Irish Visit Michigan Saturday Under The Lights Sporting retro uniforms, the two winningest programs in NCAA FBS history will square off in the first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium (8 p.m. ET, ABC).
ABC national telecast with Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (analysis), Erin Andrews (sideline), Bill Bonnell (producer) and Derek Mobley (director).
IMG College Sports is the exclusive national rights-holder for Irish football radio broadcasts. IMG College manages, produces and syndicates the Irish national football radio network. Notre Dame games will be broadcast by Don Criqui (play-by-play), former Irish great Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Jeff Jeffers (sideline). This broadcast can be heard live on both SIRIUS and XM Satellite Radio (channel 129).
All Notre Dame home games may be heard in South Bend on Sunny 101.5 FM and NewsTalk 960 WSBT-AM.
Including this Saturday, Notre Dame has now played before a sellout crowd in 78 of its last 90 games away from the friendly confines of Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame was ranked No. 16 in the preseason Associated Press poll and No. 18 in the preseason USA Today Coaches' poll. Michigan received votes in both polls. This week's poll will be released on Sept. 6.
Live in-game statistics will be provided through CBS Sports.com College's GameTracker via UND.com.
This will be the 39th meeting all-time between the rivals. It is Notre Dame's sixth-most played series and the third-most frequent with any school in the Big Ten. Michigan holds a 22-15-1 lead in the series and took last year's meeting, 28-24, in South Bend. The Wolverines have captured each of the last two meetings in Ann Arbor - 38-0 in 2007 and 38-34 in 2009 (more on the series history on pages 2-5 in the PDF version of this notes package).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR SATURDAY
Saturday marks the first night game in the 84-year history of Michigan Stadium. It also represents the first of a Notre Dame record five night games in 2011. Notre Dame owns an all-time mark of 58-33-2 in night games, including a 3-0 record against Michigan.
MICHIGAN HEAD COACH BRADY HOKE
On Jan. 11, 2011, Brady Hoke was named the 19th head coach in University of Michigan football history. An eight-year member of U-M's defensive coaching staff from 1995-2002, he returns to Ann Arbor after spending eight seasons as head coach at Ball State (2003-08) and San Diego State (2009-10). While at U-M, Hoke was part of three Big Ten champion teams (1997, '98, 2000), including the 1997 national champion and Rose Bowl champion squad. During his tenure, U-M posted a 76-23 overall record, claiming at least 10 victories on four occasions.
The 2010 Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, Hoke guided the Aztecs to a 9-4 record, marking the most victories since 1996 (8) while earning the program's first trip to a bowl game in 12 years, a 35-14 victory over Navy. Six of his players earned All-MWC first team honors in 2010, including running back Ronnie Hillman, the league's Freshman of the Year. Seven additional players earned second team (4) and honorable mention (3) honors. In 2009, Hoke's first season at San Diego State, five players were named to All-MWC teams, while 11 were MWC All-Academic selections.
As head coach at Ball State, he mentored players to 35 All-MAC selections in six years en route to a pair of bowl game appearances in 2007 and '08. The 2008 season marked the best season in program history, recording a school-record 12 wins and completing an undefeated Mid-American Conference regular-season campaign.
Collectively, Hoke has 28 years of collegiate coaching experience beginning with assistant positions at Grand Valley State (1983), Western Michigan (1984-86), Toledo (1987-88), Oregon State (1989-94) and Michigan (1995-2002).
A 1982 graduate of Ball State University, Hoke earned four letters (1977-80) with the Cardinals. He was part of the only two teams in Ball State football history to post undefeated conference seasons: as a player in 1978, and as the head coach in 2008. Hoke led Ball State to the 1978 MAC championship, and as a team captain in 1980 earned All-MAC second-team honors. He graduated from Fairmont East High School in Kettering, Ohio, in 1977.
He and his wife, the former Laura Homberger, have one daughter, Kelly.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WOLVERINES LAST WEEK
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Senior weakside linebacker Brandon Herron became the first Wolverine in school history to post two defensive scores in a single contest, helping lead Michigan to a 34-10 win over Western Michigan in the 2011 season opener, which was declared final with 1:27 in the third quarter due to weather on Saturday (Sept. 3) inside Michigan Stadium. The victory is head coach Brady Hoke's first at the helm of the Michigan program.
Although the opening kickoff featured 90-degree heat and sunny skies, storms from the southwest rolled over Michigan Stadium in the second half. The game was suspended twice in the third quarter after lightning was spotted within six miles of the stadium. The first suspension resulted in only a 30-minute delay, but the bleak outlook of the second suspension forced Michigan and Western Michigan officials to call the game with 1:27 left in the third quarter and declare the Wolverines the winner. This is the first Michigan football game to end before all 60 minutes of regulation have been played.
Herron, who racked up a career-high eight tackles, returned both an interception and a fumble to the south end zone for touchdowns. His 94-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the second quarter was the longest interception return in program history, besting Ken Tureaud's 92-yarder in 1961. Senior safety Jordan Kovacs (Curtice, Ohio/Clay) led the defense in tackles (10), TFLs (two) and sacks (two), and registered the forced fumble that led to Herron's second touchdown.
NOTRE DAME - MICHIGAN SERIES NOTES
This year's meeting will mark the 39th meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan, with the Wolverines holding a 22-15-1 series lead. Notre Dame has captured four of the last six meetings in Notre Dame, but Michigan has walked away with victories in five of the last six games in Ann Arbor. The Irish own a 7-12-0 record against Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The first meeting between the two schools took place during the 1887 season. Michigan blanked Notre Dame, 8-0, in South Bend. The Wolverines proceeded to win the next seven games over the Irish. Notre Dame's first victory over Michigan came during the 1909 season in Ann Arbor by a score of 11-3. The two teams would not meet for another 33 years. After the Wolverines and Irish split meetings in 1942 and '43, the series took another break, this time 35 years. Since renewing the rivalry in 1978, Notre Dame and Michigan have played every season except 1983, '84, '95, '96, 2000 and '01.
Prior to the matchups in 2007 and '08 (and again in '10), either Notre Dame or Michigan had been ranked entering the game 24 consecutive meetings. Those three meetings between the Irish and Wolverines are the only in which each were unranked dating back to 1909 -- an era before national polls (polls debuted in 1936). Furthermore, six times both teams have been ranked in the Top 10 and three games one or the other was ranked No 1.
Michigan is one of only four schools that own a winning record against Notre Dame (based on a minimum of five all-time meetings). Florida State, Ohio State and Nebraska are the other programs.
Over the last 26 meetings (dating back to 1979), the Notre Dame-Michigan game has been decided by a touchdown or less on 16 different occasions.
Notre Dame and Michigan announced jointly a 20-year contract extension in the football series, extending the series through 2031. With the current contract expiring after the 2011 season, the new contract guarantees that the two winningest football programs in NCAA Division I history will meet annually for the next 20 years.
IRISH, WOLVERINES PRODUCE EXCITING GAMES
Ten of the last 20 Notre Dame-Michigan games have been decided by five points or less while only seven of the last 27 games have been won by more than 10 points: Michigan's 25-7 home win in 1981, Notre Dame's 26-7 victory at Michigan in 1987, Notre Dame's 36-20 triumph at home in 1998, Michigan's 38-0 victory in Ann Arbor back in 2004, the Wolverines 47-21 win at Notre Dame in 2006, Michigan's 38-0 triumph in 2007 and Notre Dame's 35-17 victory in 2008.
The average margin of victory has been just 4.4 points over the span of the all-time series. Take away the 2003, '06, '07 and '08 meetings and the average margin of victory is 2.4.
Seven of the last 25 games in the series have seen the winning points come in the final two minutes (1980, '88, '90, '94, '99, '09 and '10), including three that were decided in the final seconds ('80, '94, '09 and '10).
IRISH, WOLVERINES RANK NEAR TOP OF NCAA LISTS
Notre Dame has won 11 consensus national championships, while Michigan has won nine titles.
Notre Dame has 845 career Division I-A victories (third all-time), while Michigan leads with 885 career wins, although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than the Irish.
Michigan owns an all-time winning percentage of .7347 (885-308-36), while Notre Dame owns an all-time winning percentage of .7320 (845-296-42). The Wolverines and Irish rank first and second, respectively, in all-time NCAA winning percentage.
Ohio State (786) and Michigan (761) rank first and second all-time in appearances in the Associated Press poll, followed by Notre Dame (713).
Notre Dame ranks first all-time with 96 consensus All-America selections (from 80 players), while Michigan is fourth with 77 consensus All-America picks (from 64 players). USC (68 players) and Ohio State (59 players) are tied for second with 78 selections.
IRISH RECORD SETTERS IN THE MICHIGAN SERIES
Harry Jewett scored Notre Dame's first ever touchdown on April 20, 1888 and it came against Michigan on a five-yard scamper.
The following performances equalled school records and came in games against Michigan: two kickoff returns for touchdowns (Raghib "Rocket" Ismail, 1989) and 26 tackles (Bob Crable, 1978).
Crable also recorded the seventh (20 tackles against Michigan in 1981) and eighth-most tackles ever in a single game (19 tackles against Michigan in 1980).
The following performances are tied for fifth in the Irish record book (all on four attempts): four field goals by Chuck Male (1979), John Carney (1985) and Reggie Ho (1988).
Raghib "Rocket" Ismail's 192 kick return yards in 1989 rank second in Irish history.
Harry Oliver's game-winning 51-yard field goal versus Michigan in 1980 is tied for the second-longest kick in Irish history, while Ricky Watters' 81-yard punt return against the Wolverines in 1988 ranks 12th all-time at Notre Dame.
Golden Tate hauled in four receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown in the 35-17 victory over Michigan in 2008. Tate's per catch average of 31.8 ranks third-best in single-game school history.
Geoff Price set the single-game school record for punt average in 2006 against Michigan. Price recorded seven punts in the meeting that totaled 363 yards, good for 51.9 yards/punt.
A Notre Dame receiving duo has topped 100 yards in the same game on just 11 occasions in school history. Golden Tate and Michael Floyd totaled 119 and 131 yards in the 2009 defeat in Ann Arbor.
Notre Dame's all-time opponent records do not include any by Michigan (both team and individual).
REMEMBER THESE NAMES
Here are just a few of the memorable names and performances from the Notre Dame - Michigan series in Notre Dame Stadium:
1980: Harry Oliver's legendary 51-yard field goal at the gun pushes Notre Dame to a 29-27 victory.
1986: Unranked Notre Dame takes No. 3 Michigan to the brink, piling up 455 yards of offense behind Tim Brown (65 yards, touchdown run). John Carney misses possible game-winning field goal with 18 seconds remaining.
1988: Reggie Ho kicks four field goals to lead Notre Dame to victory, 19-17. Mike Gillette misses a 49-yarder as time expires. Ricky Watters scores Notre Dame's lone touchdown on an 81-yard punt return.
1990: Rick Mirer connects with Adrian Jarrell for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 1:40 remaining to give Notre Dame a 28-24 victory. Michael Stonebreaker and Reggie Brooks (then a cornerback) post crucial second half interceptions of Elvis Grbac. Desmond Howard explodes for 133 yards receiving and two touchdowns for the Wolverines.
1994: Remy Hamilton drills a 42-yard field goal to give Michigan a victory in Notre Dame Stadium, 26-24. Hamilton's kick erases a Ron Powlus - Derrick Mayes possible game-winning touchdown pass.
1998: Autry Denson rushes for 163 yards and two touchdowns as Notre Dame scored 30 points in the second half en route to a 36-20 victory over No. 5 Michigan.
2002:Ryan Grant rushes for a (then) career-high 132 yards and two touchdowns to help Notre Dame defeat Michigan 25-23. Shane Walton posts an interception on the Wolverines' final offensive play to seal the victory.
2004:Darius Walker runs for 115 yards on 31 carries and two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Irish beat No. 8 Michigan, 28-20. He was the first Notre Dame freshman to rush for more than 100 yards since Julius Jones had 146 yards against Navy in 1999.
2005:Brady Quinn threw two touchdown passes in the first half and the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish held on to beat third-ranked Michigan, 17-10. Quinn was 19-for-30 for 140 yards and Darius Walker ran for 104 yards for the Irish. D.J. Fitzpatrick's 43-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter gave Notre Dame a 17-3 lead. Notre Dame didn't need much help to beat the Wolverines for the third time in four years, but instant replay overturned two calls in its favor in the fourth quarter. On a sneak from inside Notre Dame's 1, Chinedum Ndukwe recovered a Chad Henne fumble in the end zone.
2008:Jimmy Clausen was 10-of-21 passing for 147 yards with two touchdown passes. Robert Hughes ran for two touchdowns and Brian Smith returned a fumble recovery 35 yards for the only touchdown of the second half early in the fourth quarter.
NOTRE DAME VS. BIG TEN
Notre Dame has faced no other conference as often as the Big Ten. The Irish have played 367 all-time games against the 12 current members of the league (all 16 meetings with Nebraska came prior to its addition to the league in 2011). Notre Dame is 228-123-16 in those meetings. The Irish have played almost three times as many games against the Big Ten as any other conference. The Pac-10 (134) and ACC (111) are the only other conferences against which Notre Dame has played at least 100 games.
Notre Dame has faced Michigan 38 times (15-22-1), fourth most of any Big Ten program. Purdue leads the Big Ten with 82 all-time games against Notre Dame (54-26-2) followed by Michigan State (45-28-1) and Northwestern (37-8-2).
Notre Dame will face three members of the Big Ten in 2011 (Purdue, Michigan and Michigan State). The Irish face the Wolverines, Spartans and Boilermakers for the 10th straight season. Notre Dame has played a member of the Big Ten every season since 1915.
Notre Dame has posted a 97-63-9 (.601) record against Big Ten opponents on the road and a 107-69-1 (.607) record against the league away from Notre Dame Stadium.
NOTRE DAME - MICHIGAN CONNECTIONS
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly (Central Michigan) and Michigan head coach Brady Hoke (Ball State) faced off against one another three times in their respective tenures in the Mid-American Conference. Kelly posted a 3-0 record in those head-to-head meetings.
In 2004, Hoke's Cardinals raced out to a 27-0 lead over Kelly's Chippewas late in the first quarter. Central Michigan scored late in the opening stanza and added three more touchdowns in the second quarter to send the game to halftime tied, 27-27. Ball State regained a 37-27 lead in the third quarter, but the Chippewas recorded a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to secure a 41-40 victory.
In 2005, Central Michigan again rallied from behind to upended Ball State. The Chippewas trailed 21-17 when Justin Gardner blocked a Cardinal punt, which Ryan Strehl scooped off the turf and returned for a score with 1:51 remaining. Ball State did answer by covering 74 yards in 13 plays and tying the score at 24 on a field goal with 10 seconds left in regulation, but Justin Harper scored on a seven-yard screen pass in overtime to lift the Chippewas to a 31-24 win at Ball State. The win secured CMU's first winning season since 1998, while the Chippewas' five conference wins were also the most since that same season.
In 2006, quarterback Dan LeFevour accounted for 246 yards of offense and ran for two touchdowns to lead Central Michigan to an 18-7 win over Ball State. The Chippewas improved to 4-0 in the MAC for just the fifth time in program history. The CMU defense was the story, limiting Ball State - the conference's top passing offense - to just 160 passing yards and forcing five turnovers. The defense also held the Cardinals out of the end zone on five consecutive snaps inside the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly spent 20 seasons on the sidelines in stints at two schools from the state of Michigan. Kelly started as a graduate assistant in 1987 at Grand Valley State and four years later was named head coach. He was the Lakers' head coach for 13 seasons and amassed a 118-35-2 overall record. Kelly then moved over to Central Michigan (2004-06) for three seasons and compiled a 19-16 mark.
Numerous Irish assistant coaches spent times on the staffs of schools from the State of Michigan. Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Bob Diaco was an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan (2001-03), Western Michigan (2004) and Central Michigan (2005). Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Charley Molnar was an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan (2002), Western Michigan (2003-04) and Central Michigan (2006). Tight ends coach Mike Denbrock was on the staffs at Grand Valley State (1986-87, 1992-98) and Michigan State (1988-89). Defensive line and special teams coordinator Mike Elston not only played at Michigan, but also served in a variety of roles on staff (1997-2000) with the Wolverines, Eastern Michigan (2001-03) and Central Michigan (2004-06). Safeties coach and recruiting coordinator Chuck Martin was an assistant at Eastern Michigan (1998-99) and Grand Valley State (2000-03) before succeeding Brian Kelly as head coach (2004-09).
Mike Elston was a member of Michigan's football team from 1993-96 and lettered for the Wolverines as an outside linebacker from 1994-96. He played in three bowl games during his time in Ann Arbor. Michigan finished in the top 20 each year he lettered and he helped the Wolverines to a 25-12 record in his three seasons.
Notre Dame offensive line coach/run game coordinator Ed Warinner and Michigan secondary coach Curt Mallory served on the same Illinois staff in 2005-06.
Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison held the same position at Notre Dame from 1997-2001. He also coached defensive line and served as the Irish recruiting coordinator in 2002-04.
The 2011 Michigan roster features one player from the state of Indiana: junior K Kris Pauloski (Indianapolis/Pike H.S.).
The 2011 Notre Dame roster features three players from the state of Michigan: freshman PK Kyle Brindza (Canton/Plymouth H.S.), senior RB Jonas Gray (Pontiac/Detroit Country Day H.S.) and senior CB Andrew Plaska (Zeeland/Zeeland West).
NOTRE DAME AND THE GREAT LAKES STATE
Notre Dame owns an 84-51-4 all-time record against schools from the Great Lakes State, last playing a Michigan school (vs. Western Michigan) in 2010 (a 44-20 victory). Other Irish series records vs. teams from Michigan include a 1-0 mark vs. Adrian, 3-1-1 vs. Albion, 4-0 vs. Alma, 2-0 vs. Detroit, 4-0-1 vs. Hillsdale, 7-0 vs. Kalamazoo, 15-22-1 vs. Michigan, 45-28-1 vs. Michigan State and 3-0 vs. Western Michigan.
Notre Dame's all-time varsity football roster includes over 2,700 players who have appeared in at least one career game, with 137 of those hailing from the state of Michigan.
Five of Notre Dame's more noteworthy all-time players from Michigan include All-American and legendary halfback George Gipp (Laurium, 1917-20) plus four other consensus All-Americans: offensive guard Heartley (Hunk) Anderson (Hancock, 1918-21), cornerback Clarence Ellis (Grand Rapids, 1969-71), cornerback Todd Lyght (Flint, 1987-90) and defensive tackle Greg Marx (Redford, 1970-72).
Other All-Americans from the state of Michigan include defensive end Earl Brown (Benton Harbor, 1936-38), defensive tackle Mike Kadish (Grand Rapids, 1969-71) and split end Jim Seymour (Berkley, 1966-68).
A VICTORY OVER MICHIGAN ...
Would be the first for Notre Dame in Ann Arbor since 2005.
Would snap the Irish four-game losing streak in the month of September.
Improves Notre Dame's all-time record to 8-7 (.533) the week following a season opening defeat.
Improves the Irish to 16-22-1 (.423) in the all-time series with Michigan.
Improves Notre Dame to 8-12-0 (.400) in the all-time series with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
Improves the all-time record for the Irish to 846-296-42 (.732).
Improves Notre Dame's all-time record on the road to 280-143-23 (.654).
Improves the Irish to 229-123-16 (.644) all-time against the Big Ten.
Improves Notre Dame to 102-69-10 (.591) all-time against the Big Ten on the road.
Improves an unranked Irish squad to 3-4-0 all-time against Michigan and 2-2 against an unranked Wolverine team.
Improves an unranked Notre Dame squad to 1-2 all-time against Michigan in Ann Arbor and 1-1 against an unranked Wolverine team in Ann Arbor.
Improves the Irish to 85-51-4 (.621) all-time against schools from the state of Michigan.
Improves Notre Dame to 76-36-5 (.671) all-time in road openers.
Improves the Irish to 61-31-2 (.660) all-time in night games.
Improves Notre Dame to 4-0 (1.000) all-time in night games against Michigan.
Improves Kelly's record to 180-63-2 (.739) overall.
Improves Kelly's record to 62-28 (.689) in FBS games.
Improves Kelly's record to 52-16 (.765) over the last six seasons.
Improves Kelly's record to 1-2 (.333) all-time against Michigan.
Improves Kelly's record to 3-7 (.300) all-time against the Big Ten.
A DEFEAT TO MICHIGAN ...
Would be the third straight for Notre Dame in Ann Arbor.
Would extend the Irish losing streak in the month of September to five games.
Would make Notre Dame 0-2 for the first time since 2007 and eighth time in school history.
Drops Notre Dame's all-time record to 7-8 (.467) the week following a season opening defeat.
Drops the Irish to 15-23-1 (.397) in the all-time series with Michigan.
Drops Notre Dame to 7-13-0 (.350) in the all-time series with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor.
Drops the all-time record for the Irish to 845-297-42 (.731).
Drops Notre Dame's all-time record on the road to 279-144-23 (.651).
Drops the Irish to 228-124-16 (.641) all-time against the Big Ten.
Drops Notre Dame to 101-70-10 (.586) all-time against the Big Ten on the road.
Drops an unranked Irish squad to 2-5-0 all-time against Michigan and 1-3 against an unranked Wolverine team.
Drops an unranked Notre Dame squad to 0-3 all-time against Michigan in Ann Arbor and 0-2 against an unranked Wolverine team in Ann Arbor.
Drops the Irish to 84-52-4 (.614) all-time against schools from the state of Michigan.
Drops Notre Dame to 75-37-5 (.662) all-time in road openers.
Drops the Irish to 60-32-2 (.649) all-time in night games.
Drops Notre Dame to 3-1 (.750) all-time in night games against Michigan.
Drops Kelly's record to 179-64-2 (.735) overall.
Drops Kelly's record to 61-29 (.678) in FBS games.
Drops Kelly's record to 51-17 (.750) over the last six seasons.
Drops Kelly's record to 0-3 (.000) all-time against Michigan.
Drops Kelly's record to 2-8 (.200) all-time against the Big Ten.
ROAD SEASON OPENERS
The Irish are 75-36-5 (.668) in road openers, but have dropped 11 of their last 14.
Notre Dame owns a 4-6 (.400) record when its first road game of the season comes against Michigan. In fact, the Wolverines have captured three consecutive meetings with the Irish when Notre Dame ventured on the road for the first time of the year ('99, '03, '09). The Irish have not beaten Michigan in a road opener since 1993.
ALL THE NIGHT MOVES
Notre Dame will host a night game (Oct. 22, USC, 7:30 p.m.) for the first time in 21 years. The last Irish night game at Notre Dame Stadium came on Sept. 15, 1990 against Michigan.
In addition to USC, Notre Dame also will play under the lights Sept. 10 at Michigan, the first night game ever at home for the Wolverines, Oct. 1 against Purdue, Nov. 5 versus Maryland at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., and Nov. 26 at Stanford.
That already bests the Notre Dame regular season record for most night games with five.
This year will mark the 60th anniversary of Notre Dame's first night game, a 48-6 Irish victory against Detroit on Oct. 5, 1951 in Briggs Stadium.
The Irish have played 93 night games overall with an overall record of 60-31-2 (.656), including 6-1 at home from 1982-90.
Notre Dame's night history can almost be divided into two eras - the 35-year pre-Lou Holtz era from 1951-85, and the 25 years since Holtz took the reins in 1986. It was under Holtz that multiple night games in a season became standard at Notre Dame to woo a prime time audience, especially on growing cable outlets. It eventually prompted the exclusive NBC contract for home games that commenced with the 1991 season.
In the 35 years from 1951-85, Notre Dame was 21-6-1 (.768) in night games. In the 11 years under Holtz alone (1986-96), the Irish were an almost identical 20-5-1 (.788).
Notre Dame's longest winning streak in night games is 11, beginning with an Oct. 13, 1973 win at Rice and concluding with a Sept. 24, 1983 shutout loss at Miami (20-0), which went on to win its first national title.
The longest losing streak is nine under Davie.
The largest margin of victory at night was 57-7 at Stanford on Nov. 29, 2004, when Willingham poured it on his former employer.
The largest margin of defeat was 38-3 at USC on Nov. 29, 2008, eking out the Jan. 1, 1973 Orange Bowl to Nebraska (40-6) -- which would inspire the Irish to win the national title the next year under Parseghian.
Notre Dame is 6-7 at night in bowls, where it has a five-game losing streak and has not won since the 39-28 conquest of Florida in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.
The opponent Notre Dame has played most at night is Miami with 11 contests, 10 of them in Miami. The Irish are 6-4-1 versus the Hurricanes, with the lone loss at home at night occurring in 1984 (31-13). The Irish have played USC at night 10 times, all in Los Angeles, and are 3-6-1.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played five previous games in its history on Sept. 10. The Irish are 4-1 all-time on this date. The Irish were ranked in the top 20 on all five occasions.
OPENERS AN INDICATOR?
Notre Dame is 102-16-5 (.850) in season openers, but have they been foretelling of the season ahead? Take a look:
The 102 seasons Notre Dame has won its opener, the Irish went on to post winning records 93 times (91.2%), with four losing seasons and five .500 records.
The 15 seasons the Irish lost their opener, the Irish posted winning records six times and a losing mark eight times (with one .500 season).
The five seasons Notre Dame registered a tie in its opener, the Irish had four winning records and one losing record.
NOTRE DAME IN SEPTEMBER
Notre Dame is 126-55-4 (.692) all-time during the month of September.
The Irish are 78-23-2 (.767) in September home games.
Notre Dame has an all-time mark of 45-30-2 (.597) in road games during September.
The Irish are 67-23-1 (.742) in September games at Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame went 1-3 in September of 2010 and enter this weekend's contest with Michigan riding a four-game losing streak in the month. The Irish have never lost five consecutive games in the month of September.
HISTORIC NOTRE DAME STADIUM
The 2011 football season marks the 81st year of Irish football in fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 420 games in the facility to date and own a 310-105-5 (.744) record in the "House that Rockne Built." The most wins in a season by the Irish at home is seven by the 1988 national championship team and the longest home winning streak in Notre Dame football history is 28 games (from 11/21/42 through 9/30/50).
NOTRE DAME UNIFORM WATCH
Notre Dame will wear retro-style adidas football uniforms this Saturday at Michigan to celebrate the first night game ever played at Michigan Stadium.
Paying homage to the rich football tradition of Notre Dame football, the Irish "Under the Lights" adidas uniform includes a white jersey with Kelly green lettering and two Kelly green shoulder stripes, old gold-colored pants, white socks with green stripes and white shoes. A large shamrock logo appears on the traditional gold helmet for the first time since the early 1960s. The years the Fighting Irish won National Championships are listed inside the bottom hem of the jersey.
Saturday's helmet most resembles changes adopted under former head coach Joe Kuharich (1959-62). A product of the NFL, Kuharich introduced the smaller metallic helmets worn by most college and pro teams (moved away from leather helmets). The design of the shamrock looked awkward in 1959, so it changed the next year to look more "right side up." In 1963 with interim coach Hugh Devore, the shamrock on the helmet was replaced with the individual's jersey number, and the stripes on the shoulders also were removed. It would mark the final year the numbers would be on the Notre Dame helmet.
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY AND NOTRE DAME
ESPN's College GameDay program is making its 19th appearance for a Notre Dame game and first since 2006. The Irish are 5-6 all-time when GameDay is present outside an opposing stadium and 8-10 overall in the 18 times that the traditional college football program has appeared at any Irish contest, regardless of site.
This will be the fifth Notre Dame - Michigan matchup highlighted by the program. The Wolverines have captured three of the four previous meetings with GameDay in the house. The lone Irish triumph came on Sept. 5, 1998 when 22nd-ranked Notre Dame bested fifth-ranked and defending national champion Michigan, 36-20.
Notre Dame is also unique, as it hosted the first of GameDay show on the road at the 1993 matchup between No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 1 Florida State.
Brian Kelly was one of 22 head coaches at the FBS level that took over new programs in 2010. Out of the that group, Kelly was one of just five coaches that produced at least eight wins and one of just four that led their teams to a bowl victory. Jimbo Fisher at Florida State led the group with 10 wins, while three other coaches, Skip Holtz at USF, Lane Kiffin at USC and Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech, each secured eight victories. Out of the five coaches who won at least eight games, only Kelly, Fisher and Holtz exceeded their team's win total from the previous season. Kelly, Holtz, Tuberville and Louisville's Charlie Strong were the coaches that won bowl games.
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
Notre Dame is one of just three NCAA FBS programs to have not faced a non-FBS opponent since the current setup was established in 1978. The two other remaining schools that have yet to play a non-FBS opponent are USC and UCLA.
KELLY'S WINNING WAYS
In his first year at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly helped the Irish secure a 6-1 record when leading after three quarters and a 8-1 mark entering halftime with a lead. That consistent success is nothing new to Kelly or his teams.
Kelly owns a 152-9 marking when taking a lead into the fourth quarter, an 88-3 record since 2001.
Kelly owns a 140-11 record when taking a lead into halftime, including an 85-3 mark since 2001.
Here are a couple other pretty remarkable win-loss records during Kelly's career:
Kelly is 12-1 coming off a bye week.
Kelly is 118-21 when scoring first.
Kelly is 144-21-1 when outrushing his opponent.
Kelly is 109-12 when his team wins the turnover battle.
Kelly is 33-14-2 in games decided by three points or less.
Kelly is 60-4-1 when his team gets a defensive or special teams touchdown.
Kelly's is 51-13 in the month of November, including a 17-2 mark since 2006.
Kelly is 116-6 when his team scores 30 or more points, including a 68-1 mark with 40 or more points.
Kelly is 113-5-1 when his team allows 19 points or less.
Since 2006, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has compiled the fifth-most wins of any active NCAA FBS coach. Kelly has gone on to win 51 contests (51-16 overall) to tie him with Mack Brown of Texas, Bronco Mendenhall of BYU, Les Miles of LSU and Kyle Whittingham of Utah over that span. The only coaches ahead of Kelly in that time frame are Chris Peterson of Boise State (62), Gary Patterson of TCU (55), Bob Stoops of Oklahoma (55) and Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech (52).
Since 2001, Brian Kelly has totaled the third-most wins among all active FBS coaches. Kelly is 102-30 over the last 11 seasons and trails only Bob Stoops (110-26) and Mack Brown (107-23) for the best coaching record this decade.
Brian Kelly ranks as the sixth-most successful active NCAA FBS coach in winning percentage and sixth in victories.
WE'VE BEEN HERE BEFORE
Notre Dame has faced Michigan 38 times in the series history and 15 of the meetings have come during the second week of the regular season. The Irish are 6-8-1 all-time when playing the Wolverines in week two.
NOTRE DAME DEBUTS
Sophomore OG Chris Watt, junior ILB Dan Fox and sophomore OLB Prince Shembo all registered their first career start at Notre Dame in the season opener against USF.
Notre Dame reinstated an old tradition in 2010, designating captains on a game-by-game basis for only the third time in school history. Back in 1946, legendary head coach Frank Leahy elected to choose captains for each game - the result was an 8-0-1 record and the fifth of Notre Dame's 11 national championships. The Irish also designated captains on a game-by-game basis from 2002-04 as well, but the team voted on season captains following the regular season.
Smith is Notre Dame's lone season captain. He is the first Irish lone season captain since 1999 when Jarious Jackson held the individual honor.
Notre Dame did name senior S Harrison Smith as the lone season captain, but still name a pair of gameday captains.
According to the NCAA, no FBS school played a tougher regular season schedule based on opposition win-loss percentage than Notre Dame in 2010. Irish opponents had a combined record of 80-43 (.650). NCAA ratings includes opponent's record against only FBS schools and excludes result in meeting with the Irish.
Notre Dame's No. 1 ranking in the NCAA strength-of-schedule standings was its highest since a No. 1 ranking in 1995. The .650 winning percentage of Irish opponents made for its strongest schedule faced in 21 years - since a .655 percentage when Notre Dame finished tops in the toughest-schedule derby in 1989.
The Irish have a long history of playing challenging schedules - with Notre Dame ranking (since the NCAA began this rating in 1977) first in 1978, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1995 and 2010; third in 1986, 1999, 2003; and fourth in 1979 and 1990. That makes for 11 top-four finishes in that category in the 34 years the NCAA has calculated these numbers.
This season could prove to be just as tough as the Irish face nine teams that went to bowl games last year and 10 teams that finished with a winning record.
DEFENSE DOES ITS PART VS. USF
Notre Dame's defense picked up where it left off in 2010. The Irish limited USF to a total of 254 yards of offense, including 110 yards after halftime. Notre Dame allowed just 3.0 yards per rush, 3.5 yards per play, 4.3 yards per pass attempt, one offensive touchdown and 2-of-14 on third-down conversions.
In the second half with a lead and looking to run the football, USF managed a grand total of 43 yards on the ground on 21 carries or a 2.0 per rush. The Bulls' needed 37 plays from scrimmage to collect those 110 second-half total yards. USF averaged a shade under 3.0 yards per play after intermission.
USF wide receiver Lindsey Lamar had the longest scamper of the game against Notre Dame (a 17-yard run). Otherwise, the Irish contained the Bulls' running game. If you eliminate Lamar's 17-yard run and the Bulls averaged just 2.7 yards per carry over their other 41 rushes. USF had 22 carries for two yards or less.
The Bulls did mount one touchdown drive and marched 80 yards on 14 plays. On USF's other 14 drives against the Irish defense, it never gained fore than 45 yards. In fact, the Bulls had nine drives in which they failed to advance the ball more than 17 yards. Six drives did not even garner 10 yards.
Notre Dame forced USF into a punt on five of its seven second-half drives and one of those drives included the final play of the contest - a kneel down.
The Irish denied USF an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter, but Notre Dame has now allowed a total of five offensive touchdowns over its last six games dating back to the Tulsa contest in 2010.
USF benefitted from great field position on two of its scoring drives (both field goals). The Bulls opened a drive at the Irish 20-yard line following a muffed punt by junior WR Theo Riddick and opened another drive at the Notre Dame 40-yard line following a 34-yard punt return.
The longest drive of the opening half for USF was 45 yards and it took the Bulls 12 plays to accumulate that total.
Notre Dame did not allow USF a third-down conversion in seven first-half attempts.
Notre Dame limited USF to 48 total yards in the third quarter, including five yards rushing on six carries.
The Irish collected two sacks against one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the country - B.J. Daniels. Notre Dame's starting defensive ends senior Kapron Lewis-Moore and senior Ethan Johnson combined for 14 tackles. The nose guard tandem of senior Sean Cwynar and sophomore Louis Nix III amassed 11 tackles, seven for Nix in his first collegiate appearance. In all, the Irish defensive line registered 26 tackles. If you include senior OLB Darius Fleming, who spends significant action on the line of scrimmage in the Notre Dame 3-4 look, the group totaled 34 stops.
Notre Dame used 16 different players on defense via rotation during its first series on the field that lasted eight plays. Seeing action off the bench right away were freshmen DEs Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch, sophomore NG Louis Nix III, junior ILB Carlo Calabrese and junior S Zeke Motta.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES, LET ME COUNT THE WAYS
USF won the turnover battle, 5-0, including a trio inside the Bulls' 10-yard line. Senior All-America candidate PK David Ruffer missed a 30-yard field goal attempt with 1:07 remaining in the third quarter as well. Notre Dame left anywhere from 12 to 28 points on the field in those four failed red zone chances.
TOUGH OPENING HALF
Notre Dame's 16-point halftime deficit was its largest since Nov. 29, 2008 when the Irish trailed No. 5 USC, 24-0, at intermission.
NEVER A DRY MOMENT
Notre Dame Stadium was evacuated due to inclement weather and lightening just moments after halftime. The first half ended at 5:12 p.m. ET. The game resumed at 7:22 p.m. The contest was delayed two hours and 10 minutes at halftime. The game was halted a second time in the fourth quarter for a total of 43 minutes. In all, the game was suspended for two hours and 53 minutes, lasted five hours and 59 minutes and ended at 9:39 p.m. ET.
It is believed to be the first weather related delay in Notre Dame history - home or away.
The game officially goes into the record books as the longest in terms of time in school history. Longest recent Notre Dame games included the 4:01 quadruple overtime loss at home to Pitt in 2008 and another 4:01 marathon in the 44-41 overtime defeat to Michigan State at home in 2005.
Notre Dame committed five turnovers in the loss to USF. The Irish had not committed five turnovers in a single-game since Nov. 15, 2008 against Boston College. In fact, Notre Dame had not had five turnovers in a home contest since Sept. 16, 2006 against Michigan.
The five turnovers lost ranks 109th in the FBS - tied for dead last.
Notre Dame was minus-five in turnover margin for the first time since Nov. 8, 2008 against Boston College. The Irish had not been minus-five in the turnover margin at home since Nov. 5, 1983 against Pittsburgh (to no suprise Notre Dame lost, 21-16). That's a span of 166 games over 28 years.
The minus-five turnover margin was also the worst in the FBS last week.
Notre Dame had a pair of first-half turnovers inside the USF 10-yard line. Senior RB Jonas Gray fumbled on a 3rd and goal carry at the Bulls' one-yard line and senior QB Dayne Crist was picked off in the endzone on a 3rd and goal pass from the USF seven-yard line.
Notre Dame had marched a total of 137 yards (76 and 61) on the two drives, but failed to score on either attempt.
Notre Dame committed its third turnover in the first-half when junior WR Theo Riddick muffed a punt and USF recovered at the Irish 20-yard line. Notre Dame's defense allowed just a single yard and limited the Bulls to a field goal.
The Irish added a third turnover inside the USF 10-yard line on their first possession of the second half. On first and goal from the Bulls' five-yard line, sophomore QB Tommy Rees was intercepted when his pass deflected off shoulder of sophomore WR TJ Jones.
Twenty-five years ago, Lou Holtz made his debut at Notre Dame with a 24-23 loss at home to Michigan in which his Irish never punted but lost the ball inside the Wolverines 20-yard line three times. Twenty-five years later Holtz's son Skip was the beneficiary of Notre Dame's red zone difficulties last Saturday.
STATS TURNED IRRELEVANT
Notre Dame racked up 27 first downs and 508 total yards (both were the second-most under head coah Brian Kelly). Ironically, the only totals higher came against this week's oppenent Michigan in 2010 (28 and 535; also a defeat).
Notre Dame's 508 total yards in the game were exactly twice as many as USF (254).
The 254 yards allowed were the second-fewest by an Irish defense under Kelly.
Notre Dame outgained USF, 152-62, in the first quarter, but the Bulls led 13-0.
The Irish outgained USF, 317-110, in the second half.
Entering Monday's games, Notre Dame is one of seven schools in the FBS that rank in the top 25 of both total offense and total defense. The other schools that rank in the top 25 of both total offense and total defense are Alabama, Arizona State, Ohio State, Texas, UCF and Virginia. To no surpise, the Irish are the only such team to lose its opener.
SECURING THE ROCK
Notre Dame running backs only lost two fumbles in 359 combined rushes and receptions in 2010 (junior RB Cierre Wood fumble following a reception and Armando Allen fumble following a rushing attempt). In fact, both fumbles occurred at Boston College so the Irish running backs did not lose a fumble in 12 of 13 games last year.
Prior to senior RB Jonas Gray's fumble at the USF four-yard line, Notre Dame running backs had not lost a fumble in a span of 224 rushes.
Over the previous two seasons (2009 and 2010), Tim Hinton-coached running backs at Cincinnati and Notre Dame lost one fumble in 630 rushing attempts.
USF, WEBSTER ENTER THE IRISH RECORD BOOK
Notre Dame took the opening kickoff and marched 76 yards in eight plays, but senior RB Jonas Gray fumbled at the USF four-yard line. Kayvon Webster recovered the fumble and raced 96 yards for a touchdown. It is the longest fumble return for touchdown by an Irish opponent in school history. The previous school record was a 94-yard fumble return by Leroy Keyes of Purdue on Sept. 24, 1966.
100-YARD RUSHER, 100-YARD RECEIVER
Notre Dame recorded a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same game since Sept. 19, 2009 against Michigan State when Armando Allen had 115 rushing yards and Golden Tate had 127 receiving yards.
IRISH LAUNDRY NORMALLY PRETTY SMALL
Notre Dame ranked tied for seventh in the FBS in penalties per game (4.46) and 15th in penalty yards per game (40.85) in 2010, but was victimized by eight penalties for 73 yards, including four personal fouls, in the loss to USF. Three of the four personal fouls came on two of the USF scoring drives.
The Irish had four games in '10 with two penalties or less.
TAILS IT IS
Notre Dame opened each of its first 11 games in 2010 with the football. The Irish then won the coin toss and elected to receive against USF in the '11 season opener. Notre Dame has opened 13 of its last 14 games with the football. The only exception? Notre Dame won the coin toss against USC, but elected to defer.
NOTRE DAME OFFENSE, DEFENSE QUARTER BY QUARTER BREAKDOWN
Notre Dame thoroughly dominated the opening 15 minutes against USF. The Irish out-gained the Bulls 152-62, but trailed 13-0. USF's touchdown came on a 96-yard fumble return and its two field goals were assisted by a 23-yard Notre Dame punt and 34-yard punt return set up great field position. The two Bulls' scoring drives in the first quarter totaled 80 yards.
WINNING FORMULA PRETTY SIMPLE FOR KELLY
In Kelly's eight Notre Dame wins, the average run/pass ratio is 34.9/30.3. In his six losses, the ratio is 27.3/47.8.
Notre Dame is 5-0 in games it rushes more times than it passes and 3-6 in games it passes more than it runs.
When Notre Dame opponents rush more than they pass against the Irish, they are 6-1 but are 0-7 if they pass more than they rush.
In Kelly's eight Notre Dame wins, no team averaged more than 3.5 yards per rush but in the five losses, only two Irish opponents averaged fewer than 4.7 yards per carry.
Under Kelly, Notre Dame averages 140.1 rushing yards in victories and 106.2 yards rushing in defeats.
Notre Dame has outrushed seven of its 14 opponents in the Kelly Era, including all four opponents to close the 2010 season. The Irish are 7-0 in those contests. Notre Dame owns a 27-game winning streak when outrushing its opponent. The Irish have not lost a game when outrushing their foe since Dec. 28, 2004 when Notre Dame lost to Oregon State, 38-21, in the Insight Bowl.
In those seven games, Notre Dame averaged 148.4 rushing yards on the ground. The Irish defense allowed a total of 84 points (12.0 per game) and only one team scored more than 17 (Western Michigan).
In the remaining seven games that Notre Dame did not outrush its opponent, the Irish allowed 28.9 points per game and the only two games the Irish were outrushed AND the opponent scored fewer than 28 points were Notre Dame's win against Pitt (17 points) and last week's defeat to USF.
Since 1998, Notre Dame is 37-4 when it runs the ball for 200 yards, 55-11 when it runs the ball for 150 yards and 64-19 when it registers 38 or more carries in a game.
DEFENSE AWFULLY STINGY DOWN THE STRETCH OF 2010
In the final three games of the regular season, Bob Diaco's defense limited teams averaging at least 31 points per game to 22 combined points - the fewest points allowed by a Notre Dame defense in three straight games since the 1993 season.
Only four touchdowns were scored against the Irish defense in the final five games of last season.
Notre Dame's defense allowed just two offensive touchdowns over its last four games of 2010 (Tulsa, Utah, Army and USC) of the regular season. The Irish then held Miami out of the end zone over the first three quarters.
Notre Dame's rush defense was dominant over its last four games of 2010 (victories over Utah, Army, USC and Miami). The Irish limited the Utes, Black Knights, Trojans and Hurricanes to an average of 91.8 yards on the ground.
Notre Dame held five opponents in 2010, Boston College (five yards), Western Michigan (37 yards), Utah (71 yards), USC (74) and Miami (87), to under 100 yards on the ground. The Irish had not held five opponents under 100 yards rushing in a game since the 2006 season when Notre Dame kept five opponents under the 100-yard rushing barrier, including three in back-to-back-to-back weeks.
Notre Dame limited Utah, Army, USC and Miami on the ground to significant worse numbers than those teams average against everyone else on the 2010 schedule.
Notre Dame limited Miami to a season-low 87 yards rushing. The Hurricanes' previous low total was 100 yards rushing in a 30-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Sept. 23. Miami has not been limited to fewer rushing yards in a game since Oct. 31, 2009 when Wake Forest held the Hurricanes to 26 yards on the ground.
DEFENSE SO IMPROVED
Notre Dame drastically improved its defense in nearly every measurable defensive statistic in 2010. Here is a comparison between the 2010 Irish defense and the 2009 Notre Dame defense.
Bob Diaco's defense was drastically better than the 2009 Notre Dame defense. The Irish allowed 5.69 fewer points per game, 40.5 fewer yards per game, averaged one half sack more per game and forced more turnovers in 2010 than 2009.
The 2010 defense was dramatically improved compared to the 2009 defense in almost every statistical category: scoring defense (from 63rd in '09 to 23rd in '10), pass efficiency (82nd to 25th), rushing defense (89th to 50th) and total defense (86th to 50th).
Notre Dame's NCAA defensive rankings in total defense, rushing defense, passing defense and scoring defense improved by at least 22 spots in 2010 when compared to where the 2009 defense ranked. That marked just the first time since 1992 and only the second time in the last 30 years that an Irish defense jumped at least 20 spots in the NCAA rankings in each of those categories.
Senior S Harrison Smith has 225 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 18 pass breakups and seven interceptions over his Irish career. He is the first Notre Dame player to ever register 200 or more tackles, 15 or more tackles for loss and 15 or more pass breakups.
Smith is Notre Dame's lone season captain. He is the first Irish lone season captain since 1999 when Jarious Jackson held the individual honor.
Smith collected three interceptions in the first half alone of the Hyundai Sun Bowl in 2010. The three interceptions not only equaled a school record, but is also equaled the Sun Bowl record. Smith became 14th Notre Dame player to accomplish the feat and first since Shane Walton against Maryland in 2002. Buddy McClinton of Auburn had three interceptions in the 1968 Sun Bowl.
Smith's three interceptions was an Irish bowl game record. It bested Elmer Layden's previous school record of two picks set against Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl.
Smith finished 2010 with seven interceptions, which ranked fourth nationally in total picks and interceptions per game. Smith also joined Jayron Hosley of Virginia Tech and Marco Nelson of Tulsa as the only three players in the FBS in 2010 to record three interceptions in one game.
Smith's seven career interceptions are tied for the 17th most among active FBS players.
In the last 20 years, only one group of Notre Dame defensive backs totaled more interceptions in a season than the 15 picks the 2010 group recorded (2002 group had 16 interceptions).
The 11 touchdown passes against Notre Dame's defense in 2010 tied for eighth-fewest in the country.
The improved coverage and tackling by the Irish defensive backs under Chuck Martin and Kerry Cooks helped Notre Dame allow only 10.2 yards per completion in 2010, the fewest yards allowed by a Notre Dame defense since 1993. The 10.2 yards per completion average was seventh-best in the FBS in 2010.
Fleming and Johnson are each gaining ground on the career sack totals at Notre Dame. Sacks did not become an officially recognized statistics until 1982.
TE'O PACKS A HAWAIIAN PUNCH
Junior LB Manti Te'o has been named to a number of preseason award lists, including the Bednarik, Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski. He was also named to numerous preseason All-American teams.
Te'o paced the Irish last year with 133 tackles and his nine and a half tackles for loss ranked second on the team. He was named a second-team All-American by SI.com after the season and Te'o was also a semifinalist in 2010 for both the Bednarik Award (top collegiate defender) and Butkus Trophy (top collegiate linebacker).
The 133 tackles by Te'o in 2010 were the most by a Notre Dame player since Tony Furjanic made 147 in 1983.
Off the gridiron, Te'o has excelled in the classroom and in the community. He has earned a 3.487 cumulative grade-point average at Notre Dame and has volunteered dozens of hours at a local youth center. While he was in high school, the former Eagle Scout volunteered his time at Hawaii Special Olympics and with the Head Start preschool program.
Among FBS retuning players in 2011, Te'o ranks tied for eighth in total tackles (133), tied for eighth in assisted tackles (67), 12th in tackles per game (10.23) and 13th in solo stops (66).
ROBERT "BIG PLAY" BLANTON
Senior DB Robert Blanton played in 12 games in 2010 and only started one contest, but it did not deter him from making a number of big plays.
Blanton blocked a punt and returned it six yards for a touchdown against Utah on Nov. 13. He was the first Irish player to block a punt since Dec. 24, 2008, against Hawai'i in the Hawai'i Bowl. Blanton 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.
Blanton registered 7.0 tackles for loss in 2010, which ranked third-best on the team. The 7.0 tackles for loss were the most by an Irish defensive back since A'Jani Sanders had 10.0 during the 1999 season.
REES PIECES TOGETHER IRISH OFFENSE
Sophomore QB Tommy Rees came off the bench and sparked the Irish in the second half against USF. He completed 24-of-34 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns - all after halftime.
Rees quickly led the Irish on a scoring drive early in the third quarter. Rees found senior WR Michael Floyd open for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 7:12 left in the third quarter to cut the Irish deficit to 16-7. Rees went 3-of-5 on the drive for 66 yards.
Rees hooked up with Floyd again late in the fourth quarter to bring Notre Dame within a field goal, 23-20.
On his first drive of the contest, Rees' led the Irish down to the USF five-yard line, completing his first four passes for 31 yards, before an interception ended the drive.
Rees completed 10-of-14 for 140 yards and one touchdown in the third quarter and 14-of-20 for 156 yards and one touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Interestingly enough, the two best passing afternoons of Rees' career have come in games he did not start. Rees replaced an injured Dayne Crist on Oct. 30, 2009 against Tulsa and threw for 334 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 33-of-54 passes against the Golden Hurricane.
Rees was the ninth freshman quarterback to start for the Irish in the last 60 seasons (1951-present). The group includes Ralph Guglielmi (1951), Blair Kiel (1980), Steve Beuerlein (1983), Kent Graham (1987), Paul Failla (1991), Matt LoVecchio (2000), Brady Quinn (2003), Jimmy Clausen (2007) and Rees (2010).
Rees, who started in the 28-3 victory over No. 15 Utah last year, was the first Irish freshman quarterback to knock off a top 20 opponent since Blair Kiel helped Notre Dame get past No. 13 Miami, Fla., 32-14. Rees threw for the most touchdown passes (three) by a freshman in his first career start in school history. Rees also threw for the fourth-most yards ever by an Irish quarterback in his first start (second-most ever by a Notre Dame rookie quarterback in a victory).
Rees was the first Irish rookie quarterback to ever throw four touchdown passes in a single game. The four touchdown passes against Tulsa is tied with numerous others for the sixth-most in single-game school history. Rees completed 33 of 54 passes for 334 yards - the most ever by a quarterback that did not start the game. His 300-yard game was the 35th in school history and second-ever by a Notre Dame freshman. Brady Quinn is the only other freshman signal caller to throw for at least 300 yards in a single game (350, Oct. 25, 2003 at Boston College).
Rees became the first freshman quarterback in Notre Dame history to ever lead the Irish to a victory in a bowl game. He also was the first-ever, first-year starter (regardless of class) to lead Notre Dame to a bowl game victory.
Prior to Rees, freshmen or sophomore quarterbacks who are first-year starters at Notre Dame had a tough history in bowl games. From 1972 through 2004, they were 0-6 while averaging only 13 points per game.
They include 1972 sophomore Tom Clements (40-6 to Nebraska), 1980 freshman Blair Kiel (17-10 to Georgia), 1990 sophomore Rick Mirer (10-9 to Colorado), 1994 sophomore Ron Powlus (41-24 to Colorado), 2000 freshman Matt LoVecchio (41-9 to Oregon State) and 2004 sophomore Brady Quinn (38-21 to Oregon State). However, all but Quinn played a top-5 team.
Jimmy Clausen was a sophomore QB in 2008 when the Irish crushed Hawaii 49-21 in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, but it was Clausen's second season as a starter, not first.
Rees set a single-season freshman school record with 12 touchdown passes in 2010. He also established a single-season freshman record in completions percentage (.610). Rees ranked among the top-five in the following categories for Irish freshman quarterbacks.
FLOYD IN THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT
Senior WR Michael Floyd is on track to break just about every Notre Dame receiving record. He already owns the school record for career receptions (183), career touchdown catches (30) and career receiving yards per game (86.9). Floyd also ranks second in career 100-yard receiving games (14) and second in career receiving yards (2,693).
Among active FBS receivers, Floyd ranks second in career receiving touchdowns (30), third in career receiving yards per game (86.9), third in career receiving yards (2,693), third in career receptions per game (5.9), sixth in career receptons (183) and 11th in career receiving yards per catch (14.7).
Floyd recorded 79 catches for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010 despite missing one game due to injury. The 79 receptions were the second-most in single-season school history. His 12 touchdown receptions were tied for fourth-most in single-season school history. 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). His 1,025 receiving yards ranked seventh in single-season school history. Floyd was the sixth Notre Dame wideout to eclipse the 1,000 yard barrier in a single season. He is the only wide receiver in school history to have at least three seasons with four or more 100-yard receiving games.
Floyd has played in 31 career games, and in two of them (at Navy in 2008 and vs. Michigan State in 2009) he missed most of the action following an injury. Yet, Floyd has 14 career 100-yard receiving games over the other 29 games played.
Floyd is the first Notre Dame wideout to ever register three or more games with at least 11 catches.
Floyd has recorded eight multi-touchdown games over his Irish career, including four in his last seven contests.
Floyd recorded three touchdown receptions against Western Michigan on Oct. 16, 2010 - the second such feat in his career. He also had three touchdown catches against Nevada on Sept. 5, 2009. Floyd is the third Notre Dame wideout to have three or more touchdown receptions in multiple games (Maurice Stovall, 2005; Golden Tate, 2009).
Floyd is the first player in school history to register a touchdown catch of at least 80 yards more than once in his career. He actually has recorded three touchdown catches of at least 70 yards.
Floyd has a reception in 30 of the 31 games he has suited up for the Irish. The only game he failed to make a reception came against Navy in 2008 when he was injured early in the first quarter while blocking down field.
Floyd still owns the school record for yards per reception in a single game. He recorded four catches for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the 35-0 rout of Nevada in the 2009 season opener. He averaged 47.3 yards per reception, which broke the previous school record of 41.6 yards per catch by Jim Morse against USC on Nov. 26, 1955.
Floyd's career-best reception went for 88 yards and a touchdown against Nevada in 2009. The 88-yard reception is the fourth-longest in Notre Dame football history. The 189 yards receiving in the rout of the WolfPack ranks 10th on the single-season list.
Floyd not only became the first Irish freshman to register a touchdown catch in a season opener (2008), but also became the first freshman to register Notre Dame's first points of a season by TD. He established new school records for receptions (48), receiving yards (719) and receiving touchdowns (seven) by an Irish freshman in 2008. He also set a freshman record with 10 receptions against Pittsburgh on Nov. 1, 2008.
Floyd was the fourth different rookie in the last 20 years whose first career catch was a TD. The others were Raghib "Rocket" Ismail and Derek Brown in 1988 and Derrick Mayes in 1992 - mighty impressive company for Floyd to join.
BY LAND, CIERRE
Junior RB Cierre Wood rushed for a career-high 104 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown in the season opener against USF.
Wood surpassed the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career. He became the first Irish running back to eclipse 100 yards since Armando Allen against Connecticut on Nov. 21, 2009.
Wood scored from one-yard out with 7:35 left in the fourth quarter against USF to bring Notre Dame within 23-13. The touchdown run was the fourth of his career.
Wood hauled in a career-long 31-yard reception on the game's opening offensive play from scrimmage. It bested his previous career-long grab of 23 yards set last season against Tulsa.
Wood finished the game against the Bulls with a career-best 148 all-purpose yards, 104 on the ground and 44 through the air.
Wood did not play as a freshman in 2009, but opened the 2010 campaign as the backup. He rushed for 58 yards on seven carries in the season-opener against Purdue, but managed just 19 yards on 10 carries over Notre Dame's next four games.
When Armando Allen missed most of the Western Michigan game with injury, Wood stepped in and did not miss a beat. He ran for 94 yards on 11 rushes, including a 39-yard touchdown run.
Wood led the Irish in rushing with 603 yards on 119 carries, good for a 5.1 yard average per rush. He rushed for three touchdowns. Wood also collected 20 receptions for 170 yards and two receiving touchdowns. He added 15 kickoff returns for 300 yards and totaled 1,073 all-purpose yards (best on Irish).
Wood averaged 5.1 yards per carry in 2010. Over the last 14 seasons, only one Notre Dame running back with at least 100 rushes in a single season posted a better yards per carry average than Wood (Julius Jones, 5.5 yards per carry in 2003).
Wood registered 15 plays last season of 20 yards or more, including eight rushes, one reception and six kickoff returns. He recorded 21 rushes of 10 yards or more, 27 of his 119 carries resulted in a touchdown or first down, six of 17 rushing attempts on third down plays resulted in a touchdown or first down and eight of 20 receptions resulted in a touchdown of first down
Wood has started at running back in five of the last six games dating back to the Tulsa game of 2010. He rushed for 491 yards on 97 carries over the span.
CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK
Junior WR Theo Riddick still finished 2010 with 414 yards receiving, 40 catches and three touchdown receptions, each of which ranked second on the Irish, despite missing four games.
Riddick was somewhat slow in his progression at wideout over Notre Dame's first two games of 2010. He managed just four grabs for 52 yards vs. Purdue and Michigan, but the wide receiver found his form over a four-game stretch against Michigan State, Stanford, Boston College and Pittsburgh. Riddick totaled 33 receptions for 343 yards and three touchdowns (all team-highs over the four-game stretch). He managed just one catch against Western Michigan before he was sidelined by an injury.
Riddick entered the Michigan State game with four receptions for 52 yards, but finished the contest with a career-high 10 catches for 128 yards and one touchdown. He registered his first career 100-yard receiving game. Riddick posted two grabs for 42 yards on Notre Dame's opening scoring drive of the second half (an 18- and 24-yard grab). He hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Crist with 1:29 to go in the third quarter to tie the score, 21-21.
Riddick's 10 receptions against Michigan State were tied for the ninth-most in single-game school history at the time. In fact, his output is tied for the third-most ever by an Irish sophomore wideout. Notre Dame senior WR Michael Floyd also hauled in 10 catches against Navy on Nov. 7, 2009. Jim Seymour, who was a first-year player, but a sophomore elgibility wise, has the two highest outputs. He had games with 13 and 11 catches in 1966.
TYLER'S EIFERT HAS NOT GONE UNNOTICED
Junior TE Tyler Eifert posted career-highs in both receptions (six) and receiving yards (93) in the season opener against USF. He also hauled in a 37-yard grab, the second-longest reception of his career.
Eifert, a 2011 Mackey Award candidate, played in the 2009 season opener as a freshman, but missed the remainder of the year after suffering back injury. He entered the 2010 campaign behind junior All-American and John Mackey Award candidate Kyle Rudolph.
Eifert played somewhat sparingly in each of the first four games in 2010 (totaled one reception for 17 yards against Michigan) and then missed back-to-back games against Boston College and Pittsburgh.
Eifert was forced into the starting lineup following Rudolph's season-ending injury. He has now started eight consecutive games and made an immediate impact for the Irish.
Eifert earned the John Mackey Tight End of the Week Award in 2010 for his effort against Army.
Senior PK David Ruffer converted the first 23 field goals of his career. The 23 straight field goals was the longest streak in school history.
Prior to his first career miss against Miami (Fla.) in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in 2010, Ruffer was the only kicker in the FBS in 2010 still perfect in field goal attempts. He also was the only kicker in the FBS still perfect for his career. Ruffer still leads all active kickers in field goal percentage.
Ruffer's 23 straight field goals was the longest active streak in the FBS. The NCAA record for consecutive field goals converted is 30 by Chuck Nelson of Washington in 1981-82. He also holds the NCAA record for consecutive field goals made in a single season (25, 1982).
Ruffer's 18 field goals in 2010 rank as the third-most in single-season school history.
Ruffer's 18 straight field goals in one season is an Irish school record.
Ruffer is the second Irish kicker to ever register multiple field goals of 50 yards or longer in the same season. Harry Oliver had a pair of 50+ yard kicks in 1980. He also became the third kicker in school history to connect on multiple field goals of 50 yards or longer in his career.
Ruffer has missed each of his last two kicks, including a 30-yarder in the loss to USF. He is now 23-for-25 in his career.
IRISH RETURN 51 MONOGRAM WINNERS, 17 STARTERS
Notre Dame opened fall practice with 51 returning monogram winners from 2010 - 21 on offense, 25 on defense and five on special teams.
Notre Dame had 12 players named to a major preseason award watch list. Only Alabama's 13 players on various watch lists bests the Fighting Irish dozen.
Four returning veterans changed jersey numbers for the 2011 season. Sophomore DB Bennett Jackson will don No. 2, junior WR Robby Toma sports No. 9, sophomore NG Louis Nix also wears No. 9 and sophomore QB Tommy Rees dons No. 11.
A quintet of Irish players underwent position changes during spring practice. Freshman Brad Carrico, who played defensive line in high school, moved to offensive line. Sophomore Austin Collinsworth moved from wide receiver to safety. Sophomore Justin Utupo moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. Sophomore Bennett Jackson moved from wide receiver to defensive back. Sophomore Luke Massa moved from quarterback to wide receiver.
One other Notre Dame player entered the fall at a new position. Sophomore Bruce Heggie moved from defensive end to offensive guard/center.
WALK-ON PLAYERS JOIN THE IRISH SQUAD THIS SPRING
Nine walk-on players have been added to the 2011 roster. Junior S Blake Breslau (San Diego, Calif./Francis Parker), freshman S Connor Cavalaris (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest), freshman WR/RB Eric Lee (West Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling Catholic), sophomore WR Ryan Liebscher (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cheyenne Mountain HS), freshman LB Connor Little (Lake Elmo, Minn./Hill-Murray), sophomore TE Arturo Martinez (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit), sophomore RB Tyler Plantz (Frankfort, Ill./Providence Catholic), freshman ILB Joe Schmidt (Orange, Calif./Mater Dei) and senior WR Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich./Marshall).
SIX FOOTBALL STUDENT-ATHLETES ENTER FIFTH YEAR
Six seniors on the University of Notre Dame football team were approved to return for a fifth year by the school's Faculty Board on Athletics.
The 24 student-athletes represented 14 states - four from Ohio, three each from California and Florida, and two each from Indiana, North Carolina and Texas, plus one each from Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
As listed by group, Notre Dame added nine power players, eight skill players, six big skill players and one specialist. As listed by position, Notre Dame added six defensive linemen, four defensive backs, four linebackers, four offensive linemen, two wide receivers, one quarterback, one running back, one tight end and one kicker/punter.
Sixteen were selected for postseason all-star games.
One Gatorade State Football Player of the Year: OLB Ishaq Williams (New York).
NOTRE DAME Football--A Family Affair
The Golic family is one of just several father-son combinations who have played for Notre Dame represented on the 2011 Irish roster. Mike Sr. earned four monograms at Notre Dame from 1981-84, while Mike Jr. is a senior C and Jake is a junior TE. In addition to their father, Mike and Jake's two uncles also played for the Irish. Bob was not only a four-year monogram winner from 1975-78, but he was a two-time All-American and helped the Irish to the 1977 National Title. Greg earned a pair of monograms in 1981 and 1983.
Other current Notre Dame players whose fathers also played for the Irish include sophomore WR TJ Jones (Andre, 1987-90), freshman OT Conor Hanratty (Terry, 1966-68) and senior OLB Jonathan Frantz (Mike, 1970-72).
In addition to the Golic brothers, the Irish 2011 roster has two other sets of brothers - Zack and Nick Martin as well as George III and Josh Atkinson. Zack is a junior OT and Nick is a freshman OT. George III is a freshman RB and Josh is a freshman CB.
NFL HAS LARGE INFLUENCE ON NOTRE DAME ROSTER
Several players also have family connections with the National Football League.
Senior C Mike Jr. and junior TE Jake Golic's father Mike Sr. played in the NFL forthe Houston Oilers (1986-87), Philadelphia Eagles (1987-92) and Miami Dolphins (1993). Their uncle, Bob, also played in the NFL for the New England Patriots (1979-81), Cleveland Browns (1982-88) and Los Angeles Raiders (1989-92).
Other players whose fathers played in the NFL include freshman WR DaVaris Daniels (Phillip, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins, 1996-2010), sophomore S Austin Collinsworth (Chris, Cincinnati Bengals, 1981-88), senior ILB Anthony McDonald (Mike, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, 1983-92, junior K Nick Tausch (Terry, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco, 1982-89) and freshman RB George Atkinson III and freshman CB Josh Atkinson (George Jr., Okaland Raiders, 1968-77).
Senior ILB David Posluszny's brother Paul has played in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills (2007-10) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2011-).
Junior P Ben Turk has two uncles that have played in the NFL. Matt is currently the punter for the Houston Texans (2007-10), but has also suited up for the St. Louis Rams (1996), Miami Dolphins (2000-01, 2003-05), New York Jets (2002) and Washington Redskins (1995-99). Dan played 15 years in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1985-86), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-88), Los Angeles Raiders (1989-94), Oakland Raiders (1995-96) and Washington Redskins (1997-99).
Freshman OLB Troy Niklas' uncle Bruce Matthews played 19 seasons for the Houston Oilers/Tennesse Titans (1983-01). A former 14-time Pro Bowl selection, Matthews was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
THE OFFICIAL NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL POSTGAME SHOW
The Official Notre Dame Football Postgame Show will again be broadcast live following every Notre Dame game on WSBT-AM NewsRadio 960 and Sunny 101.5 FM, and televised live on UND.com. The show is hosted by Jack Nolan and Irish All-Americans Reggie Brooks and Mirko Jurkovic. The televised version of the show on UND.com also features game highlights.
THE OFFICIAL NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL TAILGATE SHOW
The IMG College Notre Dame Football Radio Network will again originate the Notre Dame Football Tailgate show from outside Legends of Notre Dame south of the Football Stadium beginning one hour before the kickoff of each Notre Dame home game. The show features live guests and is hosted by Jack Nolan and Alan Pinkett.
The Brian Kelly Radio Show begins Sept. 1 - and University of Notre Dame football fans can attend the show on the Notre Dame campus at Legends of Notre Dame, just south of Notre Dame Stadium. It will be telecast live on UND.com and broadcast live on WSBT-AM NewsRadio 960 in South Bend and WXNT-AM NewsTalk 1430 in Indianapolis. Sirius/XM College SportsNation will also broadcast the show twice each week on Friday night and again on Saturday morning. The show will air from 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET.
Dates for the shows are Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and 30; Oct. 6, 20 and 27; and Nov. 3, 10 and 17.
Hosted by Jack Nolan, the Brian Kelly Radio Show is a production of Notre Dame Sports Properties.
INSIDE NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL WITH Brian Kelly (TELEVISION SHOW)
Taped on Sunday afternoons, Inside Notre Dame Football will feature a recap of the week's contest, Notre Dame player features and more. The show can be seen locally Sunday evenings on WNDU-TV following the late local news. It will also re-air on WNDU-TV the following Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. as well as 90 minutes prior to kickoff of Notre Dame home games. All shows can also be viewed on UND.com starting Monday of each week. Inside Notre Dame Football airs on a total of 25 affiliates nationwide reaching nearly 72 million households.