Oct. 15, 2007
GAME 8: NOTRE DAME (1-6) vs. #13/9 USC (5-1)
Saturday, October 20, 2007
TIME: 3:43 p.m. ET
SITE (CAPACITY): Notre Dame Stadium (80,795); Notre Dame, Ind.
TICKETS: The game is officially sold out making it the 196th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Notre Dame home football game has been a sellout except one – a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. The Irish have now played in front of sellouts in 244 of their last 245 home games.
TV: NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), David Gibson (producer) and John Gonzalez (director). NBC will stream a live 30-minute pre-game show (3-3:30 p.m.) and post-game show on NBCSports.com.
RADIO: For the 40th consecutive season, all Notre Dame football games are to be broadcast on approximately 200 stations in 50 states by Westwood One with Don Criqui (play-by-play), former Irish running back Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Jeff Jeffers providing pre-game, halftime and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159) and will be streamed live on the Irish official athletics website at www.und.com.
All Notre Dame home games may be heard in South Bend on U93-FM (92.9) and WDND-AM (1490) with pre-game analysis featuring Sean Stires and Vince DeDario. The post-game show is hosted by Jack Nolan and features former Notre Dame players Reggie Brooks and Mirko Jurkovic. See page nine in the PDF version of this notes package for more information on Irish football radio and television shows.
WEB SITES: Notre Dame (und.com), USC (usctrojans.com).
REAL-TIME STATS: Live in-game statistics will be provided through CSTV Online’s Gametracker via each school’s respective official athletic web sites.
POLLS: Notre Dame failed to receive any votes in either the Associated Press or USA Today coaches polls. USC received 932 top 25 votes from the AP (13th) and 983 votes from the USA Today coaches (9th).
SERIES INFO: This meeting will be the 79th all-time meeting in NCAA college football’s top intersectional rivalry. USC has each of the past five meetings and eight of 11 overall. The Trojans’ five-game winning streak is tied for their longest in series history. USC also won five straight from 1978-82. Notre Dame’s longest winning streak is 11 meetings from 1983-93. (see All-Time Series Results on page 2 of the PDF notes package).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: USC has captured each of the last five meetings over Notre Dame. With a victory this weekend, the Trojans could become just the third school to ever hold a winning streak of six games or more against the Irish. Michigan (1887-09) and Michigan State (1955-63) each registered eight straight wins.
- USC and Notre Dame have beaten each other more than any other opponent (42 wins by the Irish and 31 by the Trojans).
- Notre Dame and adidas will honor the 30th anniversary of the 1977 National Championship team by wearing the authentic green jerseys and gold pants for the USC game on October 20th. The throwback uniforms will be designed to replicate those worn by the 1977 team.
NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH Charlie Weis: Charlie Weis (Notre Dame, 1978) is in his third season as the Notre Dame head coach. The Irish finished his inaugural season with a 9-3 mark and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame followed that campaign with a 10-3 record last season and another BCS Bowl berth (Sugar). With 19 wins over his first two seasons, Weis has captured more games than any other previous Irish coach through his first two years on the Notre Dame sidelines. In addition to leading one of three schools to consecutive BCS bowl games, Weis guided the Irish to their most wins over any two-year span since 1993-94. He is 0-2 against USC.
USC HEAD COACH PETE CARROLL: Pete Carroll (Pacific, ’73) is 69-13 in seven years as a college head coach (all at USC), the best winning percentage of any current Division I coach with at least five years of experience. He reached 50 career wins faster than any head coach in Trojan history. His losses have been by a total of 51 points (4.3 average) and only one was by more than a touchdown (against Notre Dame in South Bend in 2001 by a 27-16 score). After starting off his Trojan career 2-5, he has gone 67-8 with a pair of national championships (2003-04). His teams have appeared in a record five consecutive BCS bowls (including a pair of BCS Championship Games). USC’s 11 wins in each of the past five seasons is a school record (only Nebraska 1993-97, Florida State 1996-2000 and Oklahoma 2000-04 have done that).
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Be the first victory for the Irish over a top 10 opponent since No. 3 Michigan (17-10) on Sept. 10, 2005.
- Be the first victory for Notre Dame over a top 10 opponent at Notre Dame Stadium since No. 8 Michigan (28-20) on Sept. 11, 2004.
- Snap a five-game losing streak for the Irish against top 10 foes.
- Make Notre Dame 2-6 for the first time since 2003 and just the third time in school history (2003, 1963, 1956).
- Snap USC’s five-game winning streak overall in the all-time series.
- Snap USC’s two-game winning streak at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Snap Notre Dame’s three-game losing streak at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Improve Notre Dame to 43-31-5 (.576) in the all-time series with the Trojans.
- Improve the Irish to 24-11-1 (.681) in the all-time series with USC in South Bend.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 21-12 overall, 1-2 against USC and 6-2 against Pac-10 foes.
- Improve Weis’ record to 6-8 (.429) against teams ranked in the top 25.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame home record to 11-6 (.688).
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 7-3 (.700) in October games.
- Improve Weis’ Notre Dame record to 6-6 (.500) following a defeat.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 12-8-1 (.595) all-time against USC.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 7-3 (.700) all-time against the Trojans in South Bend.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 6-6-1 (.500) all-time against a ranked USC team.
- Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 4-2 (.667) all-time against a ranked Trojans team in South Bend.
- Improve Weis’ record to 15-9 (.625) in afternoon games.
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record to 823-275-42 (.740).
- Improve the Irish all-time home record to 298-93-5 (.759).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Pac-10 to 77-40-6 (.650).
- Improve Notre Dame’s all-time home record against the Pac-10 to 45-14-1 (.758).
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD…
- Deny the Irish their first victory over a top 10 opponent since No. 3 Michigan (17-10) on Sept. 10, 2005.
- Deny Notre Dame its first victory over a top 10 opponent at Notre Dame Stadium since No. 8 Michigan (28-20) on Sept. 11, 2004.
- Extend the losing streak for the Irish against top 10 foes to six games.
- Make Notre Dame 1-7 for the first time since 1960 and just the second time in school history.
- Extend USC’s winning streak overall in the all-time series to six games.
- Make USC the third team (joining Michigan and Michigan State) to ever defeat Notre Dame on six consecutive occasions.
- Extend the Trojans’ winning streak at Notre Dame Stadium to three games.
- Extend Notre Dame’s losing streak at Notre Dame Stadium to four games.
- Drop Notre Dame to 42-32-5 (.563) in the all-time series with the Trojans.
- Drop the Irish to 23-12-1 (.653) in the all-time series with USC in South Bend.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 20-13 overall, 0-3 against USC and 5-3 against Pac-10 foes.
- Drop Weis’ record to 5-9 (.357) against teams ranked in the top 25.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame home record to 10-7 (.588).
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 6-4 (.600) in October games.
- Drop Weis’ Notre Dame record to 5-7 (.417) following a defeat.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 11-9-1 (.548) all-time against USC.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 6-4 (.600) all-time against the Trojans in South Bend.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 5-7-1 (.423) all-time against a ranked USC team.
- Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 3-3 (.500) all-time against a ranked Trojans team in South Bend.
- Drop Weis’ record to 14-10 (.583) in afternoon games.
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record to 822-276-42 (.740).
- Drop the Irish all-time home record to 297-94-5 (.756).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time record against the Pac-10 to 76-41-6 (.642).
- Drop Notre Dame’s all-time home record against the Pac-10 to 44-15-1 (.742).
NOTRE DAME VS. PAC-10
- Notre Dame is 77-40-6 (.650) all-time against teams from the Pac-10 Conference. USC represents the second of three Pac-10 opponents for the Irish in the regular season. Notre Dame already UCLA (Oct. 6) and closes the season at Stanford (Nov. 24).
- The 123 games against Pac-10 teams is the second-most for the Irish against any conference. The Big Ten Conference (340) represents the most games played against Notre Dame and the ACC ranks third (105).
- Notre Dame has a winning series record against nine of the Pac-10 teams. Most of those games (78) have come versus USC (42-31-5), while 21 other matchups have come against Stanford.
- Notre Dame has played a handful of games versus California (4-0), Washington (6-0), UCLA (4-0), Arizona (2-1), Oregon (1-0-1) and Oregon State (0-2). Notre Dame and Arizona State met for the first time in 1998, while the Irish met Oregon State for the second time in the 2004 Insight Bowl. Notre Dame played its first-ever game against Washington State in 2003, downing the Cougars, 29-26, in overtime.
- Notre Dame has posted a 44-14-1 record against Pac-10 opponents at home.
NOTRE DAME – USC SERIES NOTES
- Notre Dame and USC will be meeting for the 79th time. The Irish lead the all-time series 42-31-5 overall and a 23-11-1 advantage in games played in South Bend. The teams have met twice at a neutral site (Soldier Field in Chicago) in 1927 and 1929.
- Notre Dame’s 42 wins over USC are the most for any Trojan opponent. California is second with 30 wins over USC.
- The Irish compiled an unbeaten streak of 13 games against USC from 1983-1995. The Irish won 11 straight games from 1983-93, but a 17-17 tie in 1994 (at USC) ended the streak. Notre Dame won in 1995 and a Trojan 27-20 overtime victory in 1996 (Lou Holtz’s final game as Irish coach) ended the 13-game unbeaten run.
- From 1965 to 1982, either Notre Dame or USC was ranked in the top 20 entering the game. In fact, both teams were ranked in the top 20 in each series meeting from 1972-79. In that eight-year span, USC compiled a 6-2 record, but the two Notre Dame victories (1973, 1977) marked national championship seasons for the Irish.
- It’s not unheard of that a national title to be at stake for one of the combatants in this rivalry. Seven times Notre Dame has entered the USC game with a shot at a national crown, only to be defeated (1938, 1948, 1964, 1970, 1974, 1980 and 2006) and an eighth chance was damaged by a tie in 1948. Notre Dame ruined USC’s national title dreams three times: 1947 (38-7), 1952 (9-0) and 1988 (27-10).
- USC’s current five-game win streak against Notre Dame is tied for the longest by the Trojans in the series. The Trojans’ also won five straight from 1978-1982.
- Notre Dame is 2-3 in its last five games against USC in South Bend. The Trojans have entered the game at Notre Dame ranked in the top 5 the last two trips.
- At least one team has been ranked in the AP Top 25 in 60 of the 68 (.88 percent) meetings since 1936 (the first season of AP national rankings), while both teams have been ranked a total of 28 times.
- This will be the 17th time USC has traveled to South Bend ranked in the top 10. The Irish are 8-7-1 all-time in those games, including a pair of victories when Notre Dame was unranked (1959, 1963).
- Notre Dame is 9-16-3 when it is ranked lower than USC.
- Since 1965, the ND-USC game has been nationally televised on 34 occasions (including the 2007 game).
A RECORD-SETTING SERIES
- Four of the top rushing games in Notre Dame history have come against USC: Reggie Brooks’ 227 yards at USC in 1992 (4th place; 19 carries, 11.9 avg., 3 TDs); Vagas Ferguson’s 185 yards at home in 1979 (17th; 25, 7.4, 2); Jim Morse’s 179 yards at home in 1954 (22nd; 19, 9.4, 1); and Jerome Bettis’ 178 yards at home in 1991 (24th; 24, 7.4, 2).
- The following rank first in the Irish record book and occurred during the USC series: Bob Livingstone’s 92-yard run from scrimmage in 1947; Coy McGee’s 24.4 rushing yards per attempt in 1946 (6 for 146); Joe Theismann’s 33 pass completions (tied with Brady Quinn’s effort against Michigan State, 2005); Theismann’s 526 passing yards (USC opponent record) and 512 yards of total offense in 1970; and Tim Brown’s 30.6 yards per kick return in 1986 (5 for 153).
- Steve Beuerlein’s four TD passes vs. USC in 1986 are tied for fourth in the Irish record book.
- Lee Becton’s record six consecutive games with 100-plus rushing yards included a game vs. USC in 1993 (the third game of that string).
- Reggie Brooks had two 200+ rushing yards games in the same season, in 1992 vs. Purdue and USC (second most in a single-season).
- Theismann’s 71 total offense attempts and 58 pass attempts vs. USC in 1970 rank second and fourth, respectively, in the Irish record book.
- Notre Dame returned two interceptions for TDs vs. USC in 1966, which remains tied for the Irish record.
- Notre Dame’s 19 passing first downs in the 1970 USC game ranks second best all-time.
- In addition to Livingstone’s above run, some of the longest plays in Irish history have come vs. USC: Joe Heap’s 94-yard punt return in 1953 (4th); Eric Penick’s 85-yard rush in 1973 (t-4th), Joe Perkowski’s 49-yard FG in 1961 (9th); Bob Scarpitto’s 82-yard punt return in 1958 (10th); Paul Hornung and Morse hooked up on a 78-yard pass play in 1955 (10th); Wally Fronhart’s 82-yard interception return in 1935 (t-10th); and Hornung’s 95-yard kickoff return in 1956 (t-13th).
- USC players own several Notre Dame opponent records: Charles White’s 44 rushing attempts in 1979 and 120 career rushing attempts from 1976-79; Carson Palmer’s 425 yards passing in 2002; Matt Leinart’s five touchdown passes in 2004 and nine career touchdown passes; R. Jay Soward’s 23 career receptions; Anthony Davis’ six TDs and 36 points in 1972 (both are USC records and tied for Pac-10 records), in addition to 11 career TDs and 68 career points from 1972-74; John Jackson’s 14 receptions in 1989 is tied with two others; Dwayne Jarrett’s three touchdown receptions in 2006 is tied with three others, his five career touchdown catches and 335 career receiving yards stand alone; Eric Hipp’s six extra points in 1979; Don Schafer’s 60-yard FG in 1986 (USC record); Adrian Young’s four INTs in 1967 (also the USC record and tied for Pac-10 record); Anthony Davis’ 100-yard kickoff return is tied with three others; and Vern Lillywhite’s 83-yard punt in 1946.
- USC’s 425 passing yards in 2002 and five touchdown passes in 2002 are Irish opponent records.
IRISH – TROJANS SERIES HISTORY
- This rivalry began in 1926, when legendary Irish head coach Knute Rockne became the first Midwestern coach to take a team to the West Coast (Notre Dame won that game, 13-12) and the teams have meet every season since (taking 1943-45 off due to travel restrictions during World War II).
- Notre Dame has won eight Associated Press national titles while USC has won five.
- The Irish have been selected as a national champion by at least one legitimate poll in 19 seasons, USC lists 16 such campaigns.
- Notre Dame began the 2007 season second on the all-time winning percentage and total victories lists. USC is not far behind in ninth and 10th place, respectively.
- Instantly recognizable coaches have stalked the sidelines for each team. Knute Rockne, Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine, Lou Holtz and Charlie Weis for Notre Dame. Howard Jones, John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carroll for USC.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played 16 previous games in its history on Oct. 20. The Irish are 9-6-1 all-time on this date. The Irish have recorded four shutouts on Oct. 20 (1951, 1934, 1906, 1900). Notre Dame has twice played USC on this date in its history, including the 2001 victory over the Trojans (27-16) in South Bend — the last victory for the Irish in the all-time series.
Oct. 20, 2001: Carlyle Holiday rushed for 98 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown run, as Notre Dame beat Southern Cal 27-16 for its third straight victory after opening with three losses for the first time ever. The Irish fell behind, 13-3, early in the second quarter after their defense got caught in the huddle while Carson Palmer threw a 20-yard scoring pass. But the Irish outscored the Trojans, 24-3, the rest of the way. Julius Jones, who ran for 95 yards on 21 carries, put the game away with a 5-yard TD run with 1:21 left.
Oct. 20, 1990: Lou Holtz does it again, orchestrating his second upset of the mighty Miami Hurricanes at Notre Dame Stadium in three years. This time, his sixth-ranked Irish pound the second-ranked Hurricanes, 29-20, as Craig Hentrich boots a school-record five field goals. Raghib “Rocket” Ismail returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.
Oct. 20, 1979: Tony Hunter had five catches for 131 yards, good for a 26.2 average, in the 42-23 loss to fourth-ranked USC. The 26.2 yards per reception ranks as the sixth-highest in single-game school history.
NOTRE DAME-USC CONNECTIONS
- The winner of the game keeps a shillelagh (presented by the Notre Dame Club of Los Angeles), with shamrocks representing Notre Dame victories and rubies Trojan heads standing for USC wins (each is engraved with the year and final score). The original foot-long shillelagh was flown from Ireland by Howard Hughes’ pilot, according to legend, and was introduced in 1952 (although the medallions date back to the start of the series in 1926). When the original shillelagh ran out of space after the 1989 game, it was retired and is permanently displayed at Notre Dame. A new shillelagh, slightly larger than the original, was commissioned by Jim Gillis, a former baseball player at both USC and Notre Dame and onetime president of the Notre Dame Club of Los Angeles. The new trophy was handcrafted in 1997 in County Leitrum, Ireland, and contains medallions beginning with the 1990 game.
- Notre Dame women’s volleyball head coach Debbie Brown was twice named the national player of the year while helping USC win the 1976 and 1977 national championship in women’s volleyball.
- Notre Dame’s roster features eight players from the state of California. USC’s roster does not have a player from Indiana.
- Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis (15 years) and USC head coach Pete Carroll (16 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 Carroll worked with the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets and New England Patriots.
- While each spent time with the Jets (Weis three years, Carroll five years) and Patriots (Weis a total of nine years over two stints, Carroll three years), the two never worked on the same staff.
- The two did face one another on a total of 11 occasions through their respective tenures in the NFL.
- A number of players from USC and Notre Dame either attended the same high school or hail from the same hometown (see PDF version of notes package for full rundown).
NOTING THE BOSTON COLLEGE GAME
- The game was officially sold out making it the 195th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Notre Dame home football game has been a sellout except one – a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. The Irish have now played in front of sellouts in 243 of their last 244 home games.
- The following Notre Dame players extended streaks for consecutive starts: senior ILB Maurice Crum, Jr. (32), senior DE Trevor Laws (32), senior C John Sullivan (19), sophomore OT Sam Young (19), senior CB Terrail Lambert (16) and senior SS Tom Zbikowski (13).
- With sophomore OG Eric Olsen and freshman WR Duval Kamara each earning their first respective career start for Notre Dame today, the Irish have already had 22 (10 on defense, 12 on offense) different players register their first career starts this season.
- Freshman WR Duval Kamara became the fifth Notre Dame freshman to start this year joining QB Jimmy Clausen, HB Armando Allen, WR Golden Tate and OLB Kerry Neal.
- The 52-yard rush by L.V. Whitworth of Boston College in the first quarter was the longest of the season by a Notre Dame opponent. The previous long run of the season for an Irish opponent was a 45-yard burst by Georgia Tech’s Tashard Choice.
- Boston College went ahead 13-0 on an eight-play, 41 yard drive just before halftime. The Eagles then used an interception return to the Notre Dame 11-yard line to set up another touchdown pushing the lead to 20-0. After the Irish drew within six points, 20-13, on Brian Smith’s interception return for touchdown, Boston College benefitted from a excessive celebration penalty that forced the Irish to kick off from their 15, and the Eagles returned the pooch kick 18 yards to the Notre Dame 44. Five plays later, a Matt Ryan to Kevin Challenger 13-yard pass returned the crucial two-score advantage to Boston College, 27-14. Those touchdown drives were the eighth, ninth and 10th this season for a Notre Dame opponent that failed to cover 45 yards. In fact, Irish foes have had 19 scoring drives (field goals or touchdowns) in 2007 of 45 yards or less.
- The Eagles rushed for 94 yards on 13 carries in the first half against the Irish. Boston College picked up 52 of those yards on one rush — the fourth play from scrimmage for the Eagles (they also had a two-yard run on their first offensive play of the game). Notre Dame proceeded to limit Boston College to 40 yards on the ground (11 carries) the rest of the first half. The Eagles managed 74 yards of rushing in the second half, but it took 23 carries or just 3.2 yards per carry.
- Boston College controlled the ball 39:03 to Notre Dame’s 20:57. It was the greatest time of possession disparity against the Irish in the 32-game Charlie Weis era. The previous high was when Air Force had a 38:35 to 21:25 edge last year in its 39-17 loss. It was the most possession time for an Irish opponent since Nov. 16, 1991 when Penn State racked up 39:47 of possession time.
- Notre Dame cut the Boston College lead to 20-14 following freshman OLB Brian Smith’s 25-yard interception return midway through the third quarter. The interception return for touchdown was Notre Dame’s second of the season (second in as many weeks). The Irish had not receorded defensive touchdowns in consecutive weeks since Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 of 2005 (against Tennessee and BYU). Both of the touchdowns were interception returns from current senior SS Tom Zbikowski.
- With his second carry, sophomore HB James Aldridge went over 100 rushes for his career.
- Senior P Geoff Price picked up his eighth punt of 50 yards or more this season (21st career) following a 56-yard bomb that pinned Boston College at its own 11-yard line. Price, who pinned UCLA inside its 20-yard line on three different occasions last week, also pinned the Eagles inside the 20-yard line three times.
- Senior TE John Carlson picked up his 80th career reception on a six-yard grab in the first quarter. Carlson stands third all-time in Irish tight end history with 82 career catches. Ken MacAfee (1974-77) holds the school record with 128 receptions and Anthony Fasano (2003-05) ranks second with 92.
- Senior DE Trevor Laws blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt by Steve Aponavicius midway through the second quarter. The blocked field goal is Laws’ second of the season and fifth of his career. Laws, who finished the game with a career-high 11 tackles, has posted 10 or more tackles twice this season.
- Sophomore WR Robby Parris recorded a 26-yard reception midway through the second quarter, added a 28-yard grab in the third quarter and capped off Notre Dame’s first scoring drive of the afternoon with a 19-yard touchdown catch (the first of his career). Notre Dame has nine passing plays over 20 yards this season and Parris has five of those receptions.
- Parris ended the day with 94 yards receiving, a career-high besting his 93 yards receiving at Purdue on Sept. 29.
- Sophomore QB Evan Sharpley entered the game in the third quarter and promptly led the Irish on a 79-yard scoring drive to bring Notre Dame within 20-7. Sharpley went 4-for-7 for 64 yards and a touchdown on the drive (his third career touchdown pass).
- Notre Dame has nine passing plays over 20 yards this season and Sharpley has six of those completions.
- Sharpley finished the afternoon 11-of-29 for 135 yards and one touchdown. He has guided the Irish to their three longest scoring drives of the season (79 and 81 yards at Purdue, 79 yards against Boston College).
- Freshman OLB Brian Smith returned a Matt Ryan pass 25 yards for a touchdown to cut the Boston College lead to jut six points, 20-14, midway through the third quarter. Smith is the first freshman to record an interception return for touchdown since Sept. 25, 1976. Bobby Leopold took a pick back 57 yards that afternoon in a 48-0 victory at Northwestern. Since freshman were made eligible in 1972, Smith is just the fourth to ever return an interception for touchdown (see PDF notes for chart).
- Senior Joe Brockington ended the day with a total of 13 tackles (10 solo, three assisted). The 13 tackles was a new season high, numbering three higher than his 10 tackles against Penn State on Sept. 8. It also was a season high on unassisted tackles.
HOW DO THEY STACK UP?
Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines:
ND OL 305.0 lbs. vs. USC DL 286.3 lbs.
ND DL 284.3 lbs. vs. USC OL 306.0 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
ND WR/TE 6′ 1″ vs. USC DB 6′ 1 Â½”
ND DB 6′ 0″ vs. USC WR/TE 6′ 4 1/3″
IN FRONT OF A FULL HOUSE
- Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 198 of its previous 226 games, including 73 of its last 80 contests dating back to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2000 season (the 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands, the 2005 game at Washington and the 2007 game at UCLA were not sellouts). At Michigan in 2003, the Irish and Wolverines attracted the largest crowd in NCAA history (111,726), marking the third time in the history of the series that an NCAA attendance record was set. Including last year’s game at Georgia Tech, the Irish have been part of establishing a new stadium attendance record seven times since 2001. The list also includes: at Nebraska and Texas A&M in 2001, at Air Force and Florida State in 2002, home vs. Boston College in 2002, vs. Oregon State in the Insight Bowl in 2004 (the game set a Bank One Ballpark record for football configuration). Notre Dame and Michigan played before an over-capacity 111,386 at Michigan Stadium in September of 2005. At Purdue in `05, the Irish and Boilermakers played before 65,491 football fans, a Ross-Ade Stadium record (since the renovation of the facility in 2003). Penn State drew the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history for the meeting with the Irish earlier this season.
- Notre Dame did not become the first school in NCAA history to ever play three regular season road games before crowds of 100,000. Both Penn State and Michigan exceeded that mark, but UCLA fell short.
HUNDREDS OF FORMER PLAYERS TO FORM PRE-GAME “TUNNEL”
Another Notre Dame tradition will continue with the game versus arch-rival USC, as prior to the game the 2007 team will run through a tunnel comprised of former Irish football players (several hundred are expected to return). Former head coach Bob Davie wrote a letter to every former Notre Dame football player during the summer of 1997, with the University providing them with the opportunity to buy two tickets to the season opener and inviting them to be part of the tunnel ceremony. Nearly 250 Irish football alumni formed the tunnel prior to the 1997 opener versus Georgia Tech and approximately 300 former players formed the tunnel prior to the 1998 opener versus Michigan before returning again for the ’99 opener vs. Kansas. Another such group is expected versus the Trojans.
HISTORY OF THE GREEN JERSEY
Although Notre Dame’s official colors for athletics long have been listed as gold and blue, the color of the Irish home football jersey has switched back and forth between blue and green for more than 50 years. While dark blue jerseys with a gleaming gold helmet and gold pants is the signature uniform for the Notre Dame football team, green has developed into an unofficial third school color.
Any discussion about the green uniforms in Notre Dame athletics history begins with the Notre Dame-USC football game on Oct. 22, 1977. Irish head coach Dan Devine – who had received a friendly suggestion from head basketball coach Digger Phelps during an off-season conversation – ordered special green jerseys four months in advance of the Irish-Trojan game. Notre Dame had not worn green jerseys since a 1968 Thanksgiving Day game in Yankee Stadium against Syracuse.
In what was billed as the best-kept secret in Notre Dame football history, most of the team was unaware of the uniform switch until 20 minutes before kickoff – although Devine allowed captains Ross Browner, Terry Eurick and Willie Fry to try on the new jerseys on Friday afternoon prior to the pep rally. Even though Fry hinted about the change at the rally that evening by calling for the fans to wear green to the game and referring to his teammates as the `Green Machine,’ the secret remained safe until the team returned after pregame warm-ups to find green jerseys with gold numbers handing in each player’s locker.
Notre Dame Stadium already was operating at a fever pitch that day before the team even took the field. The student body wheeled a homemade Trojan horse onto the field to symbolize the historical Fall of Troy. The Irish fans also were eager to make up for the 55-24 loss to USC in 1974, a game that Notre Dame led 24-6 at halftime. The Irish rolled to a 49-16 victory over USC in their green jerseys and the “Green Machine” was born. Notre Dame wore the jerseys for the rest of the season, sweeping through the remainder of the schedule and thumping #1 Texas, 38-10, in the Cotton Bowl to earn the national championship.
Gerry Faust outfitted his Irish teams in green jerseys for victories over USC in 1983 and ’85 (the team switched to green during halftime of the ’85 game). Lou Holtz incorporated green twice in his tenure, sparking the team to a 1982 Sugar Bowl victory over Florida with green numbers on white jerseys. The team also wore green in a 35-28 loss to Georgia Tech for the 1999 Gator Bowl while Tyrone Willingham’s 2002 team wore green in a 14-7 loss to Boston College.
Although the 1977 Notre Dame-USC football game marked the renewal of the green jerseys, Notre Dame football teams have been wearing green in one fashion or another since Knute Rockne patrolled the sidelines during the 1920s. In those days, the Notre Dame varsity team usually wore blue while the freshman squad was outfitted in green.
On several occasions, Rockne’s varsity team did wear green – simply for purposes of distinction when the Irish opponent also came out in blue. Games against Navy in the late 1920s, for example, featured green-clad Notre Dame teams in order to avoid confusion with the Navy’s blue uniforms. Rockne didn’t mind using the color change as a psychological ploy. When Notre Dame faced Navy in Baltimore in 1927, the Irish head coach started his second-string reserves. Navy took advantage by scoring a touchdown in the first five minutes of the game. Immediately following the Midshipmen’s score, Rockne made his move, as reported by George Trevor in the New York Sun:
“Instantaneously, the Notre Dame regulars yanked off their blue outer sweaters and – like a horde of green Gila monsters – darted onto the field. From that moment on, Notre Dame held the initiative, imposed its collective will upon the Navy.”
Notre Dame came from behind to win that game, 19-6, and then used the same maneuver the following year at Chicago’s Soldier Field. That 1928 game saw Notre Dame beat Navy, 7-0, with the Scholastic Football Review including this description:
“Mr. K.K. Rockne may, or may not, be a psychologist. But, he did array his team in bring green jerseys for their battle with the United States Naval Academy. Mr Rockne evidently surmised that garbing a band of native and adopted Irish in their native color is somewhat akin to showing a bull the Russian flag.”
The green jerseys remained prominent throughout the Frank Leahy years – particularly son in September of 1947, when Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Lujack graced the cover of Life magazine clad in green. Several of Joe Kuharich’s squads wore green with UCLA-style shoulder stripes and shamrocks on the helmets. Even Hugh Devore’s 1963 team, after wearing blue all season, switched to green for the season finale against Syracuse.
YOUTH ON SERVE
Notre Dame used a total of 61 players in the season opener against Georgia Tech. An incredible 31 of those players were either freshmen or sophomores, including five that started. Just over 50% of the players on the field were in their first or second year with the Irish. On the other hand, Georgia Tech started just one freshmen or sophomore and played only 19 first or second year players. The 31 freshmen and sophomores playing in a season opener stands as the most in Irish history. The previous high for first and second year players in a Notre Dame season opener came during the 1983 and 1989 seasons (29).
NEWCOMERS THROWN INTO ACTION
In the season opening loss against Georgia Tech, nine members of the 2007 signing class saw their first action. Armando Allen (Fr., HB), Jimmy Clausen (Fr., QB), Robert Hughes (Fr., HB), Duval Kamara (Fr., WR), Kerry Neal (Fr., LB), Matt Romine (Fr., OT), Golden Tate (Fr., KR), Brandon Walker (Fr., PK) and Ian Williams (Fr., NT) each played in their first season with the Irish. In addition to those nine players from the 2007 signing class making their Notre Dame debuts versus Georgia Tech, the following players saw action in an Irish uniform for the first time: Thomas Bemenderfer (Jr., OC), Dan Wenger (So., OG), Demetrius Jones (So., QB), Leonard Gordan (So., DS/DC), Luke Schmidt (So., FB), Paddy Mullen (So., DT) and Kallen Wade (So., DE). In all, 16 of the 61 players that played against Georgia Tech for Notre Dame were making their first ever appearance in an Irish uniform.
MORE ON THE FRESHMEN
Notre Dame used nine freshmen in its season opening loss to Georgia Tech. It was tied for the fourth most used in an opener since the freshman eligibility rule became enacted in 1972. The Irish used 11 freshmen in the 2006 opener against the Jackets. A total of 14 frosh played in the 36-13 win over Virginia in the 1989 Kickoff Classic and 12 saw action in the 52-6 blowout of Purdue in 1983.
Five offensive players and four players on the defensive side of the ball picked up their first career starts in the loss against Georgia Tech. George West (X), Paul Duncan (LT), Michael Turkovich (LG), Dan Wenger (RG) and Demetrius Jones (QB) each started the game for the first time for the Irish offense, while Pat Kuntz (NT), John Ryan (OLB), Anthony Vernaglia (OLB) and David Bruton (FS) hit the field the first play for the Notre Dame defense.
- Notre Dame will face eight teams that went to bowl games last year: Georgia Tech (Gator), Penn State (Capital One), Michigan (Rose), Purdue (Champs), UCLA (Emerald), Boston College (Meineke Car Care), USC (Rose) and Navy (Meineke Car Care).
- Notre Dame is the only school in the country to face a school from a BCS conference over the first eight weeks of 2007. The next longest streak to open this season is four (Florida Atlantic). The Irish also play a total of 10 BCS affiliated schools (which is tied for second most in the NCAA).
- The Irish take on Duke for the first time since 1966. Notre Dame leads the brief all-time series, 2-1. The Irish blanked the Blue Devils, 64-0, in the last meeting.
- Notre Dame travelled to the Rose Bowl for the first time since Knute Rockne brought his eventual national champion 1924 squad to Pasadena to face Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The `24 team featured the Shock Troops, Seven Mules and the famous Four Horsemen.
- Notre Dame is one of 12 I-A teams (only two other BCS schools) to play six straight weekends to open the season and have four of the six games on the road. The others are Akron, Buffalo, Florida International, Eastern Michigan, Duke, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), San Jose State, Troy, Utah State and West Virginia.
- Notre Dame’s schedule is ranked as the second most dificult in the country by Sagarin. Washington is the only school rated with a tougher schedule.
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
Notre Dame is one of just five NCAA Division I-A programs that has never faced a non-Division I-A opponent since the current division setup was established in 1978 (the division’s names have undergone a change this year, but the setup is still the same). The four remaining schools that have yet to play a non-Division I-A opponent since the advent of the current format are Michigan State, USC, UCLA and Washington. The list stood at seven entering this season, but Michigan and Ohio State each opened its respective seasons with Appalachian State and Youngstown State on Sept. 1.
IRISH ADD HERALDED SIGNING CLASS
This preseason, Notre Dame has welcomed another outstanding recruiting class under third-year head coach Charlie Weis. The Irish signing class has been ranked as high as fifth (tied) in college football.
IRISH STRONG IN OCTOBER
Notre Dame enters the USC game having won 29 of its last 35 games in the month of October, dating back to a 20-17 loss to the Trojans on Oct. 18, 1997. Since the 1988 season, Notre Dame is 61-13 (.824) in October and was 32-7 (.821) in October in the 1990s.