Following Flynt - Tradition Tuesday

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walkerforce.jpgFrom the early football series with Army to the Naval officer training program during World War II, Notre Dame has the utmost respect for and a time-honored history with the United States military, both on and off the football field.

Compared to its counterparts, the United States Air Force has a shorter relationship with Notre Dame, though that should not come as much of a surprise, as this branch of the military was not established until 1947. A few years later, in 1954, the Air Force Academy was founded in Colorado Springs, Colo., and in 1955, the Air Force Falcons began playing football.

In 1964 - Ara Parseghian's first year as head coach - the Irish made the trip west for their first-ever meeting with the Falcons. Though Air Force got on the board first, Notre Dame scored 34 unanswered and won the game rather handily.

From 1972-1991, Notre Dame and Air Force played every season except for 1976. In recent history, the series has been more sporadic, with seven additional games played beginning in 1994.

During the 1975 season, a young quarterback from western Pennsylvania led Dan Devine's team to an impressive come-from-behind victory over the Falcons. He entered the game with Notre Dame trailing 30-10 in the fourth quarter and carried the Irish to an incredible 31-30 win.

Afterwards, Notre Dame athletic director Moose Krause told Devine "This one's better than last week," a win over North Carolina that Krause had referred to as the "greatest comeback I've ever seen." That young quarterback was none other than the legendary Joe Montana.

In 1996, the Falcons visited Notre Dame Stadium to take on the eighth-ranked Irish. Led by quarterback Beau Morgan, Fisher DeBerry's Air Force team upset Notre Dame, 20-17. Morgan carried the ball 23 times for 183 yards and a touchdown, and Dallas Thompson sealed the victory with a 27-yard field goal in overtime.

It was not until 2000, that Notre Dame had an opportunity to avenge the loss. The Irish did so with an overtime victory of their own, a thrilling 34-31 win on their home turf. With three seconds on the clock, the Falcons lined up for an apparent game-winning field goal, but defensive back Glenn Earl blocked Dave Adams' kick as time expired.

In the extra period, Adams connected on a field goal that gave the Falcons a 31-28 lead. On Notre Dame's possession, quarterback Matt LoVecchio ran a fake option right, but pitched the ball to flanker Joey Getherall who ran left and carried the ball nine yards, diving into the end zone and improving the Irish to 6-2 for the season.

On Saturday, Notre Dame and Air Force will meet for the 29th time, and the first since 2007. Though the Irish lead the series 22-6, they fell to the Falcons four years ago.

Even with the momentum of last week's 38-10 victory at Purdue, Notre Dame will not have an easy task in improving to 4-2.

Air Force comes into the match-up with a 3-1 record, and the Falcons are averaging 364.5 rushing yards per game (third in the nation). Through five games, Notre Dame's defense has done a great job of containing, if not shutting down, its opponents on the ground. The Irish have allowed just over 91 rushing yards per game, but they've yet to face a team with the powerful running game and potential trickery of the option that is cornerstone of the Falcons' offense.

Strong rush defense against a strong running game sets the stage for what could be an exciting Saturday afternoon.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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