Nov. 22, 2004
The Date and Time: Saturday, Nov. 27, 2004 at 5 p.m. PST (8 p.m. EST in South Bend).
The Site: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (92,000/Natural Grass) in Los Angeles,Calif.
The Tickets: It’s a complete sellout — with this being the 171st sellout in the last 196 Irish games and the 35th in the last 37 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: ABC national telecast with Keith Jackson (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (analysis), Todd Harris (sideline), Jeff Kibler (producer) and Derek Mobley (director).
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 www.und.com. 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 USC game, via the Notre Dame (www.und.com) and USC (www.usctrojans.com) athletics web sites.
Web Sites: Notre Dame (www.und.com), USC (www.usctrojans.com).
NOTRE DAME AND #1 USC RENEW COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S TOP INTERSECTIONAL RIVALRY
The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame (6-4) and the Trojans of USC (10-0) meet for the 76th time on the gridiron when they clash on Saturday, Nov. 27, at 5 p.m. (PST) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The contest will be televised nationally by ABC, marking the 147th consecutive Irish football game to be broadcast across the country by one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN).
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 all but three seasons since (taking 1943-45 off due to travel restrictions during World War II).
Notre Dame enters this year’s contest trying to finish on a high note after a tough home loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 13. The Irish dropped a 41-38 heartbreaker when the Panthers notched a game-winning field goal with one second remaining after Notre Dame, capping a frantic fourth period in which the teams notched four scores in the game’s final 7:21. The Irish, who have qualified for a bowl berth with six wins this season, have dropped three of their four losses by a total of seven points (by 3 at BYU; by 1 to Boston College; by 3 to Pittsburgh).
The top-ranked Trojans have been impressive in their quest to repeat their Associated Press national title from a year ago and are on track to earn a chance to win the Bowl Championship Series national title this season if they can notch wins in their next two games versus the Irish and crosstown rival UCLA (on Dec. 4 at the Rose Bowl). The Trojans have maintained the top spot in both major polls throughout the 2004 season, having won 19 consecutive games dating to last season. USC will be trying to extend their home winning streak at the Coliseum to a school-record 21 games (they tied the mark of 20 last week vs. Arizona). Also, USC is off to a 10-0 start for the first time since 1988 (a run ended by a 27-10 Irish victory at the Coliseum).
The Trojan offense is highlighted by a pair of Heisman Trophy candidates in quarterback Matt Leinart and tailback Reggie Bush. USC ranks ranks no lower than 33rd nationally in any statistical category currently kept by the NCAA. The offense ranks 17th in total offense (434.8 ypg), seventh in scoring (37.1 ppg) and 12th in pass efficiency (152.40). The defense, which ranks among the nation’s top five in five of the six major statistical categories, ranks second in rushing defense (69.2 ypg) and scoring defense (11.6 ppg), is fifth in pass efficiency defense (97.60) and turnover margin (+1.30 avg., +13 margin), and is fourth in total defense (266.4 ypg).
NOTRE DAME-USC SERIES NOTES
â€¢ Notre Dame and USC are meeting for the 59th straight season (the only gap in the series came during World War II, from 1943-45) and the 76th time in the last 79 years.
â€¢ Notre Dame holds a 42-28-5 series edge over the Trojans, but trails in games at Los Angeles by an 18-17-4 margin.
â€¢ The series began in 1926, when Knute Rockne became one of the first Midwestern or Eastern coaches to take his team to the West Coast. The next four games then alternated between Soldier Field in Chicago and the Los Angeles Coliseum, with the first game played at Notre Dame Stadium in 1931.
â€¢ Notre Dame’s 42 wins over USC are the most by a Trojan opponent (12 more than California’s second-most 30). The Trojans’ 28 wins over the Irish are the most by a Notre Dame opponent (two more than Purdue’s second-most 25).
â€¢ USC is tied with Purdue as the second-most common opponent in Irish football history, as Notre Dame are playing both for the 76th time this season. The Notre Dame-Navy series remains the longest in school history, with the 78th game in that rivalry having taken place on Oct. 16.
â€¢ Prior to USC’s 27-20 overtime win over the Irish in 1996, Notre Dame had not lost in the previous 13 series meetings (11 straight Irish wins from 1983-’93, a tie in `94, then another Irish win in `95). Notre Dame had a three-game winning streak vs. USC snapped in 2002, but still has won 15 of the last 21 games (15-5-1) between the two schools, with nine of those wins against the Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium.
â€¢ Since 1984, Notre Dame is 6-3-1 against the Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
â€¢ Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham has a 4-5 career mark vs. USC (seven games as head coach at Stanford).
â€¢ Since 1965, the ND-USC game has been nationally televised 31 times (including the 2004 game).
â€¢ Notre Dame is 3-7-1 against USC in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum when the Trojans are ranked in the top 10. All three Notre Dame victories (1947, 1966 and 1968) capped national title seasons for the Irish.
â€¢ This is the fourth time Notre Dame will face a top-ranked USC team. The Trojans have won all three previous encounters when ranked number one (25-0 in 1962, 24-7 in 1967 and 45-23 in 1972).
â€¢ It’s not unheard of for a national title to be at stake for one of the combatants in this rivalry. Six times Notre Dame has entered the USC game with a shot at a national crown, only to be defeated (1938, 1948, 1964, 1970, 1974 and 1980) and a seventh 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).
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
â€¢ Notre Dame will improve to 3-0 this season versus opponents ranked in the top 10 at game time, including victories over then-No. 7 Michigan (28-20 on Sept. 11) and at then-No. 9 Tennessee (17-13 on Nov. 6), joining Auburn as the nation’s only teams to own victories over three top 10 foes this season.
â€¢ The Irish will defeat a top-five team for the first time since a 36-20 win over No. 5 Michigan on Sept. 5, 1998 at Notre Dame Stadium.
â€¢ Notre Dame will topple USC for the 16th time in its last 22 games with the Trojans.
â€¢ Notre Dame will record its 43rd series win over USC, tying with Pittsburgh for the third-most victories against one opponent behind its 68 wins over Navy and 49 wins over Purdue. Those 43 victories also will continue to rank as the highest total ever by a USC opponent, 13 more than the closest Trojan conqueror (California – 30).
â€¢ Notre Dame will improve to 73-36-6 (.661) all-time against Pac-10 teams, including a 33-23-5 (.582) mark on the road.
â€¢ Notre Dame will improve to 14-5 (.737) in the regular season versus Pac-10 teams since 1998.
â€¢ Notre Dame will improve to 34-14-1 (.704) in the month of November since 1988, including a 7-4 mark under head coach Tyrone Willingham.
â€¢ Notre Dame will improve to 8-7 versus ranked opponents under head coach Tyrone Willingham.
IF USC WINS …
â€¢ The Trojans will collect its third consecutive win over Notre Dame, marking the first time since USC won three straight from 1996-98.
â€¢ USC will improve to 4-1-1 against Notre Dame at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1994.
â€¢ The Irish will lose consecutive games for the first time in the 2004 season.
â€¢ Notre Dame will fall to 72-37-6 (.652) all-time against Pac-10 teams, including a 32-24-5 (.566) mark on the road.
â€¢ Notre Dame will drop to 13-6 (.684) in the regular season versus Pac-10 teams since 1998.
â€¢ Notre Dame will drop to 33-15-1 (.684) in the month of November since 1988, including a 6-5 mark under current head coach Tyrone Willingham.
â€¢ USC will win its 20th consecutive game, the second-longest streak in school history (record is 25 from 1931-33). USC had a 23-game unbeaten streak from 1971-73 that was snapped by Notre Dame (23-14 Irish win at Notre Dame Stadium in 1973).
THE SHILLELAGH TROPHY
The winner of the Notre Dame-USC game keeps a shillelagh (presented by the Notre Dame Club of Los Angeles), with shamrocks representing Notre Dame victories and ruby 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 `90 game.
NOTRE DAME VS. THE PAC-10 CONFERENCE
â€¢ Notre Dame has won more than 65 percent of its games versus Pac-10 Conference opponents, with a winning series record versus nine of the Pac-10 teams and an overall mark of 72-36-6 (.658) in 114 games against Pac-10 schools – including the 1998, 2000, `02 and `04 wins over Stanford, the `98 and `99 wins over Arizona State, the `99, `00 and `01 wins over USC, the `03 victory over Washington State and the `04 win over Washington. Nearly 70 percent of those games (75) have come versus USC (42-28-5) while another 15 percent have come against Stanford (13-6-0).
â€¢ Notre Dame has played a handful of games vs. California (4-0), Washington (5-0), Arizona (2-1), Oregon (1-0-1) and UCLA (2-0). Notre Dame and Arizona State met for the first time in 1998, while the Irish met Oregon State for the first time in the 2001 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Notre Dame played its first-ever game against Washington State in 2003 and met Washington for the fifth-time ever earlier this season.
â€¢ Other than the Washington game this season and last year’s win over Washington State, the most recent games vs. other Pac-10 teams are: a 16-13 home loss to Arizona in `82, a 41-8 home win over California in `67, a 13-13 tie at Oregon in `82 and a 24-0 home win over UCLA in `64.
â€¢ Notre Dame is 17-9-1 (.648) in its last 27 games vs. Pac-10 schools (4-5-1 vs. USC, 7-3 vs. Stanford, 3-0 vs. Washington, 2-0 vs. Arizona State, 1-0 vs. Washington State, 0-1 vs. Oregon State), starting with a `92 victory over USC.
NOTRE DAME-USC CONNECTIONS
â€¢ Notre Dame assistant coaches John McDonnell and Buzz Preston served as assistant coaches at Washington State when Trojans’ secondary coach Greg Burns was a defensive back for the Cougars (1991-93, 1995).
â€¢ Trojans’ wide receivers coach Lane Kiffin was a graduate assistant coach at Fresno State when Irish receivers coach Trent Miles was the receivers coach there.
â€¢ Nine Irish players hail from the state of California: freshman QB Darrin Bragg (San Jose/Bellarmine Prep), junior OL James Bonelli (Camarillo/St. Bonaventure), senior QB Pat Dillingham (Portola Valley/St. Francis), junior DE Chris Frome (Saugus/Newhart Hall), freshman DB Terrail Lambert (Oxnard/St. Bonaventure), junior NG Derek Landri (Concord/De La Salle), junior WR Rhema McKnight (LaPalma/Kennedy), freshman DL Brandon Nicolas (Santa Ana/Mater Dei), sophomore DB Freddie Parish IV (Redondo Beach/Long Beach Poly) and freshman DB Anthony Vernaglia (Anaheim Hills/Orange Lutheran).
â€¢ Several Notre Dame and USC players hail from the same hometown or attended the same high school:
â€¢ Dillingham, USC senior S Matt Lemos (Redwood City), Trojan senior S Forrest Mozart (Los Altos Hills)and USC senior CB Ronald Nunn (San Mateo) all attended St. Francis High School in Mountain View, Calif.
â€¢ Bonelli, Lambert and USC senior LB Bobby Otani (Oxnard) attended St. Bonaventure HS, as did Trojan sophomore WR Whitney Lewis (Oxnard).
â€¢ Parish IV, USC junior TB Hershel Dennis (Long Beach) and Trojan junior OT Winston Justice (Long Beach) attended Poly High School in Long Beach, Calif.
â€¢ Nicolas and USC junior QB Matt Leinart (Santa Ana) attended Mater Dei HS in Santa Ana, Calif.
â€¢ Notre Dame women’s volleyball head coach Debbie (Landreth) Brown was twice named the national player of the year while helping USC win the 1976 and `77 national championships in women’s volleyball. Brown received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award in January, 2003.
USC RANKS AMONG ND’S MOST-PLAYED OPPONENTS
â€¢ USC stands tied with Purdue as the second-most common opponent in Notre Dame football history. The Irish and Trojans are celebrating the 76th anniversary of their storied rivalry this season.
â€¢ Notre Dame plays its five most common opponents this season (Navy, Purdue, USC, Michigan State and Pittsburgh).
â€¢ The Irish have played 134 different teams in 116 seasons of varsity football, with the most common opponents in Irish football history as follows (number of games are updated to include all 2004 games):
Opponent, Games, ND series record
Navy, 78, 68-9-1
Purdue, 76, 49-25-2
USC, 76, 42-28-5
Michigan State, 68, 43-24-1
Pittsburgh, 62, 43-18-1
Army, 48, 36-8-4
Northwestern, 47, 37-8-2
Georgia Tech, 32, 26-5-1
Michigan, 32, 13-18-1
NOTRE DAME VS. USC IN 2003: OCT. 18, 2003 – #6 USC 45, NOTRE DAME 14
USC scored 31 unanswered points to break away from an early tie and defeat Notre Dame, 45-14 at Notre Dame Stadium. It was the second consecutive win for the Trojans over the Irish and it was only the second time in the last 11 visits that USC had left South Bend victorious. Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart turned in a stellar performance, completing 26 of 34 passes for 351 yards and tying a Notre Dame opponent record with four touchdown passes. USC amassed 551 yards of total offense and held the ball for more than 33 minutes.
Senior running back Julius Jones shone in defeat for the Irish, piling up 84 yards on 18 carries, including a 22-yard run in the first quarter that tied the game at 7-7. Sophomore tight end Anthony Fasano added the best outing of his young career, catching four passes for 33 yards and his first-ever touchdown, a diving two-yard grab that evened the score at 14-14 late in the first period. USC set the tone for this game from the outset, moving 80 yards in eight plays before Leinart found Keary Colbert on an 18-yard touchdown strike at the 12:25 mark. Colbert finished with eight catches for 120 yards in the contest.
Following Jones’ score, the Trojans needed four plays to regain the lead, with Reggie Bush doing much of the work on a 58-yard TD run. Jones took some of the sting out of that score by returning the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to give the Irish good field position. The runback also made Jones the school’s career leader in kickoff returns and kickoff return yardage, passing 1987 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown on both lists. Fasano capitalized on Jones’ return with his two-yard TD catch moments later.
However, that would be the last bright spot for Notre Dame, as USC put together its third 80-yard drive of the opening quarter, covering that distance in 10 players before Mike Williams caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Leinart to cap the march. Williams wound up with nine receptions for 112 yards, making USC the first Irish opponent to have two 100-yard receivers in the same game since 1999.
Notre Dame had a pair of chances to tie the score in the second quarter, but came away empty both times. The Irish drove to the USC 35-yard line three minutes into the period, but lost the ball on downs. Then, after junior free safety Quentin Burrell recovered a Leinart fumble near midfield, Notre Dame could only get as far as the Trojan 44-yard line before having to punt the ball away. That unwanted trend continued into the second half for the Irish, as they punted on seven consecutive possessions, while USC built its lead and sealed the win.
NOTRE DAME’S LAST VISIT TO USC: NOV. 30, 2002 – #6 USC 44, #7 NOTRE DAME 13
In Notre Dame’s most recent visit to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, sixth-ranked USC reeled off 34 unanswered points in the final 31 minutes of the game to upend seventh-ranked Notre Dame, 44-13, before a sellout crowd of 91,432 on Nov. 30, 2002.
For the first time all season, the Irish defense bent under the weight of a sturdy USC offense which rolled up a Notre Dame opponent-record 610 yards, including 425 yards passing. Eventual Heisman Trophy winner (and NFL No. 1 draft pick) Carson Palmer tossed four touchdown passes for the Trojans, tying another Irish opponent record. Notre Dame stood evenly with USC throughout the majority of the first half. After Ryan Killeen missed an early field goal try for the Trojans, the Irish marched to the USC 17-yard line before settling for a 34-yard field goal by Nicholas Setta. On the ensuing kickoff, USC fumbled and the Irish recovered deep in Trojan territory. Yet, the Notre Dame offense could not capitalize on the turnover, and Setta came on to boot a 32-yard field goal for a 6-0 Irish lead.
USC bounced back, as Palmer connected with Mike Williams on a six-yard touchdown pass and Killeen added a 22-yard field goal in the second quarter. The Irish special teams then came up with a key play late in the period, as senior linebacker Carlos Pierre-Antoine blocked Tom Malone’s punt and fell on the loose ball in the end zone to give Notre Dame a 13-10 lead with 1:07 remaining. However, there was still enough time for USC to mount a late scoring drive and the Trojans did just that. Palmer moved his charges crisply down the field, capping the march with a 19-yard TD toss to Williams only five seconds before halftime. USC rode the momentum of its late first-half scoring drive into the third quarter, as Palmer threw another scoring pass and Killeen kicked a pair of field goals to give the hosts a 30-13 lead.
Trailing by 17 points late in the third period, the Irish defense gave Notre Dame an opportunity to get back in the contest, as senior linebacker Courtney Watson intercepted Palmer at the goal line and raced 60 yards to give the Irish excellent field position. That chance died moments later when the Notre Dame offense went three-and-out and was forced to punt the ball back to USC. The Trojans put the game on ice in the fourth quarter, as Sultan McCullough scored on an 11-yard run and Palmer flipped his fourth touchdown pass of the night.
IRISH AND AUBURN ONLY TEAMS WITH MULTIPLE WINS OVER TOP 10 OPPONENTS Notre Dame’s 17-13 victory over then-No. 9 Tennessee on Nov. 13 marked the Irish’s second win this season over an opponent ranked in the top 10 at game time. The Irish and Auburn are the nation’s only teams to own at least two victories over top 10-ranked foes in 2004. Notre Dame knocked off then-No. 7 Michigan, 28-20, on Sept. 11 and followed with the win Saturday at Tennessee. Auburn owns three victories over top-10 opponents, beating then-No. 5 LSU on Sept. 18, knocking off then-No. 10 Tennessee on Oct. 2, and defeating then-No. 5 Georgia on Nov. 13. Prior to this season, Notre Dame had not defeated two top 10-ranked teams in the same season since 1993, when the Irish knocked off three (No.3 Michigan, 27-23; No. 1 Florida State, 31-24; and No. 7 Texas A&M, 24-21 in the Cotton Bowl).
RANK AND FILE
Notre Dame’s penchant for playing the best teams in the country is well known. Since 1987, the Irish have played 85 games against ranked opponents, an average of nearly five games per season. Notre Dame has posted a record of 45-38-2 (.541) in those games, including a 23-13-1 (.635) mark against ranked teams at home. Here’s how the Irish have done against Top 25 teams over the past 18 years:
Season Home Road/Ntrl. Total Season Home Road/Ntrl. Total1987 2-0 1-2 3-2 1996 1-1 1-0 2-11988 2-0 2-0 4-0 1997 1-1 1-3 2-41989 3-0 3-1 6-1 1998 1-0 0-1 1-11990 2-1 3-1 5-2 1999 1-1 0-3 1-41991 1-1 1-2 2-3 2000 2-1 0-2 2-31992 2-1-1 2-0 4-1-1 2001 0-1 0-2 0-31993 1-1 2-0 3-1 2002 1-0 3-2 4-21994 0-1 0-2-1 0-3-1 2003 0-2 1-2 1-41995 2-0 1-2 3-2 2004 1-1 1-0 2-1 Totals 23-13-1 22-25-1 45-38-2
NOTRE DAME VERSUS NO. 1
The upcoming game with USC will be Notre Dame’s 24th meeting all-time against an opponent ranked number one in the Associated Press college football rankings since the Associated Press began its national collegiate football poll in 1936. The Irish have a record of 8-14-1 (.369) in those previous 23 meetings. The eight victories is the most by any school (Miami, Purdue and USC are second with seven, Oklahoma is third with six). This is the first time Notre Dame will face a No. 1 opponent since a 27-24 overtime loss to Nebraska on Sept. 9, 2000, at Notre Dame Stadium. Three times Notre Dame has clashed with the Trojans teams ranked number one, with USC winning all three of those contests. Here are the results of previous Notre Dame confrontations with top-ranked opponents:
Date Opponent W/L ScoreNovember 21, 1936 NORTHWESTERN W 26-6November 11, 1944 Army (Yankee Stadium) L 0-59November 10, 1945 Army (Yankee Stadium) L 0-48November 9, 1946 Army (Yankee Stadium) T 0-0November 15, 1952 at Michigan State L 3-21October 21, 1961 at Michigan State L 7-17December 1, 1962 at USC L 0-25November 20, 1965 MICHIGAN STATE L 3-12October 14, 1967 USC L 7-24September 28, 1968 PURDUE L 22-37January 1, 1970 Texas (Cotton Bowl) L 17-21January 1, 1971 Texas (Cotton Bowl) W 24-11December 2, 1972 at USC L 23-45December 31, 1973 Alabama (Sugar Bowl) W 24-23January 2, 1978 Texas (Cotton Bowl) W 38-10January 1, 1981 Georgia (Sugar Bowl) L 10-17November 6, 1982 at Pittsburgh W 31-16November 16, 1985 at Penn State L 6-36October 15, 1988 MIAMI W 31-30January 1, 1990 Colorado (Orange Bowl) W 21-6January 1, 1991 Colorado (Orange Bowl) L 9-10November 13, 1993 FLORIDA STATE W 31-24September 9, 2000 NEBRASKA L 24-27 (ot)
The Irish have been one of college football’s most successful road teams over the course of the last 17 seasons (since 1988). During that span, the Irish have the nation’s 10th-best record in games played at opponent home stadiums with a mark of 49-27-2 (.641). Thus far this season, the Irish have a 2-1 mark at opposing stadiums (plus a win over Navy at a neutral site). Here’s a listing of the nation’s top 10 road teams since 1988:
School W L T Pct.1. Miami (Fla.) 69 19 0 .7842. Florida State 62 19 0 .7653. Tennessee 58 18 2 .7564. Michigan 57 23 3 .7055. Nebraska 54 25 1 .6816. Ohio State 53 25 2 .6757. Florida 46 22 1 .6748. Colorado 54 27 1 .6659. Alabama 51 28 0 .64610. Notre Dame 49 27 2 .641
RUNNING GAME KEYS IRISH SUCCESS
Success running the football has been a key to success in the win column for Notre Dame this season. In the Irish’s six victories, Notre Dame has averaged 150.8 yards per game on the ground and 3.4 yards per rushing attempt (905 yards on 265 carries). In the Irish’s four losses, Notre Dame has averaged 92.5 yards per game via the rush and 2.9 yards per attempt (370 yards on 125 carries). Notre Dame’s best rushing performance in a victory this year is a 204-yard effort against Navy. The worst Irish rushing performance in a 2004 victory was the 98-yard outing last Saturday at Tennessee. Here’s a comparison of rushing totals for wins and losses:
RUSHING GAME IN WINS (6) RUSHING GAME IN LOSSES (4)Opponent Att. Yards Avg. TD Opponent Att. Yards Avg. TDMichigan 40 135 3.4 2 BYU 21 11 0.5 0at Michigan State 48 173 3.6 2 Purdue 36 76 2.1 1Washington 46 146 3.2 1 Boston College 34 104 3.0 2Stanford 51 149 2.9 3 Pittsburgh 34 179 5.3 2vs. Navy 44 204 4.6 3at Tennessee 36 98 2.7 0Totals 265 905 3.4 11 Totals 125 370 2.9 5
PASSING YARDAGE RANKS AMONG BEST IN NOTRE DAME HISTORY
The Notre Dame offense has produced an average of 226.7 yards per game via the pass this season. That average ranks as the third-best per-game average in Notre Dame history (via records kept since the 1946 season). Only two other Irish teams averaged more yards passing – the 1970 squad led by Joe Theismann averaged 252.7 yards per game and the 1999 unit led by Jarious Jackson averaged 238.2 yards via the pass. That success in the air has contributed to Notre Dame’s total offense average of 357 yards per contest, the most by the Irish since 1999 (419.7 ypg).
STRONG IN THE RED ZONE
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 31 trips to the red zone this year, coming away with 21 touchdowns (a .677 TD percentage). Opponents also have visited the red zone 31 times against Notre Dame, but have just 13 touchdowns (a .419 TD percentage).
WINNING THE FIELD POSITION BATTLE
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 84 of their last 120 drives in “plus territory” — outside their own 20-yard line — with 26 drives that began in their opponent’s half of the field.
The Irish have caused 21 turnovers (12 fumbles, 9 interceptions) this season and have made the most of their opportunities. Notre Dame has parlayed those takeaways into 76 points, which accounts for 29.4 percent of the Irish scoring (258 points) thus far in 2004.
THE FIVE-FINGER DISCOUNT
Notre Dame came up with a Willingham-era record six turnovers (3 fumbles, 3 interceptions) 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 45 games, including 24 contests where they came up with at least three takeaways. In this week’s NCAA statistical rankings, the Irish are 25th in the country in turnover margin (+0.60 per game, +6 overall).
NO TURNOVERS = VICTORY
Two of Notre Dame’s six victories thus far in 2004 have been keynoted by errorless outings in the turnover department as the Irish collected wins over Navy (27-9) and Tennessee (17-13) while not losing the ball via a turnover. Those performances continued an amazing trend for the Irish since 1985, as Notre Dame is 40-0-1 in games in which they have not committed a turnover since the start of the `85 season (including 5-0 under head coach Tyrone Willingham).
STOPPING THE RUN IS JOB ONE FOR IRISH
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 21 of 35 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing, including seven games this year (BYU – 22; Michigan – 56; Purdue – 99; Stanford – 67; Boston College – 62; Tennessee – 58, Pittsburgh – 98). In fact, Notre Dame opponents are averaging 2.7 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 10 games this season, the Irish are 11th in the country in rushing defense, allowing an average of 95.5 yards on the ground.
STOPPING THE RUN – PART II
Notre Dame’s defense against the rush has been the team’s most consistent area this season. Through 10 games, the Irish have allowed only 955 rushing yards (95.5 per game) and a key to that success has been the defense’s ability to prevent long rushing plays. Entering the USC game, Notre Dame has not allowed a rushing play of more than 25 yards this season. Other than two 25-yard runs (by Boston College and Tennessee), the Irish haven’t allowed a run of more than 18 yards (by Michigan State) in a game this season.
IMPROVED RUSH DEFENSE LEADS TO SUCCESS
Rushing totals allowed by the Notre Dame defense are down across the board this season from the 2003 season, a factor that has led to better numbers on the scoreboard. In 2003, the Irish allowed a respectable 127.2 yards per game on the ground, permitting opponents to average 3.1 yards per rush. This season, Notre Dame opponents are averaging only 95.5 yards per game rushing (an improvement of 31.7 yards per game) and only 2.7 yards per attempt (an improvement of 0.4 yards per attempt). Through 10 games, Notre Dame has allowed only five rushing touchdowns (the Irish gave up 19 rushing touchdowns in 2003) for an improvement of 14 over the 12-game total from last season. That has contributed greatly to Notre Dame’s improved ability to limit opponent scoring as Irish opponents are averaging 21 points per game this season, an improvement of 5.3 points per game from 2003.
QUINN AMONG TOP SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACKS IN NOTRE DAME HISTORY
A statistical comparison of current sophomore Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn to the sophomore season totals of other notable Notre Dame QBs among ND’s career top 10 passers:
Category R. Powlus (1995) S. Beuerlein (1984) R. Mirer (1990) T. Hanratty (1966) B. Quinn (2004)Pass Efficiency 140.67 124.30 138.81 128.67 128.01Comp-Att-Int. 124-217-7 140-232-18 110-200-6 78-147-10 159-295-9Completion % 57.1 60.3 55.0 53.1 53.9Yards 1,853 1,920 1,824 1,247 2,267Touchdowns 12 7 8 8 14Total Offense 1,819 1,845 2,022 1,371 2,223
THE QUINN-TESSENTIAL QUARTERBACK
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 259 yards and three touchdowns against Pittsburgh, completing 15 of 26 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 sixth-best 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, as noted below:
Player Season Three-Game Passing Yardage1. Joe Theismann 1970 947 (272 - Georgia Tech; 149 - LSU; 526 - USC)2. Brady Quinn 2004 912 (215 - Michigan St.; 265 - Washington; 432 - Purdue)3. Rusty Lisch 1979 849 (227 - Air Force; 286 - USC; 336 - South Carolina)4. Steve Beuerlein 1986 828 (248 - Navy; 269 - SMU; 311 - Penn State)5. Jarious Jackson 1999 814 (302 - Michigan; 267 - Purdue; 245 - Michigan State)6. John Huarte 1964 783 (209 - UCLA, 300 - Stanford; 274 - Navy)7. Terry Hanratty 1968 738 (202 - Oklahoma; 294 - Purdue; 242 - Iowa)8. Ron Powlus 1995 716 (200 - Vanderbilt; 273 - Texas; 243 - Ohio State)9. Joe Montana 1977 705 (260 - Navy; 273 - Georgia Tech; 172 - Clemson)
QUINN RANKS THIRD ON ND’S SINGLE-SEASON PASSING YARDS LIST
For the season, Quinn ranks 42nd in the nation in total offense (222.3 yards per game) and 47th in passing efficiency (128.01), while his 2,267 passing yards through 10 games put him third on the single-season passing yards list at Notre Dame. There have been only seven 2,000-yard passing seasons in school history:
Player Season Passing Yardage1. Jarious Jackson 1999 2,7532. Joe Theismann 1970 2,4293. Brady Quinn 2004 2,267 2,453 (projected)4. Steve Beuerlein 1986 2,2115. Rick Mirer 1991 2,1176. Ron Powlus 1997 2,0787. Joe Montana 1978 2,010
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn has spread his pass completions around this season. Quinn has completed passes to 20 different receivers in those 10 contests, a breakdown of seven wide receivers, six 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 37 passes for 511 yards and two touchdowns. Junior tight end Anthony Fasano is next with 24 catches for 329 yards and two scores. Junior wide receiver Maurice Stovall has 20 catches for 296 yards and a touchdown while senior wide receiver Matt Shelton has 17 catches for 505 yards and five touchdowns and sophomore wide receiver Jeff Samardzija has accounted for 12 catches for 185 yards. Quinn has tossed touchdown passes to five different players this season: McKnight, Shelton (five times), Fasano (twice), senior fullback Rashon Powers-Neal (twice) and Stovall.
SHELTON LOVES THE LONG BALL
Senior wide receiver Matt Shelton has emerged as a big-play threat for the Irish this season. After a career-best 128-yard outing against Pittsburgh, Shelton ranks fourth on the team with 17 catches for 505 yards (29.7 yards per catch) and six touchdowns. He 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. Shelton has averaged 38.0 yards on his seven career touchdown grabs (36 vs. Pittsburgh, 33 vs. Boston College, 27 and 24 vs. Washington, 35 at MSU, 46 vs. Michigan, 65 at Stanford in ’03). Eleven of Shelton’s 17 catches in 2004 have measured at least 25 yards in length:
Opponent 25+-yard CatchesMichigan 1 (46*)at Michigan State 3 (53, 35, 35)Washington 2 (27*, 24*)vs. Navy 1 (30)Boston College 1 (33*)Pittsburgh 3 (46, 46, 36*)*denotes touchdown reception
SHELTON AMONG NOTRE DAME’S BEST DEEP THREATS
Senior wide receiver Matt Shelton is averaging 29.7 yards per reception this season, nabbing 17 catches for 505 yards and scoring six touchdowns. That average threatens to shatter the Notre Dame single-season record, but Shelton needs to reach the minimum of 20 catches to qualify. The current mark of 25.6 yards per catch is held by Tony Hunter, who set the mark in 1979 with 690 yards on 27 receptions. The single-season leaders in Notre Dame history for yards per catch:
Player Year No.-Yards Avg. Matt Shelton 2004 17-505 29.71. Tony Hunter 1979 27-690 25.62. Jim Morse 1956 20-442 22.13. Raghib Ismail 1990 32-699 21.84 Kris Haines 1978 32-699 21.845. Dan Kelleher 1976 24-522 21.756. Tim Brown 1987 39-846 21.697. Derrick Mayes 1993 24-512 21.3
WALKER KEYS RUSHING GAME’S RESURGENCE
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 75.4 yards rushing per game the past nine contests (679 yards on 161 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 and posted his second 100-yard effort of the season with 112 yards and two touchdowns against Pittsburgh. 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 Rivals.com 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. In that game, he: a) became the first Irish freshman to rush for 100 yards in a game since Julius Jones had 146 yards against Navy on Oct. 30, 1999; b) became the first Notre Dame freshman to score two touchdowns in a game since Matt LoVecchio ran for two scores at USC on Nov. 25, 2000; c) was the 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 and the first freshman to score two touchdowns in a home opener since at least 1970; and d) was the 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. (Julius Jones scored twice vs. Boston College on Nov. 20, 1999, but one of his touchdowns came as a punt returner).
WALKER AMONG TOP FRESHMAN RUSHERS IN NOTRE DAME HISTORY
Freshman running back Darius Walker is on the way to posting one of the top rushing totals by a freshman in Notre Dame history. His 112-yard effort against Pittsburgh moved him closer to second place on Notre Dame’s freshman rushing list. He needs 17 yards to surpass Autry Denson for second and 78 yards to break Jerome Heavens’ mark set in 1975. Here’s a rundown of the top freshman rushers in Irish football history:
Player Year Yards1. Jerome Heavens 1975 7562. Autry Denson 1995 6953. Darius Walker 2004 6794. Randy Kinder 1993 5375. Allen Pinkett 1982 532
WALKER’S 6 TOUCHDOWN RUNS RANKS SECOND AMONG IRISH FRESHMEN
Freshman running back Darius Walker has been consistently productive in the red zone, producing six touchdown rushes on the season. That total currently ranks him second all-time in Notre Dame history for rushing touchdowns by a freshman. Only Autry Denson’s eight rushing scores in 1995 ranks ahead of Walker’s total entering the USC game. Here’s a rundown of the top freshman touchdown rushers in Irish football history:
Player Year Rushing TDs1. Autry Denson 1995 82. Darius Walker 2004 63. Allen Pinkett 1982 5 Jerome Heavens 1975 5
GRANT & WALKER LEADING FIRST DOWN MAKERS
Senior running back Ryan Grant and freshman running back Darius Walker lead all Notre Dame players in first downs produced. Notre Dame’s top three first down producers:
Player First Downs via Rush via Reception1. Ryan Grant 28 26 2 Darius Walker 28 27 13. Rhema McKnight 22 0 22
BE LIKE MIKE
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 89 tackles (8.9 per game) while leading the team in five games thus far. The Joliet, IL, native rolled up career-best tackle totals his first two games of the year, tallying 11 stops at BYU and 14 tackles against Michigan, added 12 tackles vs. Navy and matched his career-best with 14 stops at Tennessee. His performance against the Vols, which also included a sack and an interception he returned for a decisive touchdown, earned him National Defensive Player of the Week honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation.
GOOLSBY ON A TURNOVER BINGE
Over the course of Notre Dame’s last three games, senior linebacker Mike Goolsby has produced at least one turnover in each contest with all three leading to subsequent scores. Strangely, all three plays have occurred on the 26-yard line. In the second period against Boston College, Goolsby intercepted a pass at the Eagle 26 and returned it to the two-yard line to set up a Notre Dame touchdown for a 14-7 lead. Against Tennessee, he intercepted a Vols pass at the UT 26 and returned it for the winning score midway through the third quarter. Against Pittsburgh, his recovery of a Panther fumble at the Irish 26 led to a 74-yard Notre Dame scoring drive.
GOOLSBY EARNS NATIONAL ACCLAIM IN TENNESSEE VICTORY
Senior linebacker Mike Goolsby earned National Defensive Player of the Week honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation for his performance in the 17-13 victory at Tennessee on Nov. 6. Not only did Goolsby post a game-high 14 tackles (seven solos) and a quarterback sack, he also intercepted at Tennessee pass in the third period and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown that provided the winning points in Notre Dame’s first road victory over a top 10 opponent in eight years (27-24 at No. 6 Texas on Sept. 21, 1996).
Senior linebacker Brandon Hoyte has been a catalyst for Notre Dame’s physical play on defense this season, making several big hits and tackles for losses. Hoyte enters the USC game with 66 tackles to rank second 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 eight tackles for loss (46 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.
PAPER OR PLASTIC?
Senior defensive end and All-America candidate Justin Tuck has taken full ownership of the Notre Dame career quarterback sacks record with a total of 24.5. He moved to the top of the list with a pair of sacks in the win at Tennessee on Nov. 6. The Kellyton, Ala., native set a school record with 13.5 sacks last year and has added six 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. He later tied the mark with a share of a sack against Boston College. 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 Position Years Sacks1. Justin Tuck DE 2002-present 24.52. Kory Minor OLB 1995-98 22.53. Mike Gann DT 1982-84 214. Bryant Young DT 1990-93 185. Anthony Weaver DE 1998-01 176. Bert Berry LB 1993-96 16.5
TUCK WREAKING HAVOC
Senior defensive end and All-America candidate Justin Tuck has been a force to be reckoned with for opposing offenses this season, racking up impressive totals as a pass rusher and a run stopper. In addition to his team-leading sack total of 6 (for 18 yards), he has garnered a team-high 13 tackles for losses totalling 56 yards. No other Irish defender has more than eight TFLs this season. Tuck has accomplished all of this while dealing with double-teams and offensive game plans designed to reduce his impact as a pass rusher and defensive force. His 42 total tackles rank sixth on the team. Tuck’s year-by-year totals to this point in his Notre Dame career:
TACKLES FUMBLESYear Time G-S TT UT AT TFL QBH Sacks FF FR PBU Int2001 Did Not Play2002 180:24 13-1 44 33 11 10-36 1 5-26 1 0-0 5 0-02003 225:22 12-10 73 43 30 19-117 0 13.5-106 3 0-0 2 0-02004 240:34 10-10 38 19 19 13-56 0 6-38 0 0-0 0 0-0Totals 646:20 35-21 155 95 60 42-209 1 24.5-170 4 0-0 7 0-0
FITZPATRICK SHARP IN THE PUNTING GAME
Senior punter D.J. Fitzpatrick has shown considerable improvement this season. Fitzpatrick currently ranks 34th in the nation with a 42.3-yard punting average, a jump of almost six yards per kick from last year’s average (36.84). That improvement is a big factor in Notre Dame’s ranking of 13th nationally in net punting. He has 14 punts of at least 50 yards, including a career-long 67-yarder vs. Boston College, has dropped 26 punts inside the opposition’s 20-yard line and is helping Notre Dame to hold its opponents to only 6.8 yards per punt return. Earlier this season, he had career-best outings in consecutive games, averaging 46.0 yards on seven attempts against Washington (including four punts of at least 50 yards and four punts downed inside the UW 20) and an impressive 49.3 yards on three punts against Purdue. His totals through 10 games are on pace to rank among the 10 best punting seasons in Notre Dame history:
Player, Year Punts Yards Average1. Craig Hentrich, 1990 34 1526 *44.92. Craig Hentrich, 1989 26 1159 44.63. Craig Hentrich, 1992 35 1534 43.84. Joe Restic, 1975 40 1739 43.55. Hunter Smith, 1996 44 1906 43.36. Craig Hentrich, 1991 23 986 42.97. Brian Doherty, 1973 39 1664 42.78. Hunter Smith, 1997 50 2132 42.69. Blair Kiel, 1982 *77 *3267 42.410. D.J. Fitzpatrick, 2004 62 2620 42.3*denotes school record
Including seven close games this season, Notre Dame is 13-6 (.684) 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) Pittsburgh in 2004 (38-41), 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 L), Michigan (28-20 W), Michigan State (31-24 W), Stanford (23-15 W), Boston College (23-24 L), Tennessee (17-13 W), and Pittsburgh (38-41 L).
CLOSE SHAVES – A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
Notre Dame’s 2004 season already has included seven games decided by eight points or less. That ties for the most such close games of any season dating back through 1970. The years with the most “one-possession” games over the last 35 seasons of Notre Dame football are:
Games - Seasons 7 - 2004, 2002, 1990, 1984* 6 - 1999, 1997, 1986, 1982 5 - 2003, 2000, 1998*, 1994, 1983*, 1980*, 1979, 1978*, 1974* 4 - 2001, 1996, 1995*, 1981, 1976, 1975 3 - 1993*, 1992, 1989, 1987, 1985, 1977* denotes that a bowl game counted for part of the total.
RETURN TO SENDER
The return game has been a source of strength for Notre Dame in recent years. The Irish have logged 29 returns (punts, kickoffs, fumbles, interceptions) for touchdowns during the past six seasons (1999-2004), a figure that ranks tied for 11th in the country during that stretch. Here’s a look at the national leaders in touchdown returns since ’99 (research courtesy University of Colorado):
Team 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Bowls Total1. Miami (Fla.) 3 13 11 5 9 8 1 502. Virginia Tech 8 6 7 7 10 6 1 453. Kansas State 9 5 2 12 6 5 0 394. Oklahoma 4 7 6 8 9 3 1 385. Colorado 5 4 7 7 1 6 4 346. Nebraska 6 7 5 6 4 2 3 33 USC 9 4 8 1 8 3 0 338. N.C. State 3 2 4 9 10 3 1 329. Fresno State 5 5 3 5 4 6 2 30 East Carolina 7 5 4 5 4 2 3 3011. Notre Dame 4 6 4 9 3 3 0 29 Texas Tech 3 7 8 5 3 2 1 29 San Jose State 5 7 1 7 5 4 0 29
THEY SHALL RETURN
â€¢ During the past 18-plus seasons (’86-’04), Notre Dame has produced 83 touchdowns via kickoff, punt, interception and fumble returns — with the most recent touchdown runback coming last Saturday on senior linebacker Mike Goolsby’s 26-yard interception return at Tennessee.
â€¢ Notre Dame has scored three touchdowns via returns this season, all coming by the defense (INT returns by Preston Jackson [at BYU) and Mike Goolsby [at Tennessee] and a fumble return by Tom Zbikowski [at Michigan State]).
â€¢ In contrast, opponents in the past 18 seasons have combined for 25 total touchdown returns vs. the Irish. Here’s a year-by-year breakdown of the Irish return touchdowns since 1986:
Year PU KO INT FUM Year PU KO INT FUM1986 0 2 0 0 1997 0 2 1 01987 3 0 1 0 1998 0 0 2 31988 2 2 3 0 1999 1 0 2 11989 2 2 3 0 2000 2 1 1 21990 0 2 0 0 2001 0 1 2 11991 1 1 2 0 2002 2 1 4 21992 0 1 0 0 2003 1 0 0 21993 2 1 2 1 2004 0 0 2 11994 0 0 1 1 ND (83) 21 17 28 171995 1 0 2 1 Opp. (25) 7 4 9 51996 4 1 0 2
NOTRE DAME REGISTERS 800TH ALL-TIME VICTORY
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 802 wins, trailing only Michigan’s 842 victories, although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than Notre Dame.
IRISH HAVE NATION’S SIXTH-TOUGHEST CUMULATIVE SCHEDULE Notre Dame’s overall 2004 football schedule ranks sixth in difficulty this week, based on a combined 63-38 mark (.624) by Irish opponents in games played to date, according to NCAA figures released Sunday, Nov. 21. Texas A&M leads the list with a 68-34 mark (.667) by its opponents, followed by Baylor, North Carolina and Arizona. Here’s the top 10 listing for teams based their cumulative schedules. Here’s the top 10 listing for teams based on their cumulative schedules (team records in parentheses):
Team Opp. Record Pct. This Week 1. Texas A&M (7-3) 68-34 .667 at Texas (9-1) 2. Baylor (3-8) 59-31 .656 Season Completed 3. North Carolina (6-5) 50-28 .641 Regular Season Completed 4. Arizona (2-8) 62-35 .639 Arizona State (8-2) 5. Arizona State (8-2) 66-38 .635 at Arizona (2-8) 6. Notre Dame (6-4) 63-38 .624 at USC (10-0) 7. Oregon State (6-5) 63-40 .612 Regular Season Completed 8. Arkansas (5-5) 61-39 .610 LSU (8-2) 9. Temple (2-9) 50-33 .602 Regular Season Completed 10. Georgia (8-2) 56-37 .602 Georgia Tech (6-4)
2004 NOTRE DAME OPPONENT UPDATE
The following is a look at Notre Dame opponents’ upcoming games. Since 1977, when the NCAA started rating strength of schedule, Notre Dame’s schedule has been rated the most difficult five times (1978, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995) and has appeared in the top 30 a total of 22 times in the last 27 years. The 2004 Irish ledger currently is the sixth-toughest in the nation, based on cumulative opposition.
Opponent (Ranking*) '04 Record '03 Record Nov. 27 Dec. 4BYU 5-6 4-8 Idle Season OverMichigan (13/13) 9-2 10-3 Idle Regular Season OverMichigan State 5-6 8-5 Idle at HawaiiWashington 1-10 6-6 Idle Season OverPurdue 7-4 9-4 Idle Regular Season OverStanford 4-7 4-7 Idle Season OverNavy 8-2 8-5 vs. Army Regular Season OverBoston College (17/19) 8-2 8-5 Syracuse Regular Season OverTennessee (15/15) 8-2 10-3 Kentucky vs. Auburn (SEC Champ.)Pittsburgh 6-3 8-5 West Virginia (Nov. 25) at South FloridaUSC (1/1) 10-0 12-1 Notre Dame at UCLA
* – current Associated Press poll ranking listed first, followed by ESPN/USA Today poll ranking
Notre Dame Opponents’ Combined Record in 2003: 89-49 (.645); Record in 2004: 71-44 (.617)
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 21-14 (.600) 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 6-4 mark thus far 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 65-50-1 (.565) record and has guided his teams to bowl games on five occasions. This year’s Irish team is now bowl-eligible.
Willingham was introduced as the new Irish head coach 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 two-time 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 served on the coaching staffs at North Carolina State (1983-85) and Rice (1986-88).
CURRY NAMED TO AFCA GOOD WORKS TEAM
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 student-athletes 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.
All-America linebacker Courtney Watson received the honor in 2003. Watson was responsible for creating and developing the football team’s community service initiative entitled “Tackle The Arts”, an interactive approach that helps inspire children to explore different areas of the arts including reading, creative writing and poetry, drawing and music. Watson also installed a food drive dimension to the event and combined with current Irish players Brandon Hoyte and Dan Stevenson as hosts of a picnic for at-risk children in the South Bend area. He regularly made surprise visits to the pediatric floor at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, addressed the Jackson Middle School football team at its banquet and participated in the St. Joseph County City Bureau Youth Fest. On a campus level, Watson was nominated and then elected a member of the Notre Dame Student Senate in 2002-03 and served as a member of the Residence Life and Academic Council committees.
The Notre Dame ticket office received 52,179 ticket requests for the Oct. 2 game vs. Purdue, making it the fifth-highest requested Irish home game in history. The Notre Dame Stadium record of 59,368 ticket requests was set in ’01 when the Irish took on West Virginia. Demand for that game was based on parents of current Notre Dame students being guaranteed four tickets for that contest — plus contributing alumni having the opportunity to apply for four tickets instead of the usual two, based on its designation as an alumni family game. Heading into the Nov. 13 game vs. Pittsburgh, the Irish have posted 178 consecutive sellouts at Notre Dame Stadium and 226 in their last 227 home games. The top 10 games in terms of alumni ticket demand at Notre Dame Stadium:
Game Year Attendance 1. West Virginia 2001 59,368 2. USC 1997 57,048 3. Boston College 2002 55,482 4. USC 2003 54,244 5. Purdue 2004 52,179 6. Florida State 2003 51,051 7. Michigan 2002 50,883 8. Michigan State 2001 48,404 9. Nebraska 2000 47,865 10. Michigan State 1997 47,681
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 170 of its previous 195 games, including 34 of its last 36 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 attracted 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).
NOTRE DAME ON THE SMALL SCREEN
With the Pittsburgh game televised nationally by CBS, the Irish extended their streak of appearances on one of four major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS or ESPN) to 146 straight games, a stretch that spans nearly 12 full seasons (1993-2004). The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was 12 years ago (Oct. 31, 1992), when Notre Dame downed Navy, 38-7, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That game was shown locally in South Bend on WNDU-TV. Here’s a breakdown of the networks on which the Irish have played during this impressive streak:
Year Games NBC ABC CBS ESPN1992 4 3 1 -- --1993 12 7 4 -- 11994 12 7 5 -- --1995 12 6 4 1 11996 11 6 2 2 11997 13 6 3 2 21998 12 7 3 2 --1999 12 7 3 1 12000 12 6 3 3 --2001 11 6 4 -- 12002 13 7 4 1 12003 12 6 5 -- 12004 10 6 -- 2 2Totals 146 80 41 14 11
WHEN THE EYES OF THE NATION ARE UPON THEM
Notre Dame is 172-87-3 (.662) all-time when it is playing in front of a national television audience. The 2003 game at Michigan was another milestone for the Irish program — it was the 300th time a Notre Dame football game appeared on national or regional television.
During their 115-year history, the Irish have posted a combined 200-115-4 (.633) record in these national or regional TV games, beginning with a 27-21 victory over No. 4 Oklahoma on Nov. 8, 1952 in a game that was shown nationwide on ABC. Here’s a breakdown of Notre Dame’s success over the years when appearing on each of the various networks on both a national and regional basis (the current Irish win/loss streak on the four major networks is listed in parentheses):
NATIONAL TELEVISIONNBC (lost 2) 66-27-1 (.707)ABC (lost 3) 44-35-2 (.556)CBS (won 8) 24-11-0 (.686)ESPN/ESPN2 (won 1) 20-11-0 (.645)WGN 10-2-0 (.833)SportsChannel 4-1-0 (.800)Raycom 2-0-0 (1.000)TBS 1-0-0 (1.000)Katz 1-0-0 (1.000)Totals 172-87-3 (.662)
REGIONAL TELEVISIONABC (lost 2) 24-25-1 (.490)CBS (won 1) 4-2-0 (.667)Big Ten Syndication 1-0-0 (1.000)TBS 0-1-0 (.000)Totals 29-28-1 (.509)
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN GARNERS NBC’S HIGHEST SEASON-OPENING RATING SINCE 1998
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. The 2004 season is Notre Dame’s 14th 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.
NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS DEBUT ON SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO
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 www.sirius.com.
KEVIN WHITE NAMED PRESIDENT OF DIVISION I-A ATHLETIC DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION
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.
MAKING THE GRADE
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. Budinscak followed up with another All-District V honor this season (at left).
NOTRE DAME EXCELS IN THE CLASSROOM AS WELL AS ON THE FIELD
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.
TAKING ACADEMIC SUCCESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
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.
NOTRE DAME VS. USC: BY THE NUMBERS
The NCAA statistical rankings for Notre Dame and USC in 2004 (top 50 only):
Team Rankings Notre Dame USCRushing Offense 127.5 33rd at 179.5Passing Offense 47th at 229.5 24th at 255.3Total Offense 357.0 17th at 434.8Scoring Offense 25.8 7th at 37.1Rushing Defense 11th at 95.5 2nd at 69.2Pass Defense 261.2 33rd at 197.2Pass Efficiency Defense 127.96 5th at 97.60Total Defense 49th at 356.7 4th at 266.4Scoring Defense 33rd at 21.0 2nd at 11.6Net Punting 13th at 38.7 2nd at 41.4Punt Returns 45th at 11.0 13th at 14.4Kickoff Returns 18.4 10th at 24.4Turnover Margin 25th at +0.60 5th at +1.30 (+6 overall) (+13 overall)
Individual Rankings Notre Dame USCRushing LenDale White 41st at 85.9Passing Efficiency Brady Quinn Matt Leinart 47th at 128.01 13th at 150.85Total Offense Brady Quinn Matt Leinart 42nd at 222.3 35th at 233.2Interceptions Matt Grootegoed 20th at 0.40Punting D.J. Fitzpatrick Tom Malone 34th at 42.3 13th at 43.7Punt Returns Carlyle Holiday Reggie Bush 39th at 11.0 8th at 16.7Kickoff Returns Reggie Bush 10th at 27.2Scoring LenDale White 14th at 9.0All-Purpose Runners Reggie Bush 7th at 175.2