are submitted to the AFCA by college sports information departments. Nominees must be actively involved and committed to working with a charitable organization, service group or involved in other community service activities and must display sincere concern and reliability, while also having made a favorable impression on the organizations with which they are involved. Athletic ability is not a criterion.
Curry is currently in his third season as a starting linebacker for the Irish. A three-time monogram winner at Notre Dame, Curry has distinguished himself as one of the team’s undisputed leaders. In addition to his prowess on the football field, Curry has been a three-year volunteer for the Student-Athlete Advisory Council Pediatric Oncology Christmas Party; has volunteered at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of downtown South Bend and the Robinson Community Learning Center; is in his third year of “Iron Sharpens Iron”, an interdenominational Christian group at Notre Dame that brings students together in worship, prayer and bible studies; has volunteered for two years at “There Are Children Here”; and is a huddle leader for the Notre Dame chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Curry is the third Notre Dame football player named to the squad over the past six seasons. Grant Irons received the award as a junior in 1999 and went on to be a rare five-year monogram winner and two-time captain with the Irish while playing at linebacker and defensive end. He served as president of Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council and was involved in numerous community service programs at Notre Dame and in the surrounding South Bend community.
All-America linebacker Courtney Watson received the honor in 2003. Watson was responsible for creating and developing the football team’s community service initiative entitled “Tackle The Arts”, an interactive approach that helps inspire children to explore different areas of the arts including reading, creative writing and poetry, drawing and music. Watson also installed a food drive dimension to the event and combined with current Irish players Brandon Hoyte and Dan Stevenson as hosts of a picnic for at-risk children in the South Bend area. He regularly made surprise visits to the pediatric floor at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, addressed the Jackson Middle School football team at its banquet and participated in the St. Joseph County City Bureau Youth Fest. On a campus level, Watson was nominated and then elected a member of the Notre Dame Student Senate in 2002-03 and served as a member of the Residence Life and Academic Council committees.
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 167 of its previous 191 games, including 31 of its last 32 games dating back to the end of the 2001 season (the ’03 game at Stanford was not a sellout). At Michigan in 2003, the Irish and Wolverines helped bring in the largest crowd in NCAA history (111,726), marking the third time in the history of that series that an NCAA attendance record has been set. It also represented the sixth time in the last three seasons that Notre Dame has been a part of establishing a new stadium attendance record (at Nebraska and Texas A&M in 2001; at Air Force and Florida State, home vs. Boston College in 2002).
The Notre Dame ticket office received 52,179 ticket requests for the Oct. 2 game vs. Purdue, making it the fifth-highest requested Irish home game in history. The Notre Dame Stadium record of 59,368 ticket requests was set in ’01 when the Irish took on West Virginia. Demand for that game was based on parents of current Notre Dame students being guaranteed four tickets for that contest — plus contributing alumni having the opportunity to apply for four tickets instead of the usual two, based on its designation as an alumni family game.
After last week’s game vs. Stanford, the Irish have posted 177 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium and 225 in their last 226 home games.
Here are the top 10 games in terms of alumni ticket demand at Notre Dame Stadium:
1. West Virginia 2001 59,368 2. USC 1997 57,048 3. Boston College 2002 55,482 4. USC 2003 54,244 5. Purdue 2004 52,179 6. Florida State 2003 51,051 7. Michigan 2002 50,883 8. Michigan State 2001 48,404 9. Nebraska 2000 47,865 10. Michigan State 1997 47,681
IRISH HAVE TOUGHEST REMAINING SLATE FOR 2004 SEASON
The five games remaining on Notre Dame’s 2004 football schedule comprise the most difficult slate in the country, according to NCAA figures released this week.
Notre Dame’s five opponents yet to be played have compiled an 18-4 record (.818) against other Division I-A opponents. The Irish hold a lead in that category over Cincinnati (second at 15-5, .750) and Oklahoma State and Texas A&M (tied for third at 22-8, .733).
Here’s the top 10 listing for teams based on remaining games:
Team Opp. Record Pct. This Week 1. Notre Dame 18-4 .818 vs. Navy 2. Cincinnati 15-5 .750 Idle 3. Oklahoma State 22-8 .733 Texas A&M Texas A&M 22-8 .733 at Oklahoma State 5. Baylor 21-8 .724 at Nebraska UCLA 21-8 .724 at California 7. Alabama 18-7 .720 Southern Mississippi 8. Texas 23-9 .718 Missouri 9. Kansas 17-7 .708 Idle10. Virginia Tech 16-7 .695 Florida A&M
IRISH ALSO HAVE NATION’S TOUGHEST CUMULATIVE SCHEDULE
Notre Dame’s 11 opponents for 2004 have combined to form the nation’s toughest schedule overall based on a combined 35-14 mark (.714) by Irish opponents in games played to date, according to NCAA figures released this week.
Here’s the top 10 listing for teams based on their cumulative schedules:
Team Opp. Record Pct. This Week 1. Notre Dame 35-14 .714 vs. Navy 2. North Carolina 29-12 .707 at Utah 3. Baylor 32-14 .695 at Nebraska 4. Texas 35-16 .692 Missouri 5. Texas A&M 32-15 .680 at Oklahoma State 6. Arizona 31-15 .673 at Oregon 7. Northwestern 38-20 .655 Idle 8. Temple 26-15 .634 at Rutgers 9. Oklahoma State 31-18 .632 Texas A&M Illinois 31-18 .632 Michigan
2004 NOTRE DAME OPPONENT UPDATE
The following is a look at Notre Dame opponents’ upcoming games. Since 1977, when the NCAA started rating strength of schedule, Notre Dame’s schedule has been rated the most difficult five times (1978, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995) and has appeared in the top 30 a total of 22 times in the last 27 years. The 2004 Irish ledger currently is the toughest in the nation, based on cumulative opposition.
Opponent (Ranking*) '04 Record '03 Record Oct. 16 Oct. 23BYU 2-4 4-8 Wyoming at Air ForceMichigan (14/13) 5-1 10-3 at Illinois at PurdueMichigan State 3-3 8-5 Minnesota at Michigan
Washington 1-4 6-6 Oregon State at USCPurdue (5/5) 5-0 9-4 Wisconsin MichiganStanford 3-2 4-7 at Washington State Oregon
Navy 5-0 8-5 vs. Notre Dame RiceBoston College 4-1 8-5 at Pittsburgh at Notre DameTennessee (13/14) 4-1 10-3 at Mississippi Alabama
Pittsburgh 3-2 8-5 at Boston College RutgersUSC (1/1) 5-0 12-1 Arizona State Washington
* – current Associated Press poll ranking listed first, followed by ESPN/USA Today poll ranking
Notre Dame Opponents’ Combined Record in 2003: 89-49 (.645); Record in 2004: 35-14 (.714)
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN
With the Navy game slated to be televised nationally by CBS, the Irish will extend their streak of appearances on one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN) to 143 straight games, a stretch that spans 10 full seasons (1993-2003). The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was more than 11 years ago (Oct. 31, 1992), when Notre Dame downed Navy, 38-7, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That game was shown locally in South Bend on WNDU-TV. Here’s a breakdown of the networks on which the Irish have played during this impressive streak:
YEAR GAMES NBC ABC CBS ESPN1992 4 3 1 -- --1993 12 7 4 -- 11994 12 7 5 -- --1995 12 6 4 1 11996 11 6 2 2 11997 13 6 3 2 21998 12 7 3 2 --1999 12 7 3 1 12000 12 6 3 3 --2001 11 6 4 -- 12002 13 7 4 1 12003 12 6 5 -- 12004 7 4 -- 1 2Totals 143 78 41 13 11
WHEN THE EYES OF THE NATION ARE UPON THEM
Notre Dame is 170-86-3 (.662) all-time when it is playing in front of a national television audience. The 2003 game at Michigan was another milestone for the Irish program — it was the 300th time a Notre Dame football game appeared on national or regional television.
During their 115-year history, the Irish have posted a combined 198-113-4 (.632) record in these national or regional TV games, beginning with a 27-21 victory over No. 4 Oklahoma on Nov. 8, 1952 in a game that was shown nationwide on ABC. Here’s a breakdown of Notre Dame’s success over the years when appearing on each of the various networks on both a national and regional basis (the current Irish win/loss streak on the four major networks is listed in parentheses):
NBC (won 1) 66-25-1 (.723)
ABC (lost 3) 44-36-2 (.549)
CBS (won 6) 22-11-0 (.667)
ESPN/ESPN2 (won 1) 20-11-0 (.645)
WGN 10-2-0 (.833)
SportsChannel 4-1-0 (.800)
Raycom 2-0-0 (1.000)
TBS 1-0-0 (1.000)
Katz 1-0-0 (1.000)
Totals 170-86-3 (.662)
ABC (lost 2) 23-24-1 (.490)
CBS (won 1) 4-2-0 (.667)
TBS 1-0-0 (1.000)
Big Ten Syndication 0-1-0 (.000)
Totals 28-27-1 (.509)
NOTRE DAME FEATURED PROMINENTLY ON TELEVISION THIS YEAR
In addition to continuing its streak of consecutive games played on one of the four major television networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN), Notre Dame will be spotlighted on the small screen in several other ways during the 2004 season. Here’s a thumbnail look at each of the individual TV projects which are featuring the Irish this year:
â€¢ ESPN’s “College GameDay” is in its 11th season of live remotes from college football’s top games.
â€¢ College Sports Television (CSTV), the 24-hour cable channel devoted exclusively to college sports, once again highlights Irish athletics during a two-hour block on Sunday nights called “Notre Dame Primetime.” The show, which is co-hosted by former Irish split end Derrick Mayes, focuses on all 26 Notre Dame sports and the continuing growth of Irish athletics.
â€¢ Besides these features, Notre Dame is now in the 14th season of its unique relationship with NBC. All Irish home football games since 1991 have been televised on the network, with the current agreement slated to continue through 2010. Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis) are in their fourth full season broadcasting the action for NBC in ’04.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN GARNERS NBC’S HIGHEST SEASON-OPENING RATING SINCE 1998
NBC’s coverage of Notre Dame’s 28-20 win over No.8 Michigan on Sept. 11 delivered a 4.0 national rating/10 share, making it the highest-rated season opener since a 5.1/14 on Sept. 5, 1998 for a 36-20 Irish win over fifth-ranked Michigan, according to Nielsen Media Research.
The 4.0/10 represents a 29 percent hike over last year’s opener — a 29-26 overtime win over Washington State that produced a 3.1/8. It’s the best rating for any Notre Dame telecast on NBC since a 4.4/11 vs. Boston College on Nov. 2, 2002.
NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS DEBUT ON SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO
In addition to its unparalleled television coverage, Notre Dame also has increased its radio footprint, announcing an agreement on Aug. 31 with SIRIUS Satellite Radio to become the official satellite radio partner for Notre Dame athletics. SIRIUS will broadcast every Irish football game this season, and also will air selected men’s and women’s basketball games, as well as other sporting events. In addition, SIRIUS will aid in the development of marketing initiatives with the University’s athletic department as a member of “Team Notre Dame.”
Notre Dame’s agreement with SIRIUS is one of the cornerstones in the formation of SIRIUS College Sports Radio, a partnership between SIRIUS and College Sports Television (CSTV) that includes 23 major universities around the country. SIRIUS radios for the car and home start at $149 and are available at major retailers nationwide. For more information, visit www.sirius.com.
NOTRE DAME IS AMERICA’S FAVORITE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAM
According to an ESPN Sports Poll of nearly 7,000 college sports fans ages 12 and older taken from Jannuary to December 2003, Notre Dame is the nation’s favorite college football team, garnering 6.1 percent of the popular vote. Furthermore, the Irish were the only team to finish in the top 10 in all four regions of the country where the ESPN Sports Poll was conducted. Ohio State was the only other school to earn at least four percent of the vote, finishing at 5.3 percent.
KEVIN WHITE NAMED PRESIDENT OF DIVISION I-A ATHLETIC DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION
Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White is the new president of the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association for 2004-05. His appointment became effective Sept. 27 at the Association’s annual meeting in Dallas.
White, who is now in his fifth year at Notre Dame, served as first vice president in 2003-04 under Gene DeFilippo, director of athletics at Boston College. In addition to his new leadership role with the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, White also is the third vice president of NACDA, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, for 2004-05.
MAKING THE GRADE
The first two seasons of the Tyrone Willingham era have produced some impressive semesters in the classroom for the Notre Dame football team. In fact, the Irish are coming off a 2004 spring semester in which the team’s 104 players combined for a 2.96 grade-point average that ranks as the program’s best semester GPA on record (dating back to 1992). The Notre Dame football program’s top six semester GPAs since ’92 all have been posted during the past seven semesters (prior to the fall of ’04), including the first three semesters of Willingham’s tenure (2.84 in the fall of ’02, 2.79 in the spring of ’03 and 2.82 in the fall of ’03). The football program’s second-best semester GPA of the past 12 years came in the spring of 2002 (2.90), followed by a 2.80 in the spring of 2001 and a 2.69 in the fall of ’01.
Upon closer examination, the 2004 spring semester saw 11 Irish football players post a Dean’s List GPA (sliding scale, based on major) while 21 turned in a semester GPA of 3.4-plus and more than half (53) had a GPA of 3.0 or better. In addition, two players — current fifth-year DE Kyle Budinscak and senior LB Brandon Hoyte — received Academic All-District V honors in 2003, marking Budinscak’s third selection and Hoyte’s second to the prestigious squad.
NOTRE DAME EXCELS IN THE CLASSROOM AS WELL AS ON THE FIELD
The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) annually honors the school with the highest graduation rate based on a particular entering freshman football class — and Notre Dame has won the award six times, most recently in 2001 with its 100-percent graduation rate (22 of 22 entering freshmen from 1996 earned their degrees within five years). The 2001 award followed Notre Dame’s previous honors in 1982, ’83, ’84, ’88 and ’91. Notre Dame also holds the distinction of producing the first 100-percent rate in a single years after 24 of 24 student-athletes earned their degrees within a five-year period out of the entering class of 1982 (and 16 of those 24 did so within four years). Only eight other times has a school registered a 100-percent graduation rate.
The 1988 award had special meaning, as it was the first time a school won the national championship on the football field — as Notre Dame did, finishing 12-0 after a Fiesta Bowl win over unbeaten West Virginia — and in the classroom. Including the special mention category, the Irish have received some sort of recognition in 23 of 24 years the award has been presented — with Duke next at 21.
TAKING ACADEMIC SUCCESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
The high graduation rate of the Notre Dame football program extends to the elite group of former players who have moved on to play in the National Football League. Notre Dame has seen 88 of its former players appear on NFL opening-day rosters during the past eight seasons (1996-2003) and 93.1 percent of those players (82) have earned their degrees from the University. In fact, Notre Dame’s own institutional research shows that 99 percent of scholarship football players who have entered the University since 1962 have received their degrees (896 of 905, based only on individuals who remained at the school at least four years). Those figures do not include players who transferred or withdrew before completing four or more years at Notre Dame.
The 93.1 percent graduation rate for NFL participants ranks even higher than Notre Dame’s most recent NCAA graduation rates for all student-athletes (87 percent), male student-athletes (85), female student-athletes (92), football student-athletes (81) and African-American student-athletes (78). Those numbers, released last fall, comprised all student-athletes entering Notre Dame from 1993-96.
TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR 2004 FOOTBALL KICKOFF LUNCHEONS
Tickets are now on sale for the 2004 Notre Dame Kickoff Luncheons held the Friday prior to each Irish home football game. The luncheons feature Notre Dame head coach Tyrone Willingham, Irish players and assistant coaches, plus special guests and other attractions.
Tickets are $18 each, with a handling fee of $3 (payment may be made with one check for more than one luncheon). There are 10 seats per table — and if you wish to sit as a group at the same table with other guests, please return all reservations in one envelope. Checks should be made payable to “University of Notre Dame” and mailed to: Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Telephone and credit card reservations are not accepted. A printed reservation form also is available on Notre Dame’s athletics web site at www.und.com.
The luncheons are held in the Joyce Center fieldhouse (north dome) on the Notre Dame campus, with a noon (EST) start. Be aware that advance reservations are required for tickets, and tickets are not routinely available at the door. This year’s remaining luncheon dates are: Oct. 22 (Boston College) and Nov. 12 (Pittsburgh).
All 2004 pep rallies will be held in the Joyce Center Arena (south dome) on Fridays before Saturday home games, beginning at 6 p.m. (EST). The Irish squad enters the arena at 6:30 p.m.
“NOTRE DAME EXPERIENCE” RETURNS FOR 2004 SEASON
For years, the Joyce Center Fieldhouse has been the “pregame meeting place” for several thousand Notre Dame alumni. In an effort to add to this tradition, the Notre Dame Athletics Department is providing an interactive fan experience for each of the 2004 home football games. For the third consecutive season, the “Notre Dame Experience” will combine the Notre Dame Alumni Association Hospitality Center with interactive inflatables, photo booths, autograph sessions, football trivia and stage activities. Gates open three hours prior to kickoff and admission is free for all “Notre Dame Experience” events.
THE 2004 NCAA STATISTICS REPORT
The NCAA statistical rankings for Notre Dame and Navy in 2004 (top 50 only):
Team Rankings Notre Dame NavyRushing Offense 115.0 6th at 267.4Passing Offense 24th at 259.5 112.6Total Offense 374.5 380.0Scoring Offense 25.5 27.4Rushing Defense 12th at 86.8 143.6Pass Defense 263.7 33rd at 179.0Pass Efficiency Defense 117.06 118.59Total Defense 350.5 38th at 322.6Scoring Defense 44th at 20.5 25th at 16.6Net Punting 32nd at 38.5 30.0Punt Returns 10.3 5.2Kickoff Returns 18.8 21.5Turnover Margin 25th at +0.8 48th at +0.2 (+5 overall) (+1 overall)
Individual Rankings Notre Dame NavyRushing Darius Walker Aaron Polanco 48th at 87.2 35th at 92.8Passing Efficiency Brady Quinn 46th at 129.09Total Offense Brady Quinn Aaron Polanco 23rd at 250.8 47th at 205.4Interceptions Hunter Reddick 5th at 0.60Punting D.J. Fitzpatrick 28th at 42.7Punt Returns Carlyle Holiday 44th at 10.1Kickoff Returns Jeremy McGown 47th at 22.0Scoring Aaron Polanco 34th at 8.4
NEXT WEEK: BOSTON COLLEGE
A clash between the nation’s only two Catholic universities playing Division I-A college football is on tap when Boston College visits Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 23, for a 1:30 p.m. (EST) kickoff in a game that will be televised nationally by NBC. The 2004 meeting with the Eagles marks the 13th consecutive season in which the Irish have clashed with Boston College and will be the 16th meeting overall in the series.
Notre Dame holds a 9-6 edge in the series with the Eagles entering this game, although BC has won the last three meetings between the two schools, including a 27-25 win last year in Chestnut Hill and a 14-7 verdict at Notre Dame Stadium in 2002. The current streak is the Eagles’ longest in the series. Notre Dame’s last win in the series was a 28-16 victory at Notre Dame Stadium in 2000.
The winner of the Notre Dame-BC game is presented the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl, given by the Notre Dame Club of Boston, and the Ireland Trophy, present by Notre Dame Student Government. The Leahy Bowl is named for former Notre Dame head coach Frank Leahy, who coached the Irish from 1941-43 & 1946-53 after coaching at Boston College during the 1939 and 1940 seasons. Boston College enters this weekend off to a 4-1 start (1-0 in the BIG EAST), heading into a matchup at Pittsburgh.
MEMORABLE GAMES IN THE NOTRE DAME-NAVY SERIES
The following games are among Notre Dame’s more memorable matchups with Navy since the series began back in 1927:
Nov. 14, 1963
#4 Navy 35, at Notre Dame 14
Eventual Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach throws for 91 yards and two touchdowns as Navy breaks open a 7-7 game at halftime with 21 points in the third quarter. The Midshipmen eventually win 35-14, the last victory for Navy in the series. As Navy head coach Wayne Hardin said of Staubach after the game: “(He) is only the best player that has ever played the game. If he doesn’t win the Heisman Trophy, this game is crooked.”
Staubach might have won the Heisman again as a senior the next season, but injuries derailed his final campaign.
Nov. 4, 1978
#15 Notre Dame 27, #11 Navy 7 (at Cleveland)
The last time Navy was ranked facing the Irish, the Midshipmen came actually ranked higher than Notre Dame at No. 11. The Irish, 15th at the time, dealt Navy a 27-7 victory behind the arm of Joe Montana and the feet of Vagas Ferguson and Jerome Heavens. Ferguson ran for 219 yards in the game, including an 80-yard touchdown run. Heavens added 100 yards and a touchdown of his own, while Montana was 14-26 for 145 yards and a touchdown.
This was the final game in the series played at old Cleveland Stadium, where the teams had met 10 times previously. Notre Dame was 9-1-1 vs. Navy in Cleveland.
Nov. 3, 1984
Notre Dame 18, Navy 17 (at East Rutherford)
In the closest game in the series between 1964 and 1999, Notre Dame defeated Navy, 18-17 on a 44-yard field goal by John Carney with 14 seconds remaining. Navy held a 10-point lead with four minutes remaining and in a strange twist, Midshipmen coach Gary Tranquill elected to keep his 10-point lead although a Notre Dame offside penalty on a field goal would have provided a first down.
Notre Dame took advantage of the choice, rallying behind an Allen Pinkett touchdown run, a Joe Howard two-point conversion catch and Carney’s late heroics. Freshman receiver Tim Brown played a key role with three catches on the late touchdown drive, as well as Pinkett’s 29-yard reception on a screen pass to set up the final field goal.
Nov. 2, 1996
#19 Notre Dame 54, Navy 27 (at Dublin, Ireland)
The Fighting Irish appeared in Ireland for this contest, rolling past Navy, 54-27 at Croke Park in Dublin. Autry Denson led the Irish to victory with 125 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Ron Powlus was an efficient six for 11 for 91 yards and a touchdown. Notre Dame capitalized on excellent field position all day, scoring five touchdowns after taking over possession of the ball in Navy territory.
Oct. 30, 1999
at Notre Dame 28, Navy 24
The 1999 game was the one the Midshipmen may have come closest to ending Notre Dame’s series winning streak. The Irish escaped the contest with a 28-24 victory on Jay Johnson’s 16-yard touchdown catch with just 36 seconds remaining, but the game was ultimately decided on a fourth-and-10 play at the Navy 37.
Jarious Jackson dropped back and found Bobby Brown over the middle at the first down marker. Brown wiggled his way forward to earn a first down by less than an inch – setting up Johnson’s catch on third down just a few plays later.
Brian Madden was the offensive star for Navy, rushing for 168 yards and a touchdown. Jackson had a 57-yard touchdown run in the game to go along with his game-winning toss to Johnson. Notre Dame was assessed 13 penalties in the game for 130 yards.