GAME 2: NOTRE DAME (1-0) vs. MICHIGAN (1-1)
DATE: Saturday, September 13, 2008 TIME: 3:43 p.m. ET SITE (CAPACITY): Notre Dame Stadium (80,795); Notre Dame, Ind.
TICKETS: The game is officially sold out making it the 201st consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Notre Dame home football game has been a sellout except one - a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. The Irish have now played in front of sellouts in 249 of their last 250 home games.
TV: NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play) and Pat Haden (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), David Gibson (producer) and John Gonzalez (director). NBC will stream a live 30 min. pre-game show (3-3:30 p.m.) and post-game show on NBCSports.com.
RADIO: ISP Sports is the exclusive national rights-holder for Irish football radio broadcasts. The Notre Dame-ISP relationship begins with the 2008 season and extends through the 2017 season -- with ISP managing, producing and syndicating 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 providing pre-game, sideline and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159).
All Notre Dame home games may be heard in South Bend on Sunny 101.5 FM and NewsTalk 960 WSBT-AM. See page 12 of this notes package for more information on Irish football radio and television shows.
WEB SITES: Notre Dame (und.com), Michigan (mgoblue.com).
REAL-TIME STATS: Live in-game statistics will be provided through CBS College Sports Gametracker via each school's respective official athletic websites.
POLLS: Notre Dame only received votes in the USA Today coaches poll (not AP), while Michigan failed to receive votes in either poll.
SERIES INFO: This meeting will be the 36th 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 20-14-1 lead in the series and took last year's meeting, 38-0, in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have captured each of the last two meetings, including a 47-21 triumph in Michigan's last trip to Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish are 7-8-1 against the Wolverines in Notre Dame. The Irish have not lost two straight in the series at home since 1942 and 1978. (see All-Time Series Results on page 2).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Notre Dame will honor the 1988 National Championship team this weekend. Former Irish head coach Lou Holtz, as well as some 50 players, will return for festivities celebrating the 20th anniversary of Notre Dame's most recent national title. Holtz will also have a sculpture dedicated at Notre Dame Stadium's Gate D.
MICHIGAN HEAD COACH RICH RODRIGUEZ: On Dec. 17, 2007, Rich Rodriguez was announced as the 18th head coach in University of Michigan football history, and just the 11th in the 106 years since Fielding H. Yost made his debut in 1901.
Rodriguez comes to Michigan after spending seven years as head coach at his alma mater, West Virginia University, where he led the Mountaineers to a 60-26 record, four Big East titles and six consecutive bowl game bids. In 2005, he was named to the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees.
Under Rodriguez's guidance, WVU claimed four of the last five BIG EAST championships and recorded three consecutive seasons (2005-07) of double-digit victories for the first time in school history. The Mountaineers recorded at least eight wins in each of the last six seasons, and since 2002 have accumulated a record of 57-16, winning 78.1 percent of their games.
Prior to accepting the West Virginia job on Nov. 26, 2000, Rodriguez served as offensive coordinator and associate head coach for Tommy Bowden at Clemson in 1999 (6-6) and 2000 (9-3). He spent the previous two years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Bowden at Tulane, where he helped lead the Green Wave to 7-4 and 12-0 marks, culminating with a victory at the Liberty Bowl.
Rodriguez began his collegiate head coaching career at the NAIA/Division II level at Salem (1988) and Glenville State College (1990-96). At Glenville State, he won or shared four consecutive West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and was named the WVIAC Coach of the Year in 1993 and '94. He was the 1993 NAIA Coach of the Year after leading his team to a national runner-up finish. Rodriguez, who also served as Glenville's athletic director in 1995-96, was inducted into the Glenville Hall of Fame in 2003.
NOTRE DAME - MICHIGAN SERIES NOTES
This year's meeting will mark the 36th meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan, with the Wolverines holding a 20-14-1 series lead. Notre Dame has captured three of the last four meetings in Notre Dame, but Michigan walked away with a 47-21 victory in 2006 (see page 9 for recap). The Irish own a 7-8-1 record against Michigan in Notre Dame.
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 1943, 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, 1984, 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2001.
Prior to last year's matchup, either Notre Dame or Michigan had been ranked entering the game for each of the previous 24 meetings. The last meeting between the Irish and Wolverines in which they were each unranked came way back in 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 school's 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 16 meetings (dating back to 1988), the Notre Dame-Michigan game has been decided by a touchdown or less on 10 different occasions.
Notre Dame and Michigan announced jointly a 20-year contract extension in the football series, extending the series from 2012-31. 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 25 years.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN SERIES PRODUCES EXCITING GAMES
Eight of the last 17 Notre Dame-Michigan games have been decided by five points or less while only five of the last 24 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 and Michigan's 38-0 triumph last season.
The average margin of victory has been just 5.0 points over the span of the all-time series. Take away the 2004, 2006 and 2007 meetings and the average margin of victory is 2.3.
Five of the last 22 games in the series have seen the winning points come in the final two minutes (1980, `88, `90, `94 and `99), including two that were decided in the final seconds (`80 and `94).
IRISH, WOLVERINES RANK AT THE TOP OF MOST NCAA LISTS
Notre Dame has won 11 consensus national championships, while Michigan has won nine titles.
Notre Dame currently has 825 career Division I-A victories (second all-time), while Michigan leads with 870 career wins, although the Wolverines have played nine more seasons than the Irish.
Michigan holds the record for times ranked in the Associated Press poll (753), followed closely by Ohio State (738) and Notre Dame (705).
Notre Dame ranks first all-time with 95 consensus All-America selections (from 79 players), while Michigan is tied for second on that list with 77 consensus All-America picks (from 64 players each). USC (67 players) and Ohio State (59 players) each have 76 selections.
IRISH RECORD SETTERS IN THE NOTRE DAME-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 are tied for first in the Irish record book 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 fourth (20 tackles against Michigan in 1981) and fifth most ever in a single game (19 tackles against Michigan in 1980).
The following performances are tied for fourth 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 11th all-time at Notre Dame.
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-yard attempt 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 provide Michigan with 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.
NOTRE DAME VS. BIG TEN
Notre Dame has faced no other conference as often as the Big Ten. The Irish have played 342 all-time games against the 11 current members of the league. Notre Dame is 216-111-15 in those meetings. The Irish have played almost three times as many games against the Big Ten as any other conference. The Pac-10 (125) and ACC (106) are the only other conferences against whom Notre Dame has played at least 100 games.
Notre Dame has faced Michigan 35 times (14-20-1), fourth most of any Big Ten program. Purdue leads the Big Ten with 79 all-time games against Notre Dame (51-26-2) followed by Michigan State (44-26-1) and Northwestern (37-8-2).
Last year's matchup with Penn State, the 19th all-time meeting, was the second with the Nittany Lions as a member of the conference.
Notre Dame will face three members of the Big 10 in 2008 (Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue). The Irish face the Wolverines, Spartans and Boilermakers for the seventh consecutive season. Notre Dame played four members of the Big 10 in each of the last two seasons. Notre Dame has played a member of the Big Ten every single season since 1915.
Notre Dame has posted a 110-45-5 (.703) record against Big Ten opponents at home and a 89-40-3 (.686) mark inside Notre Dame Stadium.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played just three previous games in its history on Sept. 13. The Irish are 0-3 all-time on this date.
Sept. 13, 2003: Chris Perry rushed for 133 yards on 31 carries to lead fifth-ranked Michigan past 15th-ranked Notre Dame, 38-0. In a rivalry known for its nailbiters, the Wolverines posted the first shutout in the series since their 23-0 win in 1902.
Sept. 13, 1997: Current Irish quarterback coach Ron Powlus completed 31 of 43 passes for 293 yards and Autry Denson rushed for 104 yards, but each were not enough as Purdue upended Notre Dame, 28-17.
Sept. 13, 1986: Lou Holtz's first game as coach of Notre Dame. In a torrid, tense battle against the nation's No. 3 football team, the unranked Fighting Irish piled up 455 yards and twenty-seven first downs. They converted eight of 12 third-down situations and lost a 24-23 heartbreaker in one of the most pulsating, come-from-behind surges in Irish history. They came within a single point of toppling the highly ranked Wolverines, losing the game only because John Carney missed an extra-point conversion and then with thirteen seconds remaining missed a forty-five yard field goal attempt.
NOTRE DAME-MICHIGAN CONNECTIONS
Notre Dame defensive coordinator Corwin Brown was a member of four Big Ten championship teams at Michigan. He played in three Rose Bowls during his time in Ann Arbor (1989-1992). Recruited to the Wolverines by legendary head coach Bo Schembechler, Brown was a four-year letterwinner on teams that finished with a 38-7-3 record and never finished a season ranked lower than seventh in the Associated Press poll. He was a tri-captain of the 1992 Wolverine team and also earned first-team all-Big Ten honors that season after ranking second on the squad with 82 tackles. Brown started every game as a junior and received second-team all-Big Ten accolades following a 71-tackle season. He majored in English and received his degree in 1994.
Notre Dame defensive line coach Jappy Oliver and Michigan associate head coach/running backs Fred Jackson served on Gerry DiNardo's (Notre Dame `74) staff at Vanderbilt in 1991.
The 2008 Notre Dame roster features three players from the state of Michigan, including senior WR David Grimes, senior QB Evan Sharpley and freshman TB Jonas Gray. Grimes is a native of Detroit and graduated from DePorres High School. Sharpley graduated from Marshall High School in Marshall, Michigan, while Gray attended Detroit Country Day High School and calls Beverly Hills home.
Michigan senior TE Mike Massey's father, Jim, played defensive end for the Irish in 1969.
The 2008 Michigan roster features three players from the state of Indiana, including junior S Stevie Brown (Columbus/Columbus East H.S.), sophomore S Artis Chambers (Fort Wayne/Snider H.S.) and freshman OL Kurt Wermers (Crown Point/Crown Point H.S.).
A number of players from Michigan and Notre Dame either attended the same high school or hail from the same hometown.
NOTRE DAME AND THE GREAT LAKES STATE
Notre Dame owns an 81-47-4 all-time record against schools from the Great Lakes State, last playing a Michigan school (hosted Michigan State) in 2007 (a 31-14 defeat). 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, 14-20-1 vs. Michigan, 44-26-1 vs. Michigan State and 2-0 vs. Western Michigan.
The 2008 Notre Dame roster includes three Michigan natives, including two seniors and one freshman. That group is headlined by senior starting WR David Grimes (Detroit/DePorres H.S.), senior backup QB Evan Sharpley (Marshall/Marshall H.S.) and freshman HB Jonas Gray (Beverly Hills/Detroit Country Day H.S.).
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).
NOTRE DAME HEAD COACH Charlie Weis: A record combined win total for the first two seasons of any University of Notre Dame head football coach, consecutive Bowl Championship Series appearances for the first time in Irish history, and the two most accomplished passing seasons in Notre Dame football annals - those are the most notable by-products of the first three seasons of the Charlie Weis era in South Bend.
Weis, a 1978 Notre Dame graduate and owner of four Super Bowl-champion rings as products of a stellar 15-season career as a National Football League assistant coach, wasted no time putting his signature stamp on his alma mater's program in his first two years as Irish head coach in 2005 and 2006.
Weis and his Irish followed up a 9-3 record in '05 and BCS appearance in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with a 10-3 overall mark in '06 and a second consecutive BCS invitation, this time to the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Those 19 combined wins (including eight straight in the middle of the '06 regular season) qualified as most in a two-year period by the Irish since they collected 21 in 1992-93. It was also the first time Notre Dame played in BCS games in successive years and the most prominent two-season bowl qualification since the Irish played in the Fiesta and Orange Bowls after the 1994 and '95 campaigns. The only schools to play in BCS games after both the '05 and '06 seasons were Notre Dame, Ohio State and USC.
Notre Dame's 10 regular-season wins in '06 marked the ninth time that figure had been achieved in Irish history. Weis' 19 combined wins in his first two seasons were the most by a Notre Dame head football coach in his first two years (the previous high was 17 by both Terry Brennan in 1954-55 and Dan Devine in 1975-76). For the second straight season in '06 Weis was one of three finalists for the George Munger Award presented by the Maxwell Football Club (of Philadelphia) to the college coach of the year.
A WIN THIS WEEK WOULD...
Improve the Irish to 2-0 on the season.
Give Notre Dame its third 2-0 start to a season over the past four years.
Give the Irish a four-game winning streak dating back to the final two games of 2007.
Improve Notre Dame to 15-20-1 (.431) in the all-time series with Michigan.
Even the Irish at 8-8-1 (.500) in the all-time series with the Wolverines in South Bend.
Improve Notre Dame to 9-5-1 (.633) in the all-time series with Michigan in Notre Dame Stadium.
Improve an unranked Irish squad to 2-3 all-time against Michigan.
Improve an unranked Notre Dame squad to 2-1 all-time against Michigan in Notre Dame Stadium.
Give the Irish a three-game winning streak in Notre Dame Stadium.
Snap Michigan's three-game winning streak in the all-time series.
Improve Notre Dame to 217-111-15 (.655) all-time against the Big Ten Conference.
Improve Notre Dame to 110-45-5 (.703) all-time against the Big Ten Conference in South Bend.
Improve Notre Dame to 89-40-3 (.686) all-time against the Big Ten Conference in Notre Dame Stadium.
Improve Notre Dame to 82-47-4 (.632) all-time against schools from the state of Michigan.
Improve Notre Dame's all-time record to 72-21-6 (.758) the week following a season opening victory.
Improve Weis' record to 24-15 overall (.615) and 6-7 (.462) against the Big Ten Conference.
Improve Weis' overall home record to 13-9 (.591) and his home record against the Big Ten Conference to 3-3 (.500).
Improve Weis' record to 9-7 in September games.
Improve Weis' record to 17-12 in afternoon games.
Improve Notre Dame's all-time record to 826-278-42 (.739).
Improve Notre Dame's all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 300-96-5 (.754).
A LOSS THIS WEEK WOULD...
Drop the Irish to 1-1 on the season.
Give Notre Dame a 1-1 record for the first time since 2004.
Snap a three-game winning streak for the Irish.
Drop Notre Dame to 14-21-1 (.403) in the all-time series with Michigan.
Drop the Irish to 7-9-1 (.441) in the all-time series with the Wolverines in South Bend.
Drop Notre Dame to 8-6-1 (.567) in the all-time series with Michigan in Notre Dame Stadium.
Drop an unranked Irish squad to 1-4 all-time against Michigan.
Drop an unranked Notre Dame squad to 1-2 all-time against Michigan in Notre Dame Stadium.
Give Michigan a three-game winning streak in the all-time series (longest streak for the Wolverines since winning the first eight meetings in the series, 1897-1909).
Drop Notre Dame to 216-112-15 (.652) all-time against the Big Ten Conference.
Drop Notre Dame to 109-46-5 (.697) all-time against the Big Ten Conference in South Bend.
Drop Notre Dame to 88-41-3 (.678) all-time against the Big Ten Conference in Notre Dame Stadium.
Drop Notre Dame to 81-48-4 (.624) all-time against schools from the state of Michigan.
Drop Notre Dame's all-time record to 71-22-6 (.747) the week following a season opening victory.
Drop Weis' record to 23-16 overall (.590) and 5-8 (.385) against the Big Ten Conference.
Drop Weis' overall home record to 12-10 (.545) and his home record against the Big Ten Conference to 2-4 (.333).
Even Weis' record at 8-8 in September games.
Drop Weis' record to 16-13 in afternoon games.
Drop Notre Dame's all-time record to 825-279-42 (.738).
Drop Notre Dame's all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 299-97-5 (.752).
OPENERS AN INDICATOR?
Notre Dame is now 100-15-5 in season openers, but have they been foretelling of the season ahead? Take a look:
The 99 previous seasons Notre Dame has won its opener, the Irish went on to post winning records 91 times (91.9%), with four losing seasons and four .500 records.
The 15 seasons Notre Dame lost its 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.
COACHING IN THE CLUTCH Knute Rockne owns the best career winning percentage among Notre Dame coaches in games decided by seven or fewer points, at 21-1-5 (.870). Among Irish coaches with 14-plus "close games", the other top winning percentages in tight games belong to Elmer Layden (22-7-3, .734), Frank Leahy (17-5-8, .700), Tyrone Willingham (10-5, .667), Ara Parseghian (13-6-4, .652), Dan Devine (15-9-1, .620), Bob Davie (14-12, .611) and Lou Holtz (20-18-2, .525). Current head coach Charlie Weis owns a .667 winning percentage in such games (6-3).
FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Notre Dame has historically recruited from all across the country and 2008 is no different. A total of 29 different states are represented on the Irish roster. Among Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division IA), only Army has more states represented on its 2008 roster.
NOTING THE SAN DIEGO STATE GAME FIRST-TIME STARTERS
In the 2007 season opener, Notre Dame had nine different players make their first career start. In last week's game against San Diego State, just three players were making their first career start:
Offense: Kyle Rudolph (TE), Chris Stewart (RG).
Defense: Sergio Brown (S).
In the 2007 season opener against Georgia Tech, Notre Dame used a total of 61 players and 31 were either freshmen or sophomores, including five that started. Just over 50% of the players on the field were in their first or second year with the Irish. Meanwhile, in last Saturday's victory over San Diego State, Notre Dame played 47 players and 16 were either freshmen or sophomores (five sophomores started and TE Kyle Rudolph was the lone freshman starter).
In the 2007 opener, 16 of the 61 players that played against Georgia Tech for the Irish were making their first ever appearance in an Irish uniform. That number was cut in half last weekend as just eight players made career debuts.
The Irish are now 9-4 in season openers following a losing season, including victories against five ranked opponents. In fact, when opening a season following a non-winning season the year prior Notre Dame is 5-1 against ranked foes.
Notre Dame played its 400th all-time game in Notre Dame Stadium last week. The Irish are 7-2 in other landmark games in the House That Rockne Built.
San Diego State was the 63rd different team to visit Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame is now 54-8-1 mark (.863) in games when the opponent was making its first visit to the Stadium. Thirteen of those teams previously had played at Notre Dame (prior to 1930), with the Irish owning a mark of 40-6-1 (.862) since 1930 versus teams making their first overall visit to Notre Dame.
The six teams that have travelled to South Bend for the first time and came away with a victory at Notre Dame Stadium include (AP poll began in 1936): USC (1931), Texas (1934), Iowa (1940), Missouri (1972), 14th-ranked Clemson (1979) and 20th-ranked Florida State (1981). Michigan (1942) and Penn State (1982) also won its first games at Notre Dame Stadium but previously had played the Irish at Cartier Field.
Since the 1981 loss to Florida State, 11 consecutive opponents have lost in their first trip to South Bend: Colorado (1984), Mississippi (1985), Boston College (1987), BYU (1992), Vanderbilt (1995), Rutgers (1996), West Virginia (1997), Arizona State (1999), Texas A&M (2000), Washington State (2003) and San Diego State (2008).
Notre Dame owns a 68-38-5 all-time record against schools from the Golden State. Other Irish series records vs. teams from California include a 4-0 mark vs. Cal, 1-0 vs. San Diego State, 1-0 vs. Pacific, 16-6 vs. Stanford, 4-0 vs. UCLA and 42-32-5 vs. USC.
STOPPING THE RUN
Notre Dame surrendered an average of 195.4 yards per game on the ground in 2007, but limited San Diego State to 71 yards on 15 carries last week.
TURNOVERS, TURNOVERS, TURNOVERS
Notre Dame was victimized by four turnovers on last week, including a pair inside the San Diego State red zone. Sophomore HB Robert Hughes fumbled at the Aztec four-yard line early in the second quarter, while sophomore QB Jimmy Clausen was intercepted in the end zone early in the third quarter (immediately following sophomore LB Kerry Neal's first career interception).
IT'S NOT ALWAYS A MATTER OF TURNOVERS, BUT WHAT YOU DO WITH THEM
Not only did San Diego State benefit from two Irish turnovers deep in Aztecs' territory, but San Diego State also scored two touchdowns following an Irish turnover. T.J. McKay's interception return to the Notre Dame 44-yard line setup a one of the scores.
MORE ON TURNOVERS
Notre Dame caused a pair of turnovers, but committed four of its own. While the Irish captured the 2007 season finale against Stanford with four turnovers and a minus-2 in turnover margin, Notre Dame is just 4-7 under Charlie Weis when losing the turnover battle.
IRISH MISS OPPORTUNITIES IN RED ZONE
Notre Dame has been outstanding in the red zone during the four-year tenure of Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis. The Irish have converted 115-of-140 (.821) visits inside their opponents 20-yard line. However, Notre Dame failed to score a single point in its first three opportunities last week. The Irish fumbled, threw an interception and mishandled the snap on a field goal attempt in those first three chances. The Irish finally scored from the red zone on their final touchdown drive when sophomore QB Jimmy Clausen hit senior WR David Grimes for a six yard TD reception with 2:08 left in the contest. Notre Dame did enter the Aztecs' red zone a fifth time in the waning seconds of the game, but ran out the clock.
NOTRE DAME PROTECTS THE QUARTERBACK
Notre Dame surrendered a school record (and NCAA FBS record) 58 sacks last season. The Irish ran 68 plays, including 34 pass attempts on offense last week and did not allow San Diego State register a single sack.
The Irish had not gone an entire game without yielding a sack since Nov. 12, 2005 in a 42-21 victory over Navy. In fact, the 34 pass attempts without a sack are the most since Notre Dame (Brady Quinn and David Wolke) registered 39 attempts without being taken down in a 49-28 win at Purdue on Oct. 1, 2005.
BALANCED IRISH OFFENSIVE ATTACK
Notre Dame ran 68 plays in the victory last weekend over San Diego State. The Irish, under offensive coordinator and first-year play caller Mike Haywood, called 34 running plays and 34 passing plays. Notre Dame actually should have had 33 rushes, but the mishandled snap by Eric Maust is considered a rush as opposed to a missed field goal.
The Irish featured eight different receivers with at least one catch and four with three or more receptions.
SPECIAL TEAMS SHOW MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS
In the final 2007 NCAA stats, Notre Dame ranked 40th in punt return defense (7.44), 53rd in punt returns (9.12), 89th (out of 119) in kickoff return defense (22.75) and 94th in kickoff returns (19.69).
CHECKING THE WEIS ERA RECORD BOOK
With 13 points allowed, the Irish allowed the seventh fewest points under Weis. The fewest points Notre Dame has allowed under Weis were the six points in a 20-6 victory over UCLA on Oct. 6, 2007.
The 71 rushing yards allowed was the sixth-fewest surrendered in a game under Weis and fewest since Army managed just 58 on Nov. 18 2006. The fewest rushing yards Notre Dame has allowed under Weis was -11 against Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
The eight pass breakups by the Irish defense are the second-most ever under Weis. Notre Dame broke up nine passes in the 17-10 triumph at Michigan on Sept. 10, 2005.
The 14 tackles by senior SS Kyle McCarthy were the eighth-most by an Irish defender under Weis. Chinedum Ndukwe holds the record for tackles in a single-game under Weis with 22 (Air Force, Nov. 11, 2006).
Senior DB Terrail Lambert, junior LB John Ryan and junior S Sergio Brown became the 12th, 13th and 14th different Irish players to register two pass break-ups in a single game under Weis.
Sophomore HB Armando Allen averaged 17.5 yards per punt return (two returns) which ranked as the fifth-best punt return average under Weis. Tom Zbikowski holds the best punt return average in the Weis era (39.3 yards per return, Tennessee on Nov. 5, 2005).
With the Irish trailing 13-7 and 11:55 to go in the fourth quarter, Clausen proceeded to complete 8-of-9 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns (led Notre Dame on scoring drives of 80 and 55 yards) to secure the come-from-behind victory
Recoded at least three touchdown passes in the same game for the third time in his career (third time over Notre Dame's last four games dating back to the Air Force game of 2007)
Eclipsed 200 yards passing for the second time in his career
Over the final three games of 2007 and last last week's contest against San Diego State, Clausen has tossed nine touchdown passes and three interceptions. He has completed 78-for-138 (.565) and 873 yards over those four games.
Registered his first career reception and touchdown on the same play (a 22-yard reception late in the first half to tie the score 7-7)
Floyd is the first freshman to ever score a touchdown in a season opener
Floyd is also the first rookie to ever score Notre Dame's first touchdown to open a season
Floyd is the third freshman ever at Notre Dame (since first year players became eligible in 1972) to score the first points of a season
Freshman Jim Sanson kicked a first quarter, 33-yard field goal in a 14-7 victory over Vanderbilt on Sept. 5, 1996 and freshman Ross Browner blocked a punt for a safety in the first quarter of a 44-0 victory over Northwestern on Sept. 22, 1973
Started his 26th consecutive game for Notre Dame, second longest active steak
Has started all 26 games the Irish have over the past three seasons
CRUMBLING THE COMPETITION
Senior LB Maurice Crum, Jr., totaled 100 tackles in 2006 to lead Notre Dame. Crum was the first Irish player to eclipse the 100 tackle mark since Courtney Watson had 117 in 2003.
Crum, Jr. followed up that effort with a 84 tackle season in 2007 despite battling injuries throughout much of the season.
Crum, Jr. is the 17th player in Notre Dame football history to be named captain consecutive years.
Crum, Jr. has 247 career stops, needing just 48 tackles to enter Notre Dame's top-10 list for career stops.
Crum, Jr. has started every contest for Notre Dame (38) over the past three seasons.
Crum, Jr. holds Notre Dame's longest active streak in consecutive games played and started (both 38).
Crum, Jr. started at outside linebacker as a sophomore, middle linebacker as a junior (both in a 4-3 scheme) and inside linebacker as a senior (in a 3-4 scheme).
Crum, Jr. named an honorable mention `08 preseason All-American by The Sporting News.
Crum, Jr. selected to the `08 Nagurski Trophy Watch List (defensive player of the year) and Lott Award Watch List.
Crum, Jr. rated the No. 11 inside linebacker by Phil Steele for `08 and the 11th-best outside linebacker by Lindy's.
Crum, Jr. named to `08 Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List.
Only seven players enter the 2008 season with a longer active starting streak than Crum, Jr.'s 37.
Crum, Jr. ranked tied for 28th in the NCAA in 2007 with the three forced fumbles.
In 2007, Crum, Jr. added 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions, four passes broken up, and two fumble recoveries.
Crum, Jr. was responsible for five turnovers as he intercepted two passes, forced a fumble (that was recovered by a teammate) and recovered two fumbles that he forced.
Crum, Jr. received national Defensive Player of the Week award from the Walter Camp Foundation following his performance at UCLA.
Crum, Jr. scored first career touchdown when he returned a fumble he forced and returned 35 yards for a score at UCLA.
Crum, Jr. became the first Irish player to ever record a pair of forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two interceptions in the same game.
Crum, Jr. also set a single-game school record with four turnovers forced at UCLA.
WHO SAYS KUNTZ IS UNDERSIZED?
Senior NT Pat Kuntz entered the 2007 season without a single start and just 11 tackles in 21 career games. Kuntz excelled in Notre Dame's new 3-4 defensive scheme last season.
Despite missing the final two games to injury, Kuntz started 10 games, totaled 53 career tackles with three tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, nine pass break-ups and one fumble recovery.
Kuntz has moved to defensive end after starting at nose tackle in 2007.
Kuntz possesses a tremendous motor and work ethic and displayed an uncanny ability to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage.
Kuntz led all defensive linemen in the Football Bowl Subdivision with nine pass break-ups last year and tied for the team-high honors.
Kuntz has played in 32 career games with 11 career starts (10 in 2007).
Kuntz was on pace to surpass the school record for pass break-ups in a single-season. Of those players that have broken up 10 or more passes in a single season, he would have been just the second non-defensive back on the list (David Martin, 1966).
Kuntz ranked 58th in the nation in passes broken up and just outside the top 100 in the nation in passes defended a year ago.
Bruton is the top returning tackler on 2008 roster after ranking third on the team and pacing the secondary in 2007 with 85 tackles.
Bruton has recorded the second-most career tackles (122) on the team (behind Maurice Crum Jr., 246 tackles).
Bruton recorded one sack, 5.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, three passes broken up, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery a year ago.
Bruton has appeared in 36 career games and started 12 contests while making 458 special teams appearances.
Bruton was primarily a special teams player in his first two seasons before starting at free safety throughout his junior year in 2007.
Bruton is still one of the top gunners on the punt coverage unit, as he was during his sophomore and junior seasons.
Bruton is one of two returning starters in the Notre Dame secondary.
Bruton was named to the Nagurski Watch List (defensive player of the year) for 2008.
Bruton was rated the 12th-best safety in the nation by Lindy's and the No. 19 free safety by Phil Steele in the `08 preseason.
Bruton was named to `08 Jim Thorpe and Nagurski Award Watch List.
CLAUSEN FOUND HIS WAY
With Notre Dame trailing 13-7 and 11:55 to go in the fourth quarter last week against San Diego State, Clausen proceeded to complete 8-of-his-final-9 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns (led Notre Dame on scoring drives of 80 and 55 yards) to secure the come-from-behind victory.
Recorded at least three touchdown passes in the same game for the third time in his career (third time over Notre Dame's last four games dating back to the Air Force game of 2007).
Eclipsed 200 yards passing for the second time in his career.
Over the final three games of 2007 and last Saturday's contest against San Diego State, Clausen has tossed nine touchdown passes and three interceptions. He has completed 78-for-138 (.565) and 873 yards over those four games.
Now, sophomore signal caller Jimmy Clausen had his best game to date against Air Force on Nov. 10, 2007. He completed 22-of-40 for 246 yards and three touchdowns. The completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns were all career-highs.
Clausen was even better in the second-half against the Falcons. He was 17-of-29 for 192 yards and two scores. Clausen was victimized by at least five dropped passes.
Clausen connected with now senior WR David Grimes for a 25-yard touchdown pass that gave Notre Dame a 7-0 lead with 1:17 left in the first half against Duke. The 25-yard TD pass was the longest of the season for Clausen and tied the longest scoring pass of the season for the Irish.
Clausen wasted little time in matching his season-long touchdown pass. He found now sophomore WR Duval Kamara in the corner of the endzone with only four seconds remaining in the opening half to push the Irish lead to 14-0.
Including his second half effort against Air Force (17-of-29 for 192 yards and two touchdowns), Clausen went 30-of-52 for 361 yards and four TDs in that four-quarter span against the Falcons and Blue Devils.
Clausen finished the Air Force and Duke games with three touchdown passes, tying career-high and the Irish freshman quarterback record.
Prior to the Air Force contest, Clausen's best game came at Purdue on Sept. 29, 2007. Despite missing most of the fourth quarter after suffering a hip injury, he went 18-of-26 for 169 yards and one touchdown. Clausen recorded a completion percentage of 69.2% against Purdue -- second-highest ever by a Notre Dame freshman quarterback (only Steve Beuerlein (.700, 14-for-20) at Penn State on Nov. 12, 1983 completed a higher percentage).
WHAT DOES BROWN DO FOR YOU?
Junior S Sergio Brown made his first career start last week against San Diego State. The safety, who saw extensive playing time in the nickel package, set career-highs in tackles, tackles for loss, quarterback hurries, pass breakups and even managed a blocked punt.
Senior DB Mike Anello, who was awarded a scholarship during fall practice, has made quite a name for himself over the past two seasons. Anello joined the squad a walk-on in 2007 and spent the entire fall camp as well as the first two weeks on scout team. After making one play after another against the Irish first team special teams until, head coach Charlie Weis moved Anello into the starting lineup as a gunner opposite senior FS David Bruton.
In his first career game last year at Michigan, Anello proceeded to make a solo tackle on his first ever play in a Notre Dame uniform. He finished last season with six tackles in eight games.
Anello was incredible in the season opener against San Diego State. He registered four solo tackles on special teams (two on punt return coverage and two on kickoff return coverage).
FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE
Sophomore WR Golden Tate show glimpses of his athletic ability in 2007. Tate had three receptions for 104 and a touchdown against Purdue and not only became the first freshman to catch a touchdown pass since Maurice Stovall (2002 against Rutgers), but also became the first Notre Dame freshman to surpass 100 yards receiving in a game since Derrick Mayes (100 yards on two catches) against Pittsburgh on Oct. 10, 1992.
Tate only managed three receptions the rest of the season, but show major improvements last week against San Diego State. He hauled in six catches for 93 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown pass to give the Irish a 14-13 fourth-quarter lead. The TD reception was the longest by an Irish player since Jeff Samardzija recorded a 51-yard scoring strike from Brady Quinn against Air Force on Nov. 11, 2006.
CHECK OUT THAT SHINY KAMARA
Sophomore WR Duval Kamara finished 2007 with 32 receptions for 357 yards and four touchdowns. He set a pair of Notre Dame rookie receiving single-season records in 2007. Kamara's 32 receptions are the most ever by an Irish receiver, breaking the previous mark of 28 held by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown in 1984. His four receiving touchdowns are also the most ever by a Notre Dame freshman.
THOSE AREN'T BOOS, THEY'RE HUGHES
Sophomore HB Robert Hughes finished 2007 with 294 yards rushing on 53 carries and four touchdowns. He totaled 246 of those yards on 35 carries over the season's final two games. Hughes became the first Notre Dame freshman tailback to eclipse 100 yards rushing in consecutive weeks since Allen Pinkett during the 1982 season. Pinkett rushed for 129 yards against Navy (Oct. 30) and 112 yards against Pittsburgh (Nov. 6).
Hughes opened the season last week against San Diego State with 54 yards on 17 carries.
AR(MAN)DO TO BE RECKONED WITH
Freshman HB Armando Allen totaled 1,176 all-purpose yards in 2007. He led Notre Dame with six receptions against Penn State and returned three kicks for 67 yards (including a long of 25 yards). Allen registered 110 all-purpose yards in his first career game with Notre Dame versus Georgia Tech. Allen recorded 84 kick return yards on five tries and 25 yards rushing on three carries. He also added a reception for one yard.
Allen totaled 226 all-purpose yards against Navy on Nov. 3. The 226 all-purpose yards was tied for the 11th most in single-game Notre Dame history. It is also the most all-purpose yards by an Irish player since Darius Walker had 241 at Stanford on Nov. 11, 2005.
Allen set new single-season school records for kickoff returns (33) and kickoff return yards (704) in 2007. He broke the previous school record for kickoff returns in a single-season of 26 held by Julius Jones (1999) and Tim Brown's previous school record of 698 kickoff return yards in 1986. In fact, his 33 kickoff returns already rank seventh in Notre Dame career history.
Allen eclipsed the 150 all-purpose yards for the third time in his career last week against San Diego State. He registered 59 yards on the ground, 18 in the air, 46 in kickoff returns and another 35 on punt returns, including a career-best 22-yard return.
NEXT WEEK: MICHIGAN STATE
Notre Dame hits the road next weekend for its annual matchup with the Michigan State Spartans. Kickoff on ABC is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET. The Spartans dropped their season-opener at Cal, but rebounded last week with a 42-10 rout of Eastern Michigan. Michigan State hosts Florida Atlantic this weekend. Last year, the Spartans upended the Irish, 31-14, at Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have captured 15 of their last 18 games at Spartan Stadium.
-- ND --
Irish Square Off With Traditional Rival Michigan On SaturdayThe two winningest programs in NCAA FBS history will tangle this weekend at Notre Dame Stadium.