Sept. 20, 2003
Michigan State vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame Stadium – South Bend, Ind.
September 20, 2003
MSU Game Notes
- For the second consecutive season, and just the third time in the 115-year history of Notre Dame football, the Irish are selecting captains on a game-by-game basis. Today’s Irish captains were: RB Ryan Grant, NG Cedric Hilliard, TE Billy Palmer and LB Courtney Watson. All four were chosen for the first time this season. Watson was selected as a game captain for the fourth time in his career, while Hilliard was awarded the captain’s designation for the third time in his tenure. Both Grant and Palmer were named captains for the first time in their careers.
- Michigan State won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half. Notre Dame elected to receive, while the Spartans chose to defend the South goal.
- Today’s game marks the 169th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium (the first 130 at the old 59,075 capacity). The Michigan State game also represents the 217th home sellout in the last 218 games (dating back to 1964), the 153rd sellout in the last 176 games and the 17th consecutive sellout involving Notre Dame. That stretch includes the first 10 games of 1998, the first 11 in ’99, the first five in ’00, the first nine in ’01, all 13 in ’02 and the first three in ’03.
- Counting postseason play, Notre Dame has now had its last 127 games televised on one of four networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN), a stretch going back more than 10 full seasons. The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was Oct. 31, 1992, when they defeated Navy, 38-7, at Giants Stadium. That game was only shown locally in South Bend on WNDU-TV.
- Notre Dame has played more than three times as many games against Big Ten Conference opponents (326) as any other league, posting a 209-102-15 record against that circuit. The Pac-10 (110) and BIG EAST (108) are the only other conferences against whom the Irish have played at least 100 games.
- Michigan State logs its 24th series win over Notre Dame, easing past Purdue (23) for the second-most wins ever by an Irish opponent (USC leads with 27).
- Notre Dame drops its series-long fourth consecutive home game to Michigan State, the most consecutive losses for the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium against one opponent since Purdue won five straight from 1954-62.
- Notre Dame loses for just the seventh time in its last 36 home games, dating back to Oct. 8, 1997 (a 20-17 loss to USC).
- Notre Dame falls below .500 for the first time since the end of the 2001 season (5-6 record).
- Notre Dame forced three turnovers this afternoon (2 INT, 1 FUM) and now has nine takeaways in three games this season.
- Notre Dame kicker Nicholas Setta booted field goals of 35, 29 and 30 yards in today’s game. Setta now is 6-for-6 this season on field goals inside 40 yards (8-for-9 overall). It also marks the fourth time in Setta’s career (and second time this year) that he has kicked three field goals in a game.
- Setta attempted three field goals today, giving him 65 career field goal attempts. That moves Setta past Dave Reeve (64 from 1974-77) and into second place on Notre Dame’s career field goal attempts list.
- Setta’s 29-yard field goal in the second quarter put Notre Dame on top 6-3, marking its first lead in the first half this season.
- Setta converted his only PAT kick attempt this afternoon, extending his streak of consecutive PAT kicks made to 90 in a row, the second-longest run in school history. The last time Setta missed a PAT kick was Oct. 7, 2000 vs. Stanford.
- Notre Dame sophomore wide receiver Rhema McKnight set new career highs with eight catches for 104 yards and one touchdown today. His previous career bests were five catches (vs. Washington State, 2003) and 37 yards (vs. Boston College, 2002). McKnight also is the first Irish player to log 100 yards receiving in a game since Arnaz Battle had 108 yards receiving vs. Rutgers on Nov. 23, 2002
- Irish freshman quarterback Brady Quinn completed a career-high 7-of-17 passes for 103 yards and one touchdown (the first TD pass of his career).
- Michigan State drew first blood with a 51-yard field goal by Dave Rayner in the first quarter. It was the longest field goal by an Irish opponent since Joe Wood of Air Force kicked a 58-yard field goal on Oct. 19, 1991 in Colorado Springs.
- Michigan State punter Brandon Fields uncorked a 79-yard punt in the second quarter, the first kick of 75 yards or more by a Notre Dame opponent since Joey Pelfania of Kansas logged a 75-yard punt on Aug. 28, 1999.
- Michigan State running back Jaren Hayes gave the Spartans a 13-9 lead with his career-long 71-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. It’s the longest run from scrimmage by an Irish opponent since William Green of Boston College also went 71 yards for a score on Oct. 27, 2001.