Oct. 6, 2008
GAME 6: NOTRE DAME (4-1) vs. #22 NORTH CAROLINA (4-1)
Saturday, October 11, 2008
TIME: 3:37 p.m. ET
SITE (CAPACITY): Kenan Stadium (60,000); Chapel Hill, N.C.
TICKETS: The game is sold out. It is the 67th sellout in the last 74 road games for the Irish. The only non-sellouts include the 2001-07 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy (The Meadowlands), the 2005 game at Washington and the 2006 game at Air Force.
TV: ABC regional telecast with Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Bob Griese (analysis), Paul Maguire (analysis), Stacey Dales (sideline), Bob Goodrich (producer) and John Delvecchio (director).
RADIO: ISP Sports is the exclusive national rights-holder for Irish football radio broadcasts. The Notre Dame-ISP relationship begins with the 2008 season and extends through the 2017 season — with ISP managing, producing and syndicating the Irish national football radio network. Notre Dame games will be broadcast by Don Criqui (play-by-play), former Irish great Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Jeff Jeffers providing pre-game, sideline and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159). All Notre Dame home games may be heard in South Bend on Sunny 101.5 FM and NewsTalk 960 WSBT-AM. See page 12 of this notes package for more information on Irish football radio and television shows.
WEB SITES: Notre Dame (und.com), North Carolina (tarheelblue.com).
REAL-TIME STATS: Live in-game statistics will be provided through CBS College Sports Gametracker via each school’s respective official athletic websites.
POLLS: Notre Dame did receive votes in both the USA Today coaches poll (No. 39) and Associated Press poll (No. 35), while North Carolina is ranked No. 22 in the AP and No. 26 in the coaches poll.
SERIES INFO: Notre Dame and North Carolina will play for the 18th time in series history on Saturday. The Irish hold a convincing 16-1-0 (.941) edge in the all-time series, including a current six-game winning streak. Notre Dame and North Carolina have not met on the gridiron in Chapel Hill since 1975. (see All-Time Series Results on page 2).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Notre Dame will make its first appearance in the state of North Carolina in 33 years Saturday afternoon. The Irish last played in the Tar Heel state in 1975 when then unheralded sophomore quarterback Joe Montana entered the game in the fourth quarter and promptly led the Irish to a pair of scoring drives to secure a 21-14 come-from-behind victory over UNC.
NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH BUTCH DAVIS: Butch Davis, former head coach at the University of Miami and the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, is the 33rd head coach at the University of North Carolina and the ninth since the ACC was formed in 1953. He was named the Tar Heels’ head coach on November 13, 2006, and formally introduced at a press conference on November 27.
Davis and his staff flourished, signing a consensus top 20 class, led by the nation’s top defensive player Marvin Austin and North Carolina high school All- Americas Greg Little, Ryan Houston and Dwight Jones. Following one of the most successful signing days in Carolina history, Davis took part in the Rams Club speaking tour, squeezed in 15 days of spring football practice – including a spring game that drew a record crowd – and oversaw renovations to the Tar Heel locker room and weight room. Increases in season ticket sales and a proposed expansion to Kenan Stadium are two more pieces of evidence that Davis has the Tar Heel faithful excited for the future.
Davis brings instant credibility to the football program. He has coached in 11 postseason bowl games as an assistant or head coach, including two apiece in the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls, and he either recruited or coached nearly all the players from Miami’s 2001 national championship team. He also won two Super Bowls as an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys. He enters the season ranked among the top 15 winningest active coaches in Division I. An excellent motivator and technician, Davis recruited or coached a number of players at Miami who were selected in the NFL Draft, including an amazing 28 first-round picks.
Prior to his arrival in Chapel Hill, Davis served as an analyst on the NFL Network for two seasons. There he was able to watch and study the latest college football offensive and defensive schemes. Yearning to return to the college coaching ranks, Davis surveyed the college football landscape, and when the Carolina job came open, he was immediately interested.
Davis was head coach for six seasons at the University of Miami (1995-2000) and led the Hurricanes to a 51-20 record, three Big East Conference championships and four postseason bowl wins in as many appearances. He took over a Miami program faced with NCAA sanctions that restricted the number of scholarships in his first three seasons. However, his Hurricane teams finished ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 on four occasions, including No. 2 in the nation in 2000 when the Canes went 11-1 and beat Florida, 37-20, in the Sugar Bowl.
A QUICK LOOK AT NORTH CAROLINA
- North Carolina (4-1) enters the matchup with Notre Dame riding a two-game winning streak. The Tar Heels have scored 35 points or more in three of their five games this season. North Carolina opened the season with a 35-27 victory over NCAA FCS (formerly Division I-AA) McNeese State. The Tar Heels then hit the road and routed Rutgers, 44-12, before dropping a home contest to ACC rival Virginia Tech, 20-17. North Carolina has rebounded with a pair of impressive victories the last two weeks, upending Miami (Fla.), 28-24.
- The Tar Heels knocked off previously undefeated and No. 24 UConn, 38-12, last week in Chapel Hill. North Carolina totaled just 263 yards in total offense, but took advantage of three Huskies interceptions and Bruce Carter blocked three punts, one of which was returned for a touchdown. The Tar Heels also returned an interception for another score. Shawn Draugh rushed for a career-high 109 yards. Cameron Sexton, who was making his first start since 2006, was 9-of-16 for 117 yards with an interception, but led the Tar Heels to their first non-conference victory over a Top 25 team since beating then-No. 17 Stanford in 1997. They had lost nine straight against ranked teams since upsetting then-No. 19 Boston College in 2005.
- North Carolina enters Saturday’s game with the 89th-ranked rushing offense, 71st-ranked passing offense, 88th-ranked total offense and 33rd-ranked scoring offense. The Tar Heels are averaging 120.80 yards per game on the ground, 205.40 yards in the air, 326.20 total yards and 32.40 points per game. Greg Little, a converted wide receiver, leads the Tar Heel ground game with 223 yards (44.6 ypg). Little has rushed for three touchdowns. Sexton has completed 57.1 percent of his passes (20-of-35) for 359 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. T.J. Yates had completed 60.6 percent of his passes (40-of-66) for 623 yards, six touchdowns and one interception before suffering an ankle injury against Virginia Tech. Hakeem Nicks has been the favorite target for Tar Heel quarterbacks with 24 catches and 412 yards. Brandon Tate has 16 receptions for 376 yards (23.5 per catch) and three touchdowns. He also ranks third in the NCAA FBS in both punt returns (24.83 per return) and all-purpose yards (194.60 ypg). Tate also averages 27.73 yards on kick returns (20th in the nation). Nicks and Tate each scored touchdowns in the last meeting with the Irish. Nicks had six receptions for 171 yards, including a 72-yard TD grab, while Tate had 162 yards on returns (146 on kickoffs), including a 90-yard return for touchdown.
- The Tar Heels’ defense ranks 57th in total defense (345.80/game), 58th in pass defense (201.40/game), 40th in scoring defense (19.00/game) and 67th in rush defense (144.40/game). North Carolina has totaled six sacks. Mark Paschal and Quan Sturdivant lead the team with 41 tackles. Paschal has a team-high 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks.
- North Carolina’s kicking game has been handled by two players, Jay Wooten and Casey Barth. Wooten is 4-of-6 on field goal attempts this season, but 1-of-3 from outside 30 yards. Barth is 1-of-3 (all between 30 and 39 yards). Neither has missed an extra-point (21-of-21). Terrence Brown is averaging 40.3 yards per punt and has dropped nine inside the 20-yard line.
NOTRE DAME – NORTH CAROLINA SERIES HISTORY
- Notre Dame and North Carolina will play for the 18th time in series history on Saturday. The Irish hold a convincing 16-1-0 (.941) edge in the all-time series with the Tar Heels, including a current six-game winning streak. Notre Dame and North Carolina have not met on the gridiron in Chapel Hill since 1975.
- The Irish and Tar Heels will renew a rivalry that started during the 1949 season. The top-ranked Notre Dame squad routed North Carolina, 42-6. The two would meet each of the next seven seasons — all Irish victories. The series took a year off in 1957, but started up again for three consecutive years in 1958. In all, the Irish and Tar Heels faced one another 12 times over a 14-year period (1949-62).
IRISH RECORD SETTERS IN THE NORTH CAROLINA SERIES
- Notre Dame’s seventh-longest pass play in school history (80 yards, Joe Montana to Ted Burgmeier) came on Oct. 11, 1975 in Chapel Hill.
- The Irish have registered 15 interception returns of 75 yards or longer and two have come against North Carolina. Mike Swistowicz had a 84-yard INT return (seventh-longest) in 1949 and Lou Loncaric had a 75-yard INT return (15th-longest) in 1955.
- Brady Quinn threw for 346 yards against the Tar Heels in 2006, which ranks as the 10th most passing yards in a single game.
- Brady Quinn tossed four touchdown passes in that `06 contest, which ranks tied for fourth-best in single-game school history.
- Jeff Samardzija had 177 receiving yards against North Carolina in `06, which ranks 10th-best in single-game school history.
- Jeff Samardzija’s 29.5 yards per reception in that meeting with the Tar Heels ranks fourth-highest in single-game school history (minimum of four catches).
- Bill Barrett’s three touchdown receptions against North Carolina is tied for the second most in single-game school history.
NOTRE DAME VS. ACC
- Notre Dame is 75-29-2 (.717) against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Irish have had more success against the ACC than any other major conference. The Irish have a .500 or better record against eight of ten conference schools (in which they have played).
- Notre Dame’s 106 games against the ACC ranks as the third-most contests against a conference trailing only the Big Ten (345) and Pac-10 (126).
- The Irish are playing a pair of ACC schools this season and both meetings are away from Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame has never previously travelled to ACC foes twice in a single-season.
- In 2007, Notre Dame played three ACC schools in the same season for the first time since 2002 (Maryland, Florida State and North Carolina State) and just the second time in school history.
- Notre Dame has faced Boston College 17 times (9-8), fourth most of any other ACC school, but 16 of the previous 17 meetings took place with the Eagles in the BIG EAST. The nine victories are the fourth-most victories for Notre Dame over an ACC foe. Miami has collided with the Irish 23 times (15-7-1), while Notre Dame has faced North Carolina 17 times (16-1). It should be noted that all of Notre Dame’s previous meetings with Miami occurred prior to their moves to the ACC.
- Notre Dame has played a handful of games versus Florida State (2-4), Duke (3-1) and Clemson (1-1). Additionally, the Irish have met three ACC foes just once. They beat Virginia in the `89 Kickoff Classic and Maryland in the `02 Kickoff Classic, but lost to NC State in the `03 Gator Bowl.
- The Irish took on Duke last year for the first time since 1966. Notre Dame upended the Blue Devils, 28-7, in the home finale in 2007.
- Notre Dame has posted a 26-13-2 (.659) record against current ACC opponents on the road, but most of those meetings came against Boston College and Miami while each were not affiliated with the league. The Irish own a 18-4-1 (.804) mark when facing a school as an ACC member.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played 14 previous games in its history on Oct. 11. The Irish are 11-3 all-time on this date. The Irish have recorded four shutouts on Oct. 11.
- Oct. 11, 2003: None of the great runners in Notre Dame’s past — George Gipp, Paul Hornung, Ricky Watters, Jerome Bettis, Allen Pinkett — ever did what Julius Jones did against Pittsburgh. Jones broke the school’s single-game rushing record with 262 yards and scored twice as the Irish surprised the No. 15 Panthers by switching to a power running game in their 20-14 upset victory.
- Oct. 11, 1997: Allen Rossum started the game by returning the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown and Notre Dame never looked back in a 45-21 rout of Pittsburgh. Rossum had success against the Panthers, returning two punts for touchdowns in 1996.
- Oct. 11, 1980: Jim Stone became the second Notre Dame running back to eclipse 200 yards in consecutive weeks as he galloped for 244 yards on 38 carries in a 32-14 rout of Miami. The 244 yard game ranks fourth in Irish single-game history. Ironically, Phil Carter ran for 254 (second-most at the time) just a week earlier against Michigan State.
- Oct. 11, 1931: The Notre Dame Alma Mater, Notre Dame Our Mother, was written for the dedication of Notre Dame Stadium by Joseph Casasanta ’23. The song was part of the half time show and is the traditional conclusion to Notre Dame pep rallies. Notre Dame defeated Navy 26-2 in the game.
- Oct. 11, 1975: Ted Burgmeier did not start the game for Notre Dame Saturday. Neither did Joe Montana. But these sophomores ended it for North Carolina with an incredible 80-yard touchdown connection that gave the Irish a tremendous victory in what might have been the greatest rally in school history. Rick Slager engineered a 65-yard touchdown march that ended with Al Hunter scoring with 11:26 to play. A two-point conversion pass failed and Carolina held a 14-6 lead. It was still that way with 6:04 remaining.
Enter Montana, the baby-faced Monongahela, Pa., sophomore, who got two quick first downs to the North Carolina 41. Down the sideline went Dan Kelleher. Up went Montana’s arm. Kelleher grabbed the pass and raced down the sideline to the 2. On the next play, Hunter slashed over tackle again. It was 14-12, but Montana had the answer. He rifled a two-point conversion pass to tight end Doug Buth, who had never caught a pass for Notre Dame. It was 14-14 with 5:18 to play. Sports writers were checking the record books for the last tie game. But the Irish weren’t through.
North Carolina drove to the Irish 24, but place kicker Tom Biddle missed a 41-yard field goal attempt — his third miss of the day. And the Irish had the ball at the 20 with 1:19 left. Montana missed a pass that new father Mark McLane dropped. Then Burgmeier cut down the left sideline in a pattern designed to get a first down or more but also out of bounds to kill the clock. Safetyman Jeff Caldwell was close. But Burgmeier spurted past him and won the foot race to the goal for an 80-yard play with 1:03 left and after Pat McLaughlin kicked the point, the Irish fought off a last minute flurry of passes for an incredible 21-14 victory.
NOTRE DAME – NORTH CAROLINA CONNECTIONS
- Notre Dame’s roster features three players from the state of North Carolina. North Carolina’s roster does not have a player from Indiana.
- Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis (15 years) and North Carolina head coach Butch Davis (10 years) each spent much of their career in the NFL ranks. Weis coached with the New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets, while Davis was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns (2001-04) as well as serving as an assistant on Jimmy Johnson’s staff with the Dallas Cowboys (1989-94).
- The two did face one another on a total of 13 occasions through their respective tenures in the NFL. The Patriots knocked off the Browns three times (2001, 2003, 2004) in Davis’ four seasons in Cleveland. The Giants and Cowboys faced each other 10 times between 1990-94. Dallas took six of those meetings.
- Notre Dame has a penchant for ending impressive winning streaks in football, contributing to the program’s great tradition. However, the magic is not limited to the football program. The women’s soccer team ended the longest streak in all of NCAA sports and it came against North Carolina.
- Oct. 2, 1994: Notre Dame’s women’s soccer plays to a 0-0 tie against perennial power North Carolina in St. Louis, stopping the Tar Heel’s 92-game win streak (still an NCAA record) … one year later, the Irish claimed the national title with College Cup wins over North Carolina and Portland.
- Sixth-year Notre Dame women’s basketball associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis is a 1996 graduate of North Carolina.
- Assistant AD for compliance, Lisa Deibler, spent the better part of nine years in a similar role at North Carolina.
- A number of players from North Carolina and Notre Dame either attended the same high school or hail from the same hometown.
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Make Notre Dame 5-1 for the first time since 2006 and just the second time since 1998.
- Give the Irish their third victory in the last four road games.
- Give the Irish a victory over North Carolina for the seventh consecutive meeting.
- Improve Notre Dame to 18-3 (.857) under Weis coming off a victory.
- Improve the Irish to 17-1 (.944) in the all-time series with North Carolina – the highest winning percentage against any opponent with over 12 meetings.
- Improve Notre Dame to 5-1 (.833) in the all-time series with the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.
- Give Notre Dame its second consecutive victory over North Carolina in Kenan Stadium.
- Improve an unranked Irish squad (post 1932) to 6-1 (.857) all-time against North Carolina.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 2-1 (.667) all-time against the Tar Heels in Kenan Stadium.
- Improve Notre Dame to 3-0 (1.000) all-time against North Carolina when the Tar Heels are ranked.
- Improve Notre Dame to 1-0 (1.000) all-time against the Tar Heels in Kenan Stadium when UNC is ranked.
- Improve Notre Dame to 76-29-2 (.720) all-time against the Atlantic Coast Conference.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time road record against the ACC to 27-13-2 (.667).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time road record against teams that were members of the ACC at the time of the game to 19-4-1 (.813).
- Improve Weis’ record to 27-16 overall (.628), 2-0 (1.000) against North Carolina and 4-2 (.667) against the ACC.
- Improve Weis’ overall road record to 11-5 (.688) and his road record against the ACC to 2-0 (1.000).
- Improve Weis’ record to 9-4 (.692) in October games.
- Improve Weis’ record to 20-13 (.606) in afternoon games.
- Improve Weis’ all-time road record against opponents ranked by the AP to 4-2 (.667)
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 829-279-42 (.739).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record on the road to 290-138-22 (.669).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against opponents ranked by the AP to 143-124-10 (.534)
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time road record against opponents ranked by the AP to 58-52-5 (.526)
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Make Notre Dame 4-2 for the first time since 2005 and the third time in five years (2008, 2005, 2004).
- Snap the six-game winning streak by the Irish over North Carolina.
- Drop Notre Dame to 17-4 (.810) under Weis coming off a victory.
- Drop the Irish to 16-2 (.889) in the all-time series with North Carolina – still the highest winning percentage against any opponent with over 12 meetings.
- Drop Notre Dame to 4-2 (.667) in the all-time series with the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.
- Give North Carolina its first victory over the Irish since 1960.
- Drop an unranked Irish squad (post 1932) to 5-2 (.714) all-time against North Carolina.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 1-2 (.333) all-time against the Tar Heels in Kenan Stadium.
- Drop Notre Dame to 2-1 (.667) all-time against North Carolina when the Tar Heels are ranked.
- Drop Notre Dame to 0-1 (.000) all-time against the Tar Heels in Kenan Stadium when UNC is ranked.
- Drop Notre Dame to 75-30-2 (.710) all-time against the Atlantic Coast Conference.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time road record against the ACC to 26-14-2 (.643).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time road record against teams that were members of the ACC at the time of the game to 18-5-1 (.771).
- Drop Weis’ record to 26-17 overall (.605), 1-1 (.500) against North Carolina and 3-3 (.500) against the ACC.
- Drop Weis’ overall road record to 10-6 (.625) and his road record against the ACC to 1-1 (.500).
- Drop Weis’ record to 8-5 (.615) in October games.
- Drop Weis’ record to 19-14 (.576) in afternoon games.
- Drop Weis’ all-time road record against opponents ranked by the AP to 3-3 (.500).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 828-280-42 (.738).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record on the road to 289-139-22 (.667).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against opponents ranked by the AP to 142-125-10 (.531).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time road record against opponents ranked by the AP to 57-53-5 (.517).
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 three seasons of the Charlie Weis era in South Bend.
Weis, a 1978 Notre Dame graduate and 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.
Weis and his Irish followed up a 9-3 record in ’05 and BCS appearance in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with a 10-3 overall mark in ’06 and a second consecutive BCS invitation, this time to the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Those 19 combined wins (including eight straight in the middle of the ’06 regular season) qualified as most in a two-year period by the Irish since they collected 21 in 1992-93. It was also the first time Notre Dame played in BCS games in successive years and the most prominent two-season bowl qualification since the Irish played in the Fiesta and Orange Bowls after the 1994 and ’95 campaigns. The only schools to play in BCS games after both the ’05 and ’06 seasons were Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC.
Notre Dame’s 10 regular-season wins in ’06 marked the ninth time that figure had been achieved in Irish history. Weis’ 19 combined wins in his first two seasons were the most by a ND head coach in his first two years (the previous high was 17 by both Terry Brennan in 1954-55 and Dan Devine in 1975-76). For the second straight year in ’06 Weis was one of three finalists for the George Munger Award presented by the Maxwell Football Club (of Philadelphia) to the college coach of the year.
The architect in ’05 and ’06 of the two most prolific passing seasons in Irish football history, Weis effectively transformed the ND offense into one of the most productive in the nation, as the Irish scored more points in `05 (440) than in any previous season in school history – and also qualified as the most improved offensive attack in the nation, jumping its total offense production (477.33 yards per game) a national-best 131.8 yards per game better than in ’04. The Irish followed that up with another strong passing attack in ’06, with Notre Dame’s average of 264.1 passing yards per contest ranking 13th nationally and second all-time in the Notre Dame record book (behind only the 330.3 mark from ’05). The Irish protected the football nearly as well as any team in the country in ’06, with their 14 overall turnovers in 13 games ranking tied for fourth of the 119 NCAA I-A teams.
On a combined basis in 2005 and ’06 under Weis, Notre Dame led the nation in interception avoidance with only 1.6 percent of Irish passes picked off over those two years. The Irish, thanks in large part to the play of quarterback Brady Quinn, finished third in TD passes with 69 and sixth in passing yards per game (295.8) and passing rating (151.7). In ’05 and ’06 combined, compared to the previous two seasons, the Irish improved their points per game by 11.5, and their total yards per game by 90.9.
IRISH TEAM NOTES
QUITE AN EARLY TURNAROUND
- Notre Dame opened the 2007 season with five straight losses for the first time in school history. The 2008 Irish (4-1) have nearly reversed that trend 180 degrees in one season. The four-game improvement over the first five games of a season is the greatest ever by a Notre Dame squad.
- In fact, it is the greatest turnaround through five games by an NCAA FBS school in 10 years since South Carolina opened the 2000 season with a 4-1 record. The Gamecocks were 0-5 after five games of the 1999 season.
- Interstingly enough, that 2000 South Carolina squad was under a second-year coach that underwent a similar type turnaround in South Bend. His name… Lou Holtz.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
- Notre Dame lost both meetings with Big Ten rivals Michigan and Purdue in 2007. The Irish were outscored 71-19 in those games, including a 38-0 shutout at the hands of the Wolverines.
- Notre Dame upended both Michigan and the Boilermakers this season. They outscored the two longtime rivals, 73-38, in the meetings.
- The 35-17 rebound victory over the Wolverines is the fifth-greatest turnaround from one season to the next against the same opponent.
OPENERS AN INDICATOR?
Notre Dame is now 100-15-5 in season openers, but have they been foretelling of the season ahead? Take a look:
- The 99 previous seasons Notre Dame has won its opener, the Irish went on to post winning records 91 times (91.9%), with four losing seasons and four .500 records.
- The 15 seasons Notre Dame lost its opener, the Irish posted winning records six times and a losing mark eight times (with one .500 season).
- The five seasons Notre Dame registered a tie in its opener, the Irish had four winning records and one losing record.
FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY
- Notre Dame has historically recruited from all across the country and 2008 is no different. A total of 29 different states are represented on the Irish roster. Among Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division IA), only Army has more states represented on its 2008 roster.
COACHING IN THE CLUTCH
Knute Rockne owns the best career winning percentage among Notre Dame coaches in games decided by seven or fewer points, at 21-1-5 (.870). Among Irish coaches with 14-plus “close games”, the other top winning percentages in tight games belong to Elmer Layden (22-7-3, .734), Frank Leahy (17-5-8, .700), Tyrone Willingham (10-5, .667), Ara Parseghian (13-6-4, .652), Dan Devine (15-9-1, .620), Bob Davie (14-12, .611) and Lou Holtz (20-18-2, .525). Current head coach Charlie Weis owns a .700 winning percentage in such games (7-3).
NOT SO MANY NEW FACES
- Notre Dame had 28 different players (13 on defense, 15 on offense) register their first career start in 2007 (a total of 16 players made their first career starts the two previous seasons combined). The Irish have had just seven players (DE Ethan Johnson, RG Chris Stewart, FS Sergio Brown, FS Harrison Smith, TE Kyle Rudolph, WR Michael Floyd) make their first start in 2008.
- Notre Dame started eight true freshmen in 2007, including HB Robert Hughes, QB Jimmy Clausen, HB Armando Allen, WR Golden Tate, WR Duval Kamara, OLB Kerry Neal, OLB Brian Smith and NT Ian Williams. In comparison, the Irish have started three freshmen in 2008 (DE Ethan Johnson, TE Kyle Rudolph and WR Michael Floyd).
- Notre Dame’s 2007 recruiting class, which was widely considered one of the top classes in the country, experienced serious growing pains a year ago, but from the early returns from 2008 the experience was rewarding.
- The Irish have scored 18 touchdowns in 2008 and 10 have come from sophomores. RB Armando Allen and WR Golden Tate are tied for the Notre Dame lead with three touchdowns, while RB Robert Hughes has a pair. WR Duval Kamara and LB Brian Smith each have one touchdown. If you toss in freshman WR Michael Floyd, freshman TE Kyle Rudolph and freshman DB Robert Blanton, a first or second year player has scored 16 of Notre Dame’s 18 touchdowns.
- Sophomore Jimmy Clausen has thrown 12 touchdown passes.
- The top two running backs are both sophomores.
- Tate leads the Irish in receiving yards (397), receptions (23) and touchdowns (tied, 3).
- Allen leads the Irish in rushing yards (238), yards per rush (4.8) and touchdowns (tied, 3).
- Three of the top four players in scoring and six of the top 10 are all sophomores (three others are freshman).
- The top three players in total offense and four of the top five are sophomores.
- The top two players and thre of the top four in all-purpose yards are sophomores.
- Five of the top 14 tacklers on the Irish squad are sophomores (and two others are freshman).
- Notre Dame has gone two consecutive games (Purdue and Stanford) without committing a single turnover. The Irish had not gone two straight games without a turnover since the 2006 season when ironically enough Notre Dame went turnoverless in victories over the Boilermakers and Cardinal.
- The Irish have run 168 offensive plays since their last turnover — a fumble by freshman WR Michael Floyd in the third quarter against Michigan State.
I’LL TAKE THAT, THANK YOU
- Notre Dame forced a pair of Stanford turnovers in the first quarter and a third late in the second, but converted just one into points. The Irish marched 80 yards following senior David Bruton’s interception. Notre Dame has now forced 14 turnovers already this season over its first five games (the Irish forced 25 turnovers in 12 games last year). Notre Dame has converted six of those 14 turnovers into 42 points on six touchdowns.
- The Irish picked off three passes in the first half. Notre Dame had not picked off three passes in a single half since at UCLA on Oct. 6, 2007 (had four interceptions in that game – all in the second half).
TICK, TICK, TICK
Stanford’s initial scoring drive of the game went for 95 yards on 14 plays and took 7:02 off the game clock. The drive is the longest of the season in terms of yards and time of possession. It is actually the longest drive by an Irish opponent since Ohio State marched 98 yards in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. Navy had a scoring drive that lasted 8:23 on Nov. 3, 2007.
MORE, MORE BIG PLAYS
Notre Dame entered last Saturday’s contest with 13 passing plays of over 20 yards. The Irish totaled five in the opening 30 minutes alone against the Cardinal. In fact, Notre Dame has recorded 11 over its last two games (had five last week against Purdue). The Irish now have 19 for the season after recording just 28 all of 2007.
THIRD QUARTER DOMINANCE AGAIN
Notre Dame surrendered 132 rushing yards on 23 carries in the first half against Stanford (5.7 average per rush), but limited the Cardinal to minus-three yards rushing on seven carries in the third quarter. The Cardinal totaled 208 yards in the opening half and averaged 5.5 yards per play, but managed just minus-three total yards in the third quarter.
IRISH BRING SACK LUNCH
- Notre Dame entered the game with Stanford with only one sack on the season and ranked 118th in the NCAA FBS in sacks. The Irish sacked Stanford quarterbacks five times on the afternoon.
CHECKING THE WEIS ERA RECORD BOOK
- The 29 pass completions by Notre Dame tied for fifth-most during the Weis’ tenure, matching two totals from the 2006 campaign (Purdue and vs. Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl).
- The 40 pass attempts by the Irish ties for tenth under Weis, matching 40 attempts against Air Force in 2007.
- The attempts and completions combined for the sixth highest completion percentage under Weis. The Irish completed 72.5% of their passes against Stanford.
- The three passes picked off by the Irish were good for the second highest interception total under Weis. The only contest in which the Irish had more was at UCLA in 2007 when Notre Dame picked off four Bruin pass attempts.
- The five sacks for the Irish ties for the second most during the Weis years. Interestingly, the only time the Irish have surpassed five sacks under Weis was in 2005 at Stanford (seven sacks) and this marks the third time the Irish have recorded five sacks against the Cardinal.
- Clausen’s three touchdown passes tie for seventh most under Weis, following several Brady Quinn performances while matching Clausen’s career best
- Kyle McCarthy’s 14 tackles ties for ninth-best under Weis, matching several other individual performances including his own against San Diego State this season.
LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE ’08
Every spring after spring drills, the Irish coaching staff votes on the Leadership Committee, which head coach Charlie Weis brought to Notre Dame in 2004. The Leadership Committee consists of players who serve in an advisory role.
IN FRONT OF A FULL HOUSE
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 206 of its previous 237 games, including 81 of its last 89 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season (the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 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 the 2006 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 last season.
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.
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