Dec. 24, 2008
Hawaii won the coin toss and elected to defer. Notre Dame will receive to open the game. The Warriors will defend the North end zone.
The blue Irish jerseys for the game today have player names on the backs - renewing a tradition from the Ara Parseghian years when Irish teams did not have names on the backs of their jerseys during the regular season but added them for bowl games. It also becomes a nice personal touch for the players who are allowed to keep their bowl jerseys. It's the first time an Irish team has worn names on its jerseys since the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M that ended the 1987 season (Tim Brown's final game as a collegian).
Notre Dame snapped its NCAA-record bowl losing streak at nine games. Prior to this afternoon, the last bowl victory for the Irish came in the 1994 Cotton Bowl (concluding the 1993 season).
Notre Dame set team bowl records in points (49), passing yards (413), passing TDs (five) and total yards (478). The Irish also set individual bowl records in receiving yards (Golden Tate, 177), passing yards (Jimmy Clausen, 401), receiving TDs (Golden Tate, three), passing TDs (Jimmy Clausen, five), longest kickoff touchdown return (Armando Allen, 93 yards) and completion percentage (Jimmy Clausen, 84.6%).
The following Notre Dame offensive players extended starting streaks this evening: junior RT Sam Young (38), senior LT Michael Turkovich (25), sophomore QB Jimmy Clausen (16), junior LG Eric Olsen (19), junior OC Dan Wenger (15) and freshman TE Kyle Rudolph (13).
The following Notre Dame defensive players extended starting streaks this evening: senior FS David Bruton (16), senior DE Pat Kuntz (13), sophomore LB Kerry Neal (8), junior DB Raeshon McNeil (13), senior SS Kyle McCarthy (13) and sophomore LB Harrison Smith (10).
Notre Dame senior LB Maurice Crum, Jr. made his 48th career start this afternoon. Crum tied former Irish DB Tom Zbikowski (2004-07) for the most career starts on record by a Notre Dame player.
Freshman TE Kyle Rudolph hooked up with sophomore QB Jimmy Clausen for a career-long reception of 28 yards midway through the second quarter (Irish would later grab a 7-0 lead on the drive). Rudolph's previous long catch went for 24 yards against Stanford on Oct. 4.
Sophomore WR Golden Tate picked up a 27-yard grab to setup first and goal for Notre Dame. Sophomore HB Robert Hughes followed with a two-yard rushing touchdown to cap a nine-play, 87-yard scoring drive to give the Irish a 7-0 lead with 3:07 remaining in the first quarter. The 87-yard drive was the longest scoring drive for the Irish since a 91-yard touchdown drive against Pittsburgh on Nov. 1.Clausen went 5-of-5 on the drive for 67 yards.
Junior DB Sergio Brown was not credited with a blocked punt (as the ball crossed the line of scrimmage), but he did deflect his third punt of the season (one official blocked punt against San Diego State and another deflected punt against Syracuse).
Freshman DE Ethan Johnson tallied a pair of sacks this afternoon. Johnson now has 3.5 sacks this season. He is the first Irish player to register two solo sacks in a single-game since sophomore DB Harrison Smith had a pair at Washington on Oct. 25.
Senior WR David Grimes rebounded following a dropped pass that would have gained at least a first down with his third touchdown reception of the season and seventh of his career on the ensuing Irish play. The one-handed grab along the back corner of the end zone gave Notre Dame a 14-0 lead with 10:25 to go in the opening half.
Notre Dame entered the game leading the nation in kickoff return defense allowing just 16.17 yards per return. In fact, the Irish had not allowed a kickoff return of 30 yards or more all season until Hawaii kick returner Richard Torres registered the longest kick return by an Irish opponent this season when he raced 37 yards following Notre Dame's touchdown to grab a 14-0 lead. The previous high by an Irish foe was 29 yards by Mike Holmes of Syracuse on Nov. 22.
Tate hooked up with Clausen for a 69-yard touchdown catch with 6:49 to go in the second quarter. The play was the longest from scrimmage for the Irish this season and longest since Jeff Samardzija took a pass from Brady Quinn and raced 80 yards for a touchdown against Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005. Tate eclipsed 1,000 yards on the season with the reception. He became the fifth Notre Dame receiver to accomplish the feat joining Jeff Samardzija (2005, 2006), Maurice Stovall (2005), Tom Gatewood (1970) and Jack Snow (1964).
Clausen had a remarkable opening half against Hawaii. He completed 18 of 21 passes for 300 yards and threw three touchdowns. The 300 yards passing are the most by an Irish player in bowl history (surpassing Brady Quinn's 286 yards against Ohio State in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl). It is the most yards passing for the sophomore signal caller in any half this season (previous high was 221 yards against Stanford in the first half). In fact, it is the most passing yards in any half for a Notre Dame quarterback since at least 1970. It is no worse than the second most passing yards ever in a half. Joe Theismann threw for a school record 526 yards against USC during the 1970 season, but records do not have the passing effort broken down by half.
Rudolph hauled in a 29-yard reception on a fourth down play to setup first and goal for the Irish with 1:40 to go before halftime. The 29-yard grab was Rudolph's third of the game that exceeded 20 yards. He also added grabs for 27 and 24 yards. The catch also gave Rudolph a career-high for receiving yards in a single-game (his previous high was 70 yards earlier this season against Stanford). He finished the afternoon with four catches for 78 yards.
The 28 points in the first half are tied for the most in a half by Notre Dame this season (had 28 against Michigan in the first half). It also was the most points in any half of a bowl game since the 1992 Sugar Bowl when the Irish registered 32 points in the second half against Florida.
Sophomore RB Armando Allen recorded a 96-yard kickoff return for touchdown. It is the first kickoff return for touchdown by Notre Dame since Vontez Duff against Navy in 2002. The 96 yard return is the longest for the Irish in bowl history (previous long was 93 yards by Al Hunter in the 1973 Sugar Bowl against Alabama.
Notre Dame recorded eight sacks on the afternoon. It is the most sacks for the Irish under fourth-year head coach Charlie Weis. The previous high for Notre Dame during the Weis era came against Stanford in 2005.
Clausen finished the season with 42 completions of over 20 yards on the season. He connected on just 13 in 10 games as a freshman a year ago. The Irish had six passing plays of at least 30 yards in the entire 2007 season. Not only does Tate have more by himself (14), but also Notre Dame had 24 as team this season.
Jimmy Clausen, So., QB
Golden Tate, So., WR