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: C/SNP John Crowther, C Jeff Faine, RE Ryan Roberts and ILB Courtney Watson. Faine was chosen as a captain for the seventh time this season, while Roberts was a captain for the fifth time and Watson is a four-time captain this year. Crowther served as a captain for the first time this afternoon.
Notre Dame won the toss and deferred its choice to the second half. Rutgers elected to receive, while the Irish chose to defend the South goal.
Today's game marks the 167th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium (the first 130 at the old 59,075 capacity). The Rutgers game also represents the 215th home sellout in the last 216 games (dating back to 1964), and the 148th sellout in the last 171 games involving Notre Dame. That stretch includes the first 10 games of 1998, the first 11 in '99, the first five in '00, the first nine in '01 and the first 11 in '02.
Counting postseason play, Notre Dame has now had its last 122 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.
Notre Dame posts 10 wins in a season for the 14th time in school history, and the first time since 1993, when the Irish went 11-1 and defeated Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
Irish head coach Tyrone Willingham registers his 10th win this season, breaking the Notre Dame record for most victories by a first-year coach (previously held by Terry Brennan in 1954 and Ara Parseghian in 1964). It also is the most wins Willingham has logged in one season as a head coach - he charted nine wins last year in his final campaign at Stanford, guiding the Cardinal to a berth in the Seattle Bowl.
The Irish ensure themselves of their biggest one-season improvement in wins (+5) since 1964, when they notched a 9-1 record following a 2-7 mark the year before.
Since opening the 2001 season at 0-3, Notre Dame is 15-4 (.789) in its last 19 games. In all four of those losses (vs. Boston College (2001, 2002), Tennessee (2001) and Stanford (2001)), the Irish had possession with an opportunity to tie or take the lead in the final five minutes.
Notre Dame raises its all-time record against the BIG EAST Conference to 76-30-2 (.713), adding to the second-highest win total against one conference in school history.
The Irish earn their 28th win in their last 34 games at Notre Dame Stadium, dating back to a 20-17 loss to USC on Oct. 8, 1997.
Notre Dame collects its seventh win in the last nine games against BIG EAST opposition, dating back to the 2000 season.
The Irish card their ninth win in the last 11 home games against BIG EAST opponents, a streak that stretches back to the 1995 season.
Notre Dame remains perfect in four series games against Rutgers, having outscored the Scarlet Knights by a 197-17 count, with three shutouts and four 40-point games.
Notre Dame's 28 third-quarter points are the most the Irish have ever scored in the third quarter of a game, surpassing the previous record of 27 points against Illinois (Oct. 19, 1968) and SMU (Dec. 5, 1953). It also is the most points Notre Dame has scored in ANY quarter since it rolled up 40 points in the second stanza vs. Pittsburgh on Nov. 16, 1996.
With their 42 points in the second and third quarters today, the Irish now have outscored their opponents, 166-65, in the middle two periods this season.
Notre Dame's 42 points this afternoon are the most the Irish have scored in one game since a 45-17 win at Rutgers in 2000. The 42-point margin of victory is the largest since the Irish defeated the Scarlet Knights, 62-0 in 1996.
The Irish post their first home shutout since a 62-0 whitewash of Rutgers on Nov. 23, 1996. It also is the second shutout of the season for Notre Dame, the first time the Irish have had two shutouts in one year since 1996 (Purdue and Rutgers).
Notre Dame amassed a season-high 478 yards of total offense, the most by the Irish since they piled up 481 yards at Rutgers in 2000.
Notre Dame scored first when junior QB Carlyle Holiday tossed a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior WR Arnaz Battle in the second quarter. The pair hooked up again on a 63-yard scoring strike 44 seconds into the third quarter. Battle is the first Irish receiver to catch two TD passes in the same game since Joey Getherall had two scoring receptions vs. Air Force in a 2000 overtime win.
Holiday tied a Notre Dame record with four touchdown passes this afternoon, topping his personal best of two at Boston College in 2001 and at Florida State earlier this year. It's the eighth time an Irish QB has thrown for four scores, and the first since Jarious Jackson turned the trick against Arizona State on Oct. 9, 1999.
Sophomore TB Ryan Grant rushed 18 times for 68 yards, giving him 1,001 yards this season. He is the seventh running back in school history to rush for 1,000 yards and the first since Autry Denson in 1998 (1,176 yards). The other 1,000-yard Irish rushers were Al Hunter (1976), Vagas Ferguson (1978-79), Allen Pinkett (1983-85), Reggie Brooks (1992) and Lee Becton (1993). Grant now ranks 12th on the Notre Dame single-season rushing list, passing Jerome Bettis (972 in 1991) and Jerome Heavens (994 in 1977).
Grant found the end zone on a 28-yard scoring run in the third quarter, his ninth touchdown of the season. That's the most rushing TDs by a Notre Dame running back since 1998, when Autry Denson scored 15 touchdowns.
Senior RCB Shane Walton collected his seventh interception of the season, and second for a touchdown, when he picked off a Ryan Hart pass and returned it 45 yards for a score in the second quarter. Walton's seven interceptions this season are the most by an Irish defender since Todd Lyght had eight thefts in 1989.
Walton's score also was Notre Dame's fourth interception return for a TD this season, tying the school record held by the 1966 Irish club. Walton tied the school record with his second interception runback for a score this season, and he is the first Irish defender to return two interceptions for TDs in the same season since Allen Rossum in 1995.
Walton's TD was the eighth "non-offensive" touchdown scored by Notre Dame this year (six on defense, two on special teams). The Irish now have tallied 102 points on 30 takeaways, and have a turnover margin of +8 (30 takeaways, 22 giveaways).
Senior WR Arnaz Battle had three receptions today, giving him 46 catches this season and passing Tim Brown (1986) and Bobby Brown (1997) for ninth place on the Notre Dame single-season list.
Battle (46-696) and junior WR Omar Jenkins (31-558) are the first pair of Notre Dame pass-catchers to top 500 yards receiving in the same season since 1997. That year, Malcolm Johnson caught 42 passes for 596 yards, while Bobby Brown logged 45 receptions for 543 yards.
Senior PK Nicholas Setta converted all six of his PAT this afternoon, extending his streak of consecutive extra points made to 86. That streak is the second-longest in school history, topped only by Craig Hentrich's string of 136 consecutive PAT from Sept. 30, 1989 to Sept. 26, 1992. Setta last missed an extra point on Oct. 7, 2000 vs. Stanford.