Matt Shelton caught a 33-yard touchdown pass against Boston College in Notre Dame's last game on Oct. 23.

Irish Travel To Knoxville To Take On Tennessee At Neyland Stadium

Nov. 2, 2004

Notre Dame vs. Tennessee Live Game Coverage
Audio & Gametracker

Complete Release in PDF Format, which is recommended for easy reading and enhanced sidebar information.
spacer.gifDownload Free Acrobat Reader

The Date and Time: Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004 at 3:34 p.m. EST.

The Site: Neyland Stadium (104,079/Natural Grass) in Knoxville, Tenn.

The Tickets: They’re all sold — with this being the 169th sellout in the last 194 Irish games and the 33rd in the last 35 games involving Notre Dame, dating back to the end of the 2001 season (only last year’s game at Stanford and this year’s Navy game were not sellouts).

The TV Plans: CBS national telecast with Verne Lundquist (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analysis), Tracy Wolfson (sideline) and Craig Silver (producer).

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 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.

Real-Time Stats: Live in-game statistics, courtesy of College Sports Online’s GameTracker, will be made available for the Tennessee game, via the Notre Dame ( and Tennessee ( athletics web sites.

Web Sites: Notre Dame (, Tennessee (


The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (5-3) resume their 2004 season on Saturday, Nov. 6, when they travel to Knoxville, TN, to take on the No. 9/11 Tennessee Volunteers (7-1) at Neyland Stadium. The contest will be televised nationally by CBS, marking the 145th consecutive Irish football game to be broadcast across the country by one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN).

The Irish enter the road trip to Tennessee trying to regain some momentum after a heartbreaking 24- 23 loss to Boston College last Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish led for much of the game against the Eagles, building a 20-7 halftime edge before a BC comeback in the second half was capped by a 30-yard scoring pass from Paul Peterson to Tony Gonzalez with 54 seconds remaining. A lastsecond 55-yard field goal attempt by Notre Dame’s D.J. Fitzpatrick was just short as time expired. Offensively, sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn passed for 231 yards and one touchdown while completing 20 of 33 attempts. The Irish gained 212 of their 335 total yards in the first half against the Eagles. Junior receiver Rhema McKnight led the team with five catches for 78 yards and senior receiver Matt Shelton hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass.

The Irish defense held BC to 62 rushing yards and accumulated eight tackles for losses and caused two interceptions along with two quarterback sacks. Senior defensive end Justin Tuck tied the Notre Dame career sacks record of 22.5 against the Eagles. The defensive performance against the rush marked the fifth time this season that the Notre Dame defense has held an opposing team below 100 yards on the ground.

Tennessee (7-1) enters the game off a 43-29 win at Southeastern Conference rival South Carolina in a key SEC Eastern Division last Saturday. Tennessee’s clash with the Irish is the Vols’ final non-SEC test of the season. UT, which leads the SEC East, closes with conference clashes against Vanderbilt and Kentucky following the clash with the Irish.


• Notre Dame and Tennessee are meeting for the seventh time on the gridiron, and for the first time since 2001, with the Volunteers holding a 4-2 edge in the series. This will be the fourth time the two teams have played in Knoxville, with Tennessee holding a 2-1 edge at Neyland Stadium.

• Tennessee has won the last three games in the series, the longest winning streak in the rivalry.

• The series features a matchup of two of the nine winningest programs in college football history. Notre Dame ranks second all-time in victories with 801 while Tennessee is ninth with 742.

• Three of the last four series games have been decided by an average margin of 5.3 points per game.

• Tennessee has won four of the last five games in the series by an average margin of 14.3 points per game.

• At least one of the teams has been nationally ranked in all seven games of the series, entering this contest ranked 9th by AP and 11th by the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll after a win at South Carolina. Notre Dame is 2-3 against Tennessee when it is ranked heading into its matchup with the Vols. Conversely, Tennessee is 3-1 when it is ranked entering the Notre Dame game with all three wins coming in the last three series games.


• Notre Dame will improve its series record with Tennessee to 3-4 and earn its first victory over the Volunteers since a 34-29 victory on Nov. 10, 1990 in Knoxville.

• Notre Dame will break a three-game losing streak against Tennessee.

• Notre Dame will snap a three-game losing streak against the Volunteers and will have beaten a team from the Southeastern Conference for the first time since a 39-36 win over LSU in 1998.

• Notre Dame will pick up its first victory over a ranked opponent on the road since a 20-14 win at No. 15 Pittsburgh on Oct. 11, 2003.

• Notre Dame will pick up its sixth victory of the season, thereby becoming bowl eligible for 2004.


• Tennessee will earn its fourth consecutive victory over Notre Dame, the longest winning streak by either team in the series, and its fifth victory in the last six meetings with the Irish.

• The Vols will improve to 5-2 all-time against the Irish and remain one of only five “major” schools to lead their series with the Irish (joining Nebraska, Florida State, Georgia and Michigan).

• The Volunteers will record their third win in a row over Notre Dame at Neyland Stadium.

• Notre Dame will fall to 1-3 all-time at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.


• Tennessee leads the series with Notre Dame, 4-2, including a 2-1 edge in games at Neyland Stadium.

• The series resumes this season after a two-year hiatus.

• Three of the last four games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less.

• In the last meeting between UT and Notre Dame, the Volunteers took a 28-18 victory at Notre Dame Stadium in 2001.

• This game will be Notre Dame’s first appearance in Knoxville since a 38-14 loss in 1999.

• Notre Dame’s last win over Tennessee came in Knoxville, a 34-29 victory by the top-ranked Irish over the ninth-ranked Volunteers.

• At least one of the two teams has been ranked in the top 15 all seven times the teams have met, but this will mark only the second time in seven meetings that Notre Dame has not been ranked when facing the Volunteers.

• Entering the 2004 season, both Notre Dame and Tennessee ranked in the top 10 on the NCAA Division IA all-time victories list – the Irish were second with 796 wins while the Volunteers checked in at No. 9 with 736 victories.

• Tennessee is one of only five current “major” schools to hold a series advantage over Notre Dame – the others are Nebraska (8-7-1), Florida State (4-2), Georgia (1-0) and Michigan (18-13-1).

• The Tennessee-Notre Dame series has always been played in early November. All seven games (including 2004) have been played within an eight-day range (Nov. 3, twice on Nov. 6, Nov. 9, twice on Nov. 10 and Nov. 11).


• Notre Dame has won 61 percent of its games (19-12-0) vs. teams that currently make up the Southeastern Conference, with 15 of those games coming vs. LSU (9) and Tennessee (6).

• This is the only meeting Notre Dame will have against an SEC opponent this season and the first contest against an SEC school since the Irish lost to the Volunteers by a 28-13 score on Nov. 3, 2001.

• Notre Dame owns a .500 or better record against five of the eight SEC teams it has faced.

• The Irish are 7-6 (.538) all-time on the road against current SEC teams.

• Tennessee (4-2) and Georgia (1-0) are the only SEC schools to have winning records against Notre Dame.

• Notre Dame has played the following SEC schools: Alabama (5-1), Florida (1-0), Georgia (0-1), LSU (5- 4), Mississippi (1-1), South Carolina (3-1), Tennessee (2-4) and Vanderbilt (2-0).


Seventh-ranked Tennessee used two lengthy third quarter drives and capitalized on a pair of critical Notre Dame turnovers to squeeze past the Irish, 28-18, before a capacity crowd of 80,795 at Notre Dame Stadium on November 3, 2001.

Notre Dame did most of what it set out to do against the Volunteers. The Irish shut down the Vols’ leading rusher, Travis Stephens, and held a sizable edge in the time of possession battle. The Notre Dame defense also came up with a timely score. Quarterback Carlyle Holiday kept the Irish withing striking distance throughout the day, completing 13 of 24 passes for 146 yards. Nine of his completions went to David Givens, who piled up 99 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Stephens, who came into the game as the nation’s third-leading rusher, was limited to a season-low 63 yards on 24 carries by a tenacious Notre Dame defense.

The Irish had command of the game for much of the first half, owning the ball for more than 19 of the first 30 minutes of play. However, the most promising of these marches was stifled when Arnaz Battle fumbled at the Vols’ one-yard line as he tried to score on a reverse. Another Irish fumble produced the first score on the game as freshman running back Ryan Grant lost a fumble that UT’s Julian Battle scooped up and returned 81 yards for a touchdown to give the Volunteers a 7-0 lead with 5:12 remaining in the second quarter. Notre Dame marched right back down the field, going 52 yards in 10 plays to pick up a 41-yard field goal by Nicholas Setta with 27 seconds remaining in the half to cut the deficit to 7-3 at halftime.

Notre Dame caught the first break of the second half when Courtney Watson intercepted a Casey Clausen pass and went 31 yards for a touchdown to give the Irish a 10-7 lead just 1:37 into the third quarter. The lead would not last long, however, as Tennessee responded with a 12-play, 80-yard drive, capped off by Stephens’ three-yard touchdown run with 8:19 left in the third period for a 14-10 UT lead. Tennessee extended the lead on their next possession, driving 81 yards for a touchdown as the drive concluded with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Clausen to Donte Stallworth for a 21-10 UT lead with 1:14 remaining in the third quarter. Notre Dame bounced back with a 75-yard march in 17 plays to open the fourth quarter, converting three third down plays and one fourth down.

The Irish touchdown came on a one-yard run by Tony Fisher with 8:04 to play. The Irish converted a two-point play when Holiday connected with Fisher on a shovel pass to cut the UT lead to 21-18. After the Irish forced a Tennessee punt with 3:25 left, Notre Dame’s ensuing possession ended on an interception at the Irish 25-yard line. The Vols then marched to a clinching touchdown, scoring on a oneyard scoring run with 35 seconds left for the final 28-18 margin. Notre Dame fell to 3-5 with the loss on the way to a 5-6 final record while UT improved to 6-1 on the way to an 11-2 final record.


Notre Dame entered the contest with the defending national champions riding a four-game winning streak, but the Irish saw that streak come to an end in a 38-14 loss at Neyland Stadium before a crowd of 107,619 and a national television audience.

Fourth-ranked Tennessee broke out to a 3-0 lead early in the game following an interception by linebacker Raynoch Thompson of Irish quarterback Jarious Jackson’s pass. Thompson returned the interception 44 yards to the Irish 14-yard line before UT settled for a 24-yard field goal by Alex Waits. UT extended the lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter with an 80-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown when quarterback Tee Martin connected with wide receiver Donte Stallworth for a 21-yard touchdown pass with 11:52 left in the half.

Notre Dame bounced back with a scoring drive to pull within 10-7. The march was sparked by a fouryard run by receiver Joey Getherall on a fake field goal attempt. The play set up a four-yard rushing touchdown by David Givens with 3:26 left in the first half. Tennessee responded with an 81-yard touchdown drive to build a 17-7 halftime lead. The touchdown came with nine seconds left in the half on a two-yard pass from Martin to Eric Parker.

The Vols extended the lead to 24-7 midway through the third quarter on a 43-yard pass from Martin to Leonard Scott and added a 40-yard touchdown run by Travis Henry to build a 31-7 advantage with 3:30 remaining in the period. Notre Dame responded to pull within 31-14 on an 11-yard run by Getherall on a reverse with 14 seconds left in the third quarter.

A 14-yard run by Martin in the fourth period closed out the scoring, concluding an 18-play, 91-yard march with 2:14 remaining. The loss dropped Notre Dame to 5-4 on the season on the way to a 5-7 final mark. Tennessee improved to 7-1 with the victory on the way to a 9-3 final ledger.


• Notre Dame has four players on the current roster from the state of Tennessee – junior walk-on cornerback Matt Mitchell (Memphis, Tenn./Christian Brothers Academy), senior fullback Josh Schmidt (Germantown, Tenn./Briar Crest Christian), senior wide receiver Matt Shelton (Collierville, Tenn./Collierville HS), and freshman quarterback David Wolke (Mount Juliet, Tenn./Smyrna HS).

• Mitchell and Tennessee sophomore offensive guard David Ligon are from the same high school (Memphis, Tenn./Christian Brothers Academy).

• Five players from Germantown are on the rosters of the two teams. Besides Schmidt, Tennessee freshman tight end Brad Cottam, senior holder/punter John Henderson, sophomore running back/punter Todd Vinson and sophomore defensive back Ian Vinson all hail from Germantown. Henderson attended the same high school as Schmidt (Briar Crest Christian).

• Notre Dame running backs coach Buzz Preston served alongside Tennessee defensive backs coach Larry Slade at Southern Illinois in 1984-85.


Since 1984, Notre Dame is 23-2 (.920) in regular season games following a regularly scheduled bye week. Eight victories over ranked teams are included in that success: 20-14 at 15th-ranked Pittsburgh in 2003, 24-10 over #19 Army in 1985, 24-19 over #1 Michigan in `89, 31-23 at #19 USC in `92, 31- 24 over #1 Florida State in `93, 54-20 over #16 Washington in `96, 24-6 at #11 LSU in `97 and 34-30 over #23 Oklahoma in `99. Notre Dame has won its last 14 games when coming off a regular-season by week, dating back to a 23-16 loss to #8 Florida State on Nov. 12, 1994, at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

The current 14-game winning streak is as follows:

Nov. 18, 1995 . . . . . . . . .#8 Notre Dame 44, Air Force 14

Oct. 12, 1996 . . . . . . . . .#11 Notre Dame 54, #16 Washington 20

Nov. 2, 1996 . . . . . . . . . .#19 Notre Dame 54, Navy 27

Nov. 15, 1997 . . . . . . . . .Notre Dame 24, #11 LSU 6

Sept. 26, 1998 . . . . . . . .#23 Notre Dame 31, Purdue 30

Oct. 24, 1998 . . . . . . . . .#18 Notre Dame 20, Army 17

Oct. 2, 1999 . . . . . . . . . .Notre Dame 34, #23 Oklahoma 30

Oct. 30, 1999 . . . . . . . . .Notre Dame 28, Navy 24

Oct. 7, 2000 . . . . . . . . . .#25 Notre Dame 20, Stanford 14

Nov. 17, 2001 . . . . . . . . .Notre Dame 34, Navy 16

Oct. 5, 2002 . . . . . . . . . .#9 Notre Dame 31, Stanford 7

Nov. 23, 2002 . . . . . . . . .#8 Notre Dame 42, Rutgers 0

Oct. 11, 2003 . . . . . . . . .Notre Dame 20, #15 Pittsburgh 14

Nov. 29, 2003 . . . . . . . . .Notre Dame 57, Stanford 7


Since the advent of the Associated Press national football rankings in 1936, Notre Dame has a 136-110- 10 record against opponents ranked in the AP rankings entering the game. The clash with 9th-ranked Tennessee will be Notre Dame’s third this season with an AP-ranked opponent. The Irish have split their previous two meetings this season with ranked opponents, a 28-20 win over then-No. 7 Michigan and a 41-16 loss to then-No. 15 Purdue. The Irish are 6-7 against ranked opponents under head coach Tyrone Willingham.


Success running the football has been a key to success in the win column for Notre Dame this season. In the Irish’s five victories, Notre Dame has averaged 161.4 yards per game on the ground and 3.5 yards per rushing attempt (807 yards on 209 carries). In the Irish’s three losses, Notre Dame has averaged 63.7 yards per game via the rush and 2.1 yards per attempt (191 yards on 91 carries).


Notre Dame has been solid on both sides of the ball in the red zone (inside the 20-yard line). On offense, the Irish have made 25 trips to the red zone this year, coming away with 16 touchdowns (a .640 TD percentage). Conversely, opponents have visited the red zone 22 times against Notre Dame, but have just eight touchdowns (a .364 TD percentage).


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 67 of their last 94 drives in “plus territory” — outside their own 20-yard line — with 23 drives that began in their opponent’s half of the field.


The Irish have caused 19 turnovers (11 FUM, 8 INT) this season and have made the most of their opportunities. Notre Dame has parlayed those takeaways into 62 points, which accounts for 30.5 percent of the Irish scoring (203 points) thus far in 2004.


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 2001 season, Notre Dame has forced two or more turnovers in 31 of its 43 games, including 24 contests where they came up with at least three takeaways. In this week’s NCAA statistical rankings, the Irish are 21st in the country in turnover margin (+0.75 per game, +6 overall).


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 19 of 33 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing, including five games this year (BYU – 22; Michigan – 56; Purdue – 99; Stanford – 67; Boston College – 62). In fact, Notre Dame opponents are averaging 2.9 yards per carry 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 eight games this season, the Irish are 12th in the country in rushing defense, allowing an average of 99.88 yards on the ground.


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 year with the Irish. Quinn threw for 231 yards and one touchdown against Boston College, completing 20 of 33 attempts with two interceptions. Earlier this season, he turned in a career-best performance in a loss to Purdue, completing 26 of 46 passes for 432 yards and one touchdown, 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 sixthbest 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.


November 6, 1909

Notre Dame defeats Michigan, 11-3 in Ann Arbor, the first Irish victory over the Wolverines after opening the series with eight consecutive losses. The stunning victory, before a crowd of 5,000 at Ann Arbor (including Walter Camp), is clinched on a Billy Ryan touchdown following a blocked field goal.

November 6, 1915

Notre Dame defeats Army, 7-0, the Irish’s second victory over the Cadets in three years. The winning score comes on a 50-yard pass from Stan Cofall to Dutch Bergman in the final minutes. The Irish outrush the Cadets, 261 to 75, but miss three field goals in the clash against a sub-par Army squad.

November 6, 1943

Top-ranked Notre Dame knocks off thirdranked Army, 26-0, at Yankee Stadium in New York before a crowd of 75,121. Johnny Lujack makes his starting debut for the Irish, throwing one touchdown pass and running for another. Lujack replaced starter Angelo Bertelli, who had left the school as he was called up for duty by the Marines a few days earlier.

November 6, 1982

Tailback Allen Pinkett rushes for 112 yards, getting most of it on a riveting 76-yard touchdown run, to lead the Irish to an upset of No.1-ranked Pittsburgh in a 31-16 win at Pitt Stadium. The Irish pile up 438 yards of total offense, building a 24-13 lead before Pinkett’s dash clinches the victory.

November 6, 1999

Fourth-ranked Tennessee takes a 38-14 win over 24th-ranked Notre Dame before a crowd of 107,619 fans at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville.


Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn has spread his pass completions around this season. Quinn has completed passes to 17 different receivers in those eight contests, a breakdown of seven wide receivers, five running backs, four 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 31 passes for 466 yards and two touchdowns. Junior tight end Anthony Fasano is next with 19 catches for 286 yards and two scores. Junior wide receiver Maurice Stovall has 16 catches for 232 yards while senior wide receiver Matt Shelton has 14 catches for 377 yards and four touchdowns and sophomore wide receiver Jeff Samardzija has accounted for 12 catches for 185 yards.

Quinn has tossed touchdown passes to four different players this season: McKnight, Shelton (five times), Fasano (twice) and senior fullback Rashon Powers-Neal.


Senior wide receiver Matt Shelton made another big play against Boston College, hauling in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brady Quinn. For the season, Shelton ranks fourth on the team with 14 catches for 377 yards (26.9 yards per catch) and five 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).


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 71.0 yards rushing per game the past seven contests (497 yards on 136 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 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:

• First Irish freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game since Julius Jones had 146 yards against Navy on Oct. 30, 1999.

• First Notre Dame freshman to score two touchdowns in a game since Matt LoVecchio ran for two scores at USC on Nov. 25, 2000.

• 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.

• 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).


Freshman running back Darius Walker is on the way to posting one of the top rushing totals by a freshman in Notre Dame history. Here’s a rundown of the top freshman rushers in Irish football history:

Player Year Yards

1. Jerome Heavens 1975 756

2. Autry Denson 1995 695

3. Randy Kinder 1993 537

4. Allen Pinkett 1982 532

5. Darius Walker 2004 497


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. Goolsby has been credited with a team-high 70 tackles (8.8 per game) while leading the team in four of eight 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. Goolsby also had 12 tackles Oct. 16 vs. Navy.


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 Tennessee game with 49 tackles to rank third 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 three quarterback sacks and has seven tackles for loss (30 yards). Hoyte posted a career-best 16 stops vs. Navy, the most by an Irish player since Courtney Watson had 18 tackles at Nebraska in 2001.


With 22.5 career sacks, senior defensive end and All-America candidate Justin Tuck tied the Notre Dame career quarterback sacks record with an assist on a sack Oct. 23 against Boston College. His next sack will make Tuck 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 four 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

1. Justin Tuck 2002-04 22.5

Kory Minor 1995-98 22.5

3. Mike Gann 1982-84 21

4. Bryant Young 1990-93 18

5. Anthony Weaver 1998-01 17

6. Bert Berry 1993-96 16.5


Including five close games this season, Notre Dame is 12-5 (.706) 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), 2003 (27-25) and 2004 (24-23), 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), Stanford (23-15 win) and Boston College (23-24 loss).


The Notre Dame football program reached a historic milestone with its Oct. 9 victory vs. Stanford, becoming just the second current NCAA Division I-A program to amass 800 all-time wins. The Irish currently rank second in NCAA history with 801 wins, trailing only Michigan’s 840 victories, although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than Notre Dame.

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 20-13 (.606) 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 5-3 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 64-49-1 (.566) 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 twotime 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).


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 studentathletes 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.


Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 168 of its previous 193 games, including 32 of its last 34 games dating back to the end of the 2001 season (the ’03 game at Stanford and this year’s game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands were not sellouts). 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).


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 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.


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


According to an ESPN Sports Poll of nearly 7,000 college sports fans ages 12 and older taken from January 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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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

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 date is 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.


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 Fighting Irish return to Notre Dame Stadium for their final home contest of the 2004 season when the Pittsburgh Panthers invade South Bend. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. EST and the game will be nationally televised by NBC.

This clash will be the 62nd renewal of one of Notre Dame’s oldest rivalries with the Irish leading the series, 43-17-1. Notre Dame has won the last six home meetings against the Panthers dating back to 1989 and has won 11 of the last 12 overall against Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh carries a 5-2 record into this weekend’s matchup at Syracuse and has its BIG EAST Conference fate in its own hands following three consecutive league victories of late, including a 20-17 win over Boston College. Notre Dame won the most recent meeting at Notre Dame Stadium, a 14-6 verdict in 2002, in a game that featured the lowest combined point total in a game at the stadium since a 10-9 Pittsburgh victory on Oct. 11, 1986. Pittsburgh’s last victory in the series was a 37-27 decision over the Irish in 1999.