Courtney LaVere and the Irish take on Valparaiso Tuesday night.

No. 3 Notre Dame Back On The Road Tuesday Night With Visit To Valparaiso

Nov. 29, 2004

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(#3 AP/#6 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0) vs. Valparaiso Crusaders (1-2)

The Date and Time: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004, at 7:05 p.m. CT (8:05 p.m. ET in South Bend).

The Site: Athletics-Recreation Center (5,000) in Valparaiso, Ind.

The Tickets: Tickets remain available by contacting the Valparaiso athletics ticket office (219-464-5233).

The Radio Plans: Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play) calling the action. These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at

Web Sites: Notre Dame (, Valparaiso (

After venturing nearly 2,100 miles to USC for its first road game of the season, Notre Dame’s second trip will be much shorter as the third-ranked Irish travel to Valparaiso Tuesday for a 7:05 p.m. (CT) contest with the Crusaders. Notre Dame is unbeaten in 17 previous matchups with Valparaiso, including a 4-0 mark at the Athletics-Recreation Center, which is expected to house a boisterous crowd for the annual northern Indiana showdown.

The Irish (6-0) extended their season-opening winning streak to six games and matched the second-best start in school history with a hard-fought 60-56 victory at USC on Friday night in Los Angeles. Notre Dame led by nine points at halftime, but the Trojans battled back and actually claimed a five-point lead with eight minutes to play. However, as they have done on numerous occasions this season, the Irish remained poised and quickly rattled off a 10-0 run to retake the lead for good, keeping USC at arm’s length down the stretch to pick up the win.

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast shrugged off a subpar shooting night, finishing with a game-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Junior guard Megan Duffy chipped in with 12 points, including 8-of-8 free throws for Notre Dame, which forced 25 Trojan turnovers and held USC to a .158 three-point percentage (including a half-court shot at the final horn).

Valparaiso (1-2) collected its first win of the young season Sunday afternoon with a 67-51 conquest of NAIA power St. Xavier (Ill.) in Gary, Ind., at the Valparaiso State Farm Classic. Senior forward Jenna Stangler tied her career high with 26 points, while sophomore guard Betsy Rietema came off the benc to score 11 points.

Stangler has been the Crusaders’ top offensive threat thus far, averaging 21.3 points per game with a .540 field goal percentage. Rietema is second in scoring (9.0 ppg.) and tops in rebounding (4.0 rpg.).

Head coach Keith Freeman is in his 11th season at Valparaiso with a 176-120 (.595) record at the school. He is 0-7 all-time against Notre Dame.

With four starters and seven monogram winners back in the fold, Notre Dame would appear to have all the pieces in place for a magical 2004-05 season.

Tested early and often by both a rugged schedule (six games in the first two weeks of the year) and demanding opposition (No. 6 Duke and No. 10 Ohio State), the Irish have been up to the challenge, opening with six consecutive victories and claiming the Preseason WNIT championship. The pollsters have apparently taken notice of Notre Dame’s success, as the Irish have moved up to No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll released Monday.

Despite the added focus shown to her by opposing teams, senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast has been a major catalyst in the early-season charge for the Irish, averaging 19.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game with a 2.55 assist/turnover ratio (28 assists, 11 turnovers). She was named the Preseason WNIT Most Valuable Player and BIG EAST Player of the Week on Nov. 22 after logging a career-high 32 points in the WNIT championship game against Ohio State. She has scored in double digits in all six Irish games this season and has been Notre Dame’s leading scorer four times.

Junior guard Megan Duffy also has stepped up her play this season, registering 13.2 points and a team-high 5.2 assists per game, serving as the focal point on an Irish offense that has raised its scoring average by eight ppg. from last year. Duffy also leads Notre Dame with a .969 free throw percentage (31-32) this season, following an 8-for-8 effort last Friday night at USC.

Another aspect of Notre Dame’s sharp play this season has been the contributions from its reserves, who are averaging 17.7 points per game. Freshman guard Charel Allen has been the leading bench contributor early on, averaging 8.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Her play was critical in the Preseason WNIT semifinal win over Duke, as she scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half to help the Irish come back from an eight-point deficit and eliminate the Blue Devils. Sophomore forward Crystal Erwin also has stepped to the forefront in the past two Notre Dame wins, averaging 10.5 points per game with a .714 field goal percentage (10-14).


  • Notre Dame is 6-0 for only the third time in school history, all in the past seven seasons. The other two hot starts came in 1998-99 (also won six in a row to start) and 2000-01 (opened with 23-game win streak en route to school’s first national championship).
  • The Irish have risen to their highest ranking (No. 3) since the end of the 2000-01 season. That year, Notre Dame was second in the final Associated Press poll (taken before the NCAA Tournament) and first in the year-end ESPN/USA Today poll. That ’00-01 squad is the only other Irish team to appear in the top three in the AP poll at any point during the season.
  • Including Tuesday night’s game, Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll in each of its last three visits to Valparaiso. In 2000-01, the Irish were sixth and claimed a 71-46 win, and in 2002-03, Notre Dame was ninth and earned a 74-68 victory.
  • Notre Dame currently owns a 25-game homecourt winning streak following last week’s win over Colorado State. That’s the second-longest home winning streak in school history (51 games from 1998-2002) and it’s the fifth-longest active run in the nation (as of Nov. 28).
  • Notre Dame has won 52 of its last 54 non-conference home games, dating back to 1994-95.
  • The Irish have posted 32 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past seven seasons (1998-99 to present), including two in its first four games this year (76-65 vs. No. 6 Duke and 66-62 vs. No. 10 Ohio State).
  • The Irish have defeated 20 top-10 opponents in their history, adding to that total with their victories over sixth-ranked Duke and 10th-ranked Ohio State in the Preseason WNIT.
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw needs four victories to pass Digger Phelps for the most wins ever by a Notre Dame basketball coach (men’s or women’s). In 17-plus seasons with the Irish, McGraw has a 390-149 (.724) record, which also puts her just 10 victories shy of the 400-win mark for her Notre Dame career.

Following consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances the past two seasons, the bar has been set at a new height for Valparaiso. The two-time defending Mid-Continent Conference champion has four starters and 10 letterwinners returning from last year’s 20-12 club that pushed high-powered Kansas State nearly to the breaking point before succumbing.

In a unique scheduling quirk, the Crusaders (1-2) have yet to play a home game this season, while playing three neutral-site contests to open the year. Tipping off at the Subway Classic in Minneapolis, Valparaiso gave former BIG EAST Conference member Virginia Tech all it wanted, forcing 18 turnovers before the Hokies’ hot shooting was able to muster a 64-57 win. The next night against Arkansas State, torrid shooting once again was the story, as Valparaiso saw ASU shoot .544 from the field (.643 in the second half) to pull away for an 82-61 triumph.

The Crusaders found the win column for the first time in 2004-05 on Sunday, carding a 67-51 victory over perennial NAIA power St. Xavier (Ill.) in the Valparaiso State Farm Classic, which was played in Gary, Ind., at the Genesis Center. Senior forward Jenna Stangler tallied her third consecutive double-figure scoring game (and second 20-point outing) by matching her career best with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting. After starting the first two games, sophomore guard Betsy Rietema came off the bench against SXU and scored 11 points, the only other Crusader to reach double figures. As a team, Valparaiso had assists on 21 of its 23 field goals and forced 28 turnovers, while opening up a 17-point halftime lead.

Stangler has been the hot hand for the Crusaders during the opening two weeks of the season, averaging 21.3 points per game with a .540 field goal percentage (27-50). Rietema is second on the squad in scoring (9.0 ppg.) and tops in shooting (.550, 11-20), while also grabbing a team-high 4.0 rebounds per game. Valparaiso is scoring 61.7 ppg. thus far, while also averaging 16.3 assists and 10.7 steals a night.

Head coach Keith Freeman is early in his 11th season with the Crusaders, holding a 176-120 (.595) record at Valparaiso. He previously spent time at both St. Joseph’s (Ind.) and Huntington (Ind.), giving him a career coaching mark of 305-167 (.646) in 17 seasons on the sidelines.

Notre Dame has held a decisive advantage in the all-time series with Valparaiso, winning all 17 games with the Crusaders, including a 7-0 mark on the road and a 4-0 record at the Athletics-Recreation Center. The series dates all the way back to the very first varsity game in Irish women’s basketball history (Dec. 3, 1977), when Notre Dame collected a 48-41 victory in South Bend. This will mark the sixth consecutive year in which the Irish and Crusaders have met on the hardwood.


  • Notre Dame has won all 17 games in the series by an average margin of 20 points per game (69.6-49.6). However, the past three matchups all have ended up inside that threshhold, including a 42-35 Irish win in 2001, and a 74-68 Notre Dame victory in 2002.
  • The scoring margin in the series actually has been larger when the game is played in Valparaiso, where Notre Dame has outscored the Crusaders by nearly 24 ppg. (73.9-50.1).
  • The Irish have scored 70 or more points in nine of their last 10 games against Valparaiso. Conversely, the Crusaders have not scored more than 68 points in any game against Notre Dame and have reached the 60-point mark only three times in the 17-game series.
  • Since the series resumed annually in 1999, Notre Dame has been nationally-ranked in each of the six matchups (including this season). Tuesday’s game also will signal the third consecutive time the Irish will be ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll prior to a trip to Valparaiso (No. 6 in 2000, No. 9 in 2002).

Notre Dame opened its 2003-04 home schedule with a 74-57 victory over Valparaiso at the Joyce Center on Nov. 21, 2003. The Irish led almost the entire way against the Crusaders, opening up a 25-point lead midway through the second half and rolling to their ninth consecutive home-opening win.

Jacqueline Batteast set the pace for the Irish, posting a double-double with game highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds. Courtney LaVere pitched in 11 points and six rebounds, while Le’Tania Severe contributed 10 points and six assists (with only one turnover). Megan Duffy also turned in another strong backcourt performance with nine points, a (then) career-high seven assists and six rebounds. Jenna Stangler and Mayella Kuikhoven shared team-high scoring honors for Valparaiso, tallying 15 points apiece.

The two teams last played on Dec. 4, 2002 in Valparaiso, with the Irish pulling out a 74-68 win over the pesky Crusaders. Alicia Ratay led four Irish players in double figures with a game-high 21 points, including eight of 10 free throws. Le’Tania Severe also stood out at the free throw line, making a career-high 11-of-14 foul shots and finishing with 15 points.

Notre Dame led virtually the entire game, using a 10-2 run midway through the first half to widen the gap. However, the Crusaders doggedly stayed with the Irish all night long, closing to within one point early in the second half. Notre Dame countered with a 14-1 run over the next five minutes and held off a late Valparaiso charge for the win. Suzie Hammel paced the Crusaders with 17 points.

The Irish have faced only three of the eight current members of the Mid-Continent Conference, sporting a perfect 20-0 record (7-0 on the road) against the MCC. The vast majority of those games have come against Valparaiso, with Notre Dame owning a 17-0 mark against the Crusaders (including a 7-0 record at Valparaiso). The Irish also have faced MCC members Chicago State (2-0) and Oakland (1-0) in their history.

Coming into the 2004-05 season, Notre Dame had a perfect all-time record against four of the opponents on its schedule. Valparaiso represents the first foe in that list, with the Irish holding a 17-0 series record against the Crusaders, the best mark for Notre Dame against one opponent in its history. In fact, of the four perfect series the Irish will defend this season, the Irish have defeated all four opponents at least 10 times – the others are Pittsburgh (14-0), St. John’s (14-0) and Providence (12-0).

Notre Dame has done quite well against its fellow Indiana schools over the years, compiling a 100-31 (.763) record vs. the rest of the Hoosier State. Among current Division I opponents, the Irish have a winning record against all the other Indiana institutions except Ball State (1-2) and Purdue (4-13). Historically, Notre Dame has had the most in-state success against Butler (19-6), followed by Evansville (18-1) and Tuesday night’s opponent, Valparaiso (17-0).

The game with the Crusaders is the first of two for the Irish this season against Indiana schools. Notre Dame will play host to No. 14 Purdue in the second annual BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge live on ESPN2 Jan. 16 at the Joyce Center.

The Irish moved up to third in the Associated Press this week after avoiding the Thanksgiving weekend upset bug that claimed No. 1 Tennessee, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Texas among its victims. Notre Dame’s No. 3 ranking is its highest in either major national poll since the end of the 2000-01 season, when the Irish were second in the AP poll and first in the ESPN/USA Today balloting after winning the program’s first national championship (the final AP poll was taken before the NCAA Tournament). In fact, that ’00-01 team is the only other Notre Dame squad that has ever been ranked in the top three of either national poll at any point during the season.

Notre Dame is 167-40 (.807) all-time when it is ranked in the Associated Press poll at tipoff (the Irish are third entering Tuesday night’s game at Valparaiso). When playing at home, Notre Dame has been especially strong, going 78-8 (.907) as a ranked host after opening this season with five consecutive victories at the Joyce Center. Conversely, the Irish are 65-24 (.730) all-time when they play on the road as a ranked team.

Upon closer inspection, Notre Dame has been very sharp when it’s ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll. The Irish are 92-15 (.860) as a top-10 squad, including a 45-2 (.957) record at home. In fact, Notre Dame currently has a 41-game home winning streak when it is ranked in the AP top 10, ever since the No. 6 Irish lost to top-ranked Connecticut, 106-81 on Dec. 8, 1998.

Notre Dame’s 6-0 start matches the second-best season debut in school history and it’s only the third time ever that the Irish have opened with six consecutive victories.

The Nov. 22 game with Colorado State capped off a rugged early-season stretch for Notre Dame that saw the Irish play five times in the first 11 days of the campaign. The last time Notre Dame had such a compressed start to the season was 2000-01, when the Irish played their first five games in a 10-day span. They wound up winning all five contests, highlighted by victories over No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 6 Georgia at the Coaches vs. Cancer Challenge.

Actually, Notre Dame isn’t quite off the hook as far as quick turnarounds are concerned. By the time the Irish leave the floor after facing No. 15 Michigan State on Thursday night, they will have played eight games in 20 days, with just one break of more than three days in that time frame (between the USC game last Friday and the Valparaiso contest on Nov. 30).

The schedule finally becomes a bit kinder to Notre Dame after the MSU game. The Irish will play just four times during the ensuing 30 days, with the trickiest stretch coming with games at Dayton (Dec. 9) and home against Washington (Dec. 11).

One of the key elements in Notre Dame’s early success has been its penchant for distributing the ball well. In fact, the Irish have averaged 18.5 assists in their first six games, including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 handouts in the season opener vs. Illinois State. Junior guard Megan Duffy leads the way, averaging 5.2 assists per game with at least five dimes in four of her first six outings.

When given the opportunity, Notre Dame has taken advantage of its trips to the free throw line this season. The Irish are shooting 75.6 percent from the charity stripe, led by junior guard Megan Duffy (.969, 31-32) and senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast (.813, 26-32), with Batteast showing almost a 20-percent improvement from last year’s career low .627 mark. What’s most impressive is the fact that as a team, Notre Dame is connecting on almost 82 percent of its foul shots (27-33) in the final five minutes of regulation, often times with the game in the balance (see chart on page 4).

One side note about Duffy’s free throw prowess – the Irish junior struggled at the line early in her freshman season, shooting just 59.3 percent (16-27) during her first 15 collegiate games. However, in the 55 games since then (Jan. 20, 2003 to present), Duffy is connecting at an .864 clip (146-169) on her foul shots. She also has made 39 of her last 41 free throws (.951) in the past 12 Irish games, dating back to Feb. 28, 2004.

Notre Dame has been very successful in the month of November over the past decade. Since the start of the 1995-96 campaign, the Irish are 35-8 (.814) in November games, including wins in 17 of their last 22 games in the month.

The Notre Dame women’s basketball program achieved an important milestone last Saturday, playing its 800th game as the Irish downed No. 10/9 Ohio State, 66-62 in the championship game of the Preseason WNIT. Notre Dame now has an overall record 554-248 (.691) in 28 seasons of varsity competition, starting with the 1977-78 campaign

Punctuated by emotional second-half rallies in the semifinal and final, Notre Dame won four consecutive games to claim the 2004 Preseason WNIT championship. The Irish capped off their season-opening charge with a 66-62 victory over No. 10/9 Ohio State in the title game, scoring the final 12 points of the contest to erase an eight-point Buckeye lead with a little more than five minutes remaining. That win came on the heels of a 76-65 semifinal conquest of No. 6 Duke, a victory that also saw Notre Dame come back from an eight-point deficit late in the second half.

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast was named the tournament Most Valuable Player after averaging 21.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists with a .507 field goal percentage in the four-game series. Batteast was at her best in the final two games, scoring a game-high 17 points vs. Duke (including a personal 10-0 run that put the Irish ahead for good) and then rolling up a career-best 32 points in the championship game against Ohio State. In that latter contest, she had another 10-point run in the first half and later scored seven of her team’s last 12 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 2:45 to play. However, her biggest contribution came with two seconds remaining, when she raced from beyond the top of the key all the way to the deep corner, blocking OSU’s potential game-tying three-pointer to cement Notre Dame’s title.

Not to be overlooked, junior guard Megan Duffy earned a place on the Preseason WNIT all-tournament team after recording 15.0 points and 6.0 assists per game with a .500 field goal percentage (.600 from beyond the arc). She was the catalyst for an Irish offense that averaged nearly 77 points per game and dished out better than 20 assists per night in the tournament, including a Preseason WNIT-record 29 assists in the first round vs. Illinois State.

Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast scored 18 points and No. 6 Notre Dame survived a scare from unranked Southern California before rallying for a 60-56 victory Friday night in Los Angeles.

Notre Dame (6-0) trailed USC 45-40 with eight minutes left, but the Irish went on a 10-0 run over the next four minutes to take a 50-45 lead. The Trojans got back within three points twice in the waning moments, but Notre Dame went 6-for-6 at the free throw line in the final 26 seconds to ice the victory.

Jamie Funn scored 13 points and Shay Murphy added 12 for Southern California, which slipped to 2-2 on the young season.

Batteast scored 12 in an ugly first half for Notre Dame, which made only 10 of 31 shots, but still managed a 29-20 halftime lead. That’s because USC was even worse, shooting 9-of-31 with 12 turnovers.

The Irish defeated the Women of Troy for the sixth time in seven meetings. Notre Dame has won three straight against Southern California in Los Angeles.


  • Notre Dame improves to 6-0 for the third time in school history (6-0 in 1998-99; 23-0 in 2000-01).
  • Last season, the Irish did not win their first true road game until Dec. 29 at Colorado State (their fifth such game of the season).
  • For the third time in the past four meetings, the Irish held the Women of Troy to less than 60 points.
  • After yielding 73 points to Illinois State in the season opener, Notre Dame has held its last five opponents to 65 points or less (including three with less than 60 points).
  • The last three Irish opponents all have been held to less than 20 percent on three-point shooting (.158, 3-of-19 by USC, including a half-court shot at the final horn).
  • The Irish have won 12 of their last 14 games against Pac-10 Conference opponents.
  • The USC game was the sixth in the first 14 days of the season for Notre Dame.
  • Notre Dame has forced 25 or more turnovers in three of its six games this season, including 54 takeaways in its last two games (30 steals).
  • The Irish are 5-0 this season when their bench outscores the opposition’s reserves (22-21 vs. USC).
  • Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast moved into ninth place on the school’s career scoring list with 1,433 points, passing Niele Ivey (1,430 from 1996-2001); next up is Sheila McMillen, who scored 1,439 points from 1995-99.
  • Batteast also had two blocks tonight, tying her with Shari Matvey for fourth place on the Irish career blocks list with 133 rejections.
  • The three Notre Dame freshmen who saw action vs. USC combined for 13 points, including a season-high five points from center Melissa D’Amico and the first career bucket from guard Tulyah Gaines (who returned from a four-game absence due to injury).

Senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) has been squarely in the national spotlight during the past three months as the 2004-05 campaign gets underway. In fact, no less than seven different outlets have placed the 6-foot-2 wing among the nation’s elite women’s college basketball players heading into this season (see chart on page 8 for complete rundown of honors).

The run began in August, when Batteast was selected to the John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-American Team, also putting her on a list of the top 30 candidates for the Wooden Women’s Award that is presented to the nation’s top women’s college basketball player. This marks the second consecutive year in which Batteast has been accorded preseason honors from the Wooden Women’s Award.

Shortly thereafter, Batteast’s name was placed on the 31-player watch list for the State Farm/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Wade Trophy, that also goes to the country’s top female collegiate cager. Like the Wooden Award, this is Batteast’s second consecutive appearance on the Wade Trophy Watch List.

In early September, two national publications came out with their preseason All-America teams and Batteast was a top selection by both outlets. Lindy’s College Basketball Annual touted Batteast as a preseason first-team All-America selection, while Street & Smith’s put the South Bend native on its preseason “Terrific 10” list, highlighting what it believes to be the 10 best players in the country.

The web-based publication also chimed in on Batteast’s abilities, making her a preseason second-team All-America selection in October.

Earlier this week, two more honors came Batteast’s way. The Associated Press named her to its exclusive five-player preseason All-America team, while the Naismith Trophy placed her on its 50-player preseason watch list for the award, which goes to the nation’s top player.

However, Batteast’s highest honor to date came in late October, when Basketball News chose her as its 2004-05 Preseason National Player of the Year. The magazine also made her a preseason first-team All-America choice. All three preseason publications (Lindy’s, Street & Smith’s and Basketball News) are currently available at newsstands across the country.

Notre Dame senior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind./Washington HS) was chosen as the 2004-05 BIG EAST Conference Preseason Player of the Year, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches. In addition, Batteast was a unanimous preseason first-team all-conference selection, while Irish junior guard Megan Duffy (Dayton, Ohio/Chaminade-Julienne HS) was named a preseason second-team all-BIG EAST honoree. The preseason all-conference teams were announced Oct. 28 at BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Media Day, which was held at the Liberty Airport Hilton in Newark, N.J.

Batteast, a fifth-team All-America pick by Basketball Times and honorable mention All-America choice by the Associated Press last season, is the first player from a school other than Connecticut to be chosen as the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year since Miami’s Vicki Plowden in 1992. Plowden went on to earn first-team all-conference honors and was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1993 BIG EAST Championship, which Miami won.

Batteast is coming off the finest campaign of her Notre Dame career, averaging personal bests of 16.0 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while garnering first-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors, her third consecutive all-league selection. In addition, Batteast was dominating in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, averaging 22.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game with a .483 field goal percentage and three double-doubles as the Irish advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and came within a minute of ousting top-seeded Penn State in the regional semifinals before falling, 55-49. Her performances against Top 25 opponents last season also were sharp, as she registered 16.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks with five double-doubles and three near double-doubles in 11 games.

Duffy was chosen as the 2004 BIG EAST Most Improved Player and was an honorable mention all-conference selection last season after averaging 9.9 points and 3.9 assists per game. She posted a nearly 100 percent improvement in both her field goal (.403) and three-point (.404) percentages while more than tripling her scoring average from her freshman season. She also was a steady influence at the point guard position, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST in assist/turnover ratio (1.36) and free throw percentage (.819). She is set to begin her second full season as a starter for the Irish next month.

For the eighth time in the past nine seasons, Notre Dame was ranked in both the prese