#8 Notre Dame 14, Pittsburgh 6
For just the second time in the 114-year history of Notre Dame football, the Irish are selecting captains on a game-by-game basis. The only other time Notre Dame chose captains in this fashion was 1946 under legendary head coach Frank Leahy. Today?s Irish captains were: WR Arnaz Battle, LT Jordan Black, P Joey Hildbold and NG Cedric Hilliard. It marked the third time this season Battle was selected as a captain, while Black and Hilliard served as captains for the second time in 2002.
Notre Dame won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half. Pittsburgh elected to receive, while the Irish chose to defend the South goal.
Today?s game marks the 165th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium (the first 130 at the old 59,075 capacity). The Pittsburgh game also represents the 213th home sellout in the last 214 games (dating back to 1964), and the 143rd sellout in the last 166 games involving Notre Dame.
Counting postseason play, Notre Dame has now had its last 117 games televised on one of four networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN), a stretch going back more than nine 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.
Junior QB Carlyle Holiday tossed his second touchdown pass of the season today, an 11-yard strike to senior WR Arnaz Battle in the second quarter. It was the first passing TD at home for the Irish since Sept. 22, 2001, when Matt LoVecchio threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Javin Hunter.
Battle set career highs with 10 receptions and 101 yards receiving today. His previous career bests were four catches vs. Maryland in the 2002 season opener and 78 yards receiving vs. Michigan State in 2002.
With 10 receptions this afternoon, Battle is the first Notre Dame receiver to register at least 10 catches in one game since Bobby Brown had 12 receptions at Pittsburgh in 1999 (Brown?s total is tied for second-most in Irish history).
With 101 yards receiving today, Battle is the first Irish wideout to top 100 receiving yards since Joey Getherall amassed 116 yards on four catches against Air Force in 2000.
Notre Dame?s eight sacks are the most since it had nine sacks against Rutgers on Nov. 23, 1996.
Senior PK Nicholas Setta converted two PATs today, extending his streak to 70 consecutive extra points made, the second-longest string in school history. Setta has not missed a PAT since Oct. 7, 2000 vs. Stanford.
Notre Dame has led at halftime in five of its six games this season (7-6 today).
Notre Dame has not allowed any second-half points in the last two games, after allowing a total of 42 second-half points in the Purdue (10), Michigan (16) and Michigan State (14) games. The Irish defense also has not allowed a touchdown in its last seven quarters (dating back to a Stanford TD in the opening period last week).
Today?s combined point total (20) marks the lowest-scoring game at Notre Dame Stadium since Oct. 11, 1986, when Pittsburgh beat the Irish 10-9 (on a field goal with 1:25 left to play). It also is the lowest-scoring game involving Notre Dame (regardless of site) since the Irish lost 10-0 at USC to end the 1998 season.
Notre Dame has won or tied the turnover battle in every game this season (3-2 edge in today?s game).
Notre Dame has totaled 19 takeaways in the 2002 season, leading to 78 points for the Irish.
Today marked the first time that the Irish did not allow a touchdown in a game at Notre Dame Stadium since the 27-3 win over Baylor on Oct. 31, 1998.
Notre Dame logs its 10th win in the last 11 meetings with Pittsburgh. It also is the 24th Irish win in the last 30 series games with the Panthers.
Notre Dame raises its all-time record against the teams that currently comprise the BIG EAST Conference to 75-29-2 (.717), adding to the second-highest win total against one current conference alignment in school history.
The Irish registered their sixth win in the last seven games against BIG EAST opposition, dating back to the 2000 season. It also marks Notre Dame?s eighth victory in its last nine home games against the BIG EAST (a streak which dates back to 1995).
Notre Dame won for the 18th time in its last 19 October games. The Irish also improved to 50-8 (.862) in the month of October since the 1988 season.
Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham becomes just the third coach since 1913 to win his first six games at Notre Dame, joining Jesse Harper (nine spanning 1913 and ?14 seasons) and Ara Parseghian (nine in 1964). Today?s win moves Willingham past the legendary Frank Leahy, who won his first five games in 1941 before the Irish tied Army, 0-0, in his sixth contest.
Wilingham also records the 50th win of his coaching career (44 at Stanford, six at Notre Dame). In his eighth season on the sidelines, he improves to 50-36-1 (.580).
Notre Dame opens its season 6-0 for the first time since 1993, when the Irish won their first 10 games and ascended to No. 1 in the polls.
The Irish extend their current winning streak to seven games, their longest since another seven-game run at the end of the 2000 season (Oct. 7-Nov. 25).
Notre Dame earns its 27th home victory in its last 32 games at Notre Dame Stadium, dating back to a 20-17 loss to USC on Oct. 18, 1997.
Since opening the 2001 season at 0-3, Notre Dame is 11-3 in its last 14 games. In all three of those losses (vs. Boston College, Tennessee and Stanford in 2001), the Irish had possession with an opportunity to tie or take the lead in the final five minutes.
Oct. 12, 2002