Notre Dame's captains for the 2006 season are senior QB Brady Quinn (offense), senior DB Tom Zbikowski and senior LB Travis Thomas (special teams). All three men were selected for the season-long honor by their teammates, with Quinn serving as the offensive captain for the second consecutive season. Zbikowski and Thomas are first-year captains, although Thomas was selected as special teams captain for last season's opener at Pittsburgh (the special teams post was chosen by the Irish coaching staff on a week-to-week basis in 2005 before returning to a preseason vote this year).
Tonight's game between Notre Dame and Michigan State is officially sold out, making it the 60th in the last 65 road games for the Irish that were sellouts. The 2001, 2003 and 2005 games at Stanford, the 2004 game vs. Navy at The Meadowlands and last year's game at Washington were not sellouts.
Notre Dame won the toss and elected to receive. Michigan State defended the south end zone in the first half.
Notre Dame was ranked 12th in the Associated Press poll at kickoff. Michigan State came into the game unranked in the AP poll.
THE NOTRE DAME VICTORY
NOTRE DAME TEAM NOTES Notre Dame overcame a 16-point fourth quarter deficit Saturday night, the largest fourth quarter deficit the Irish have overcome since the 1979 Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1, 1979) when Notre Dame trailed Houston, 34-12, with just under eight minutes to go in the game and came back to win, 35-34. Joe Montana threw the winning touchdown pass to Kris Haines as time expired (Joe Unis kicked the deciding PAT) in what was later termed "The Chicken Soup Game."
The victory is head coach Charlie Weis' seventh consecutive road win to open his career -- the longest streak to open a Notre Dame coach's career since Frank Leahy began his Irish coaching tenure with a 10-game road unbeaten streak.
Notre Dame eclipsed the 40-point barrier for the second time this season and eighth time under Weis.
The 17-point first quarter deficit for the Irish was their largest since Sept. 12, 1998, when Notre Dame fell behind Michigan State, 21-3. The 17 points in the opening quarter are the most points in a single quarter for the Spartans in the series with the Irish since they scored 21 points in the second quarter of that same 1998 meeting in East Lansing.
The Spartans' second quarter interception return for a touchdown by Ervin Baldwin was the third by a Notre Dame opponent in its last two games. Prior to last week against Michigan, the Irish had allowed just three defensive touchdowns in their previous 34 games.
Michigan State was whistled for a holding call late in the third quarter. It was the first holding call against a Notre Dame opponent this season.
The Irish allowed 75 points in the first quarter during the entire 2005 season. After allowing just seven points in the opening quarter in its first two games vs. Georgia Tech and Penn State, Notre Dame has allowed 37 points to Michigan and Michigan State in the opening 15 minutes the past two weeks. In the same two games, the Irish have allowed 65 points in the first half.
NOTRE DAME PLAYER NOTES Senior P Geoff Price, who entered tonight,s game as the nation's second-ranked punter, booted a 54-yd punt in the first quarter, his eighth punt of 50+ yards this season.
Senior QB Brady Quinn started the 37th consecutive game of his career.
Quinn's five touchdown passes give him 11 this season and 69 for his career. Quinn has thrown for three or more TD passes in 11 different games during his career. It is also Quinn's fifth career game with at least four TD passes and third game with five or more.
Quinn topped 300 yards passing for the first time in 2006 and eighth time in his Irish career.
Other Notre Dame players that extended streaks for consecutive starts include: senior OT Ryan Harris (28), senior DT Derek Landri (27), senior SS Tom Zbikowski (28), senior DE Victor Abiamiri (17) and senior WR Jeff Samardzija (17).
Senior WR Rhema McKnight's second touchdown reception of the game was his fourth of the season and 11th of his career. The TD catch moved him past Malcolm Johnson (1995-98) for 10th on the Irish all-time TD receptions list.
Walker's four-yard reception in the second quarter gave him 74 catches for his career, eclipsing Allen Pinkett's previous school record (73 from 1982-85) for career receptions by a running back.
Walker's 10th rush of the game was his 500th career carry at Notre Dame. Walker is just the eighth player in Irish history to record 500 career carries.
Senior TE John Carlson's 62-yard touchdown catch was the longest catch of his career and longest TD reception for the Irish since Samardzjia's 80-yard TD at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
Carlson had 121 yards receiving on four catches. He is the first Irish tight end to eclipse 100 yards receiving since Anthony Fasano had 155 yards on eight catches against Purdue on Oct. 2, 2004.
Samardzjia's 43-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was his second TD reception of the game, fourth of the season and 19th of his career. He moved past Maurice Stovall (2002-05) for third and tied Tom Gatewood (1969-71) for second on the all-time TD receptions list. Samardzija also moved passed Tony Hunter (1979-82) for eighth on the school's all-time receptions list. In addition, Samardzjia, who eclipsed 1,800 career yards receiving, surpassed Ken MacAfee (1974-77) for seventh all-time on the career receiving yards list.
Carlson and Samardzija each went over 100 yards receiving on the night. They are the first Notre Dame duo to register 100 yards receiving in the same game since Samardzija and Stovall turned the task at Stanford last year.
Abiamiri's third-quarter sack was his second of 2006 and 12th of his career. He moved into a tie with Wally Klein (1983-86) for ninth all-time on the Irish career sacks list.
Junior CB Terrail Lambert's 27-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter was not only his first career interception, but also Notre Dame's first "pick six" since Leo Ferrine had a 16-yard runback for a score against Syracuse last year. Lambert also is the first Irish defender with two interceptions in the same game since Sept. 21, 2002, when Gerome Sapp had two picks at Michigan State in a 21-17 Notre Dame victory.