Nov. 27, 2004

Recap | Box Score


  • Notre Dame’s opening drive covered 92 yards, with senior TE Billy Palmer grabbing his first career touchdown reception, a one-yard pass from sophomore QB Brady Quinn. It was the longest Irish scoring drive (in terms of distance) this season, topping a 91-yard march against Boston College on Oct. 23.
  • Palmer is the sixth different Notre Dame player to catch a touchdown pass this season, all from Quinn. The TD reception breakdown is three wide receivers, two tight ends and one fullback.
  • The Irish drove down for another score on their second possession, getting a 28-yard field goal from senior K D.J. Fitzpatrick. It marks the second time this season Notre Dame has scored the first two times it has had the ball (two TD vs. Navy on Oct. 16).


  • Notre Dame and USC met 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. o Notre Dame now holds a 42-29-5 series edge over the Trojans, but trails in games at Los Angeles by a 19-17-4 margin.
  • 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.
  • Notre Dame’s 42 wins over USC are the most by a Trojan opponent (12 more than California’s second-most 30). The Trojans’ 29 wins over the Irish are the most by a Notre Dame opponent (four more than Purdue’s second-most 25).
  • 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.
  • 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 22 games (15-6-1) between the two schools, with nine of those wins against the Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Since 1984, Notre Dame is 6-4-1 against the Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
  • Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham has a 4-6 career mark vs. USC (seven games as head coach at Stanford).
  • Since 1965, the ND-USC game has been nationally televised 31 times (including the 2004 game).
  • Notre Dame is 3-8-1 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.
  • This is the fourth time Notre Dame faced a top-ranked USC team. The Trojans have won all four encounters when ranked number one (25-0 in 1962, 24-7 in 1967, 45-23 in 1972 and 41-10 in 2004).
  • Tonight’s game marked the seventh time that a potential national title was 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).


  • USC collects its third consecutive win over Notre Dame, marking the first time since USC won three straight from 1996-98.
  • USC improves to 4-1-1 against Notre Dame at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1994.
  • The Irish have lost consecutive games for the first time in the 2004 season.
  • Notre Dame falls to 72-37-6 (.652) all-time against Pac-10 teams, including a 32-24-5 (.566) mark on the road.
  • Notre Dame drops to 13-6 (.684) in the regular season versus Pac-10 teams since 1998.
  • Notre Dame drops to 33-15-1 (.684) in the month of November since 1988, including a 6-5 mark under current head coach Tyrone Willingham.
  • USC has won 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).


  • Including tonight’s outcome, 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 72-37-6 (.652) in 115 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 (42-29-5) while another 15 percent have come against Stanford (13-6-0).
  • With tonight’s outcome, Notre Dame is 17-10-1 (.625) in its last 28 games vs. Pac-10 schools (4-6-1 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 1992 victory over USC.

NOTRE DAME SUCCESS FOLLOWING A BYE WEEK With tonight’s outcome, Notre Dame is 24-4 (.857) in regular season games following a regularly scheduled bye week since 1984. Nine victories over ranked teams are included in that success: 17-13 at ninth-ranked Tennessee in 2004, 20-14 at 15th-ranked Pittsburgh in 2003, 24-10 over #19 Army in 1985, 24-19 over #1 Michigan in ’89, 31-23 at #19 USC in ’92, 31-24 over #1 Florida State in ’93, 54-20 over #16 Washington in ’96, 24-6 at #11 LSU in ’97 and 34-30 over #23 Oklahoma in ’99. Tonight’s loss snapped a 15-game Notre Dame winning streak when coming off a regular-season by week, dating back to a 23-16 loss to #8 Florida State on Nov. 12, 1994, at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

RANK AND FILE With tonight’s game, the Irish have played 86 games against ranked opponents since 1987, an average of nearly five games per season. Notre Dame has posted a record of 45-39-2 (.535) in those games, including a 23-13-1 (.635) mark against ranked teams at home.

NOTRE DAME VERSUS NO. 1 Tonight’s game with USC was 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 8-15-1 (.354) in those 24 meetings. The eight victories is the most by any school (Miami, Purdue and USC are second with seven, Oklahoma is third with six). Tonight’s game marked Notre Dame’s first against a No. 1 opponent since a 27-24 overtime loss to Nebraska on Sept. 9, 2000, at Notre Dame Stadium. This game marked the fourth time that Notre Dame has clashed with the Trojans when USC was ranked number one, with USC winning all four of those contests.

RUNNING GAME KEYS IRISH SUCCESS Notre Dame rushed for 195 yards in tonight’s game, its second-highest rushing total this season. 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 five losses, Notre Dame has averaged 113.0 yards per game via the rush and 3.5 yards per attempt (565 yards on 162 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 a 98-yard outing on Nov. 6 at Tennessee.

NO TURNOVERS USUALLY EQUALS VICTORY Notre Dame did not have a turnover in tonight’s loss to USC. That snaps an amazing 41-game unbeaten streak (40-0-1) since 1985 for the Irish when they don’t commit a turnover. Prior to this evening, the last time a Notre Dame team lost a game without committing a turnover was in a 34-30 loss at Penn State on November 12, 1983.

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 past three seasons, the Irish have held 22 of 36 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing, including eight games this year (BYU – 22; Michigan – 56; Purdue – 99; Stanford – 67; Boston College – 62; Tennessee – 58, Pittsburgh – 98; USC – 83). 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. Entering tonight’s game, the Irish were 11th in the country in rushing defense, allowing an average of 94.4 yards on the ground. Through 11 games, the Irish have allowed only 1,038 rushing yards (94.4 per game) and a key to that success has been the defense’s ability to prevent long rushing plays. Through 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 and USC) in a game this season.

QUINN IS TOP SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK IN NOTRE DAME HISTORY Sophomore quarterback Brady Quinn completed the regular season with the highest totals in several statistical categories of any sophomore quarterback in Notre Dame history.

QUINN RANKS THIRD ON ND’S SINGLE-SEASON PASSING YARDS LIST Entering tonight’s game, Quinn ranked 42nd in the nation in total offense and 47th in passing efficiency. After tonight’s game, he now has 2,372 passing yards through 11 games, putting 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    2,3724.  Steve Beuerlein 1986    2,2115.  Rick Mirer  1991    2,1176.  Ron Powlus  1997    2,0787.  Joe Montana 1978    2,010

QUINN ALSO MOVING UP NOTRE DAME CAREER PASSING YARDS LIST In addition to his single-season total, Brady Quinn’s career passing yardage is approaching some of the top marks in Notre Dame history. With 105 yards tonight vs. USC, Quinn moved up two spots on that list to sixth place on the Irish career passing list, easing by Joe Montana and Terry Hanratty (see chart below):

    Player      Yrs.    Yardage4.  Jarious Jackson 1996-99 4,8205.  Joe Theismann   1968-70 4,4116.  Brady Quinn 2002-p  4,2037.  Terry Hanratty   1966-68 4,1528.  Joe Montana 1975-78 4,121

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 and two catches for 13 yards tonight vs. USC, Shelton ranks fourth on the team with 19 catches for 518 yards (27.3 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).

SHELTON AMONG NOTRE DAME’S BEST DEEP THREATS Senior wide receiver Matt Shelton is averaging 27.3 yards per reception this season, nabbing 19 catches for 518 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    19-518  27.31.  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 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 64-yard effort against USC moved him into second place on Notre Dame’s freshman rushing list, passing Autry Denson (695 yards in 1995). Walker now needs only 14 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.  Darius Walker 2004    7433.  Autry Denson    1995    6954.  Randy Kinder    1993    5375.  Allen Pinkett   1982    532

GOOLSBY PUSHING 100 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 94 tackles (8.5 per game) while leading the team in six games thus far. The Joliet, Ill., 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.