Saturday is the 219th straight sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every home game for the Irish has been a sellout except one - a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. Notre Dame has played in front of sellouts in 267 of its last 268 home games.
Notre Dame totaled just nine total yards (six rushing, three passing) in the first quarter, but led 7-3 entering the second quarter in large part to junior CB Robert Blanton's blocked punt for touchdown.
The Irish managed just 95 yards in the first half (52 on the ground and 43 in the air). Notre Dame nearly bested all three totals in the third quarter alone. The Irish recorded 37 yards on the ground and 79 in the air for a total of 116 total yards.
NOTRE DAME AND TOP-RANKED FOES
The Irish have now registered 133 victories in school history over opponents ranked in the top 20 of the AP poll, including 23 when Notre Dame entered the game unranked as they did last weekend against No. 15 Utah. Nine of those 23 victories when the Irish were unranked have occurred at Notre Dame Stadium. Prior to Utah, Notre Dame's last victory over a top 20 opponent when unranked came on Nov. 6, 2004 at No. 7 Tennessee (17-13). The last victory for the Irish over a top 20 opponent when unranked at home came on Sept. 11, 2004 against No. 8 Michigan (28-20).
Today's margin of victory (25 points) is the largest in a game against an AP top 20 opponent since Oct. 12, 1996, versus Washington. Under the direction of head coach Lou Holtz, the Irish defeated the No. 16 Huskies, 54-20.
Notre Dame's victory was the program's 21st in school history over an AP top 20 foe by 25 or more points.
The three points allowed by Notre Dame against No. 15 Utah were the fewest allowed by the Irish against an AP top 20 foe since Jan. 1, 1993. Notre Dame defeated No. 4 Texas A&M, 28-3, in the Cotton Bowl.
The three points allowed by the Irish marked the 34th time in school history that the Notre Dame held a top 20 opponent to seven points or less and the 20th time to three points or less.
Today's victory over No. 15 Utah is the highest ranked opponent that Notre Dame has defeated since Sept. 10, 2005 when the Irish upended No. 3 Michigan, 17-10.
Notre Dame owns an all-time record of 133-124-10 (.517) against teams ranked in the top 20 of the AP poll, including a 60-52-3 (.535) mark in Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame limited No. 15 Utah well below almost all of its season averages in numerous offense categories. The Utes came into the contest averaging 175.89 yards on the ground (36th in the FBS), 245.89 yards in the air (41st in the FBS) and 421.78 yards of total offense (30th in the FBS). Utah was ranked among the top 20 in the FBS in scoring offense (9th, 41.00) and passing efficiency offense (12th, 158.65). The Utes had eclipsed 56 points in four of their first nine games in 2010, including 68 at Iowa State. Here is a comparison between Utah's season averages entering the game with the Irish and its totals from the game against Notre Dame.
vs. Notre Dame vs. Everyone Else
Scoring/Game 3 41.0
Rushing Yds/Game 71 175.9
Rushing Yds/Carry 2.4 5.2
Passing Yds/Game 194 245.9
Passing Yds/Attempt 4.8 8.4
Passing Yds/Completion 8.1 12.4
Total Yards/Game 265 421.8
Total Yards/Play 3.8 6.7
Completion Percentage 60.0% 67.7%
Pass Efficiency 95.7 158.6
3rd Down Conversions 26.7% (4 of 15) 50.8% (60 of 118)
Sacks Allowed/Game 2.0 0.44
Notre Dame limited No. 15 Utah without an offensive touchdown and three points. The Utes, who kicked a field goal on their opening drive of the game, were held scoreless over their final 11 drives and 60 plays. Utah had not been held to three points or less since Sept. 22, 2007 -- a span of 45 games.
Notre Dame did not allow the Utes to register a drive of longer than 24 yards over their first nine drives of the game. Utah did drive 65 and 61 yards on back-to-back drives in the third and fourth quarter, but the Utes needed 12 plays for each drive and both ended when the Irish stopped Utah on fourth down. In all, Utah was stifled to nine drives of less than 24 yards, including eight of 20 yards or less.
Utah had eclipsed 400 yards of total offense in six of its first nine games, including 593 at Iowa State. Notre Dame limited the Utes to 265 total yards, 194 in the air and 71 on the ground. The 265 total yards were the fewest allowed by an Irish opponent all season (previous low total was 270 total yards at Boston College). The 71 rushing yards were the third-fewest for an Irish opponent on the season (season-low total was five yards at Boston College). The 194 yards in the air were the second-fewest by a Notre Dame foe this season (previous low total was 71 passing yards vs. Navy).
The 265 yards of total offense by Utah were the fewest allowed by Notre Dame since Oct. 31, 2009 when Washington State managed just 206 total yards in a 40-14 victory by the Irish.
The Irish defense limited the Utah offense to 118 total yards (56 on the ground and 62 in the air) in the first half.
Notre Dame finished the game with eight quarterback hurries, the most for the Irish in any home game this season (stat is tracked in Notre Dame home games only). The previous single-game high was five quarterback hurries on Oct. 16, 2010, against Western Michigan. The Irish registered seven quarterback hurries, an interception and two pass breakups in the opening half alone.
NOTRE DAME'S MASH UNIT
The Irish have been beset by injuries in 2010. Notre Dame has undergone season-ending injuries to senior C Dan Wenger (before the season), junior QB Dayne Crist following the Tulsa game, junior TE Kyle Rudolph following the Pittsburgh game, senior RB Armando Allen Jr. following the Navy game, senior NG Ian Williams following the Navy game and possibly sophomore WR Theo Riddick following the Western Michigan game. The Irish also lost the services of junior WR Michael Floyd (vs. Navy), junior RB Jonas Gray (vs. Boston College, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Western Michigan, vs. Navy and vs. Tulsa), sophomore ILB Carlo Calabrese (vs. Tulsa), senior OT Taylor Dever (at Boston College and vs. Pittsburgh) and junior S Jamoris Slaughter (vs. Michigan and Navy). Notre Dame even lost its starting short snapper for the remainder of the season when senior Bill Flavin suffered a broken ankle against Tulsa.
On the offensive side of the ball today, Notre Dame played without Allen Jr., Crist, freshman WR TJ Jones, Riddick, Rudolph and Wenger.
Riddick (38 rec., 406 yards, 3 TD), Rudolph (28 rec., 328 yards, 3 TD), Jones (22 rec., 287 yards, 3 TD) and Allen (17 rec., 138 yards) entered today's game as four of the top five receivers for the Irish on the year. They have combined for 105 receptions, 1,159 yards and nine touchdowns. Rudolph has missed four games, Riddick has missed three games, Jones has missed one game and Allen has missed two complete games and the majority of a third (all include today's contest).
Allen underwent season-ending surgery on a hip flexor. He leads the Irish in rushing with 514 yards on 107 carries and two touchdowns.
Crist, who was lost for the season with a torn patella tendon just seven plays into the game against Tulsa, had thrown for 2,033 yards and 15 touchdowns prior to the injury.
In all, Notre Dame's starting offense has lost a total of 14 games to injury this season (does not include Wenger).
NOTRE DAME IN NOVEMBER
The Irish are 310-121-27 (.706) all-time in November.
Notre Dame is 145-44-7 (.758) in November home games.
The Irish are 52-52-7 (.500) all-time in November against top-25 opponents.
Notre Dame is 50-51-7 (.495) all-time in November against top-20 opponents.
The Irish are 22-20-1 (.523) all-time at Notre Dame Stadium in November against top-25 opponents.
Notre Dame is 20-19-1 (.513) all-time at Notre Dame Stadium in November against top-20 opponents.
SPECIAL TEAMS DELIVERS
Notre Dame blocked its first punt of the 2010 season when junior CB Robert Blanton raced untouched and blocked Sean Sellwood's effort. Blanton scooped up the ball and scampered six yards for a touchdown. It was the first blocked punt for the Irish since the 2008 Hawai'i Bowl (Sergio Brown) and first blocked punt returned for a touchdown since the Nov. 15, 2008, game vs. Navy (Toryan Smith, 14 yards).
Notre Dame forced a Utah fumble on the opening kickoff of the second-half. The Irish then followed one play later with a 26-yard touchdown pass from freshman QB Tommy Rees to senior WR Duval Kamara.
Notre Dame now owns an all-time record of 92-24-4 (.783) in home finales. The Irish are 61-19-1 (.759) in home finales in Notre Dame Stadium.
Utah was the highest ranked opponent to travel to Notre Dame Stadium on "Senior Day" since Tennessee on Nov. 9, 1991. The Volunteers were ranked No. 13 and slipped past the fifth-ranked Irish, 35-34.
Utah is the highest ranked opponent Notre Dame has defeated on "Senior Day" since Nov. 14, 1987 when the Irish bested No. 10 Alabama.
The Irish are 16-11 (.593) all-time against ranked opponents on "Senior Day."
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Notre Dame and Utah met on the gridiron for the first time in the 122-year history of Irish football. The Utes are the 139th different opponent in Notre Dame football history. The Irish own an all-time record of 117-19-3 (.853) when facing an opponent for the first time in school history.
The Irish have faced 70 of the other 120 teams currently competing at the FBS level.
Utah became the 68th different team to visit Notre Dame Stadium (since its opening in 1930) when the Utes face the Irish this week. Notre Dame owns a 56-11-1 mark (.831) in games when the opponent was making its first visit to the Stadium. Fourteen of those teams previously had played at Notre Dame (prior to 1930), with the Irish owning a mark of 44-8-1 (.840) since 1930 versus teams making their first overall visit to Notre Dame.
Utah, ranked No. 15 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches' polls, was the highest ranked opponent to make its inaugural debut in Notre Dame Stadium since since No. 10 Alabama made its first-ever trip to South Bend in 1976
Notre Dame has already played a pair first-time visitors to Notre Dame Stadium this season. The Irish routed Western Michigan, 44-20, on Sept. 16 and lost to Tulsa, 28-27, on Oct. 30.
The Irish have not hosted three first-time visitors to Notre Dame Stadium in the same season since 1972 when Notre Dame faced Miami (Fla.), TCU and Missouri.
Following the 1981 loss to Florida State, 12 consecutive opponents lost in their first trip to South Bend: Colorado (1984), Mississippi (1985), Boston College (1987), BYU (1992), Vanderbilt (1995), Rutgers (1996), West Virginia (1997), Arizona State (1999), Texas A&M (2000), Washington State (2003), San Diego State (2008) and Nevada (2009). Connecticut snapped that streak in the home finale in 2009.
Nine teams that were ranked at game time in the AP top 25 poll (which began in 1936) have lost in their first visit to Notre Dame, with the Irish being ranked lower in five of those games:
#9 Army (L, #1 ND in '47, 27-7) #20 North Carolina (L, #1 ND in '50, 14-7)
#4 Oklahoma (L, #10 ND in '52, 27-21) #10 Syracuse (L, unranked ND in '61, 17-15)
#7 LSU (L, #2 ND in '70, 3-0) #10 Alabama (L, #18 ND in '76, 21-18)
#22 West Virginia (L, unranked ND in '97, 21-14) #23 Texas A&M (L, unranked ND in '00, 24-10)
#15 Utah (L, unranked ND in '10, 28-3)
The Notre Dame football program has played home games versus a total of 121 different teams, primarily at old Cartier Field (pre-1930) or Notre Dame Stadium, with an overall home record of 103-13-5 (.872) in games versus all first-time visitors to Notre Dame (regardless of the site).
Blanton blocked a punt and returned it six yards for a touchdown.
Blanton was the first Irish player to block a punt since Dec. 24, 2008, against Hawai'i in the Hawai'i Bowl. He was also the first Notre Dame player to return a blocked punt for a touchdown since Toryan Smith (14 yards) on Nov. 15, 2008, against Navy.
The touchdown was the second of Blanton's career. He registered a 47-yard interception return for touchdown against Purdue on Sept. 27, 2008.
Floyd hauled in a three-yard touchdown pass from freshman QB Tommy Rees to give Notre Dame a 14-3 lead with 12:25 remaining before halftime.
Floyd has 25 career receiving touchdowns in just 27 games for Notre Dame. He ranks third on the all-time Notre Dame receiving touchdowns list.
Floyd has nine touchdown receptions this season, which ranks tied for eighth on the single-season list. Floyd is the third wideout in Notre Dame history to have two separate seasons rank in the top 10 for receiving touchdowns in a single season (joined Golden Tate and Jeff Samardzija).
Floyd has caught a touchdown pass in four consecutive games. Floyd has totaled seven touchdown receptions in the four games.
Gray, who missed each of the last five games with a knee injury, raced 36 yards to help setup a Notre Dame touchdown to give the Irish a 14-3 lead. The 36-yard run was the second longest for Notre Dame this season.
Kamara grabbed a 26-yard touchdown pass to give Notre Dame a 21-3 lead with 14:47 left in the third quarter.
Kamara caught a 12-yard touchdown pass to give the Irish a 28-3 lead with 9:09 to go in the third quarter.
The touchdown catch was his second of the game, second of the season and eighth of his career. Kamara had not recorded a touchdown catch prior to this afternoon since Oct. 31, 2009, against Washington State.
The two-touchdown game was the second multi-TD game of his career. Kamara had a pair of touchdown catches against Navy on Nov. 3, 2007.
Kamara entered today's game with just seven catches on the season.