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#7/7 Notre Dame vs. #18/15 Air Force
Falcon Stadium ? Colorado Springs, Colo.


  • For just the second time in the 114-year history of Notre Dame football, the Irish are selecting captains on a game-by-game basis. The only other time Notre Dame chose captains in this fashion was 1946 under legendary head coach Frank Leahy. Tonight?s Irish captains were: LG Sean Mahan, SS Gerome Sapp, PK Nicholas Setta and RE Ryan Roberts. Roberts was selected as a team captain for the third time this season, while Mahan, Sapp and Setta all served as captains for the second time in 2002.
  • Notre Dame won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half. Air Force elected to receive, while the Irish chose to defend the South goal.
  • Tonight?s game marked the 144th sellout in the last 167 games involving Notre Dame.
  • Counting postseason play, Notre Dame has now had its last 118 games televised on one of four networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN), a stretch going back more than nine 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 earns its third win over a ranked opponent this year, the most in one season since 1995 (also three wins).
  • The Irish pick up their first road victory over a ranked opponent since a 24-6 win at No. 11 LSU on Nov. 15, 1997. The win breaks a six-game losing streak for Notre Dame on the home field of ranked opponents.
  • Notre Dame posts its second win this season over a ranked opponent away from home, having also downed No. 21/20 Maryland in Kickoff Classic XX at Giants Stadium. The last time the Irish won twice over ranked opponents away from home in the same season was 1993, when Notre Dame defeated No. 3 Michigan by a 27-23 score in Ann Arbor, and then knocked off seventh-ranked Texas A&M, 24-21 in the Cotton Bowl.
  • Notre Dame wins a night game for the second time in as many opportunities this season. The Irish also defeated No. 21/20 Maryland under the lights in the season opener at Kickoff Classic XX, snapping a seven-game regular-season losing streak at night, dating back to Nov. 29, 1997 (a 23-22 victory at Hawaii).
  • The Irish card their fifth victory this season by eight points or less (all in the last six games). It marks the fourth time in school history (and the first since 1974) that a Notre Dame club has won five times in one season by margins of eight or less. That 1974 team also represents the only other time the Irish went undefeated in at least five eight-point games (5-0). The school record for wins by eight points or less in a single season is six, established in 1939 (6-2).
  • The Irish raise their all-time record against the Mountain West Conference to 23-6 (.793), preserving the third-best winning percentage against one conference in school history.
  • Notre Dame registers its eighth consecutive win over a service academy and moves to 29-1 (.967) against the academies since 1986, including a 14-0 mark away from home.
  • Notre Dame wins for the 19th time in its last 20 October games. The Irish also improve to 51-8 (.864) in the month of October since the 1988 season.
  • Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham becomes just the third coach since 1913 to win his first seven games at Notre Dame, joining Jesse Harper (1913-14 – nine) and Ara Parseghian (1964 – nine).
  • Willingham also becomes the first Notre Dame coach to record wins in his first three games against ranked teams. Frank Leahy guided the Irish to a pair of wins and a tie in his first three encounters with ranked opponents during the 1941 season.
  • Notre Dame opens its season 7-0 for the first time since 1993, when the Irish won their first 10 games and ascended to No. 1 in the polls.
  • The Irish extend their current winning streak to eight games, their longest since another eight-game run from Sept. 26-Nov. 21, 1998.
  • Notre Dame now is 12-2 (.857) all-time in the state of Colorado. Tonight?s game marked the first Irish appearance in Colorado since its last visit to Air Force on Nov. 18, 1995.
  • Since opening the 2001 season at 0-3, Notre Dame is 12-3 (.800) in its last 15 games. In all three of those losses (vs. Boston College, Tennessee and Stanford in 2001), the Irish had possession with an opportunity to tie or take the lead in the final five minutes.
  • Air Force ILB Marchello Graddy returned a fumble 21 yards for the game?s first touchdown late in the first quarter. It was the first fumble return for a TD by a Notre Dame opponent since Stanford?s Aaron Fucht returned a fumble 37 yards for a score on Nov. 27, 1999.
  • Coming into tonight?s game, Notre Dame had lost only four fumbles in its first six contests. The Irish gave up three fumbles tonight, with one being returned by Air Force for a touchdown in the first quarter.
  • Junior QB Carlyle Holiday raced 53 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter. It was the longest run from scrimmage by a Notre Dame player this season, and the second-longest run of Holiday?s career (67 yards for a TD vs. Pittsburgh on Oct. 6, 2001).
  • Entering tonight?s game, junior QB Carlyle Holiday had 45 yards net rushing and one rushing TD this season. He more than matched those totals on one play late in the first quarter, going 53 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7. Holiday finished with a season-high 71 yards rushing and two touchdowns tonight.
  • Senior PK Nicholas Setta converted all three of his PAT tonight, extending his streak of consecutive extra points made to 73, dating back to Oct. 7, 2000 vs. Stanford. Setta?s streak is the second-longest in school history (136 by Craig Hentrich, 1989-92).
  • Sophomore TB Ryan Grant notched his third 100-yard rushing game of the season, running for a career-high 190 yards tonight, the 12th-highest single-game total in school history and the most since Tony Fisher rolled up 196 yards vs. Boston College on Nov. 11, 2000. Grant also carried a career-best 30 times tonight, the most by an Irish runner since Autry Denson toted the ball 31 times vs. Purdue on Sept. 26, 1998.
  • Grant also scored on an 18-yard run in the second quarter, marking the fifth consecutive game in which Grant has found the end zone. He now has six TDs this season.
  • Senior WR Arnaz Battle caught eight passes for a career-high 112 yards tonight. It represents the second consecutive game in which Battle has topped the 100-yard mark and set a new career standard (101 vs. Pittsburgh).
  • Senior CB Shane Walton came up with his sixth interception of the season in the third quarter tonight. It?s the most interceptions by an Irish player in one year since Todd Lyght registered eight thefts in 1989.
  • Notre Dame now has led at halftime in six of its seven games this season (14-7 tonight).
  • Through seven games this season, Notre Dame has allowed just one offensive touchdown in the first half (a first-quarter TD by Stanford). Air Force scored a defensive touchdown in the first half tonight.
  • The Irish rushed for a season-high 335 yards this evening, their highest total on the ground since a 345-yard effort vs. West Virginia last year.
  • Notre Dame piled up a season-high 447 yards of total offense, its highest output since a 481-yard performance at Rutgers on Nov. 18, 2000.
  • Notre Dame won the time of possession battle with Air Force tonight, holding the ball for 35:33, compared to 24:27 for the Falcons. The Irish now have held the edge in time of possession in six of their seven games this season, breaking the 35-minute barrier for the second time this season (41:04 vs. Maryland).