Oct. 11, 2003
- Notre Dame snaps a three-game losing streak and earns its first win away from home since a 30-23 victory vs. Navy on Nov. 9, 2002 at Ravens Stadium in Baltimore.
- #15 Pittsburgh is the highest-ranked team an unranked Notre Dame squad has beaten since Nov. 15, 1997, when the Irish toppled 11th-ranked LSU, 24-6 in Baton Rouge, La.
- The Irish pick up their first victory over a ranked opponent since a 34-24 win at 11th-ranked Florida State on Oct. 25, 2002. It’s also the fifth win for Notre Dame over a ranked opponent in the 18-game Tyrone Willingham era (with four of those victories coming on the road, including the last three in a row). Last season, the Irish defeated #21 Maryland (neutral), #7 Michigan (home), #18 Air Force (road) and #11 Florida State (road).
- Notre Dame improves to 22-2 in games following a regularly-scheduled bye week, dating back to the 1984 season. It’s also the 12th consecutive win for the Irish following a bye week.
- Notre Dame wins for the 21st time in its last 22 October games, dating back to a 20-17 loss vs. USC in 1997. The Irish also rise to 53-8 (.869) in the month of October since 1988.
- The Irish earn their 43rd series win over Pittsburgh, the third-most against one opponent in school history behind Navy (66) and Purdue (49). Notre Dame now is 43-17-1 all-time against the Panthers, including a 24-9-1 mark in Pittsburgh.
- Notre Dame cards its 11th win in the last 12 series games with Pittsburgh and logs its first victory in the Steel City since a 45-21 win over the Panthers exactly six years ago on Oct. 11, 1997.
- The Irish collect their 22nd win in their last 28 games against the BIG EAST Conference. Notre Dame also jumps to 77-30-2 (.716) all-time against the BIG EAST, including a 35-17-2 (.667) mark on the road.
- Notre Dame registers its third win in four games at current NFL stadiums under current head coach Tyrone Willingham. Last season, the Irish won 22-0 over #21 Maryland in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium, and defeated Navy 30-23 at Ravens Stadium in Baltimore.
- The Irish jump to 3-0 in night games (kickoff at 6 p.m. local time or later) under Willingham, with all three wins coming on the road vs. ranked opposition. Last year, Notre Dame downed #21 Maryland and #18 Air Force under the lights.
- Senior RB Julius Jones put the Irish on the board first with a 25-yard touchdown run at the 12:08 mark of the first quarter. It snapped a string of nine consecutive games in which Notre Dame had failed to score a first-quarter touchdown (dating back to a 65-yard TD catch by Arnaz Battle at #11 Florida State on Oct. 25, 2002).
- Notre Dame owned a 17-14 lead at halftime, its first lead at the break since Nov. 23, 2002, when the Irish led Rutgers, 14-0 at Notre Dame Stadium.
- The 17 first-half points scored by Notre Dame marked its highest first-half output since Sept. 7, 2003, when the Irish led Purdue, 17-7 at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Coming into tonight’s game, Notre Dame had converted nine opponent turnovers into 13 Irish points. This evening, Notre Dame parlayed two Pittsburgh turnovers into 10 points.
- Through the first four games of this season, Notre Dame’s average starting field position was its own 28-yard line. Against Pittsburgh, the Irish averaged starting at their own 37-yard line, including four possessions that began in Panther territory.
- The Irish defense has made dramatic improvements in stopping the opponent on third down over the past two games. In the first three games of the 2003 season, opponents converted 24 of 51 (.471) third-down tries. In the last two contests against Purdue and Pittsburgh, the opponents have converted only four of 30 times (.133) on third down.
- The Irish had eight sacks through their first four games of the season. Tonight, Notre Dame had eight sacks, its highest total since it had eight sacks vs. Pittsburgh on Oct. 11, 2002.
- Notre Dame limited Pittsburgh to eight net rushing yards, the fewest yielded by the Irish defense since Nov. 23, 1996, when Rutgers managed -6 (minus-six) net yards rushing in a 62-0 loss at Notre Dame Stadium (Lou Holtz’s final victory as the Irish head coach).
- Notre Dame rushed 56 times for a season-high 352 yards, its highest single-game rushing total since Aug. 28, 1999, when the Irish ran for 363 yards in a win over Kansas at Notre Dame Stadium.
- The Irish held the ball for a season-best 36:46, its highest time of possession since Aug. 31, 2002, when Notre Dame controlled the ball for 41:04 in a 22-0 victory over #21 Maryland in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium.
- Senior RB Julius Jones rushed for a school-record 262 yards on 24 carries this evening, breaking the previous Notre Dame record of 255 yards by Vagas Ferguson at Georgia Tech on Nov. 18, 1978. In addition, Jones is the first Irish back to break the 200-yard mark on the ground since Reggie Brooks ran for 227 yards at USC on Nov. 28, 1992. Tonight also marks the seventh 100-yard rushing game of Jones’ career and his first since a 106-yard effort at Stanford on Nov. 24, 2001.
- Jones registered his first two-TD game on the ground since Oct. 13, 2001 vs. West Virginia when he scored from one and 19 yards out against the Mountaineers.
- Jones’ 49-yard touchdown run in the second quarter was the longest scoring run of his career (previous: 44 vs. Navy, 2001). In addition, it was the longest touchdown run by an Irish player since Carlyle Holiday went 53 yards for a TD at Air Force on Oct. 18, 2002.
- Jone’ career-long 61-yard run in the fourth quarter was the longest by an Irish player since Carlyle Holiday went 67 yards for a touchdown against Pittsburgh on Oct. 6, 2001 at Notre Dame Stadium.
- Junior K D.J. Fitzpatrick attempted the first field goals of his career this evening. He missed wide right from 32 and 52 yards out, but kicked his first career field goals from 19 and 34 yards. Fitzpatrick is the first Irish kicker other than Nicholas Setta to boot two field goals in a game since Jim Sanson had two field goals at Pittsburgh on Nov. 13, 1999.
- Senior PR Vontez Duff logged a 47-yard punt return in the first quarter, the longest runback of the season for Notre Dame. Duff now has 1,644 career total kick return yards (punts and kickoffs combined), moving him past Raghib Ismail (1,607 from 1988-90) into third place on the Irish all-time list. Duff also now has 98 career total kick returns, moving him into third place on the Notre Dame career charts.
- With two kick returns (one punt, one kickoff) this evening, senior KR/PR Julius Jones now has 106 career total kick returns (punts and kickoffs combined), breaking Tim Brown’s school record. Brown had 105 total kick returns from 1984-87.
- Notre Dame senior kicker Nicholas Setta converted his only PAT kick tonight, extending his streak of consecutive PAT kicks made to 92 in a row, the second-longest string in school history. Craig Hentrich still owns the school record with 136 consecutive PAT conversions from 1989-92. Setta’s last missed PAT kick came on Oct. 7, 2000, when Stanford blocked his second-quarter attempt. Tonight’s PAT attempt was the 105th of Setta’s career, tying him with Gus Dorais (1910-13) for fifth place in school history.
- Sophomore TE Anthony Fasano caught a career-high two passes for 15 yards this evening. He had one reception in a game twice this season.
- Freshman Ryan Harris made his first career appearance and start this evening, beginning the game at right tackle. He is the sixth freshman to play in a game for Notre Dame this season, joining DE Victor Abiamiri, WR Chinedum Ndukwe, DB Freddie Parish IV, QB Brady Quinn and WR Jeff Samardzija.
- For the second consecutive season, and just the third time in the 115-year history of Notre Dame football, the Irish are selecting captains on a game-by-game basis. Tonight’s Irish captains were: SS Glenn Earl, LT Jim Molinaro, K/P Nicholas Setta and ILB Courtney Watson. Earl and Molinaro served as captains for the third time this season, while Setta and Watson were captains for the second time in 2003. Watson has been named a game captain five times in his career, while Earl and Setta are four-time game captains and Molinaro has been named a game captain three times.
- Pittsburgh won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half. Notre Dame elected to receive, while the Panthers chose to defend the South goal.
- Tonight’s game marked the 155th sellout in the last 178 games and the 19th consecutive sellout involving Notre Dame. That stretch includes the first 10 games of 1998, the first 11 in ’99, the first five in ’00, the first nine in ’01, all 13 in ’02 and the first five in ’03.
- Counting postseason play, Notre Dame has now had its last 129 games televised on one of four networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN), a stretch going back more than 10 full seasons. The last time the Irish didn’t appear on one of those four networks was Oct. 31, 1992, when they defeated Navy, 38-7, at Giants Stadium. That game was only shown locally in South Bend on WNDU-TV.