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    Fighting Irish

    Joey Goodspeed and Irish
    mates next tackle MSU.

     

    Spartans Next on Notre Dame's Gridiron Slate

    Irish travel to East Lansing for prime time matchup.

    September 7, 1998

    #10/#11 (AP/Coaches)
    Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-0)
    at Michigan State Spartans (0-2)

    The Date and Time: Saturday, September 12, 1998, at 8:00 p.m. EDT (7:00 EST in South Bend)
    The Site: Spartan Stadium (72,027/artificial turf) in East Lansing, Mich.
    The Tickets: All 72,027 tickets have been sold for the 62nd game of the series.
    The Television Plans: ABC Sports national telecast with Keith Jackson (play by play), Bob Griese (analysis), Lynn Swann (sideline) and Jay Rothman (producer).
    The Radio Plans: For the 31st consecutive season, all Irish football games are broadcast nationally by Mutual/Westwood One with Tony Roberts (play by play) and Tom Pagna (analysis). The Mutual Network includes nearly 300 stations and many games receive worldwide exposure on Armed Forces Radio.

    The Head Coach
    Bob Davie owns an 8-6 (.571) career record in the midst of his second season as a college head coach in '97. His squad's wins over #11 LSU and #22 West Virginia marked the first time a Notre Dame team beat ranked foes on consecutive weeks since November '92 (54-7 vs. #9 Boston College, 17-16 vs. #22 Penn State).

    The 1998 season marks Davie's fifth year at Notre Dame overall after serving as defensive coordinator and inside linebacker coach from 1994-96. He coached nine seasons at Texas A&M ('85-'93), two at Tulane ('83-'84), four at Pittsburgh ('77, '80-'82) and two at Arizona ('78-'79), spending both years at Tulane as defensive coordinator and the last five at Texas A&M in that role.

    The Injury Update (as of Sept. 6)
    Out:
    Sophomore fullback Jason Murray Bruised shoulder Aug. 31 (dnp vs. Michigan)

    Questionable:
    Junior offensive guard Jim Jones Sprained ankle in preseason (dnp vs. Michigan)
    Senior free safety A'jani Sanders Sprained ankle vs. Michigan

    Probable:
    Junior fullback Joey Goodspeed Bruised ribs vs. Michigan
    Senior inside linebacker Bobbie Howard Sprained knee vs. Michigan
    Senior outside linebacker Kory Minor Turf toe vs. Michigan

    THE KEY NOTES
    Staying Focused: Notre Dame this week will try to add to its momentum vs. a Michigan State team that has burst the Irish bubble in several previous meetings (see pp. 2-3).
    Lots to Talk About: Key components of the 36-20 win over Michigan last week included a rejuvenated third-quarter attack, strong first-down plays and a six-for-six effort in the "red zone" (see p. 4)
    Making a Jump: Notre Dame this week vaulted from 22nd to 10th in the AP poll, representing the biggest week-to-week move for the Irish in that poll since 1959 (see p. 5).
    A Good Start: Senior Jarious Jackson last week became the eighth straight Irish QB to help Notre Dame win in his first career start, despite facing the defending national co-champions (see p. 6).
    Off and Running: Senior TB Autry Denson resumed his pursuit of the Irish career rushing record last week with 162 total yards and an early 58-yard scamper, both career bests (see pp. 7-8).

    IRISH OPEN WITH 36-20 WIN OVER #5 MICHIGAN
    Notre Dame upset #5 Michigan, 36-20, on Sept. 5, behind a spirited second-half effort that produced 262 yards of total offense and gave the Irish their 11th season-opening win in the last 12 years. Senior QB Jarious Jackson directed the Irish to 17 third-quarter points, highlighted by a 35-yard pass to a wide-open junior FL Raki Nelson. Notre Dame senior TB Autry Denson rushed for a career-high 162 yards-most by a Michigan opposing player in 28 games-including a career-long gain of 58 yards in the first quarter and two clinching touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Irish junior Jim Sanson connected on all three of his FG tries, from 32, 27 and 32 yards, while junior TE Dan O'Leary caught his first career touchdown pass, a four-yarder from Jackson midway through the third quarter.

    The Rankings

    Here's where Notre Dame has stood in the polls during the '98 season:

    Date	Associated Press	USA Today/ESPN
    Preseason	22nd		24th
    Sept. 6		10th		11th
    

    Michigan State Spartans (0-2)

    Aug. 29 COLORADO STATE L, 16-23 Sep. 5 at Oregon L, 14-48 Sep. 12 NOTRE DAME (ABC) 8:00 EDT Sep. 26 at Michigan Oct. 3 CENTRAL MICHIGAN Oct. 10 INDIANA Oct. 24 at Minnesota Oct. 31 NORTHWESTERN Nov. 7 at Ohio State Nov. 14 PURDUE Nov. 21 ILLINOIS Nov. 28 at Penn State

    THE TRAVEL PLANS
    The Irish will bus to East Lansing Friday afternoon, leaving at 5:30 p.m. EST and arriving at 10:00 p.m. EDT. The team will headquarter at the Sheraton Lansing (517-323-7100) and return to campus by bus immediately after the game.

    SPARTANS-IRISH ALSO TO MEET IN BASEBALL, GOLF THIS WEEKEND
    The Notre Dame baseball and women's golf teams also will be in action on Sat., Sept. 12, in East Lansing. The Notre Dame and Michigan State baseball teams will play a fall exhibition at 1:00 p.m., with the game to be held at Oldsmobile Park (home of the A class Lansing Lugnets). The game will count toward both team's 1999 spring schedule limit (56 games) but the result will not be counted in the spring record. The Irish women's golf team will be one of 13 teams participating in the Mary Fossum Invitational, with Michigan State serving as the host school. The 54-hole tournament will be held on campus at the Forest Akers West course (par 72; 5,826 yards), with 36 holes scheduled for Saturday and 18 for Sunday. Tee times both days are 8:30 a.m. (from both the first and 10th tees) and the event is open to the public.

    IRISH AIM FOR SPARTANS
    Notre Dame will be looking to continue its momentum this week at Michigan State, following last week's 36-20 upset of then-#5 Michigan. The Spartans have burst the Irish bubble several times previously. In 1952, the #10-ranked Irish posted a 27-21 home win over #4 Oklahoma-boosting Notre Dame to #6-but the Irish lost a week later at #1 Michigan State (21-3). Three years later in 1955, the #5 Irish won 14-0 at #15 Miami and moved up to #4 before losing the next week at #13 Michigan State (21-7). Most recently, the Irish became the first team to enter the AP poll after a loss-the 24-23 home defeat to Michigan in 1986-but a week later the unranked Spartans sent #20 Notre Dame back to the ranks of the unranked, thanks to a 20-15 win in East Lansing.

    VERSUS THE BIG TEN
    Notre Dame is 29-8-1 in its last 38 games vs. Big Ten opponents, including a 14-game win streak from '86-'91. The Irish are just 6-7 versus Big Ten teams since 1994 -- with Michigan (twice), Northwestern, Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State (twice) all recording wins over the Irish in that span.

    THEY SHALL RETURN
    During the past 13 seasons (1986-97), Notre Dame has produced 46 touchdowns via kickoff, punt and interception returns, compared to five by the opposition. Four of those plays have come against Michigan State, including Tim Brown's consecutive first-quarter punt returns at Notre Dame Stadium in 1987 (71 and 66 yards), lifting the Irish to a 31-8 win and catapulting the senior flanker on to a Heisman Trophy-winning season. The next season at Michigan State, in '88, LB Mike Stonebreaker rambled for a 39-yard interception return with 5:18 to play, sealing a 20-3 Irish win. Most recently, Lee Becton's 78-yard, second-quarter kickoff return ignited a 52-31 Irish win at Spartan Stadium in '92.

    1998 NOTRE DAME OPPONENT UPDATE
    Below is a look at Notre Dame opponents' recent results and upcoming games. Since 1977 when the NCAA started rating strength of schedule, Notre Dame's schedule has been rated the most difficult five times in the last 20 years (1978, 1985, 1987, 1989 and 1995).

    Opponent	Record	Sept. 5				Sept. 12	
    Michigan	0-1	L, 20-36, at Notre Dame		Syracuse	
    Michigan State	0-2	L, 14-48, Oregon		Notre Dame	
    Purdue		0-1	Open				Rice
    Stanford	0-1	L, 23-35, San Jose State	Arizona
    Arizona State	0-1	L, 38-42, Washington		at Brigham Young	
    Army		0-0	Open				Miami	
    Baylor		0-0	Open				at Oregon State
    Boston College	1-0	W, 41-31, at Georgia Tech	Rutgers	
    Navy		0-0	Open				at Wake Forest	
    LSU		0-0	Open				Arkansas  State
    USC		1-0	Open				San Diego State
    

    Notre Dame Opponents' Season Record (Does not include games vs. ND): 2-5 (.286)

    SERIES HISTORY

    * Notre Dame leads the all-time series (41-19-1), including 15-11-1 in all games at Michigan State and 13-9-1 at Spartan Stadium. The Irish have won 10 of the last 12 and 17 of the last 20.
    * Notre Dame and Michigan State met for the first time in 1897, a 34-6 home win for Notre Dame. The teams played 15 times from 1897-1921 before a 26-year break, resumed play in 1948 and have met 47 times over the past 51 years, including this week's game (no games in '53, '58, '95 or '96).
    * The Irish and Spartans are scheduled to play continuously through the year 2011, which would give the series 60 games in a 64-year stretch (1948-2011).
    * Michigan State is the fourth most common opponent in Irish football history (62nd meeting this season), behind three other 1998 opponents: Navy (72nd meeting this season), Purdue (70th meeting in '98) and USC (70th meeting in '98).
    * At least one team has been ranked in the AP poll during the last 11 games of the series (including this week's game) but only the 1987 and '90 games saw both teams in the top 25.
    * Since the teams resumed play in 1948 (including this week's game), the series has produced 11 games with two ranked teams, 29 with one ranked team and only seven with neither team ranked (1959, '62, '67, '78, '81, '84 and '85).

    SPARTANS OWN MOST OF THE BIG UPSETS

    * Since the series resumed in '48, the higher-ranked team (in the AP poll) has gone 41-6. In games when the higher-ranked team was in the AP top 10, the lower-ranked team is just 4-25-1.
    * Notre Dame has been higher ranked than Michigan State 26 times, with the Spartans pulling off the upset seven times. Those upsets include four games when the Spartans were unranked: 21-17 at home in 1968 over the #5 Irish, 10-3 at Notre Dame in '75 (the Irish were #8), 28-23 at Notre Dame in '83 (the Irish were #4) and 20-15 at home over the #20 Irish in '86. Michigan State's other upset came when the #13 Spartans won at home over the #4 Irish in 1955 (21-7).

    NOT-SO-CLOSE CALLS

    * Notre Dame is 9-2 in the last 11 games with Michigan State (from 1985 on). Those 11 games have been decided by an average of 15.5 points, including six big Irish wins (by 17, 23, 17, 39, 21 and 22 points) and Michigan State's 23-7 win at Notre Dame in '97.
    Since 1985, the closest games have been:

    1986 at Michigan State 20 #20 Notre Dame 15
    Irish reach the Spartan 31-yard line with 1:32 to play; Todd Krumm intercepts Steve Beuerlein's sideline pass to Milt Jackson.

    1989 at #1 Notre Dame 21 Michigan State 13
    With 3:30 left in the fourth quarter, Hyland Hickson is stopped by Donn Grimm and D'Juan Francisco on fourth and one at the Notre Dame 25.

    1990 #1 Notre Dame 20 at #24 Michigan State 19
    Irish overcome 19-7 fourth-quarter deficit before a Spartan Stadium record crowd (80,401). Rick Mirer's 23-yard pass deflects off the pads of CB Todd Murray, into the hands of Adrian Jarrell at the two. Two plays later, Rodney Culver scores winning TD from one-yard line with 0:34 to play (the Irish missed the 2-point try).

    1994 #8 Notre Dame 21 at Michigan State 20
    Irish overcome 20-7 halftime deficit, with Randy Kinder picking up 102 of his 104 yards in the second half. Ron Powlus hits Robert Farmer with a 15-yard TD pass to tie the game with 12:12 to play before Stefan Schroffner adds the game-winning extra point.

    * The Notre Dame-Michigan State series has produced just two games where the winning points were scored in the final five minutes, the 1990 Irish win and the below game:

    10/4/75 Michigan State 10 at #8 Notre Dame 3
    Dave Reeve's field goal with 4:13 to play ties the game but Tyrone Wilson responds on the ensuing first down with a 76-yard run, ending when Luther Bradley pushes him out at the four. Levi Jackson then scores the game's only TD on a four-yard run, with 3:50 left on the clock.

    CONNECTIONS

    * The Megaphone Trophy, presented by the Detroit alumni clubs of both schools, goes to the winner of the Notre Dame-Michigan State game.
    * Irish manager of athletic facilities Dale Getz is a '75 Michigan State graduate.
    * Michigan State assistant athletic director John Lewandowski is an '84 Notre Dame graduate.

    RECORD-SETTERS

    * John Petitbon's 17.1 rushing yards per attempt (10 for 171, 1950) for Notre Dame versus Michigan State in 1950 remains first in the Irish record book.
    * The following performances are tied for first in the Irish record book and came vs. MSU: 40 rushing att. by Phil Carter ('80); three TD rec. by Jim Mutscheller ('50); four FGs by Harry Oliver (4 att., '80); two punts ret. for TD by Tim Brown ('87); and zero first downs allowed by the 1921 Irish defense.
    * Two of the 12 longest FGs in Irish history have come vs. Michigan State, at Notre Dame Stadium): 51 yards by Dave Reeve in '77 (tied for second) and 49 yards by Chuck Male in '79 (tied for seventh).

    The ND-MSU Series

    * Series: Notre Dame leads 41-19-1. * Games Played at MSU: ND leads 15-11-1. * At Spartan Stadium: ND leads 13-9-1. * Current Streak: 1, by MSU ('97).

    Site		Year	Rank	W/L/T			ND	Opp
    	*	1897		W			34	6
    	*	1898		W			53	0
    	*	1899		W			40	 0
    	*	1902		W			33	0
    	*	1903		W 			12 	0
    	*	1905		W	 		28	0
    	*	1906 		W			5 	0
    	*	1909		W			17	 0
    		1910 			L		0 	17
    		1916		W			14	 0
    	*	1917		W			23	0
    		1918			L 		7	13
    	*	1919		W			13	 0
    		1920		W			25	0
    		1921		W			48	0
    	*	1948	1-	W			26 	7
    		1949 	1-10	W			34 	21
    	*	1950	-15		L		33	36
    		1951	11-5		L		0	35
    		1952	6-1		L		3	21
    	*	1954 	8-	W			 20	19
    		1955	4-13		L		7	21
    	*	1956	-2 		L		14	47
    		1957	15-4		L 		6	34
    		1959			L		0	19
    	*	1960	-14		L		0	21
    		1961	6-1		L		7 	17
    	*	1962			L 		7	31
    		1963	 -4		L		7	12
    	*	1964	1-  	W			34	7
    	*	1965 	4-1 		L	 	3	12
    		1966 	1-2 			T 	10	10
    	*	1967 		W			24	12
    		1968	 5- 		L		17 	21
    	*	1969 	-14 	W			42	28
    		1970	4-	W			29	0
    	*	1971	4- 	W			14	2
    		1972	7- 	W			16	 0
    	*	1973	8- 	W 			14	10
    		1974 	7- 	W			19	 14
    	*	1975	8-		L 		3	10
    		1976	18- 	W			24	6
    	*	1977	14- 	W			16	6
    		1978		W			29	25
    	*	1979	15-7	W			27	3
    		1980	 7- 	W			26	21
    	*	1981		W			20	7
    		1982	11- 	W			11	3
    	*	1983 	4- 		L	 	23	28
    		1984 		W			24	 20
    	*	1985		W			27	10
    		1986	20- 		L		15	20
    	*	1987 	9-17	W			31	8
    		1988 	8-	W			20	 3
    	*	1989	1-	W			21	13
    		1990	1-24	W			20	19
    	*	1991	11-	W			49	10
    		1992	7-	W			52 	31
    	*	1993	4-	W			36	14
    		1994	8-	W			21	20
    	*	1997	-17		L		7	23
    

    NOTRE DAME VS. BIG TEN CONFERENCE TEAMS School Won Lost Tied Pct. Illinois 11 0 1 .958 Indiana 23 5 1 .810 Iowa 13 8 3 .604 Michigan 10 16 1 .389 Michigan State 41 19 1 .680 Minnesota 4 0 1 .900 Northwestern 37 8 2 .809 Ohio State 2 2 0 .500 Penn State 8 8 1 .500 Purdue 45 22 2 .667 Wisconsin 8 6 2 .563 TOTALS 202 94 15 .674


    * - Indicates Notre Dame home games (at Notre Dame Stadium since 1930); away games at Spartan Stadium since 1949.

    RARE ROUT
    Notre Dame's 36-20 win over Michigan was just the third game in the last 16 in the series that was decided by more than 10 points.

    UNCHARTED TERRITORY
    Notre Dame's 36 points are the most ever by one team in the 28-game series with Michigan, besting a 35-12 Irish win at Ann Arbor in 1943, when the Irish were ranked #1 and the Wolverines #2. The last time a Michigan opponent scored more than 35 points was Sept. 28, 1991, when Florida State posted a 51-31 win over the Wolverines. Additionally, last week's 16-point margin is the biggest point differential in the last nine games of the series, since Notre Dame won 26-7 at Michigan in 1987.

    RUNNING WILD
    * After allowing just 89.0 rushing yards per game in '97, Michigan saw the Irish rack up 280 yards on the ground-the second-highest total of the Bob Davie era behind the 317 at Pittsburgh in 1997.
    * Autry Denson's 162 rushing yards versus Michigan were the most by a single player versus Michigan in 28 games, since Penn State's Stephen Pitts rumbled for 164 yards on 17 carries on Nov. 18, 1995. In fact, Denson outgained 35 of the last 37 team rushing totals versus the Wolverines from 1995-97, trailing only the 182 by Alabama and 170 by Penn State-both late in the 1996 season.

    THE OPENING ACT
    Notre Dame has won 11 of its last 12 openers, with the only loss coming to Northwestern in '95. Those 11 opening wins have included four over AP-ranked Michigan teams, as the Wolverines were #9 in 1987 (26-7) and '88 (19-17), #4 in '90 (28-24) and #5 this season (36-20). Since the AP poll began in 1936, the Irish are 11-3-1 when opening vs. an AP-ranked team.

    TOUGH TEST
    * The win over Michigan marked the first time that Notre Dame has opened a season by beating a team ranked more than seven spots higher in the AP poll. Notre Dame's previous "biggest" season-opening upset came in '87, a 26-7 win for the #16 Irish at #9 Michigan.
    * Notre Dame had faced the defending AP national champion just once previously in a season opener (since 1937), coming away with a 19-9 win at #7-ranked and defending champ Pittsburgh in 77 (the Irish were ranked #3 prior to that game). Overall, Notre Dame is 9-7-3 when playing a defending AP or UPI national champ at some point in the following season.

    IRISH BID FAREWELL TO THIRD-QUARTER BUGABOO
    Notre Dame managed to score just 27 third-quarter points over the course of the entire 1997 season (13 games, 2.1/gm) but racked up 17 third-quarter points in the 1998 opening win over Michigan. Conversely, Michigan allowed just 26 third-quarter points during all of '97 (2.4/gm). The '97 Wolverines also allowed just one team-Iowa (24)-to score more than 16 total points during a 1997 game.

    FIRST DOWN PLAYS SET THE TONE
    Notre Dame ran 25 first-and-10 plays versus Michigan (not counting the final play of the first half), with 23 of those plays coming on the ground. The other two plays on first and 10 produced a first-quarter interception and Jarious Jackson's 35-yard touchdown pass to Raki Nelson. Notre Dame's 23 first-and-10 runs netted an impressive 179 yards, or 7.7 per carry (compared to the overall game average of 5.1). Much of those 179 yards came on Autry Denson's early 58-yard scamper, followed by other big first-and-10 runs from Joey Goodspeed (nine, 11, 10 and eight yards), Jackson (11) and Denson (21, eight).

    DEBUT STARTING QBs FACE OFF IN ND STADIUM OPENER FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1935
    Jarious Jackson and Tom Brady became the first QBs to make joint starting debuts in a season opener at Notre Dame Stadium in 35 years. On Sept. 28, 1963, a pair of unproven juniors-Notre Dame's Dennis Szot and Wisconsin lefthander Harold Brandt-made their first career starts at Notre Dame Stadium in the season opener. The #6-ranked Badgers won, 14-9.

    SANSON NEARLY JOINS THE CLUB
    Notre Dame junior Jim Sanson nearly became the fourth Irish kicker ever to convert four field goals in a game versus Michigan, after making his third field goal of last week's game with 11:34 still to play in the third quarter. Instead, Sanson-who was three of three from distances of 32, 27 and 32 yards-was more than happy to kick extra points the rest of the way, as the Irish scored four touchdowns over the next 18 minutes of game time to put the game away. In previous games versus Michigan, three Irish players-Chuck Male ('79), John Carney ('85) and Reggie Ho ('88)-equaled the Irish record for field goals in a game, with four. That record was broken in 1990, when Craig Hentrich sent five through the uprights to help beat #2-ranked Miami, 29-20.

    RED MEANS GO
    While big plays certainly played a role in the win over Michigan, the Irish also can point to their consistency in converting solid scoring chances. In fact, Notre Dame came away with points in all six of its trips into "red zone" territory while Michigan cashed in just three of its seven scoring chances.

    Here's a look at how Notre Dame and its opponents fare in the red zone (inside the opponent's 20-yard line) so far in the 1998:

    	Notre Dame	Category	Opponents
    

    6 Chances 7 1 Passing TDs 1 2 Rushing TDs 1 3 Total TDs 2 .500 (3/6) TD Pct. .286 (2/7)

    3 (32, 27, 32) FGs Made 2 (36, 21) 0 FGs Missed 1 (33, 35, 46) 0 FGs Blocked 1 (40) 100.00 (6/6) Scoring Pct. .429 (3/7)

    0 Turnovers 0 2 (-11) Penalties 0

    MOVERS AND SHAKERS
    Notre Dame's jump this week from 22nd to 10th in the AP poll represents the biggest one-week improvement in that poll for the Irish in 39 years. The 1959 Irish squad was not ranked in the Sept. 21 AP top 20 but rose to #8 just one week later, following a 28-8 win over North Carolina in the season opener (the AP poll switched from 20 to 25 teams beginning in 1989). Just two years earlier, the Irish had used a 7-0 win at #2 Oklahoma on Nov. 16, 1957, to vault from a spot outside the top 20 to #9. Of course, that win holds even greater significance in Notre Dame and college football history, as it halted the Sooners' still-standing NCAA record winning streak of 48 games.

    STRONG EFFORTS VS. MICHIGAN PROPEL IRISH IN POLLS
    Last week's 36-20 win over the then-#5-ranked Wolverines is one of several victories over Michigan that have sent the Irish skyrocketing in the polls. In 1982, the #20-ranked Irish opened at home with a 23-17 win over Michigan and rose to #10 in the next week's AP poll. In the first game of the Lou Holtz era, the unranked 1986 Irish team lost a 24-23 heartbreaker to #3 Michigan-again in the season opener at home-but the next week Notre Dame became the first team ever to enter the AP poll following a loss (the Irish checked in at the 20th and final spot). In the next year's opener, the 1987 Notre Dame squad headed to Ann Arbor with a #16 ranking and returned with a 26-7 win over their #9-ranked hosts, a result that bumped the Irish up seven spots to replace Michigan at #9. Most recently, the #11-ranked 1993 Irish squad emerged with a 27-23 win at #3 Michigan in the second game of the 1993 season and another seven-place jump landed Notre Dame a #4 ranking in the next week's poll.

    UPSET-MINDED
    Last week's win for the #22-ranked Irish over #5 Michigan ranks among the top upsets-based on rankings-in the program's history. In fact, there were just three previous games in which an Irish team that was not ranked among the AP top 20 defeated a team that was in the top five (since the AP poll began in 1936), the last coming on a 31-16 win at #1 Pittsburgh in 1982. There have been three additional Notre Dame victories in which a ranked Irish team has defeated a team ranked more than 10 spots higher in the AP poll, highlighted by the 1991 team that shocked #3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl (39-28).

    PRIME-TIME PERFORMANCES

    • The Irish are now 17-9-1 in Notre Dame Stadium versus AP top 25 opponents during the past 11 years and have posted 13 home wins over AP top-25 teams during the 1990s, with six of those games coming by large margins (35, 47, 28, 28, 34 and last week's 16 points).

    • Since 1987, Notre Dame is 10-2-1 in Notre Dame Stadium versus teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll, including an impressive 6-1 record versus top-five ranked teams.
    The New Bowl Alignment
    • While Notre Dame remains an independent, the '98 season brings a noteworthy tie between the Irish and the BIG EAST Conference: plus the inauguration of the Bowl Championship Series, a four-game package including the Fiesta, Orange, Sugar and Rose Bowls-for the first time including the Big Ten and Pacific-10 Conferences in the attempt to create the ultimate national title game.
    • Also beginning in '98, in years in which Notre Dame is not selected for a top-four bowl game, the Irish can be selected as part of the BIG EAST rotation of bowl options, specifically involving the Gator Bowl and the Insight. com Bowl. The Gator may select Notre Dame twice in a four-year period. The Insight.com may select the Irish once over that four-year period. Both bowls will adhere to the BIG EAST one-win rule, in which a team selected for a particular game must be within one win of all other bowl eligible teams (i.e. a 7-4 team cannot be selected over a team that is 9-2).

    The 1998 Schedule

    • Notre Dame began its 1998 schedule in daunting fashion by playing host to defending national champion Michigan in the season opener, followed by Michigan State, Purdue and Stanford, all of whom defeated the Irish in '97. The fifth game comes on the road against an Arizona State team ranked ninth in the USA Today/ESPN preseason poll (Michigan was fifth, Michigan State 23rd).
    • Five of Notre Dame's '98 opponents played in '97 bowl games: Michigan (Rose winner), Michigan State (Aloha), Purdue (Alamo winner), Arizona State (Sun winner) and LSU (Independence winner).
    • Notre Dame played six ranked teams in '97, the first time that happened since '92. In '97, the Irish lost their three games vs. ranked teams before a 24-6 win at #11 LSU and a 21-14 home win over #22 West Virginia.
    • The Irish played eight games vs. teams that ended up in '97 bowl games, the most Irish opponents to end up in bowls since eight of Notre Dame's 1989 foes qualified for postseason play.

    OFFENSIVE LINE
    Notre Dame has five lettermen back on the offensive line to put together a solid starting unit ... senior tri-captain Mike Rosenthal is in his third year as a starter (at tackle instead of guard, where he played in '96 and '97) ... senior Luke Petitgout returns at the other tackle after taking over impressively last season when Chris Clevenger's career ended with a back injury ... at guard is senior Jerry Wisne (16 career starts) and senior Tim Ridder (started three games in '97 at tight end) ... the newcomer on the line is junior center John Merandi, who took over for graduated Rick Kaczenski.

    OFFENSIVE BACKFIELD
    Senior quarterback Jarious Jackson made his first career start vs. Michigan and was four of 10 in the air for 96 yards, with a pair of touchdowns and an interception ... he also ran the ball 16 times for 62 yards ... one of Jackson's TD passes was a 35-yarder to Raki Nelson that gave the Irish a 23-13 lead with 5:02 left in the third quarter to take command of the game ... Jackson is the only Irish QB with any game experience, as he was eight of 17 in the air in '97 for 146 yards and a TD ... he was worked into the rotation with graduated Ron Powlus midway through '97 ... Autry Denson returns for his senior season at tailback and in '97 became the third Irish back ever to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons ... Denson gained a career-high 162 yards on 24 carries with a pair of TD runs (three yards and one yard) vs. Michigan ... sophomore Darcey Levy had an impressive fall and will see playing time ... fullback is being shared by senior Jamie Spencer and junior Joey Goodspeed ... both were plagued by injuries in '97 and never hit top form ... Spencer got the start vs. Michigan (six rushes for 13 yards) while Goodspeed ran nine times for 43 ... sophomore FB Jason Murray also expects to compete but has been hampered by a hamstring pull and shoulder injury this fall.

    RECEIVING CORPS
    An overachieving '97 receiving corps returns its principal parts, notably senior split end Malcolm Johnson (42 catches in '97, 596 yds, 2 TDs) and senior flanker Bobby Brown (45 for 543, 6 TDs) ... sophomore Joey Getherall has had an excellent fall and will press those two for time ... Getherall started the '97 opener vs. Georgia Tech but suffered a knee injury in that contest ... Getherall also returns punts for the Irish ... junior Raki Nelson also is in the mix at split end and had two receptions for 68 yards against Michigan, including a 35-yard TD pass from Jackson ... freshmen David Givens and Javin Hunter also should see their share of playing time .... sophomore Jabari Holloway started vs. Michigan at tight end while junior Dan O'Leary had one reception (good for the first Irish TD).

    DEFENSIVE LINE
    Notre Dame lost Melvin Dansby and Corey Bennett in this area to graduation and also was hurt here with fall camp injuries ... Notre Dame rotates eight players on the defensive line to keep the troops fresh ... freshman Anthony Weaver started at left end vs. Michigan in his collegiate debut, while junior Brad Williams (12 tackles in '97) is at right end ... junior Antwon Jones had an impressive fall and started vs. Michigan at nose guard, while Lance Legree (16 tackles in '97) also will see playing time there after suffering a hamstring injury in camp ... junior B.J. Scott backs up Williams while Weaver is backed up by junior Jason Ching and senior Lamont Bryant (recovering from offseason knee surgery).

    LINEBACKERS
    Notre Dame's defense is built around a linebacking corps that features senior tri-captain Kory Minor (85 tackles in '97, led team in sacks) at one outside position and seniors Bobbie Howard (tri-captain, 91 tackles in seven games in '97; eight tackles vs. Michigan) and Jimmy Friday (led team with 109 stops in '97) on the inside ... the other outside spot is being split between sophomore Grant Irons (50 tackles in '97; sack in the Michigan game) and junior Joe Ferrer (14 tackles in '97; sack vs. Michigan) ... senior Joe Thomas, junior Ronnie Nicks and freshman Tyreo Harrison provide depth inside while sophomore Anthony Denman is available on the outside.

    DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD
    The Irish are flush at safety, with senior Benny Guilbeaux (led team with 4 INTs in '97) at strong safety and A'Jani Sanders (58 tackles in '97) at free ... Sanders had 14 tackles in the win over the Wolverines while Guilbeaux had 13 ... providing depth at strong safety is converted sophomore tailback Tony Driver (he played free safety in the spring and also is slated to return kickoffs in '98), while experienced junior Deke Cooper is the backup free ... senior Ty Goode (33 tackles in '97) and junior Deveron Harper (60 tackles while starting much of '97 at free safety and eight tackles vs. Michigan) are the cornerbacks, with sophomore Brock Williams and freshman Donald Dykes providing depth.

    SPECIAL TEAMS
    Senior Hunter Smith returns for his fourth year as the starting punter (42.6-yard avg. in '97) while junior Jim Sanson (11 of 19 career field goals) returns as placekicker ... Sanson, who was three for three on FG tries vs. Michigan, had a leg injury in fall camp, with Smith currently handling kickoff duties ... sophomore Tony Driver is No. 1 at kickoff returns while his classmate Joey Getherall is the selection for punt returns.

    JACKSON EXTENDS IRISH QB's FIRST-START STREAK
    Notre Dame senior QB Jarious Jackson last week became the eighth straight Irish quarterback to see Notre Dame go on to victory in his first start, a group which includes: Tom Krug ('95, 44-14 at Air Force, 8-of-13), Ron Powlus ('94, 42-15 at Northwestern, 18-of-24, 291 yds, 4 TD), Kevin McDougal ('93, 27-12 vs. Northwestern, 6-of-8, 135 yds), Paul Failla ('91, 45-20 at Purdue, 1-of-1, 10 yds), Rick Mirer ('90, 28-24 vs. Michigan, 14-of-23, 165 yds, 1 TD), Kent Graham ('87, 32-25 vs. Boston College, 6-of-8, 11 yds), Tony Rice ('87, 35-14 at Air Force, 1-of-5 for 10 yds, 9 rushes for 70 yds and 2 TDs) and Terry Andrysiak ('85, 37-14 vs. Ole Miss, 4-of-8, 60 yds, 1 TD).

    THE 1998 NCAA STATS
    Here are the updated 1998 NCAA statistical rankings for Notre Dame and Michigan State (top 59 for team ranking):

    Team Rankings	Notre Dame	Michigan State	 
    Rushing Offense	13th at 280.0	138.5
    Passing Offense			96.0	141.0
    Total Offense	45th at 376.0	279.5
    Scoring Offense	32nd at 36.0	15.0
    

    Rushing Defense 150.0 229.0 Passing Defense 322.0 244.0 Total Defense 472.0 473.0 Scoring Defense t48th at 20.0 35.0

    Net Punting 22nd at 41.0 17th at 41.8 Punt Returns 6.0 13th at 18.4 Kickoff Returns 22.2 43rd at 21.6 Turnover Margin t19th at +1.0 -1.0

    Team Rankings Notre Dame Michigan State Rushing Autry Denson Sedrick Irvin 9th at 162.00 45th at 93.00

    Punting Hunter Smith Craig Jarrett 44.00 1st at 52.00

    Punt Returns Joey Getherall Gari Scott 14.00 10th at 18.43

    Kickoff Returns Tony Driver Gari Scott 20th at 20.67 33rd at 23.63

    Field Goals Jim Sanson Paul Edinger 3rd at 3.0 0.5

    All-Purpose Running Autry Denson Gari Scott 39 at 162.00 12th at 200.50

    RECENT IRISH RUSHING HISTORY
    Notre Dame's rushing attack has ranked 20th or better nationally 10 of the last 11 years, with the Irish currently ranking 13th for 1998:

    Year		Rushing Average	NCAA Rank	Rushing TDs
    1987			252.1	14th		33
    1988			258.0	11th		30
    1989			287.7	8th			42
    1990			250.3	12th		33
    1991			268.0	5th			31
    1992			280.9	3rd			34
    1993			260.7	6th			36
    1994			215.6	20th		18
    1995			233.5	6th			29
    1996			269.5	8th			34
    1997			174.9	36th		22
    1998			280.0	13th		2
    

    FIRST START NOTES

    TOUGHEST TEST
    Jarious Jackson faced possibly the toughest opening task of any recent Notre Dame quarterback, as just the fourth Irish signalcaller in the last 24 seasons to face a ranked opponent in his first start and the first to face an opponent ranked higher than the Irish. Tim Koegel made his starting debut as a sophomore, early in the second game of '79, but the #5 Irish lost at #17 Purdue (28-22). In 1980, freshman Blair Kiel started the fourth game of his rookie campaign, a 32-14 win for the #7 Irish over #13 Miami. Most recently, sophomore Rick Mirer opened the 1990 season by helping the top-ranked Irish down #4 Michigan, 28-24.

    ADDED CHALLENGE
    Jarious Jackson became the first Notre Dame quarterback to make his debut start vs. a defending national champion. In fact, the Irish opened the season versus a defending AP poll champ just once previously-a 19-9 win for the #3-ranked 1977 squad over #7 Pittsburgh. In that win, the Irish held the Panthers to 92 total yards and just one second-half first down. Veteran QB Rusty Lisch completed 10 of 18 passes for 106 yards and a TD to tight end Ken Macafee, Jerome Heavens ran for 84 yards on 21 carries and DE Ross Browner caused and recovered a late fumble that led to the clinching second-half field goal. The Irish went on to an 11-1 season and the '77 national title.

    SENIOR DEBUT A RARITY
    Jackson is just the fourth Notre Dame QB since '75 to start his first career game with the Irish as a senior, with the most recent being Kevin McDougal, who kicked off his successful '93 season with a 27-12 win over Northwestern. Despite his inexperience as a starter (15 games, 50:23 playing time), McDougal led the Irish to a memorable win over then-#1 Florida State, an 11-1 record and final #2 national ranking while posting a 154.4 career passing efficiency rating that ranks first among Notre Dame's all-time QBs with 100-plus completions (he was 112-of-180 for 1,726 yds, with 10 TDs and 6 INTs). Jackson headed into the '98 opener with 15 games and 82:47 of playing time to his credit.

    RUN FOR THE RECORD
    Senior TB Autry Denson has 10 regular-season games left in his Notre Dame career and he needs to average 82.6 yards per game in those contests to surpass all-time Irish rushing leader Allen Pinkett (4,131 yards). Denson ranks third on the Irish all-time groundgaining list and heads into the Michigan State game just 168 yards shy of passing Vagas Ferguson into second on the Irish all-time rushing list. Denson also has moved into third place for NCAA career yards among active Division I backs. With his 1,179 rushing yards in 1996, Denson became the sixth player in Notre Dame history to reach the 1,000-yard mark in a season. He is a nominee for the annual Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back in the country each year.

    ON A ROLL
    Autry Denson heads into the Michigan State game having rushed for 100-plus yards in four straight games and five of the last six. He ended the 1997 season with 125 rushing yards vs. Navy, 92 at LSU, 144 vs. West Virginia, 143 at Hawaii and 101 vs. LSU in the Independence Bowl. Denson then kicked off the 1998 season with a career-best 162 yards vs. Michigan. During his last six games, Denson has totaled 760 yards on the ground for a solid 127 yards per game average.

    BACK-TO-BACK 1,000-YARD SEASONS
    Autry Denson in 1997 became the third Irish player to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, joining Vagas Ferguson (1978-79) and Allen Pinkett (1983-85). Denson's 1,268 yards in '97 marked the fourth-highest single-season total in Irish annals (he was voted MVP of the '97 Irish squad by his teammates) while Denson's 1,179 yards in 1996 rank sixth on the Irish single-season list.

    THE CENTURY MARK
    Autry Denson's career-best 162 yards in the 1998 opener versus Michigan represented his 18th career game with 100-plus yards, just three shy of Allen Pinkett's Irish record. Denson's 143 yards versus Hawaii on Nov. 29, 1997 marked his seventh overall 100-yard effort of the '97 season (he also had seven 100-yard games in '96). Those figures don't include Denson's 101 yards versus LSU in the 1997 Independence Bowl, since bowl games are not included in NCAA season or career statistics.

    ALL-PURPOSE BACK
    Autry Denson's 30 receptions in '97 marked the most by an Irish running back since Bob Gladieux caught 37 in 1968. He also returned seven punts for 68 yards and owns 444 career return yards (on 11 kickoffs and 25 punts). Denson's combined rushing (3,305), receiving (273) and return yards (444) account for over 4,000 yards (4,022).

    CARRYING THE MAIL
    During the 1995-98 seasons, Notre Dame is 15-5 when Autry Denson has rushed for 100-plus yards, with a loss at USC in 1996 (27-20, OT) and losses in '97 at Purdue (28-17), Stanford (33-15) and versus #15 LSU in the Independence Bowl (27-9). The Irish won the first nine 100-yard games of Denson's career but are just 5-5 during his last 10 century-mark games (including the 1998 opening win over Michigan).

    AN ACTIVE CAREER
    Autry Denson entered the 1998 season as the sixth-leading active rusher in NCAA Division 1-A, with Texas senior Ricky Williams (4,155) and Toledo junior Wasean Tait (3,528 yards) the frontrunners on that list. Denson's 3,142 yards heading into 1998 were within striking distance of New Mexico State senior Denvis Manns (3,223), LSU senior Kevin Faulk (3,278) and Wisconsin junior Ron Dayne (3,284). In fact, Denson's 162 yards vs. Michigan have vaulted him past Manns (93), Dayne (who did not play vs. San Diego State) and the idle Faulk on the active rushers list. Denson and Faulk are slated for a head-to-head meeting this season, when LSU plays at Notre Dame on Nov. 21.

    WOLVERINES HAD THEIR HANDS FULL
    Autry Denson's career-best 162 yards versus Michigan in the 1998 opener were 59 yards more than Michigan allowed by a opposing rusher in any single game during the 1997 season (Penn State's Curtis Enis had 103). Denson's big day represented the most rushing yards by a Michigan opposing player in 28 games, since Penn State's Stephen Pitts rushed 17 times for 164 yards on Nov. 11, 1985.

    IRISH UNBEATEN IN DENSON'S TOP RUSH AVERAGE GAMES
    Autry Denson's average of 6.79 yards per carry versus Michigan ranks fifth best in his career (min. 14 rushes). He has averaged 5.54 yards per carry or higher 10 times during his career, with the Irish winning each of those games. Those 10 highly-productive games include four wins over ranked opponents: #6 Texas in 1996 (6.58 yds/rush), #16 Washington in '96 (9.79), #22 West Virginia in '97 (5.54) and #5 Michigan in '98 (6.79).

    A BETTER START
    Autry Denson has carried the ball 24 times in the last two season openers, with noticeably different results. In the 1997 opener versus Georgia Tech, he managed just 58 yards (2.4 yards per carry), compared to a career-best 162 yards in the 1998 opening win over Michigan (6.8 yards per carry).

    DENSON IN THE IRISH CAREER RECORD BOOK

    RUSHING YARDS 
    		Name, 	Years	TC	Yds.	Avg.	TD
    	1.	Allen Pinkett, '82-'85	889	4131	4.6	49
    	2.	Vagas Ferguson, '76-'79	673	3472	5.2	32
    	3. 	Autry Denson, '95-	627	3304	5.2	30
    	4.	Jerome Heavens, '75-'78	590	2682	4.5	15
    	5.	Phil Carter, '79-'82	557	2409	4.3	14
    	6.	George Gipp, '17-'20	369	2341	6.3	21
    	7.	Randy Kinder, '93-'96	404	2295	5.7	18
    	8.	Tony Brooks, '87-'91	423	2274	5.4	12
    	9.	Emil Sitko, '46-'49	362	2226	6.1	25
    	10.	Neil Worden, '51-'53	476	2039	4.3	29	
    

    RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS 1. Allen Pinkett, 1982-85 49 2. Louis (Red) Salmon, 1900-03 36 3. Anthony Johnson, 1986-89 32 Vagas Ferguson, 1976-79 32 5. Autry Denson, 1995- 30 Stan Cofall, 1914-16 30

    RUSHING ATTEMPTS 1. Allen Pinkett, 1982-85 889 2. Vagas Ferguson, 1976-79 673 3. Autry Denson, 1995- 627

    RUSHING YARDS/GAME 1. Allen Pinkett, 1982-85 96.1 2. Autry Denson, 1995- 94.4 3. George Gipp, 1917-20 86.7 4. Vagas Ferguson, 1976-79 84.7

    100-YARD RUSHING GAMES 1. Allen Pinkett, 1982-85 21 2. Autry Denson, 1995- 18 3. Vagas Ferguson, 1976-79 13

    TOP ACTIVE DIV. I RUSHERS 1. Ricky Williams, Texas 4,370 (215 yards in 1998)

    2. Wasean Tait, Toledo 3,575 (47 yards in 1998)

    3. Autry Denson, Notre Dame 3,304 (162 yards in 1998)

    4. Ron Dayne, Wisconsin 3,284 (dnp vs. San Diego State)

    5. Kevin Faulk, LSU 3,278 (first 1998 game: 9/12 vs. Ark. St.)

    6. Denvis Manns, New Mexico St. 3,316 (93 yards in 1998)

    DENSON'S TOP SINGLE-GAME RUSHING EFFORTS
    (italics - ND loss; rankings based on A.P. poll at time of game; min. 14 carries for avg. list)

    RUSHING YARDS 
    		Opponent (Date), Carries	Yards
    	1.	#5 Michigan (9/5/98), 24	162
    	2.	at USC (11/30/96), 			33	160
    	3.	at #6 Texas (9/21/96), 24	158
    	4.	at Boston College (11/9/96), 23	155
    	5.	#22 West Virginia (11/22/97),26	144
    	6.	at Hawaii (11/29/97), 28	143
    	7.	#16 Washington (10/12/96), 14	137
    	8.	USC (10/18/97), 		30	133
    	9.	at Pittsburgh (10/11/97), 19	128
    	10.	Navy (11/1/97), 		19	125
    

    RUSHING ATTEMPTS 1. at USC (11/30/96) 33 2. USC (10/18/97) 30 3. at Hawaii (11/29/97) 28 4. #5 USC (10/21/95) 27 5. #22 West Virginia (11/22/97) 26 6. at #6 Michigan (9/27/97) 25 7. #5 Michigan (9/5/98) 24 Georgia Tech (9/6/97) 24 at #6 Texas (9/21/96) 24 10. at Boston College (11/9/96) 23 Army, @ Giants Stadium (10/14/95) 23

    LONGEST RUNS Opponent, Date Yards 1. #5 Michigan, 9/5/98 58 2. at Pittsburgh, 10/11/97 50 3. Navy, 11/1/97 48 #8 Florida State, Orange Bowl, 1/1/95 48 5. #16 Washington, 10/12/96 47 6. at Hawaii, 11/29/97 43 7. Rutgers, 11/23/96 38 8. #22 West Virginia, 11/22/97 36 9. #15 LSU, Ind. Bowl, 12/28/97 35 10. #16 Washington, 10/12/96 33 Navy, in Ireland, 11/2/96 33

    DENSON IN THE IRISH SINGLE-SEASON RECORD BOOK

    RUSHING YARDS Pl. Name, Year TC Yards 1. Vagas Ferguson, 1979 301 1437 2. Allen Pinkett, 1983 252 1394 3. Reggie Brooks, 1992 167 1343 4. Autry Denson, 1997 264 1268 5. Vagas Ferguson, 1978 211 1192 6. Autry Denson, 1996 202 1179 7. Allen Pinkett, 1984 275 1105 8. Allen Pinkett, 1985 255 1100 9. Al Hunter, 1976 233 1058 10. Lee Becton, 1993 164 1044

    RUSHING ATTEMPTS 1. Vagas Ferguson, 1979 301 2. Allen Pinkett, 1984 275 3. Autry Denson, 1997 264

    100-YARD RUSING GAMES 1. Allen Pinkett, 1983 9 2. Autry Denson, 1997 7 Autry Denson, 1996 7 Vagas Ferguson, 1979 7

    Denson '97 Game-by-Game Game TC Yds. TD Georgia Tech 24 71 2 Purdue 22 104 1 Michigan State 15 59 0 Michigan 25 72 0 Stanford 21 116 0 Pittsburgh 19 128 2 USC 30 133 1 Boston College 18 81 1 Navy 19 125 2 LSU 17 92 1 West Virginia 26 144 0 Hawaii 28 143 2 LSU (Independence Bowl) 20 101 0

    WEAVER MAKES RARE D-LINE START

    • Anthony Weaver's start vs. Michigan marked the first Notre Dame freshman to start on the defensive line since the Nov. 9, 1991 game versus Tennessee (a 35-34 loss), when Germaine Holden started at right end. Holden also had started the previous two games vs. Navy and USC, after starter Eric Jones had suffered an ankle injury at Air Force on Oct. 19. Holden's classmate, John Taliaferro, also started vs. Navy game at right tackle, in place of injured Bryant Young (ankle injury).
    • Weaver became the first Irish freshman to start an opener at any defensive position since Mike Kovaleski opened at weakside linebacker vs. Purdue on Sept. 10, 1983 (a 52-6 Irish win). Weaver is first Irish freshman to start a season opener on the defensive line since Ross Browner opened the Sept. 22, 1973 game versus Northwestern (44-0) at right end.

    The '98 Butkus Award Candidates
    Notre Dame boasts three preliminary candidates among 68 overall for the '98 Butkus Award (presented to the nation's outstanding collegiate linebacker by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando) in OLB Kory Minor, ILB Bobbie Howard and ILB Jimmy Friday, all seniors. Minor, Notre Dame's top returning sacker from '97, also was a preliminary candidate in '96 and '97. Minor in '97 finished with 85 tackles (eight for loss) and led the Irish with 3.5 sacks. Howard averaged 13 tackles/gm in '97 despite missing much of the first half due to injury while Friday finished as the team leader in tackles (109). The three Irish candidates for '98 mark the most ever for Notre Dame in a season (the record is four by North Carolina in '97). Kansas State, Florida and Michigan also have three nominees in '98.

    Brown Anchors '98 Receiving Corps Senior Bobby Brown, impressive at the starting flanker in '97, caught seven passes in each of his first three games in '97 and led the Irish with 45 total receptions. Brown became the first Irish player to catch seven-plus passes in three consecutive games since Tom Gatewood opened the '70 season by catching seven or more in his first five games. Brown joined SE Malcolm Johnson to give the Irish two 40-catch receivers in '97 for the first time in Notre Dame history-and the return of those two for '98 promises both talent and experience for the Irish passing game this fall.

    Smith Moving Up
    Here's where senior Hunter Smith stands on the Irish career punting chart heading into '98:

    Rank	Name, Year(s)		No.	Yards	Avg.
    	1. 	Craig Hentrich, 1989-92		118	5204	44.10
    	2. 	Hunter Smith, 1995-97		134	5508	41.11	
    	3. 	Vince Phelan, 1987		50	2044	40.90
    	4. 	Bill Shakespeare, 1933-35		91	3705	40.71
    	5. 	Blair Kiel, 1980-83		259	10534	40.67
    

    Smith's 43.3 yard average in '96 and 32.6 mark in '97 rank fifth and eighth, respectively, on the Irish single-season list (Craig Hentrich holds down the top three spots). Smith also enters the Michigan State game just six punts behind Brian Doherty (140, 1971-73) for third on the Irish career list, behind Blair Kiel (259) and Joe Restic (209, 1975-78).

    Irish Sell Out for 33rd Consecutive YeaR IN 1997
    The University of Notre Dame finished eighth nationally in attendance among all NCAA Division I-A football-playing institutions in 1997. The Irish averaged 80,225 fans - the full capacity of the expanded Notre Dame Stadium - for its six 1997 home games. The 97 season marked the 33rd consecutive season that every seat has been sold for every Irish home game. Notre Dames average increase of 21,150 fans per game in 97 compared to 1996 marked the second highest increase nationally, behind only Stanfords increase of 21,154 that was helped by the crowd of 75,651 (compared to the average of 56,937) when the Irish in October played the Cardinal in Palo Alto.
    Heres the top 10 in attendance in 1997:

    		School	Games	Attendance	Average	Change
    	1.	Tennessee 	6	639,227	106,538	up 1,120
    	2.	Michigan	7	745,139	106,448	up 516
    	3.	Penn State	6	582,517	97,086	up 919
    	4.	Ohio State	8	731,884	91,486	down 2,542
    	5.	Florida	6	512,775	85,463	up 59
    	6.	Auburn	6	501,267	83,545	up 1,077
    	7.	Georgia	6	494,375	82,396	up 3,124
    	8.	Notre Dame	6	481,350	80,225	up 21,150
    	9.	LSU	7	561,016	80,145	up 626
    	10.	So. Carolina	6	480,041	80,007	up 472
    
    College football set an all-time attendance record in 1997, with 36.9 million fans viewing games, including a record 27.5 million in Division I-A.

    The New Attendance Figure (80,112)
    Recognize the familiar 59,075 capacity for football at Notre Dame in the old version of Notre Dame Stadium? The new figure to remember beginning in 1998 is 80,012. That's down slightly from the '97 capacity of 80,225, a figure that represented a computerized projection of seating prior to completion of construction of the nearly 21,000-seat addition to the Stadium. The adjusted 80,012 number represents a refined seating manifest that includes changes that weren't apparent until construction was finished and the '97 season actually began.

    AN ADDED TOUCH
    The Notre Dame National Monogram Club has presented the gift of 12 stylish Monogram Club circular logos to Notre Dame Stadium. The logos currently adorn each of the stadium's field-level gates.

    BIG CROWDS EVERYWHERE
    Notre Dame has played in front of capacity crowds in 98 of its last 114 games. Those figures are bound to improve in 1998, with a minimum of six sellouts assured based on Notre Dame's half-dozen home games.

    The Ticket Details

    All six '98 Notre Dame home football games are sold out. Thats no surprise, considering coming into the '98 season 136 straight games at Notre Dame Stadium - and 184 of the last 185 dating back to '64 - have been sellouts.
    Two of Notre Dames 98 home games produced among the four highest numbers of tickets requested in Notre Dame football history, thanks to the availability of nearly twice as many tickets through the alumni lottery (33,779 in '98, compared to 16,000 prior to '97). Contributing alumni are designated as Notre Dame graduates who have contributed at least $100 to the University within the last calendar year.
    Overall ticket requests for '97-in the first year of the expanded Notre Dame Stadium-increased by 90,000 for six games combined, compared to the highest previous figure. Thousands more contributing alumni received tickets to one or more games in 97 compared to any previous year, plus additional tickets were made available to parents of current students, and an alumni family game was designated, providing alumni the chance to order more than the customary two tickets. The other group benefitting from increased ticket availability in the Stadium was University staff, all of whom now have the opportunity to obtain tickets.
    The overall increase of nearly 21,000 seats in the Stadium provides 16,000 more to the contributing alumni lottery, 3,000 to faculty and staff and 2,000 to various University allotments, including trustees, advisory councils, alumni board, alumni clubs, and major benefactors.
    The 80,225 capacity (amended to 80,012 for '98) -- and the six resulting sellouts in '97 -- enabled Notre Dame to rank eighth nationally in attendance in 1997 among all Division I-A

    Toughest Tickets Around

    Including the 1998 lottery figures, here are the 10 highest demand games (based on total tickets requested by contributing alumni) in Notre Dame Stadium history:


    Rk. Opponent Season Request 1. USC 1997 57,048 2. Michigan State 1997 47,681 3. Michigan 1998 47,233 4. Army 1998 46,547 5. West Virginia 1997 46,093 6. Ohio State 1996 45,225 7. Boston College 1997 43,442 8. Georgia Tech 1997 43,408 9. Michigan 1994 42,705 10. USC 1991 41,954

    Future IRISH Football Schedules

    1999
    Sep. 4	at Michigan			
    Sep. 11	at Purdue			
    Sep. 18	MICHIGAN STATE
    Oct. 2	OKLAHOMA
    Oct. 9	ARIZONA STATE
    Oct. 16	USC
    Oct. 30	NAVY
    Nov. 6	at Tennessee			
    Nov. 13	at Pittsburgh			
    Nov. 20	BOSTON COLLEGE	
    Nov. 27	at Stanford			
    

    2000 Sep. 9 NEBRASKA Sep. 16 PURDUE Sep. 23 at Michigan State Sep. 30 TEXAS A&M Oct. 7 STANFORD Oct. 14 at Navy (site TBA) Oct. 21 at West Virginia Oct. 28 AIR FORCE Nov. 11 BOSTON COLLEGE Nov. 18 at Rutgers (Giants Stadium) Nov. 25 at USC

    2001 Sep. 8 at Nebraska Sep. 15 at Purdue Sep. 22 MICHIGAN STATE Sep. 29 at Stanford Oct. 6 PITTSBURGH Oct. 13 WEST VIRGINIA Oct. 20 USC Oct. 27 at Boston College Nov. 3 TENNESSEE Nov. 10 at Texas A&M Nov. 17 NAVY

    2002 Sep. 7 PURDUE Sep. 14 MICHIGAN Sep. 21 at Michigan State Oct. 5 STANFORD Oct. 12 PITTSBURGH Oct. 19 at Air Force Oct. 26 at Florida State Nov. 2 BOSTON COLLEGE Nov. 9 at Navy (site TBA) Nov. 23 RUTGERS Nov. 30 at USC


     
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