Sept. 14, 2006
This afternoon’s meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan is the 34th meeting in the all-time series. The Wolverines have an 18-14-1 advantage in first 33 meetings, although the Irish have won two straight in the series. At Notre Dame Stadium, the series is tied 7-7-1. The last time the two teams met played at Notre Dame Stadium was 2004 with the Irish taking a 28-20 victory.
Notre Dame is 214-106-15 (.661) all-time versus the Big Ten Conference. Today’s game against Michigan is the second of four consecutive games that the Irish will play this season against teams from the Big Ten (Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue). So far, Notre Dame is 1-0 against Big Ten teams after last week’s 41-17 win against Penn State.
Today’s game marks the 25th consecutive meeting that one of the two teams has been nationally ranked at game time. In 20 of those 25 seasons, both teams have been ranked. In four of those 25 seasons, Notre Dame has been ranked number one in the nation (1943, 1981, 1989, 1990) and twice the teams have been ranked 1 and 2 (’43 and ’89). The Irish are 3-1 when they have been ranked number one with the lone loss coming in 1981 (25-7). Notre Dame comes into the game ranked second by the Associated Press and USA Today while Michigan is 11th and 13th respectively.
When Notre Dame and Michigan get together it definitely can be called the “Clash of the College Football Titans.” The two teams have combined for 1,664 wins in their illustrious college football histories. The Irish come into today’s game with 813 all-time wins, which ranks second to the Wolverines’ all-time best mark of 851. Michigan has been playing football for 127 years, while the Irish have played 118 seasons. In all-time winning percentage, the Wolverines are tops with a .7446 mark and the Irish are hot on their heels with a .7439 mark.
This afternoon’s game will be the fourth time that Brady Quinn has faced Michigan in his career. He threw his first career pass and had his first completion against the Wolverines in 2003. In his first three games, Quinn is 32-for-60 for 354 yards with four interceptions and four touchdowns. The Irish are 2-1 in those games.
Senior place kicker Carl Gioia was two-for-two in field goals last week against Penn State with both kicks being career-best 35 yarders. His previous longest kick was a 29-yard field goal last season versus Stanford.
Notre Dame has not had a turnover in three consecutive games dating back to last year’s game at Stanford. The last Irish turnover came with 4:22 left in the second quarter at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005 – a total of 214:22 without a turnover.
Junior running back Darius Walker equaled a career high with seven catches against Penn State. He also had seven catches in last year’s Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State. The seven catches give him 64 for his career and moves him past Mark Green (’85-’88) for fourth all-time on the receptions by running backs list. Green had 61 in his career.
PRESENTING THE FLAG … (Box off or reverse out like last year to set off)
Our national colors will be presented today by Linda and Paul Demo, the mother and stepfather of Melissa Cook. A member of the Notre Dame softball team in 1991 and ’92, Melissa was killed in the tragic Hancock Building accident in downtown Chicago in March 2002. With a portion of the proceeds they received from a settlement, the Demos recently made a $3 million gift to Notre Dame to underwrite construction of a new softball stadium to be named in Melissa’s honor.
FIGHTING IRISH FIGHT FOR LIFE (Photo 10a.)
One of their biggest fans, six-year old Emma, poses with members of the Notre Dame women’s tennis team.
In its second year, the Fighting Irish Fight for Life program has been a WIN/WIN situation for Notre Dame student-athletes and several children participating in the Memorial Hospital’s Pediatric Oncology Program. Through the Fighting Irish Fight for Life program, Notre Dame student-athletes have gained their biggest fans, and at the same have been able to tutor, attend the participants sporting events, act as big brothers and sisters, and be a supporting friend while the participants undergo cancer treatment. “This has been a real eye opener for our team to see how kids so young are able to have such a great outlook on life when confronted with a life threatening illness,” Irish head coach Jay Louderback says. “Our team’s individual problems don’t seem nearly as bad after seeing Emma and the positive way she handles everything. Our team really enjoys the opportunity to participate in the program and seem to get as much from the interaction as Emma.” Emmalynn (Emma) who was one of the first participants in the Fighting Irish Fight for Life program has become the women’s tennis team’s biggest fan, never missing a home match, even traveling to New York to see the Irish compete for the Big East Championship. Notre Dame had its best season ever in 2005-06 as the Irish advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship and were ranked second nationally during most of the season. Leann, Emma’s mother says, “Emma’s experience with the girls has been wonderful. She has hopefully found some lifelong friends in them. She really looks up to them and at one point even said she wants to be a tennis player when she grows up.” I think that’s the best part.” She adds, “With them it’s easier for her to focus on the future, getting better and being healthy. It takes her mind off of the fact that she’s in treatment for cancer and gives her something to look forward to.” Emma is so close to the girls on the Irish team that her mother will surprise her at the end of September with a trip to Chicago to celebrate her sixth birthday with former tennis standouts Kelly Nelson and Lauren Connelly. “I can’t even begin to tell you how great it has been to spend time with Emma,” says Irish standout Brook Buck. “I know that each of us looks forward to the time we spend with her. I think that it’s something that has helped her in her battle with leukemia, and has quite possibly benefited us to an even greater extent in allowing us to see how precious life can be.”