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    Fighting Irish
    #11/15 Irish Host #18/17 Michigan In Saturday Primetime Showdown

    FIGHTING IRISH Senior ILB Manti Te'o was the anchor for a Notre Dame defense that allowed No. 10 Michigan State to run just one play in Fighting Irish territory during the second half of last weekend's 20-3 Notre Dame victory in East Lansing, Mich.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Senior ILB Manti Te'o was the anchor for a Notre Dame defense that allowed No. 10 Michigan State to run just one play in Fighting Irish territory during the second half of last weekend's 20-3 Notre Dame victory in East Lansing, Mich.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Sept. 17, 2012

    Full Notes Package in PDF FormatGet Acrobat Reader (recommended for easy reading and enhanced statistical data)
    2012 Notre Dame Football Gameweek Central - Michigan

    Game-4
    #11/15 Notre Dame (3-0) vs. #18/17 Michigan (2-1)

    DATE

  • Saturday, September 22, 2012
  • TIME

  • 7:39 p.m. EST
  • SITE (CAPACITY)

  • Notre Dame Stadium (80,795); Notre Dame, Indiana
  • TELEVISION

  • NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Mike Mayock (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), Rob Hyland (producer) and Pierre Moossa (director).
  • RADIO

  • IMG College Sports is the exclusive national rights-holder for Irish football radio broadcasts. IMG College manages, produces and syndicates the Irish national football radio network. This broadcast can be heard live on both SIRIUS and XM Satellite Radio (channel 129).
  • All Irish home games may be heard in South Bend on News & Sports Radio 96.1 FM & 960 AM WSBT.
  • TICKETS

  • Saturday is the 227th straight sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every home game for the Irish has been a sellout except one - a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. Notre Dame has played in front of sellouts in 275 of its last 276 home games.
  • The Irish have also played in front of sellout crowds in 246 of their previous 288 games (.854) overall, including 103 of their last 121 contests.
  • Notre Dame has played before 617 sellouts in 889 total games (.694) since 1930.
  • WEB SITES

  • Notre Dame (UND.com), Michigan (MGoBlue.com)
  • POLLS

  • Notre Dame is ranked No. 11 in this week's Associated Press poll and No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches' poll. Michigan is ranked No. 18 and No. 17, respectively.
  • REAL-TIME STATS

  • Live in-game stats will be provided through CBSSports.com College GameTracker via UND.com.
  • SERIES INFO

  • This year's meeting will mark the 40th meeting between Notre Dame and Michigan, with the Wolverines holding a 23-15-1 series lead.
  • Michigan has won three straight in the series and the winning touchdown has been scored with under 27 seconds left in regulation on each occasion.
  • More on the series history is available on pages 27-31 of the PDF version of this notes package.
  • ALL THE NIGHT MOVES

  • Notre Dame has at least three regular season night games on the 2012 schedule, including Michigan State (Sept. 15), Michigan (Sept. 22) and Miami, Fla. (Oct. 6). Start times for games with Oklahoma, Boston College and USC remain undetermined.
  • Notre Dame played seven night games in 2011, including the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State. The seven night games was a school record.
  • The Irish played their first night game, a 48-6 rout of Detroit, on Oct. 5, 1951 in Briggs Stadium.
  • Notre Dame has played 102 night games overall with a record of 64-36-2 (.637), including 39-26-2 (.597) all-time on the road and 6-2 (.750) at home.
  • Notre Dame's longest winning streak in night games is 11, beginning with an Oct. 13, 1973 win at Rice and concluding with a Sept. 24, 1983 shutout loss at Miami (20-0), which went on to win its first national title.
  • The longest losing streak is nine under Davie.
  • The largest margin of defeat was 38-3 at USC on Nov. 29, 2008, eking out the Jan. 1, 1973 Orange Bowl to Nebraska (40-6) -- which would inspire the Irish to win the national title the next year under Parseghian.
  • The largest margin of victory at night was 57-7 at Stanford on Nov. 29, 2004, when Willingham poured it on his former employer.
  • Notre Dame's night history can almost be divided into two eras - the 35-year pre-Lou Holtz era from 1951-85, and the 25 years since Holtz took the reins in 1986. It was under Holtz that multiple night games in a season became standard at Notre Dame. It eventually prompted the exclusive NBC contract for home games that commenced with the 1991 season.
  • In the 35 years from 1951-85, Notre Dame was 21-6-1 (.768) in night games. In the 11 years under Holtz alone (1986-96), the Irish were an almost identical 20-5-1 (.788).
  • Notre Dame is 6-8 (.429) at night in bowls, where it has a six-game losing streak and has not won since the 39-28 conquest of Florida in the 1992 Sugar Bowl.
  • Notre Dame has played more night games against Miami, Fla. (12) than any other foe. The Irish are 6-5-1 (.542) vs. the Hurricanes, with the lone loss at home at night occurring in 1984.
  • Notre Dame is 3-1 (.750) in night games all-time against Michigan.
  • Here's a look at Notre Dame head coach's record at night:
  • Frank Leahy: 1-0
    Terry Brennan: 1-1
    Joe Kuharich: 0-1
    Ara Parseghian: 10-2-1
    Dan Devine: 5-0
    Gerry Faust: 4-2
    Lou Holtz: 20-5-1
    Bob Davie: 2-9
    Tyrone Willingham: 5-2
    Kent Baer: 0-1
    Charlie Weis: 9-7
    Brian Kelly: 7-5

    NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL CELEBRATES 125 YEARS

  • The celebration of 125 years of Fighting Irish football (1887-2012) is well underway.
  • The University last spring introduced a special 125 logo that is being utilized throughout the year on all signage identifying elements of the campaign. The logo will be seen on sideline apparel worn by Irish coaches during 2012 home games and on the back of the Irish helmets for the Sept. 22 Notre Dame-Michigan game.
  • The "Strong and True" slogan - taken from the University's alma mater, "Notre Dame, Our Mother"- has been interwoven through various segments of the NDFB125 program.
  • Although the celebration lasts all fall, the Sept. 22 Notre Dame-Michigan game at Notre Dame Stadium (7:30 p.m. EDT on NBC Sports) will feature special recognition events based on Irish football history dating back to the first Notre Dame game in 1887 against Michigan. The Notre Dame-Michigan relationship qualifies as the original and oldest Football Bowl Subdivision rivalry. Former Irish head coach Ara Parseghian will take part in the coin toss for that game.
  • A Web site devoted to 125 years of Irish football has been created at http://125.nd.edu. It launched last spring, with three sample "Strong and True" moments featured. Beginning Aug. 27, 125 "Strong and True" moments will be released (one per day) via digital media, along with photo and video galleries. Some of those video moments will be featured at the Notre Dame Football Kickoff luncheons on the Fridays of home weekends.
  • Former Notre Dame players and fans have been and will be encouraged to engage and participate via the 125 site (as well as social media) by sharing stories, photos and videos of their "Strong and True" experiences via Facebook (facebook.com/ndfootball) and Twitter (@125ndfb). The official NDFB125 site also will feature memories provided by former Irish football players and others connected with the program from their Notre Dame football experiences.
  • Here are specifics of other elements of the 125-year celebration:
  • -- NDFB125 banners featuring the official logo will be on display at all Notre Dame Stadium gates, as well as at the media entrance and on the ticket windows.
    -- The pennant-style flags that fly over Notre Dame Stadium and normally feature all the different opponent names from that season instead in 2012 will display the NDFB125 logo.
    -- The light posts surrounding Notre Dame Stadium, in the Joyce and Stadium parking lots and also around the Guglielmino Athletics Complex and the LaBar Practice Complex fields will feature NDFB125 flags.
    -- A 360-degree megapixel photo will be taken to commemorate the Sept. 22 Notre Dame-Michigan game. Fans will be able to interact with the image via the NDFB125 Web site, tag themselves and share with friends via social media.
    -- The 2012 Official Notre Dame Football Yearbook features a 125-year Irish football time line, including more than 140 pages of all-new prose in a scrapbook format and more than 1,200 images. It will be published Aug. 24 and will be sold through the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore on the Notre Dame campus and via UND.com.
    -- Each of the Notre Dame football game programs (including the version for the Notre Dame-Miami game in Chicago) features a specially-designed, eight-page pullout insert devoted to 125 years of Notre Dame football. Each insert is based on an essay dealing with an aspect of Notre Dame football history.
    -- Covers of the football games programs feature original art by nationally-known sports artist Tim Cortes from Duluth, Minn. Cortes' work highlights the NDFB125 celebration and can be seen on all seven program covers (including the Solder Field game).
    -- Game tickets for the 2012 home season (and the Oct. 6 Soldier Field game against Miami) include both the NDFB125 logo as well as throwback looks based on tickets from past seasons.
    -- A one-hour television special providing a behind-the-scenes look at the Notre Dame football program will air at 2:30 p.m. EDT, on Oct. 13 (just prior to the Notre Dame-Stanford game) on NBC.
    -- The Leprechaun Legion, the official student group liaison to the athletics department, is coordinating a celebration of student traditions over 125 years of Notre Dame football.
    -- The Notre Dame Licensing Office has worked with a variety of its licensees to produce commercial products that include the NDFB125 logo -- including everything from pins and pennants to apparel and mini-helmets.
    -- The 2012 version of "The Shirt" features the NDFB125 logo below the back collar.
    -- A special NDFB125 commemorative coin has been produced and is being utilized throughout the 2012 season for pre-game coin tosses. A smaller version is being produced for retail sale.
    -- Legends of Notre Dame, located just south of Notre Dame Stadium, is displaying signage related to the celebration.
    -- Centerplate, the University's official athletics concessionaire, has included the 125 logo on commemorative drink cups and popcorn boxes utilized throughout the 2012 football season.
    -- The South Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau has joined in the celebration with a variety of programs--including streets renamed during the football season in both downtown South Bend and Mishawaka. Flags denoting NDFB125 will hang along Michigan Avenue in downtown South Bend all fall, as well as throughout downtown Mishawaka.
    -- A large version of the official logo will appear throughout September on the side of the parking garage at Main and Colfax in downtown South Bend.
    -- Hotels in the South Bend-Mishawaka area will feature commemorative room key cards featuring the NDFB125 logo all during the 2012 home season.
    -- Notre Dame's University Relations department will create a commemorative poster featuring images from the Notre Dame-Michigan game weekend.

    ON THIS DATE

  • Notre Dame has played seven previous games in its history on Sept. 22. The Irish are 3-4 (.429) all-time on this date.
  • NOTRE DAME IN SEPTEMBER

  • Notre Dame is 131-56-4 (.696) all-time during the month of September.
  • The Irish are 52-33-2 (.609) in September games away from Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Notre Dame is 80-23-2 (.771) in September home games.
  • The Irish are 47-31-2 (.600) in September road games.
  • Notre Dame is 5-2-0 (.714) in September neutral games.
  • The Irish are 69-23-1 (.747) in September games at Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Notre Dame has won five straight games in September, which comes on the heels of a five-game losing streak in the month.
  • Notre Dame has now collected at least one victory on every day of college football's main calendar days (Sept. 1 through Nov. 30). The two dates it had never won on entering this season were Sept. 1 and Sept. 8. The Irish took care of that with victories over Navy and Purdue. Until this season, Notre Dame had been 0-1 on Sept. 1 and 0-3 on Sept. 8.
  • The Irish lost just one September game between 1899-1962. Notre Dame posted a 32-1-3 (.931) record over the span.
  • A VICTORY OVER MICHIGAN...

  • Improves Notre Dame to 4-0 for the first time since 2002.
  • Gives the Irish wins over top 20 foes in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2002.
  • Gives Notre Dame victories over top 25 foes in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2005.
  • Improves the Irish to 144-130-10 (.525) all-time against teams ranked in the top 25.
  • Improves Notre Dame to 66-53-3 (.553) at home against teams ranked in the top 25.
  • Improves the Irish to 65-36-2 (.641) all-time in night games.
  • Improves Notre Dame to 21-18-1 (.538) all-time in night games against teams ranked in the top 25.
  • Improves the Irish to 132-56-4 (.698) all-time in the month of September.
  • Improves Notre Dame to 81-23-2 (.774) in September home games.
  • Improves the Irish to 70-23-1 (.750) in September games at Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Improves Notre Dame to 16-23-1 (.413) in the all-time series with Michigan.
  • Improves the Irish to 9-9-1 (.500) at home in the all-time series with the Wolverines.
  • Gives Notre Dame a season sweep of Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since 2004.
  • Gives the Irish victories over Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan in the same season the first time since 2002.
  • Improves Notre Dame to 14-10-1 (.580) all-time against the Wolverines when ranked in the top 25.
  • Improves the Irish to 8-5-1 (.607) at home against Michigan when ranked in the top 25.
  • Improves Notre Dame when ranked in the top 25 to 13-10-1 (.563) all-time against the Wolverines.
  • Improves the Irish when ranked in the top 25 to 7-4-1 (.625) at home against Michigan.
  • Improves Notre Dame when ranked in the top 25 to 13-8-1 (.614) all-time against the Wolverines when ranked in the top 25.
  • Improves the Irish when ranked in the top 25 to 7-4-1 (.625) at home against Michigan when ranked in the top 25.
  • Improves Notre Dame's all-time record to 857-300-42 (.732).
  • Improves the all-time home record of the Irish to 463-118-13 (.790).
  • Improves Notre Dame's record at Notre Dame Stadium to 316-106-5 (.746).
  • Improves the all-time record of the Irish against Big Ten foes to 233-124-16 (.646).
  • Improves Notre Dame's home record against Big Ten foes to 120-47-5 (.712).
  • Improves Kelly's record to 191-67-2 (.738) overall.
  • Improves Kelly's record to 72-32 (.692) in FBS games.
  • Improves Kelly's record to 63-20 (.759) since 2006.
  • Improves Kelly's record to 114-34 (.770) since 2001.
  • Improves Kelly's record to 1-3 (.250) all-time against Michigan.
  • Improves Kelly's record to 1-1 (.500) at home against Michigan.
  • Improves Kelly's record to 7-8 (.467) all-time against Big Ten foes.
  • Improves Kelly's record to 4-1 (.800) all-time against Big Ten foes at Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Improves Kelly's record to 59-28 (.678) all-time in the month of September.
  • A LOSS TO MICHIGAN...

  • Denies the Irish wins over top 20 foes in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2002.
  • Denies Notre Dame victories over top 25 foes in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2005.
  • Drops the Irish to 143-131-10 (.521) all-time against teams ranked in the top 25.
  • Drops Notre Dame to 65-54-3 (.545) at home against teams ranked in the top 25.
  • Drops the Irish to 64-37-2 (.631) all-time in night games.
  • Drops Notre Dame to 20-19-1 (.513) all-time in night games against teams ranked in the top 25.
  • Drops the Irish to 131-57-4 (.693) all-time in the month of September.
  • Drops Notre Dame to 80-24-2 (.764) in September home games.
  • Drops the Irish to 69-24-1 (.739) in September games at Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Drops Notre Dame to 15-24-1 (.388) in the all-time series with Michigan.
  • Drops the Irish to 8-10-1 (.447) at home in the all-time series with the Wolverines.
  • Denies Notre Dame a season sweep of Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since 2004.
  • Denies the Irish victories over Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan in the same season the first time since 2002.
  • Drops Notre Dame to 13-11-1 (.540) all-time against the Wolverines when ranked in the top 25.
  • Drops the Irish to 7-6-1 (.536) at home against Michigan when ranked in the top 25.
  • Drops Notre Dame when ranked in the top 25 to 12-11-1 (.521) all-time against the Wolverines.
  • Drops the Irish when ranked in the top 25 to 6-5-1 (.542) at home against Michigan.
  • Drops Notre Dame when ranked in the top 25 to 12-9-1 (.568) all-time against the Wolverines when ranked in the top 25.
  • Drops the Irish when ranked in the top 25 to 6-5-1 (.542) at home against Michigan when ranked in the top 25.
  • Drops Notre Dame's all-time record to 856-301-42 (.731).
  • Drops the all-time home record of the Irish to 462-119-13 (.789).
  • Drops Notre Dame's record at Notre Dame Stadium to 315-107-5 (.744).
  • Drops the all-time record of the Irish against Big Ten foes to 232-125-16 (.643).
  • Drops Notre Dame's home record against Big Ten foes to 119-48-5 (.706).
  • Drops Kelly's record to 190-68-2 (.735) overall.
  • Drops Kelly's record to 71-33 (.683) in FBS games.
  • Drops Kelly's record to 62-21 (.747) since 2006.
  • Drops Kelly's record to 113-35 (.764) since 2001.
  • Drops Kelly's record to 0-4 (.000) all-time against Michigan.
  • Drops Kelly's record to 0-2 (.000) at home against Michigan.
  • Drops Kelly's record to 6-9 (.400) all-time against Big Ten foes.
  • Drops Kelly's record to 3-2 (.600) all-time against Big Ten foes at Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Drops Kelly's record to 58-29 (.667) all-time in the month of September.
  • IRISH RETURN 41 MONOGRAM WINNERS, 16 STARTERS

  • Notre Dame opened fall practice with 41 returning monogram winners from 2011 - 18 on offense, 19 on defense and four on special teams.
  • ONLY THE BIG BOYS

  • Notre Dame is one of just three NCAA FBS programs to have not faced a non-FBS opponent since the current setup was established in 1978. The two other remaining schools that have yet to play a non-FBS opponent are USC and UCLA.
  • 2012 NOTRE DAME OPPONENT UPDATE

  • Notre Dame faces six opponents in 2012 that have already been ranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll. Five future foes are ranked in this week's AP poll, including Oklahoma (No. 6), Stanford (No. 9), USC (No. 13), Michigan (No. 18) and Michigan State (No. 17). BYU was ranked No. 25 in the AP poll on Sept. 9. Those same five opponents are ranked in this week's USA Today coaches' poll: Oklahoma (No. 5), Stanford (No. 11), USC (No. 12), Michigan (No. 17) and Michigan State (No. 20).
  • The slate is even more difficult when you consider that three of those meetings (USC, Oklahoma and Michigan State) will come on the road. Only one other team in college football plays at least three teams ranked among the preseason top 10.
  • Notre Dame, who just played No. 10 Michigan State, faces a top-25 opponent in three of its next five games.
  • Twenty-seven FBS teams won at least 10 games in 2011 and Notre Dame faces six of those squads, including three on the road.
  • The Irish have a long history of playing challenging schedules - with Notre Dame ranking (since the NCAA began this rating in 1977) first in 1978, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1995 and 2010; third in 1986, 1999, 2003; and fourth in 1979 and 1990. That makes for 11 top-four finishes in that category in the 35 years the NCAA has calculated these numbers.
  • SOME YOUNG PUPS

  • Notre Dame has played a total of 62 different players over its first three games of the season, including 21 that saw their first career action in an Irish uniform. Of those 21 players, nine came on the offensive side of the ball, 10 on defense and two on special teams.
  • Notre Dame has had eight different players make their first career starts. Sophomore RB George Atkinson III, junior RT Christian Lombard, junior WR Daniel Smith, sophomore TE Troy Niklas (as a tight end) and sophomore QB Everett Golson on offense and sophomore S Matthias Farley, freshman CB KeiVarae Russell and junior CB Bennett Jackson on defense.
  • RIGHT DOWN TO THE WIRE

  • Notre Dame sophomore PK Kyle Brindza connected on a 27-yard field goal with seven seconds left in regulation to give the Irish a 20-17 victory over Purdue on Sept. 8.
  • The Irish had not won a game in regulation with less time on the clock since Nov. 8, 2003 when D.J. Fitzpatrick kicked a field goal as time expired to top Navy, 27-24.
  • Notre Dame has recorded only nine victories in school history with less time remaining in regulation.
  • Notre Dame has become accustomed to thrilling finishes. The Irish have been involved in 22 games decided by seven points or less since the start of the 2009 campaign. In fact, 15 of the last 21 losses for the Irish have been decided by a touchdown or less, including seven by a field goal or less.
  • Notre Dame has played in 57 games in the 125-year history of the program where the winning points have occurred in overtime or the game's final minute of regulation. Amazingly, 12 have come in the past five years alone.
  • STARTING FAST, MAKING ADJUSTMENTS AND ALWAYS CLOSING

  • Notre Dame has outscored its first three opponents this season by a 20-0 margin in the first quarter. The Irish have been nearly as successful coming out of the halftime locker room. Notre Dame has outscored Navy, Purdue and No. 10 Michigan State, 23-7, in the third quarter as well.
  • Notre Dame has dominated the fourth quarter in each of its first three games. The Irish have outgained Navy, Purdue and No. 10 Michigan State in the final stanza, 260-103. Notre Dame has collected 17 first downs compared to its opponents four.
  • The Irish have limited their first three opponents to just 2.78 yards per play in the fourth quarter.
  • TIDE TURNING IN IRISH FAVOR WITH TURNOVERS

  • Notre Dame went on the road against a top-10 opponent with a first-year starting quarterback making his first career start on the road and failed to commit a single turnover. It was the first turnover-free game for the Irish since Nov. 12, 2011 against Maryland. It also marked the first road game in which Notre Dame has failed to commit a turnover since Oct. 1, 2011.
  • Notre Dame has not played a turnover-free game against a top-10 foe on the road since Nov. 27, 2004 against USC.
  • Notre Dame ranks tied for 11th in the FBS in turnover margin (+1.67), tied for 15th in turnovers forced (seven) and tied for 16th in fewest turnovers (two) - a remarkable turnaround through the first three games of 2012 when compared to the first three games of 2011.
  • Notre Dame has not had fewer turnovers through the first three games of a season since 1993. The Irish had just one turnover en route to a 3-0 start with victories over Northwestern, Michigan and Michigan State. Conversely, the 13 turnovers over the first three games of the 2011 season were the most for an Irish team since 1977. The '77 team had 14 turnovers over its first three games.
  • Notre Dame finished 2011 with 29 turnovers. The 29 turnovers were the most by an Irish squad since 1999. Notre Dame committed at least three turnovers in six different games.
  • As if the 29 turnovers were not costly enough, nine occurred inside the opponents' 25-yard line. In fact, eight of the turnovers happened in the red zone, which led the FBS and six came inside its opponents' 10-yard line. Four of the six turnovers inside the 10-yard line came on a first down play as well.
  • Notre Dame ranked 73rd or worse in each of the four FBS turnovers categories. The Irish were tied for 112th in interceptions thrown (17), tied for 73rd in fumbles lost (12), tied for 110th in total turnovers (29) and 118th in turnover margin (-1.15).
  • Notre Dame forced four turnovers and held a plus-three turnover margin against Navy on Sept. 1. The Irish produced 14 turnovers all of last season, the fewest dating back to 1951. It was the first time the defense produced more than three turnovers in a game since intercepting four passes in the 33-17 Sun Bowl victory over Miami in 2010.
  • Notre Dame recovered three Navy fumbles on Sept. 1, which is half of the total (six) the Irish recovered over the entire 2011 season.
  • Notre Dame forced two more turnovers, both interceptions, in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8. The Irish also won the turnover battle for the second consecutive week. Notre Dame won the turnover battle just three times all of last season.
  • Notre Dame also forced multiple turnovers in back-to-back games for the first time since Sept. 10 (Michigan) and Sept. 17 (Michigan State) of last year.
  • NO TURNOVERS = VICTORIES

  • Notre Dame was victimized by turnovers in 2011. To no surprise, the Irish went 3-0 in games when they did not commit a turnover. In fact, Notre Dame is 7-0 under Brian Kelly when playing an entire game without a turnover.
  • Notre Dame has won its last eight games, including Sept. 15 at No. 10 Michigan State, in which it failed to commit a turnover. The Irish have not lost a game without a turnover since Oct. 17, 2009 when USC upended Notre Dame, 34-27.
  • Notre Dame is 22-4 in its last 26 games in which it failed to commit a turnover.
  • Third-year head coach Brian Kelly owns a remarkable 115-12 record over his career when his teams win the turnover battle, including a 12-1 mark at Notre Dame.
  • MICHIGAN, 2011, AS CRAZY AS IT GETS

  • Notre Dame lead Michigan, 24-7, with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter of last season's meeting. The Wolverines exploded for 21 consecutive points to grab a 28-24 advantage, but the Irish regained a 31-28 lead with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Had Notre Dame held on, the touchdown would have been the sixth-latest gamewinning touchdown in school history (excluding overtime), but Michigan added a touchdown with two seconds left to secure the 35-31 victory.
  • The Wolverines' touchdown was the latest a Notre Dame opponent has ever recorded a winning touchdown in regulation. The previous mark was Matt Leinart's one-yard quarterback sneak for USC in 2005.
  • The game with Michigan marked the 15th time in the program's history that a game involving Notre Dame has had the winning points scored with three seconds or less in a game (seven wins, eight losses).
  • Amazingly, in Notre Dame's eight losses with less than three seconds left in regulation, the Irish actually scored a touchdown to take the lead in the final 1:32 of the contests six times, including the touchdown reception by Theo Riddick with 30 seconds left against Michigan.
  • The game marked the first in school history that featured a Notre Dame go-ahead touchdown in the final minute only to also include an opponent go-ahead touchdown. The other two games in school history the Irish took a lead in the final minute and lost came from field goals - Remy Hamilton's 42-yard field goal with two seconds left to give Michigan a 26-24 victory in 1994 and Frank Jordan's 37-yard field goal with two seconds left to give USC a 27-25 triumph in 1978.
  • Notre Dame's defense thoroughly dominated Michigan over the first two quarters and most of the third period. The Irish outgained the Wolverines, 145-27 and 123-63, over the first two quarters (good for a halftime advantage in total yards of 268-90). Notre Dame then outgained Michigan, 142-51, in the third quarter before Denard Robinson's 77-yard pass completion with an Irish nearly defender pulling him down for a sack in the process. Notre Dame led 24-7 with just under two minutes left in the period and had outgained the Wolverines, 410-141, prior to that long pass play.
  • Michigan then exploded for 28 points and 229 yards in the fourth quarter alone (306 over the final 16 minutes of the game).
  • Notre Dame had allowed a total of five offensive touchdowns over its previous six games entering the tilt with Michigan. The Irish then limited the Wolverines to a touchdown over the first three quarters of the game. In fact, Notre Dame's five offensive touchdowns allowed came over a stretch of 28 quarters. Michigan nearly equalled that output in the fourth quarter alone.
  • Just how out of character was the fourth quarter for the Irish? Here is an interesting comparison between Notre Dame's defense over the previous 32 quarters of football (excluding the fourth quarter against Michigan) entering that game, the first three quarters against the Wolverines and then the fourth quarter.
  • Michigan did not register a first down until the third-to-last play of the first quarter. The Wolverines had gained 27 yards on its first nine plays of the game. Notre Dame limited Michigan to 2.7 yards per play in the first quarter.
  • Michigan did register a touchdown in the second quarter, on a 43-yard pass from Denard Robinson to Junior Hemingway, but was held to a total of 47 yards over its other 21 plays (that's a 2.1 per play average).
  • Notre Dame allowed just three first downs in the first half. The Irish forced the Wolverines into a trio of three-and-outs in the opening 30 minutes. Michigan's longest drive of the first half was four plays. Six of the Wolverines' seven first-half drives totaled 21 yards or less, including four that failed to even manage 10 yards.
  • The Wolverines managed just 223 yards and six first downs over the first three periods and 120 of those 223 yards came on two plays. The Wolverines managed just 103 yards on their other 33 plays in the first three quarters (an average of 3.1 yards per play).
  • Two of Notre Dame's five turnovers occurred inside the Michigan 20-yard line, including one inside the Wolverines' 10-yard line. Both turnovers came on first down plays as well.
  • IRISH DEFENSE DOES THE TALKING AGAINST NO. 10 MICHIGAN STATE

  • Notre Dame has not limited a top-10 foe to fewer points on the road since Nov. 26, 1966 when the Irish shutout No. 10 USC, 51-0. Notre Dame has now limited a top-10 foe on the road to three or fewer points on just six occasions in school history. It marked the 14th time overall the Irish have held a top-10 opponent to three points or less in school history.
  • Notre Dame ended No. 10 Michigan State's 15-game home-field win streak (fourth longest in country) - dating back to a 42-14 Spartan loss to Penn State in 2009.
  • Michigan State has not been held to three points or less in a home game since the 1991 season opener.
  • Notre Dame has not limited a top-10 opponent to fewer points anywhere since Jan. 1, 1993 when the Irish defeated No. 10 Texas A&M, 28-3.
  • Notre Dame held an opponent without an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2010.
  • Notre Dame limited No. 10 Michigan State to 237 total yards on Sept. 15. It is the fewest yards allowed by the Irish on the road since at Washington on Oct. 25, 2008 (the Huskies managed just 124 total yards).
  • The 237 total yards are the fewest Notre Dame has allowed to a top-10 foe since Jan. 1, 1993 when the Irish limited No. 5 Texas A&M to 165 total yards in a 28-3 victory in the Cotton Bowl. Notre Dame has not allowed fewer total yards to a top-10 opponent on the road since Sept. 10, 1977 when the Irish surrendered just 53 total yards in a 19-9 triumph over No. 7 Pittsburgh.
  • The 50 rushing yards are the fewest Notre Dame has allowed to a top-10 foe since Sept. 18, 1982 when the Irish yielded just 41 yards on the ground in a 23-17 victory over No. 10 Michigan. Notre Dame has not allowed fewer rushing yards to a top-10 opponent on the road since Nov. 26, 1966 when the Irish surrendered minus-12 yards on the ground in a 51-0 rout over No. 10 USC.
  • Notre Dame has limited Michigan State to four rushing first downs combined over the last two meetings in the series (2011, 2012). The Spartans managed just one rushing first down against the Irish last year and only three on Sept. 15. Michigan State has been held to one rushing first down or less just eight times in school history and three of those have come against the Irish (1976, 1981 and 2011).
  • Notre Dame limited No. 10 Michigan State to 50 yards rushing on 25 carries on Sept. 15. The Irish have now held the Spartans to a total of 79 yards rushing on 48 carries in the last two meetings of the series (29 yards rushing on 23 carries last season).
  • Le'Veon Bell was limited to 77 yards on 19 carries on Sept. 15, including just 13 yards in the second half. Notre Dame has limited Bell to 104 yards on 26 carries over the last two meetings in the series.
  • Notre Dame collected four sacks, six tackles for loss and eight pass breakups. Michigan State had not yielded a sack in either of its first two games.
  • JUST HOW DOMINANT WAS THE NOTRE DAME DEFENSE AGAINST MICHIGAN STATE?

  • Arguably the most impressive stats when it comes to truly indicate Notre Dame's completion dominance of No. 10 Michigan State was the Spartans failure to run a single play inside the Irish red zone. The farthest Michigan State advanced into Notre Dame territory was the 26-yard line and the Spartans missed a 44-yard field goal on the ensuing play. In fact, Michigan State crossed midfield for just one play in the second half, but all eight of the Spartans' second-half drives ended on their half of midfield.
  • Michigan State ran a grand total of 17 plays in Irish territory in the game with its other 53 offensive plays on its half of the 50-yard line.
  • Notre Dame has not denied an opponent a single trip into the red zone in a game since Aug. 31, 2002 when the Irish blanked Maryland, 22-0, in the '02 season opener.
  • DEFENSE OFF TO QUITE A START

  • Notre Dame has now allowed a total of 30 points over its first three games of 2012. The Irish have not surrendered fewer points over their first three games of a season since 1988. Notre Dame opened its last national championship season with 27 points allowed over its first three games.
  • Only four Irish teams (1988, 1975, 1973, 1972) over the last 40 years (since 1972) have allowed less than 30 points over the first three games of a season. The '88 team surrendered 27, while the '75 squad allowed 10, the '73 team yielded 17 and the '72 edition surrendered 14.
  • DEFENSE PRETTY STINGY ON THE SCOREBOARD

  • Notre Dame was one of 10 FBS teams that allowed less than 21.0 points/game over each of the last three seasons. The other nine schools are Alabama, Boise State, Florida State, Louisville, LSU, Mississippi State, Utah, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
  • Notre Dame surrendered 14 points or less in five games in 2011 - Michigan State (13), Pittsburgh (12), Purdue (10), Navy (14) and Boston College (14). The Irish had not limited that many opponents to 14 points or less in the same season since 2002 when Notre Dame surrendered 14 points or less in six games.
  • Notre Dame surrendered 13 points or less in three consecutive games - Michigan State (13), Pittsburgh (12) and Purdue (10). The Irish had not done that since 1989 when Notre Dame was the top-ranked team in college football. Notre Dame limited Pittsburgh (seven), Navy (zero) and SMU (six) all under 13 points.
  • Notre Dame has allowed an average of 19.38 points/game over the last three seasons combined, which ranks as the 13th-best average over 2010-12 of any team in the FBS.
  • IRISH DEFENSE LEADS THE WAY

  • Notre Dame's defense has allowed two offensive touchdowns or less in 15 of its last 20 games.
  • Notre Dame's defense has yet to allow a rushing touchdown in 2012. The Irish are one of 11 teams that can still make that claim three games into the season. Notre Dame allowed only eight rushing touchdowns in 2011. Only four teams in the FBS allowed fewer rushing touchdowns than the Irish last year.
  • Notre Dame has yielded 866 total yards over its first three games in 2012. It is the fewest total yards allowed over the first three games of a season since 2002 when the Irish surrendered 772 total yards.
  • Notre Dame has limited its last two opponents Purdue (288) and No. 10 Michigan State (237) to a combined 525 total yards. The Irish have not allowed less combined total yards over consecutive games since 2010 when Notre Dame held Army (174) and USC (261) to 435 combined total yards.
  • Notre Dame has limited Purdue (four) and No. 10 Michigan State (three) to a combined seven rushing first downs over the last two weeks. It is the fewest combined rushing first downs for Irish foes in back-to-back weeks since the Michigan (five) and Michigan State (one) games of 2011.
  • Notre Dame has given up exactly nine rushing touchdowns over its last 21 games (dating back to the Tulsa game in 2010). Even more amazing, only three of those rushing touchdowns have come from an opposing running back and two (Jonathan Lee's eight-yard TD run for Air Force with the Irish leading 59-27 with 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter on Oct. 8, 2011 and D.J. Adams' two-yard touchdown on Nov. 12, 2011 with the Irish leading Maryland, 45-14, with 37 seconds left) came against the Irish reserves.
  • USC's Mitch Mustain (2010) and Michigan's Denard Robinson each snuck in from one-yard out in 2011. Air Force's Tim Jefferson had a three-yard scoring run on Oct. 8, 2011 and Jarvi Cummings of Navy had a 12-yard touchdown run with the Irish leading 49-7 in the fourth quarter in 2011. Maryland's signal caller C.J. Brown had a 24-yard touchdown run on Nov. 12, 2011 and Boston College quarterback Josh Bordner had a two-yard touchdown run on Nov. 19, 2011. Even crazier, eight of the last 10 rushing touchdowns against the Irish have come from quarterbacks (including Ricky Dobbs' two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter of the game against Notre Dame on Oct. 23, 2010).
  • Over the last 25 games, only four running backs have recorded a rushing touchdown against Notre Dame (Gee Gee Greene, Navy, 2010; Jon Lee, Air Force, 2011; Josh Harris, Wake Forest, 2011; D.J. Adams, Maryland, 2011).
  • IRISH MOTTO 'NEXT MAN IN' TRULY PUT TO THE TEST AGAINST PURDUE

  • Notre Dame lost the services of the following front-line players and yet still managed to knockoff Purdue, 20-17, on Sept. 8:
  • Senior DE Kapron Lewis-Moore and senior S Jamoris Slaughter were each lost for the game in the first quarter. The duo has combined to start 51 career games for the Irish.
  • Senior All-American TE Tyler Eifert and sophomore WR DaVaris Daniels were both lost early in the third quarter. Eifert had four catches for 98 yards and Daniels had four grabs for 70 yards before leaving the game.
  • Freshman backup DE Sheldon Day missed most of the second half due to dehydration.
  • Sophomore OLB Ishaq Williams was extremely limited in the second half.
  • Sophomore S Matthias Farley and freshman S Elijah Shumate, both of whom made their respective Notre Dame debuts against Navy on Sept. 1, shared duties for the injured Slaughter. Farley had four tackles, while Shumate had two tackles and a pass breakup.
  • Day initially replaced Lewis-Moore, but sophomore NG Tony Springmann was forced to play most of the second half at defensive end. Springmann, who made his Irish debut against Navy on Sept. 1, had a tackle and quarterback hurry.
  • Sophomore TE Troy Niklas, who just moved to tight end from linebacker this past spring, filled in for Eifert and recorded a 30-yard reception.
  • Junior QB Tommy Rees, senior WR John Goodman and senior WR Robby Toma all contributed significantly when needed, especially on the game-winning drive. Rees found Goodman for 10 yards on third-and-six and Toma for 21 on third-and-10 to set up the game winning field goal - converted by you guessed it, another "next man in."
  • Senior PK Nick Tausch had an injured groin and was unavailable so sophomore PK Kyle Brindza was forced into action. He has handled kickoff duties in 2011-12, but had yet to attempt a field goal and proceeded to miss his first attempt from 40 yards, but connected on his next two, including a 27-yarder with seven seconds remaining to give Notre Dame the victory.
  • THIRD DOWN IS WHERE THE MONEY IS AT

  • Notre Dame's first-team defense has allowed only two third-down conversion on 17 attempts in the second half this season.
  • The Notre Dame-Purdue game on Sept. 8 featured an astounding 36 third-down plays. The Irish converted 11 of their 19 attempts, while the Boilermakers were limited to six of 17.
  • The 11 third-down conversions were the most for Notre Dame in a single game since Nov. 21, 1998 when the Irish had 11 against LSU. Notre Dame has not had more third-down conversions in a game since Oct. 21, 1995 when the Irish converted an eye-dropping 15 of 20 third-down plays in a rout of No. 5 USC.
  • Conversely, Notre Dame was one of 14 on third down against No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. The Irish have not had fewer third-down conversions in a single game since Nov. 30, 2002 against USC when Notre Dame went 0 of 13.
  • Interestingly enough, Notre Dame has been victorious each of the last two games when it recorded just one third-down conversion and both came against Michigan State in Spartan Stadium. The Irish were one of 11 on third down against the Spartans on Sept. 23, 2006, yet rallied late in the fourth quarter to secure a 40-37 triumph and then the 20-3 victory on Sept. 15.
  • Notre Dame's 19 third-down attempts against Purdue on Sept. 8 were the most in a single game since Dec. 31, 2010 against Miami, Fla., in the Sun Bowl (20).
  • A Notre Dame opponent has not had more third down attempts in a single game than Purdue's 17 on Sept. 8 since Boston College had 19 on Oct. 2, 2010.
  • UNDERMANNED IRISH DEFENSE STIFFENS IN SECOND HALF AGAINST PURDUE

  • Notre Dame's defense limited Purdue to 288 total yards on Sept. 8, despite playing nearly the entire game without starting DE and co-captain Kapron Lewis-Moore and starting S Jamoris Slaughter.
  • The Irish were at their best on third down and allowed the Boilermakers to only six third down conversions in 17 attempts.
  • Notre Dame limited Purdue to just 90 rushing yards on 30 carries (3.0 yards/carry).
  • The Irish defense was even better after halftime. They held Purdue to 109 total yards in the second half. The Boilermakers' eight total possessions in the third and fourth quarter resulted in four three-and-outs, two interceptions, one sustained drive that led to a field goal and one touchdown drive that occurred on a short field following Everett Golson's fumble at the Notre Dame 15-yard line.
  • Purdue rushed 11 times for 16 yards in second half and completed 7-of-16 passing for 93 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Boilermakers were 0-for-6 on third down in second half.
  • HOW THINGS HAVE CHANGED

  • Notre Dame was torched for 367 yards on 60 carries in the 2010 loss to Navy, but limited the Midshipmen to a total of 345 yards on the ground in the last two meetings combined (including 149 yards on 40 carries on Sept. 1; 39 rushing yards came on final two plays of game).
  • The 149 yards rushing for Navy on Sept. 1 was its lowest output in a single game since Dec. 11, 2010.
  • Notre Dame became the first Navy opponent to hold the Midshipmen without a rushing touchdown since Oct. 2, 2010, when Navy failed to collect a touchdown on the ground in a 14-6 defeat at Air Force.
  • The Irish had not held Navy without a rushing touchdown run in the series since 2000.
  • Notre Dame has outscored Navy, 106-24, in its last two meetings since dropping the 2010 contest. The Irish have limited the Midshipmen to a total of one rushing touchdown over the last two years. Navy collected six rushing touchdowns over the previous two meetings in 2009 and 2010.
  • Navy managed just one touchdown and 10 points against the Irish on Sept. 1. It's the fewest points Navy has scored in the series since the Irish handed Navy a 27-9 loss in East Rutherford on Oct. 16, 2004. In fact, the 24 combined points by Navy is the fewest allowed by Notre Dame in consecutive games in the series since 1998-99.
  • Notre Dame's front-line defense limited Navy on Sept. 1 to just 110 yards on 34 carries (3.2/rush) before resting for most of the fourth quarter.
  • LINEBACKER CORPS AS EXPERIENCED AS ANY IRISH UNIT

  • For the second straight season, three of four starting Notre Dame linebackers return and the unit features more upperclassmen than any other position on defense.
  • The entire defense is led by All-American senior ILB Manti Te'o. A finalist for the Butkus Trophy and Lott Award in 2011, Te'o led the Irish in tackles for a second-straight season with 128 stops while setting career highs of 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. After considering entering the NFL Draft, Te'o chose to return to school and was a preseason All-American by virtually every selector.
  • Senior ILB Dan Fox emerged from a pack of contenders to earn the starting inside linebacker job opposite Te'o last year and played well enough to start all 13 games. Fox, who has held onto the job this fall, ranked sixth on the squad with 48 tackles and added two and a half tackles for loss and one sack in 2011.
  • Fox started his 16th consecutive game for the Irish on Sept. 15 at No. 10 Michigan State. He was back at his normal position of ILB alongside Te'o. Fox had five tackles and a pass breakup in the victory over the Spartans.
  • Fox picked up his first career start at OLB against Purdue on Sept. 8.
  • Fox collected seven tackles, including six solo stops, against Navy on Sept. 1 and five more stops in the victory over the Boilermakers.
  • Senior ILB Carlo Calabrese split time with Fox in 2011 and played especially well against the run. Only three players on the team have more career tackles than Calabrese's 108 stops. He registered seven tackles in his 2012 debut against Purdue on Sept. 8.
  • Junior ILB Kendall Moore and sophomore ILB Jarrett Grace received good reviews from the Irish coaching staff and provide quality depth at both inside linebacker positions. Both have seen significant playing time on special teams in 2012.
  • At outside linebacker, junior Prince Shembo started eight of 12 games played in 2011; the only four games he didn't start came when the Irish opened with five defensive backs on the field. Shembo recorded 31 tackles with three and a half tackles for loss and two sacks in 2011--though he moves to the outside linebacker position owned by Darius Fleming the previous two seasons.
  • Sophomore OLB Ishaq Williams spent much of his first year with the Irish learning how to play outside linebacker after being one of the top defensive ends in the country as a high school senior. Standing 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, he has the physical attributes needed to compete at the highest of levels and will get a chance in his second season to become a larger contributor.
  • Williams, without a doubt, had the best game of his young career on Sept. 1 against Navy. He registered four tackles, three solo, one for loss and forced the fumble that directly led to sophomore DE Stephon Tuitt's touchdown.
  • Junior OLB Danny Spond made his first career start for Notre Dame on Sept. 15 at No. 10 Michigan State. He missed the first two games for the Irish due to migraines.
  • Sophomore OLB Ben Councell has tremendous potential and benefited greatly from the extra snaps in fall practices during Spond's absence.
  • Councell picked up a tackle in his Notre Dame debut on Sept. 1 against Navy.
  • Sophomore Anthony Rabasa did not play as a freshman in 2011 but adds great depth to the position this year.
  • Romeo Okwara, a freshman from Charlotte, N.C., attended the same high school as Shembo and was a first-team all-state defensive player in 2011. He is extremely young (just turned 17) and raw, but his frame (6-4, 239) and athleticism helped him see the field against Navy on Sept. 1.
  • TE'O PACKS A HAWAIIAN PUNCH

  • Senior LB Manti Te'o has been tabbed a candidate for the Bednarik (top defensive player), Nagurski (top defensive player), Lombardi and Butkus Awards, as well as highlights just about every preseason All-America squad. He led the Irish with 128 tackles,13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks in 2010. He has collected 100 or more stops in each of the last two seasons. Te'o became the 10th player in Notre Dame history to record 300 tackles for a career and currently ranks sixth in school history with 354 tackles.
  • Te'o ranks second in the FBS among active players in career tackles and fifth in tackles per game.
  • Te'o also ranks second in the FBS among active players in assisted tackles, eighth in solo stops, ninth in assisted tackles for loss and 17th in total tackles for loss.
  • His 354 stops are the most career tackles by an Irish player since Tony Furjanic ended his career in 1985 with 361 stops.
  • Te'o finished with a game-high 12 tackles at No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. He also added a fumble recovery, tackle for loss and two pass breakups. Te'o has now led the Irish in stops on 22 different occasions in his career.
  • The double-digit tackle game against the Spartans was the 20th of his career. He also moved past Mike Kovaleski (353, 1983-86) into sixth on Notre Dame's all-time tackle list.
  • Te'o was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 16 following his remarkable effort against No. 10 Michigan State.
  • Te'o led Notre Dame with 10 tackles and one quarterback hurry in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8.
  • Te'o collected his first career interception, first career fumble recovery and added eight tackles in the victory over Navy on Sept. 1. He was one of seven players in the FBS with both an interception and fumble recovery over the opening weekend of action.
  • Walter Camp, Rivals, Phil Steele, SI.com and Associated Press named Te'o a second-team All-American in 2011. He was also named Capital One Academic All-America second team. Te'o was also a finalist for the Butkus Award and Lott Trophy in 2011.
  • Te'o led the Irish in total tackles (128), solo stops (62), assisted tackles (66) and tackles on running plays (93).
  • Te'o ranked for tied for 24th in the FBS in tackles per game (9.85) and tied for 69th in tackles for loss (1.04/game). He ranked 24th in total tackles and 59th in solo stops.
  • Off the gridiron, Te'o has excelled in the classroom and in the community. He has earned a 3.296 cumulative grade-point average at Notre Dame and has volunteered dozens of hours at a local youth center. While he was in high school, the former Eagle Scout volunteered his time at Hawaii Special Olympics and with the Head Start preschool program.
  • IT'S GOOD TO BE A PRINCE

  • Shembo finished with a career-high nine tackles, two for loss, one sack and a pair of quarterback hurries in the victory over No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. He collected six tackles, two for loss and one sack by the 13:35 mark of the second quarter.
  • The sack was his first of the season and give him seven and a half for his career.
  • Shembo finished with eight tackles in the first half alone against the Spartans. His previous high was six at Pittsburgh on Sept. 24, 2011.
  • Shembo collected six tackles over Notre Dame's first two games before his dominating performance against Michigan State.
  • Shembo picked up a pair of tackles and tackle for loss in the victory over Navy on Sept. 1. He had five tackles and a pair of quarterback hurries in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8.
  • DEFENSIVE LINE FITS THE BILL

  • Notre Dame possesses arguably its best front line in recent memory. The trio of senior DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, junior NG Louis Nix III and sophomore DE Stephon Tuitt have combined to start 51 games over their respective careers.
  • Lewis-Moore is the elder statesmen of the trio. He has played in 35 games over his Notre Dame career and has started 32 contests, including all 13 in 2010, each of the first seven in 2011 (before a knee injury against USC ended his season) and the first three games of 2012. Lewis-Moore has totaled 143 career tackles, more than any other Irish defensive lineman, including 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. He has added three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three pass breakups.
  • Lewis-Moore was on pace to lead the Irish defensive line in stops for the third straight season prior to the injury in 2011. He had tallied 32 tackles, including four for loss, and recorded one and a half sacks, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.
  • Nix III, the anchor of Notre Dame's defensive line, was a force at times in the middle of the Irish defense in 2011. He tied for seventh on the team - tops among defensive ends and nose guards - with 45 tackles last season. Nix III recorded 32 tackles over final seven games of season.
  • Nix III had three tackles, including 1.5 for loss against on Sept. 1 against Navy. He backed up that performance with another top notch effort against Purdue on Sept. 8. Nix III had four tackles and 1.5 sacks in the victory over the Boilermakers.
  • Nix III did not start against No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15, but he still registered five tackles.
  • Tuitt is a physically-imposing defensive lineman that showed ability to play both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Irish as a freshman in 2011. He played in nine games and totaled 30 tackles with three tackles for loss and two sacks. Tuitt received third-team Freshman All-America honors from Phil Steele.
  • Both Nix III and Tuitt are using their second season of athletic eligibility in 2012.
  • Junior NG Kona Schwenke arguably was the biggest and most pleasant surprise for the Irish in spring drills. The Hawaii native moved from defensive end to nose guard in the spring and thrived during practices and the spring game. Schwenke pushed Nix III for the starting nod right up until the end of fall practice.
  • Schwenke picked up his first career start on Sept. 15 at No. 10 Michigan State.
  • Joining Nix III and Schwenke as other options on the interior of the Irish defensive line are sophomore NG Tony Springmann and early-enrollee freshman DT Sheldon Day - both made their Notre Dame debuts on Sept. 1 against Navy. Springmann did not see game action for Notre Dame in 2011. Day was runner-up for Mr. Football in Indiana last year, losing out to fellow early enrollee and quarterback Gunner Kiel. Springmann and Day were forced into major action against Purdue on Sept. 8. Day had four tackles, while Springmann, who made his Irish debut against Navy on Sept. 1, had a tackle and quarterback hurry.
  • The duo continued their stellar play in the victory over No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. They each collected their first career sack. Day also added a pass breakup.
  • Notre Dame's defensive line combined to total 23 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries against No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. The Spartans had not surrendered a sack over their first two games.
  • Sophomore DE Chase Hounshell was forced into action due to injuries to Ethan Johnson and Kapron Lewis-Moore in 2011. He participated in seven games and was another freshman defender who flashed great potential in 2011.
  • STEPHON GETS TUITT

  • Sophomore DE Stephon Tuitt has already collected five sacks in Notre Dame's first three games of 2012. He ranks tied for third in the FBS in sacks. Tuitt has more sacks that any underclassmen in the FBS. Only Bjoern Werner of Florida State has more total and solo sacks than Tuitt.
  • Tuitt had four solo tackles, one sack, a forced fumble and quarterback hurry in the victory over No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15.
  • Tuitt picked up his third sack of the season on the final play of the third quarter against Purdue. The sack came on third and goal from the Notre Dame six-yard line. It forced the Boilermakers into a field goal. He added his second sack of the game in the fourth quarter. Tuitt collected two sacks in each of Notre Dame's first two contests.
  • Tuitt was the first Irish player with at least two sacks in consecutive games since Victor Abiamiri in 2006. Abiamiri had two against Navy (Oct. 28) and North Carolina (Nov. 4).
  • Tuitt scooped up a fumble and rumbled 77 yards for a touchdown with 2:12 left in the second quarter to give the Irish a 27-0 lead on Sept. 1 over Navy.
  • The touchdown fumble return was the longest since Steve Lawrence had a 79-yard return in 1985 and third-longest in school history.
  • Frank Shaughnessy holds, and will forever barring NCAA rules changes, the school record with a 107-yard return against Kansas in 1904.
  • Tuitt is the first Irish defense lineman in 18 years to score a touchdown. The last time it occurred was a 20-yard fumble return by nose guard Alton Maiden on Nov. 9, 1996 in a 48-21 victory at Boston College. A week earlier, defensive end Renaldo Wynn had a 24-yard fumble return for a score -- against Navy in Dublin, Ireland as well in a 54-27 win.
  • SECONDARY EXPERIENCED AT SAFETY, FAR FROM IT AT CORNER

  • The most inexperienced unit on the 2012 Fighting Irish football team, without question, is the secondary where senior safeties Jamoris Slaughter and Zeke Motta were the only players that entered the season with starting experience.
  • Slaughter, who graduated from Notre Dame in May, and started 10 games in 2011 as a safety and also was used as an outside linebacker will miss the rest of the season following a torn achilles injury suffered against No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. Always known for his ferocious tackles, Slaughter had recorded a career-best 45 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks in 2011.
  • Slaughter made his 19th and likely final career start at Notre Dame against the Spartans. He picked up a pair of tackles before going down on the opening play of the second half.
  • Slaughter collected three tackles and a pass breakup in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8. He left the game with a shoulder injury in the first quarter.
  • Motta is now the only player in the Irish secondary that has started more than three games. He started seven games in 2011 and has opened 18 contests over his Irish career, including on Sept. 15 at No. 10 Michigan State. Only Kapron Lewis-Moore and Manti Te'o have more career stops among active Irish players than Motta's 121 tackles.
  • Motta had four solo tackles, including one for loss, in the victory over Navy on Sept. 1. He backed up that effort with nine tackles against Purdue on Sept. 8. Motta had 11 stops and an interception at Michigan State in 2010.
  • Motta must now captain a secondary that features a trio of players that have combined to start seven games. In fact, all three players (sophomore S Matthias Farley, freshman CB KeiVarae Russell and junior CB Bennett Jackson) have undergone position changes since their respective arrivals on campus. Farley and Jackson were each recruited as wide receivers, while Russell was recruited as a running back.
  • Farley, who will take the place of Slaughter, made the largest leap of any safety during fall practice. He is in his first year at the position after playing wide receiver in his freshman year (entirely on the scout team as he did not see any game action).
  • Behind Farley and Motta at the safety positions are graduate Dan McCarthy, senior Chris Salvi and sophomore Eilar Hardy as well as freshman Nicky Baratti.
  • Farley was one of eight first-time starters in the Irish lineup on Sept. 1 against Navy.
  • McCarthy returns for a fifth year and has been primarily a special-teams player in his Notre Dame career, but did collect his first career fumble recovery on Sept. 1 against Navy. Salvi is a walk-on who was rewarded with a scholarship last spring. The hard-hitting safety packs even bigger punches in the boxing ring, as Salvi won the 188-pound title at the 2012 Bengal Bouts on Notre Dame's campus.
  • Hardy suffered a knee injury early in 2011 and missed the entire season while recovering.
  • Junior Austin Collinsworth was outstanding in spring ball and would have been in the rotation this season, but a shoulder injury suffered near the end of spring drills required surgery and Collinsworth will likely miss the 2012 season.
  • The Irish secondary was boosted with the addition of five freshmen safeties this fall. Chris Badger enrolled early in January 2010 and participated in Brian Kelly's first set of spring drills before Badger left Notre Dame for his Mormon mission. Baratti played five positions in high school and was named a first-team all-state selection in Texas as a senior. Virginia's C.J. Prosise earned all-state honors as a junior and senior and Elijah Shumate played for the top-rated high school in the country last year (Don Bosco Prep in East Orange, N.J.) and was ranked as a top-10 defensive back last year. John Turner helped Cathedral High School in Indianapolis win the state championship last year and he was selected to the Indianapolis Star Super Team in 2011.
  • Baratti and Shumate, who cross-trains at cornerback as well, have seen extensive action not only on special teams, but with the defense as well.
  • Only five scholarship cornerbacks dotted the Irish roster at the start of training camp - and juniors Lo Wood and Bennett Jackson entered as the favorites to start. Jackson won the job, as did Wood, but Wood was lost for the season following a ruptured Achilles tendon midway through fall practice.
  • Jackson has played in all 29 games over the last three years, primarily on special teams, before breaking into the starting lineup for the first time in his career on Sept. 1 against Navy. He transition to corner back in the spring of 2011. Jackson has been one of the top special teams tacklers each of the last two seasons. He also helped Notre Dame's indoor track team win the 2012 BIG EAST Championship, competing in the 60-meter hurdles.
  • Jackson led the Irish in solo tackles (seven) in the victory over Navy on Sept. 1.
  • Jackson collected his first career interception in the third quarter against Purdue on Sept. 8 that ultimately led to a Notre Dame field goal. He also had an interception on the last play of the game to secure the victory. Jackson was the first Irish player with multiple interceptions in a game since Harrison Smith equaled the school record of three against Miami, Fla., in the 2010 Sun Bowl.
  • A track teammate of Jackson, sophomore Josh Atkinson placed fifth in the 60-meter dash and sixth in the 200 at the 2012 BIG EAST Indoor Championships and followed that up by placing fourth in the 100-meter dash and fifth in the 200-meter dash at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships. Atkinson played in eight games in his freshman season, mostly on special teams.
  • Sophomore Jalen Brown is the tallest of Notre Dame's cornerbacks at 6-foot-1. He did not play as a freshman in 2011 but defended Michael Floyd in practice every day as a member of the scout team. Floyd actually thanked Brown in his speech after winning the team MVP award for the effort Brown gave every day in practice, helping make Floyd a better player.
  • Atkinson and Brown each played in the victory over Navy on Sept. 1.
  • RUSSELL, A ROOKIE, STARTING AT CORNER (IN THE SEASON OPENER NO LESS)

  • Freshman CB KeiVarae Russell was the first freshman ever at Notre Dame to start at cornerback in the opening game of a season (Sept. 1 against Navy), which leaves quarterback as the only position group that never has had a freshman start the opener.
  • Notre Dame has had defensive linemen (Ross Browner, Steve Niehaus, Anthony Weaver), offensive linemen (Sam Young), running backs (Jim Browner), linebackers (Kory Minor), wide receivers (TJ Jones), safeties (Luther Bradley) and tight ends (Kyle Rudolph).
  • The previous closest freshman to start near a season opener was Stacey Toran in 1980 when he started the third game and the remaining nine for the Sugar Bowl team.
  • Russell was the first Irish rookie to start at cornerback since Robert Blanton on Nov. 15, 2008 - ironically against Navy. Darrin Walls also started as a rookie in 2006. Both Blanton and Walls are now in the NFL - Blanton with the Minnesota Vikings and Walls with the Atlanta Falcons. Walls even played in the '06 opener at Georgia Tech and went up against now Detroit Lions' superstar Calvin Johnson, holding his own.
  • Freshmen Luther Bradley (1973), Todd Lyght (1987), Tom Carter (1990) and Bobby Taylor (1992) all were starters as freshmen (Bradley in every game), but it was at safety. Bradley, Lyght, Carter and Taylor later became All-America corners, with the first three first-round picks and Taylor a second-round selection after his junior year in 1994.
  • Another freshman starter at corner was Ivory Covington in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl against 10-1 Colorado.
  • IRISH BALANCED IN THE PASSING GAME

  • Notre Dame had 10 different players with at least one reception against Navy on Sept. 1 - three more than the Irish had in any one game in 2010 and most since Dec. 28, 2004 against Oregon State (when Notre Dame also had 10 different players catch a pass).
  • Notre Dame completed passes to nine different players in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8. The Irish featured 12 different pass catchers over the first two games of 2012.
  • Junior WR TJ Jones hauled in a 21-yard reception early in the first quarter against No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15 and senior WR John Goodman added a 36-yard touchdown with 10:34 left in the first quarter to give the Irish a 7-0 lead. The duo became the seventh and eighth different Irish players this season with at least one catch of 20 yards or more.
  • Notre Dame had six different players with at least one catch of 20 yards or more over the entire 2011 season. The Irish had 11 pass catchers with at least one 20+ yard grab in 2010.
  • Sophomore QB Everett Golson's first three TD passes in 2012 went to three different receivers.
  • IRISH TOUGH TO BEAT WHEN WINNING THE RUSHING BATTLE

  • Since the start of the 2005 season, Notre Dame has won 35 of its last 37 games when recording more rushing yards than their opponent.
  • The Irish 27-game winning streak when outrushing its opponent was snapped in the loss at Michigan on Sept. 10, 2011. Notre Dame had not previously lost a game when outrushing its foe since Dec. 28, 2004 when the Irish lost to Oregon State, 38-21, in the Insight Bowl. Notre Dame also collected more rushing yards than Florida State in last year's Champs Sports Bowl, yet ended up on the losing side of the contest.
  • Third-year head coach Brian Kelly has his own pretty remarkable run when his teams outrush their opponent. He is 152-23-1 in his career and 15-2 at Notre Dame when winning the rushing battle.
  • DOUBLE CENTURY GROUND GAME

  • Notre Dame ran for 293 yards against Navy on Sept. 1. The Irish have won nine consecutive games when it rushes for at least 200 yards. The Irish have not lost a game with more than 200 yards on the ground since Nov. 3, 2007 against Navy.
  • Notre Dame is 21-1 since the start of the 2002 season when it gains 200 or more yards rushing.
  • EXPLOSIVE RUSHING ATTACK

  • Notre Dame had three different players - Jonas Gray (79), senior RB Cierre Wood (55) and junior QB Andrew Hendrix (78) - register runs of 50 yards or longer in 2011. The Irish had not had three separate players record runs of 50 yards or longer in the same season since 2001 when Carlyle Holiday (67), Julius Jones (59) and Tony Fisher (55) accomplished the feat.
  • Jonas Gray (136), senior RB Cierre Wood (104, 134, 191) and junior QB Andrew Hendrix (111) all recorded a 100-yard rushing game in 2011. The Irish had not had three different players register 100-yard games in the same season since 2001 when Tony Fisher, Carlyle Holiday and Julius Jones all rushed for 100 yards or more in a game.
  • BACK-TO-BACK ROUTS

  • Following Notre Dame's 50-10 victory over Navy on Sept. 1, the Irish have now scored 50 or more points in consecutive games against one team for the first time since 1993-94, when the Irish took down Navy, 58-27, on Oct. 30, 1993, and then equaled their point total in a 58-21 trouncing of the Midshipmen one year later (Oct. 29).
  • It is only the 10th time in school history Notre Dame has put up 50 points in back-to-back meetings against one opponent. The Irish have never scored 50 or more points in three straight games against one team.
  • Here are the 10 times Notre Dame has scored 50 points or more against the same foe in back-to-back years.
  • It marks the first time since 1973-74 Notre Dame has beaten a single opponent by 40 or more points in back-to-back years. In 1973, the Irish downed Northwestern (44-0) and Army (62-3) by 40+ before duplicating the feat in '74 (49-3 over Northwestern, 48-0 over Army).
  • The last team Notre Dame beat by 40 or more points in consecutive meetings - whether those meetings came in consecutive years or not - was Pittsburgh. Notre Dame touched up the Panthers 44-0 in 1993 before winning 60-6 in 1996. When Notre Dame beat Rutgers 62-0 in 1996, it was its second consecutive 40-point victory over that team as well, although the previous meeting had taken place way back in 1921 (48-0).
  • IRISH OUTRUSH NAVY BY WIDE MARGIN

  • Navy has not averaged less than 270.75 yards rushing per game over the last 10 years (dating back to 2002). So, the Midshipmen are quite accustomed to outrushing their opponent. However, not only did Notre Dame outrush Navy in the season opener on Sept. 1, but it gained 144 more yards on the ground.
  • Navy had not been outrushed by that many yards since at least 2004. In fact, no team had outrushed the Midshipmen by more than 80 yards over the same span.
  • Notre Dame had not outrushed Navy by that many yards in the series since 2000 when the Irish held a 218-58 edge on the ground.
  • IRISH RUMBLE OVER NAVY

  • Notre Dame reached the 50-point barrier in a season opener for the first time since 1983 when the Irish bested Purdue 52-6. It marked the third time since the end of World War II in 1945 that the Irish reached the half-century mark in an opener. The third was a 50-7 victory versus Northwestern in 1971.
  • Notre Dame rushed for 293 yards in the win over Navy on Sept. 1. The Irish had not rushed for more yards in a game since Nov. 29, 2003 at Stanford (320).
  • Sophomore RB George Atkinson III collected the first career multi-rushing touchdown game of his career.
  • Senior RB Theo Riddick registered his first career 100-yard rushing game and first career multi-rushing touchdown game.
  • Riddick (107 yards on 19 carries) and Atkinson (99 yards on nine carries) nearly became the first Irish tandem to each run for 100 yards in the same game since 2002 (when Rashon Powers-Neal and Ryan Grant) each eclipsed the century mark against Stanford.
  • Atkinson III and Riddick's multi-rushing touchdown games gave Notre Dame multiple players with at least two touchdown runs against Navy for the second consecutive meeting. Jonas Gray and senior RB Cierre Wood each rushed for a pair of touchdowns against Navy in 2011.
  • Prior to last season's meeting with Navy, and then again on Sept. 1, Notre Dame had not had two running backs register multiple rushing touchdowns in the same game since Oct. 11, 2001 against West Virginia when Julius Jones and Tony Fisher each had a pair.
  • Notre Dame finished with seven rushing touchdowns in the 2011 meeting with Navy - the most for the Irish since Sept. 26, 1992 against Purdue (also had seven rushing touchdowns). Notre Dame has not had more rushing touchdowns in a game since Nov. 6, 1965 when the Irish had nine rushing touchdowns in a 69-13 rout of Pittsburgh.
  • Notre Dame added five more rushing touchdowns against the Midshipmen on Sept. 1.
  • Notre Dame has recorded 12 rushing touchdowns in the last two meetings with Navy. The Irish had exactly 12 rushing touchdowns combined in the six meetings from 2005-10.
  • Atkinson III sprinted 56 yards to give the Irish a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter. The 56-yard run was the longest of his career and longest by an Irish running back since Jonas Gray raced 79 yards at Pittsburgh on Sept. 24, 2010.
  • Notre Dame rushed for 107 yards on 11 carries in the opening quarter, which averaged out to 9.7 yards per carry.
  • Senior WR Robby Toma added his first career rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
  • GOLSON CONTINUES IRISH QUARTERBACK FIRST-START MAGIC

  • Notre Dame sophomore Everett Golson made his first career start on Sept. 1 against Navy. He was the 21st signal caller to make his Irish starting debut since 1985. Notre Dame has gone 15-6 in those 21 games with a first-time starting quarterback under center.
  • Golson became the first Irish signal caller to make his career and starting debut in a season opener away from Notre Dame Stadium since Ron Powlus in 1994. All Powlus did in his debut was throw for 291 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-12 rout of Northwestern. Golson completed 12 of 18 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown.
  • Golson extended Notre Dame's winning streak to three games under first-time starting quarterbacks.
  • Dayne Crist snapped that five-game skid with a victorious debut against Purdue on Sept. 4, 2010. Junior Tommy Rees made it two straight wins for the Irish with a first-time starter under center. Rees helped Notre Dame upend No. 15 Utah, 28-3, on Nov. 13, 2010.
  • From 1985-98, Notre Dame was victorious in nine straight games in which an Irish quarterback was making his first career start, including four coming in a season opener. Those openers were won by Rick Mirer (No. 1 Notre Dame def. No. 4 Michigan 28-24 in '90), Kevin McDougal (No. 7 Notre Dame def. Northwestern 27-12 in '93), Ron Powlus (No. 3 Notre Dame def. Northwestern 42-12 in '95) and Jarious Jackson (No. 22 Notre Dame def. No. 5 Michigan 36-20 in '98).
  • Notre Dame's nine-game, first-start streak ended in the 10-0 loss at USC on Nov. 28, 1998, when Eric Chappell started in place of the injured starter Jackson (then-freshman Arnaz Battle also played a large chunk of that game).
  • Following the 1998 meeting with USC, the Irish won three consecutive games under first-time signal callers. In fact, all three came during the same season, 2000, and occurred over the year's first five contests. Arnaz Battle (Notre Dame def. No. 24 Texas A&M, 24-10), Gary Godsey (Notre Dame def. Purdue, 23-21) and Matt LoVecchio (No. 25 Notre Dame def. Stanford, 20-14).
  • Interestingly enough, the Irish are 9-2 when playing in Notre Dame Stadium, 4-4 when playing on the road and 2-0 when playing on a neutral field under a first-time starting quarterback (since 1985).
  • GOLSON MAKES FIRST CAREER START ON ROAD A MEMORABLE ONE

  • Notre Dame sophomore Everett Golson led Notre Dame to a 20-3 victory over No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. He is the first Irish signal caller to lead his team to a victory over a top-10 opponent in his first career road start since Kevin McDougal on Sept. 11, 1993. McDougal helped Notre Dame get past No. 3 Michigan, 27-23.
  • Golson did not have incredible numbers (14 of 32 for 178 yards) but he did not turn the football over and even hooked up with senior WR John Goodman on a 36-yard touchdown pass with 10:34 left in the first quarter to give the Irish a 7-0 lead.
  • The TD pass was Golson's third of the season (and career).
  • Golson's first three touchdown passes of 2012 went to three different players.
  • Golson had three completions of over 20 yards in the opening quarter.
  • Golson collected a six-yard touchdown run with 10:50 left in the second quarter to give Notre Dame a 14-0 lead. The TD run was Golson's second of the season (and career).
  • Golson is the first Irish QB with a touchdown run in back-to-back games since Dayne Crist in 2010. Crist actually had a TD run in three consecutive games.
  • Golson averaged 18.0 yards per completion in the first half.
  • JUST GOOD `OLE GOLSON FOOTBALL

  • Sophomore QB Everett Golson registered the best performance of his young career in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8. He completed 21 of 31 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns, one of which was on the ground.
  • The 289 yards passing by Golson was the second most by a Notre Dame quarterback making his first start in Notre Dame Stadium. Terry Hanratty holds the record with 304 in a 26-14 victory against No. 6 Purdue in 1966, and Golson just nudged ahead of Tom Clements' 1972 effort of 287 yards in a 35-14 Irish win against the Boilermakers.
  • Golson scored his first career rushing touchdown in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8.
  • Golson accounted for 196 of Notre Dame's first 210 total yards (189 through the air and seven on the ground) against the Boilermakers.
  • Golson completed a 41-yard pass to fellow sophomore WR DaVaris Daniels on Notre Dame's initial touchdown drive of the game. The completion was the longest of his career.
  • Golson went 3-for-3 for 73 yards on that drive and also added 10 yards rushing. He registered 83 of the 88 total yards.
  • Golson then spotted junior WR TJ Jones for a three-yard TD pass in the third quarter to give the Irish a 14-7 lead.
  • Golson went 3-for-6 on that scoring drive for 50 yards, twice hooking up with senior TE Tyler Eifert (for 22 and 25 yards).
  • REES PIECES TOGETHER IRISH OFFENSE

  • Junior QB Tommy Rees is 12-4 as the Irish starting quarterback. He has captained the Irish to victories over both Michigan State (2011) and USC (2010). Toss in a bowl victory (2010) as well and he is the first Notre Dame quarterback to accomplish those three feats since Rick Mirer in 1992. Mirer led Notre Dame to victories over the Spartans (52-31), Trojans (31-23) and Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl (28-3).
  • Rees though might have made his most significant accomplishment on Sept. 8 in the victory over Purdue. He entered the game with 2:12 remaining in the fourth quarter and promptly guided the Irish on a 12-play, 55-yard drive that setup the winning field goal.
  • Rees completed 3-of-6 passes for 35 yards on the drive and none were bigger than a 21-yard hookup with senior WR Robby Toma on a huge third down and 10 play from the Purdue 41-yard line. In fact, two of Rees' three completions converted third downs.
  • Rees has guided the Irish to victories at Notre Dame Stadium against 15th-ranked Utah (2010), at Notre Dame Stadium against 15th-ranked Michigan State (2011), at Yankee Stadium against Army (2010), at the LA Coliseum against arch-rival USC (2010; snapped Trojans eight-game winning streak in series), back-to-back road games at Pittsburgh and Purdue (2011), routs of Air Force, Navy and Maryland (2011) and narrow wins over Wake Forest (2011) and Boston College (2011). Rees was also the starting signal caller in Notre Dame's rout of Miami, Fla. in the 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl.
  • Rees became the 10th Notre Dame quarterback to ever surpass 4,000 career passing yards.
  • Rees not only ranks as the most accurate quarterback in school history based on career completion percentage (64.2%), but his 65.5% completion percentage in 2011 ranks second best for a single season.
  • OFFENSIVE LINE PAVES THE WAY

  • Notre Dame's offensive line is led by senior LT Zack Martin and graduate C Braxston Cave. Each are candidates for the prestigious Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy. Cave is also on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which is given to the top center in college football.
  • Martin, who has another year of eligibility after 2012, has started all 29 games for Notre Dame over the last three seasons. He has won the Guardian of the Year Award, presented by the Guardian Life Insurance Company, to the top Irish offensive lineman in each of the last two years.
  • In 2011, Martin had the highest grade of any offensive linemen and recorded the most snaps. He led the team in knockdown blocks, extra individual effort and allowed only one sack plus permitted the fewest defensive pressures. Martin was a key component to an offensive line that improved its rushing attack by 33.8 yards per game from 2010 to 2011.
  • Cave has played in 38 games during his career. He started 22 straight games (and now 25 career starts including Sept. 15 at No. 10 Michigan State) before a foot injury in 2011 required surgery and forced him to miss the remainder of season. Prior to the setback, Cave started the first nine games at center and helped Notre Dame's offense average 173.6 rushing yards per game and 5.5 yards per carry. A Rimington Trophy candidate in each of the last two years, he also spearheaded an offensive line that allowed only five sacks in 324 pass attempts in the season's first nine games.
  • Senior LG Chris Watt will get the nod to the left of Cave. He has played in 29 consecutive games for the Irish and has started every contest in 2011 and 2012 at left guard after serving as a backup in 2010. Watt does have another season of eligibility after 2012.
  • Graduate RG Mike Golic, Jr. gives the Irish some experience and versatility on the right side of the line. He served the role of backup center in 2009 and 2010 and emerged in 2011 when Cave was lost for the year due to injury. He has appeared in 30 games over his career and can play either guard or center spot. He has started seven consecutive games for the Irish, including Sept. 15 at No. 10 Michigan State.
  • Junior RT Christian Lombard made his first career start in the season opener against Navy on Sept. 1. He served as an understudy to Taylor Dever in 2010 and 2011. Lombard did not play as a freshman and participated in 13 games last year, primarily on special teams and as a reserve right tackle.
  • The sophomore tandem of OT Nick Martin and OG Conor Hanratty made their respective Irish debuts against Navy on Sept. 1 and provide depth at either of the guard or tackle positions. Martin is the younger brother of Notre Dame starting LT Zack Martin, while Hanratty is the son of former Irish All-America quarterback Terry Hanratty.
  • Notre Dame's offensive line rebounded from a poor outing against Purdue on Sept. 8 with a much improved performance in the victory at No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. The Boilermakers collected five sacks against the Irish. Notre Dame has not allowed more sacks in a game since Nov. 10, 2007 when Air Force recorded six sacks.
  • The offensive line controlled the trenches against the stout No. 10 Michigan State defense. Notre Dame did not yield a sack to the Spartans and paved the way for the Irish running backs to total 129 yards on 27 carries. If you eliminate the four kneel downs by sophomore QB Everett Golson in the victory formation late in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame rushed for 136 yards on 30 carries (good for 4.5 yards per rush) against one of the best defenses in the country.
  • The offensive line was at its best in the fourth quarter, especially on the critical, time-consuming field goal scoring drive that game the Irish a 17-3 lead. Notre Dame was pinned inside its own five-yard line and proceeded to march 84 yards on 12 plays and took 6:35 off the game clock. The Irish rushed nine times for 69 yards (7.7 yards/carry) on the game-clinching march.
  • Notre Dame was sacked only 17 times (or 1.31 per game) on 473 passes attempted or 490 actual pass attempts when including the pass plays that ultimately resulted in sacks in 2011. In other words, the Irish yielded a sack once out of every 27.8 pass attempts or just 3.47% of true pass attempts.
  • Notre Dame's offensive line put the "O" in October as the group allowed zero sacks in October last season. In fact, the Irish did not allow a sack in 195 consecutive pass attempts, spanning from the third quarter at Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 until the second quarter of the victory over Maryland on Nov. 12. The Terps did finish the contest with three sacks.
  • Notre Dame held seven of its opponents in 2011 without a sack, including USC (20th) and Michigan (29th) - both of whom ranked in the top 40 in the FBS in sacks/game. In fact, the Irish ranked 26th in the FBS in fewest sacks allowed despite having faced five teams that ranked among the top 20 in sacks/game.
  • Notre Dame held USC without a sack for the first time since the 1998 meeting.
  • Notre Dame was 26th in the FBS in overall sacks allowed (17) and sacks allowed per game (1.31).
  • RUNNING BACK POSITION DEFINITE STRENGTH ENTERING 2012

  • Notre Dame's running backs arguably had the best season of any offensive position group in 2011, as they averaged 5.8 yards per carry and 153.2 rushing yards per game with 23 rushing touchdowns.
  • Senior Cierre Wood led the Irish with 1,186 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns in 2011. He became the 10th Notre Dame running back to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in a season and was named to the Doak Walker Award watch list prior to 2012. Wood has rushed for 1,761 yards on 346 carries over his career (5.1 yards/carry). He has scored 14 career touchdowns, including 12 on the ground.
  • Senior Theo Riddick moved from slot receiver to running back for the final two games of 2011 and sticks at that position in 2012. Riddick, who arrived at Notre Dame as a heralded running back, has rushed 100 times for 442 yards in his college career. He leads the Irish in rushing this season with 190 yards on 46 carries.
  • Sophomore George Atkinson III played a limited role on offense in his rookie season, as Atkinson rushed for 27 yards on nine carries with two touchdowns. However, Atkinson thrilled the Irish faithful in the 2012 Blue-Gold Spring Football Game by gaining 124 yards on 15 carries and added 54 yards on three pass receptions.
  • Atkinson III had 99 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns in the rout of Navy on Sept. 1, including a career-best 56-yard touchdown sprint. The run was the longest of his career and longest by an Irish running back since Jonas Gray raced 79 yards at Pittsburgh on Sept. 24, 2010.
  • Atkinson III was back in the fold in the victory at No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. He rushed for 43 yards on five carries (8.6 yards/rush), including a 32-yard run that helped setup Notre Dame's second touchdown.
  • Atkinson III is averaging an astounding 9.5 yards per carry in 2012.
  • The trio of Wood, Riddick and Atkinson III are averaging 5.5 yards per carry in 2012. In fact, when you include sophomore RB Cam McDaniel, who spent this past spring and much of fall practice training at defensive back, Notre Dame's quartet of running backs average 5.6 yards per tote. McDaniel had nine carries for 59 yards in the rout of Navy on Sept. 1.
  • Wood, Riddick and Atkinson III totaled 129 yards on 27 carries against the Spartans and one of the best defenses in the country. Wood and Riddick combined for 69 yards on the ground (7.7 yards/carry) on the 12-play, 84-yard march in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame took 6:35 off the game clock and collected a field goal to push its lead to 17-3.
  • Wood had five rushes for 45 yards on that drive alone, including a critical eight-yard run on fourth and one from the Michigan State 37-yard line.
  • Sophomore Amir Carlisle transferred to Notre Dame from USC prior to the start of the 2012 spring semester. Carlisle gained 118 yards on 19 rushes in 2011 for the Trojans and will be eligible for the Irish in 2012 after receiving a waiver from the NCAA, but missed spring practice with a broken ankle. He was held out for much of fall practice and returned to the practice field the week leading into the Purdue game, but has yet to see any game action.
  • BY LAND, CIERRE

  • Senior RB Cierre Wood became the 10th Irish running back (16th different season) to surpass 1,000 yards on the ground in a single season in 2011 and first since Darius Walker ran for 1,267 yards in 2006.
  • Wood's 1,186 yards rushing ranked 10th in single-season school history.
  • Wood registered nine rushing touchdowns in 2011.
  • Wood had a touchdown run in seven of Notre Dame's 13 games in 2011.
  • Wood has recorded 12 career rushing touchdowns, 10 of which have come over his last 16 games. He was the first Irish running back to record a rushing touchdown in four consecutive games (accomplished last season) since Darius Walker over the final four games of the 2005 campaign.
  • Wood's versatility was on display last season. He had 27 receptions for 189 yards. Wood has also upped his career total for catches to 47. Both totals rank in the top 10 in school history among running backs.
  • Wood registered 1,375 total yards from scrimmage in 2011, which ranked sixth-best in school history.
  • Wood has recorded three career multiple-rushing touchdown games.
  • Wood raced for a career-best 191 yards on 20 carries in the rout at Purdue on Oct. 1, 2011. The 191 yards was the most by an Irish running back since Julius Jones had 218 yards rushing at Stanford on Nov. 29, 2003. Wood's previous career-high was 134 yards at Michigan earlier in '11.
  • The 9.6 yards per rush was the highest by a Notre Dame running back (minimum 10 carries) since Darius Walker averaged 10.2 at Air Force on Nov. 11, 2006. Walker rushed for 153 yards on 15 carries.
  • Wood ripped off a career-best 55-yard touchdown run against the Boilermakers last season. The run was the longest of his career (bested 39-yard touchdown run against Western Michigan in 2010).
  • Wood recorded 40 rushes of 10 yards or more, 64 of his 217 carries resulted in a touchdown or first down and 13 of his 25 rushing attempts on third down plays resulted in a touchdown or first down in 2011.
  • Wood rushed for 134 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown at Michigan in 2011. He eclipsed career-highs in both carries and rushing yards in each of the first two weeks of the season.
  • Wood surpassed 100 yards in each of Notre Dame's first two games in 2011. He was the first Irish running back to exceed 100 yards on the ground in consecutive weeks since Armando Allen Jr. in 2009 (against both Michigan and Michigan State). Wood was the first Notre Dame running back to eclipse 100 yards rushing in the opening two weeks of a season since Darius Walker in 2005 (who actually had 100 yards on the ground in the first four games of the year).
  • Wood rushed for 104 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown in the season opener against USF.
  • THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK

  • Senior RB Theo Riddick was one of 49 players named to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, an award in its third year that honors the most versatile player in major college football. He caught 38 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games last season as a junior, adding 63 yards on 14 carries. He returned eight kickoffs for a total of 166 yards.
  • Riddick, recruited as a running back, but switched to receiver in head coach Brian Kelly's first season at Notre Dame, returns to his natural position this fall.
  • Riddick collected his first career 100-yard rushing game and multiple-rushing touchdown game against Navy on Sept. 1. He ran for 107 yards on 19 carries with a pair of touchdowns.
  • Riddick added 53 yards rushing on 15 carries against Purdue on Sept. 8, but 47 came on 10 second-half carries.
  • As a wideout in 2010, Riddick collected a career-high 10 catches for 128 yards and one touchdown against Michigan State. He registered his first and only career 100-yard receiving game.
  • TYLER'S EIFERT GARNERS PLENTY OF ALL-AMERICA ATTENTION

  • Senior TE Tyler Eifert - a 2011 Mackey Award finalist - is the only tight end on the 2012 Maxwell Award Watch List, an award that goes to college football's player of the year. He is also on the watch list for the Lombardi and Mackey awards, and is the consensus preseason first-team All-American tight end.
  • Eifert had four catches for a career-best 98 yards in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8 despite missing the fourth quarter due to injury.
  • All four of Eifert's receptions in the victory exceeded 20 yards (29, 25, 22 and 22 yards). Of his now 98 career catches, 20 have gone for at least 20 yards.
  • Six of Eifert's eight receptions in 2012 have garnered a touchdown or first down. Seventy of his 98 career catches have resulted in a touchdown or first - that's a pretty remarkable 71 percent of the time.
  • Eifert had a reception in 22 consecutive games, which was the longest streak by an FBS tight end in the country, before failing to make a catch in the victory at No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15.
  • Eifert hauled in a five-yard touchdown pass from Everett Golson with 11:20 left in the second quarter to give the Irish a 20-0 lead over Navy on Sept. 1. The touchdown catch was the eighth of his career.
  • Eifert stands alone in third place on the Notre Dame tight end career receptions list with 98.
  • Eifert has 1,275 career yards receiving, which ranks second all-time in tight end school history.
  • Eifert was the fifth Irish tight end in school history to eclipse 1,000 career receiving yards. He joined Ken MacAfee (1974-77), Anthony Fasano (2002-05), John Carlson (2004-07) and Kyle Rudolph (2008-10).
  • Eifert needs just two receptions to become the third Notre Dame tight end in school history to reach 100 career catches. With 31 more grabs and 485 receiving yards, Eifert would rank first in career catches and receiving yards by an Irish tight end.
  • Eifert led all Football Subdivision tight ends in receptions (63), receptions per game (4.84) and receiving yards (803) in 2011. He also ranked second in receiving yards per catch (12.74; minimum 4.33/game) and second in receiving yards per game (61.76).
  • Only six players in program history (Tom Gatewood, Jeff Samardzija, Maurice Stovall, Rhema McKnight, Golden Tate and Michael Floyd) caught more passes in a single season than Eifert in 2011.
  • Eifert finished 2011 with 63 receptions for 803 yards - both single-season school records for an Irish tight end.
  • Eifert broke a 34-year record at the position set by three-time All-America TE Ken MacAfee.
  • Eifert became the second Irish tight end with at least five touchdown catches in a single-season. Ken MacAfee owns the school record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with six in 1977.
  • Eifert has registered a career-best eight catches on three different occasions in 2011 - against Pittsburgh, Air Force and Maryland. He is tied with Kyle Rudolph (twice in 2010), John Carlson (2006), Anthony Fasano (2004) and Ken MacAfee (1977) for second most ever in a game by a Notre Dame tight end. The Irish single-game record is nine by MacAfee for 114 yards in a 31-24 victory at Purdue in 1977.
  • KOYACK, NIKLAS GIVE IRISH TWO MORE WEAPONS AT TIGHT END

  • The sophomore tandem of Ben Koyack and Troy Niklas have already seen the field plenty in 2012. Koyack caught just one pass in 2011, but played in 12 games and started one. Niklas, on the other hand, is new to the position. He saw action in 12 games as a freshman at outside linebacker, but switched to tight end for spring drills in 2012. Niklas registered 20 tackles last year on defense and started at outside linebacker in Notre Dame's victory against No. 15 Michigan State in 2011. Nicknamed Hercules, Niklas provides incredible athleticism, size (6-7, 260) and physicality at the position.
  • Both saw extensive time at the position against Navy on Sept. 1. Niklas collected his first career start and first career reception in the victory. His grab went for 29 yards and setup an Irish touchdown.
  • Niklas added a 30-yard grab in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8.
  • Notre Dame's tight end trio of Eifert, Niklas and Koyack have combined for 12 catches, 207 yards receiving and one touchdown. The trio is averaging 17.3 yards per reception.
  • WIDEOUTS LOOK TO REPLACE Michael Floyd

  • The 2012 Irish wide receiving corps won't be the only group attempting to fill the void created by the graduation of standout Michael Floyd - as Notre Dame tight ends and running backs are expected to become greater receiving threats this year.
  • Junior TJ Jones, who was listed on the 2012 Biletnikoff watch list, was tied for third on the team in receptions (38 for 366, 3 TDs) in 2011 and, with Theo Riddick moving to running back, Jones ranks as the leading returning pass-catcher among wide receivers in 2012.
  • A concise route-runner, Jones has 70 total receptions in his first three seasons and has started 21 of 28 career games for the Irish. He recorded his first touchdown catch of 2012 and seventh of his career in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8.
  • Senior slot receiver Robby Toma (19 receptions for 207 yards and one TD in 2011) emerged late in the season a year ago after Riddick missed two games due to injury. A shifty player with reliable hands, Toma started the final four games and recorded 16 receptions for 172 yards over the final four games of 2011 (only Floyd and All-America tight end Tyler Eifert had more catches and yards over that stretch).
  • Toma did not have a catch against Navy on Sept. 1, but he did register his first career rushing touchdown.
  • Toma finished the game against Purdue on Sept. 8 with four receptions for 33 yards, but the senior had a pair of grabs for 25 yards on the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, including a 21-yard catch on a huge third-and-10 play from the Purdue 41-yard line.
  • Toma led the Irish with five grabs for 58 yards in the victory at No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15.
  • Graduate John Goodman will utilize his fifth season with the Irish after graduating from Notre Dame in May. Goodman has started six games in his Notre Dame career, including Navy on Sept. 1, and has totaled 30 receptions for 361 yards and two touchdowns, including a spectacular 36-yard, one-handed grab in the victory at No. 10 Michigan State.
  • Jones hauled in a 21-yard reception early in the first quarter against No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15 and Goodman added a 36-yard touchdown with 10:34 left in the first quarter to give the Irish a 7-0 lead. The duo became the seventh and eighth different Irish players this season with at least one catch of 20 yards or more.
  • Goodman had a critical 10-yard grab on the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter against Purdue on Sept. 8. He helped the Irish convert a third-and-six play from the Notre Dame 49-yard line.
  • Junior Daniel Smith made his first career start on Sept. 1 against Navy and sophomore DaVaris Daniels saw action for the first time in his career against the Midshipmen as well - and both are options at wide receiver.
  • Smith, Notre Dame's biggest wideout at 6-feet-4, has been hampered by injuries in his Notre Dame career but has flashed signs of being a good playmaker when healthy.
  • Daniels has the best vertical on the team at 38 inches and preserved a year of eligibility in 2011. An electric player in high school, Daniels showed flashes of his potential during spring practices and could be a favorite to eventually win the open receiver battle.
  • Daniels had two catches for 49 yards against Navy on Sept. 1, including a 35-yard reception - Notre Dame's longest of the game.
  • Daniels collected four more receptions in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8. He added a career-best 41-yard catch before missing most of the second half with an injury.
  • Three dynamic freshmen will all get an opportunity to compete for playing time in 2012. Chris Brown was the South Carolina state champion in triple jump while placing second in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes plus the high jump and could be the fastest receiver on the team. Justin Ferguson recorded 21 receiving TDs over his final two seasons at Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. Davonte' Neal was the Gatorade Arizona player of the year following his junior and senior seasons and could be a natural slot receiver for the Irish.
  • Ferguson and Neal each had catches against Navy on Sept. 1.
  • KELLY EXCELS WITH FIRST-TIMERS UNDER CENTER

  • Each of the last six times a Brian Kelly coached team has opened a game with a first-time starting quarterback, Kelly's team has proved victorious.
  • Kelly has accomplished the feat three times at Notre Dame with Dayne Crist, Tommy Rees and Everett Golson.
  • Kelly was successful with each of his three first-time starters at Cincinnati (Zach Collaros, Tony Pike, Chazz Anderson).
  • EIGHT IS NOT ENOUGH, BUT...

  • Brian Kelly has won at least eight games in each of his first two seasons on the Notre Dame sidelines. Lou Holtz, Ara Parseghian, Frank Leahy and Knute Rockne - who combined to win 10 consensus national championships - failed to accomplish this feat.
  • Kelly joins Charlie Weis, Dan Devine and Terry Brennan as the only Irish coaches to win eight or more games in each of their first two seasons at Notre Dame.
  • KELLY'S WINNING WAYS

  • In his three years at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly has helped the Irish secure a 17-3 record when entering halftime with a lead and when leading after three quarters.
  • Kelly is 162-11 in his coaching career when taking a lead into the fourth quarter and 98-5 since 2001. He owns a 149-13 record when taking a lead into halftime, including a 94-5 mark since 2001.
  • Here are a couple other pretty remarkable win-loss records during Kelly's career:
  • -- Kelly is 12-2 coming off a bye week.
    -- Kelly is 127-23 when scoring first.
    -- Kelly is 152-23-1 when outrushing his opponent.
    -- Kelly is 115-12 when his team wins the turnover battle.
    -- Kelly is 36-14-2 in games decided by three points or less.
    -- Kelly is 63-6 when his team gets a defensive or special teams touchdown.
    -- Kelly is 54-14 in the month of November, including a 20-2 mark since 2006.
    -- Kelly is 124-7 when his team scores 30+ points, including a 73-1 mark with 40+ points.
    -- Kelly is 122-6-1 when his team allows 19 points or less.
    -- Kelly is 137-36-1 coming off a victory.

  • Kelly coached teams owned a 57-game winning streak in games where they held their opponents to less than 20 points, which ended in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl loss to Florida State (18-14). Kelly's previous such loss came on Dec. 8, 2001 when North Dakota edged Grand Valley State, 17-14, in the NCAA Division II title game.
  • Kelly coached teams have won 60 of their last 61 games when holding their opponents to less than 20 points.
  • Since 2001, Brian Kelly has totaled the third-most wins among all active FBS coaches. Kelly is 113-34 over the last 11 seasons. He only trails Bob Stoops (121-29) and Mack Brown (117-28).
  • Since 2006, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has compiled the fourth-most wins of any active NCAA FBS coach. Kelly has gone on to win 54 contests (54-15 overall) over that span. The only coaches ahead of Kelly in that time frame are Chris Peterson of Boise State (62), Gary Patterson of TCU (57) and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma (56).
  • Brian Kelly ranks as the fourth-most successful active NCAA FBS coach in winning percentage since 2007. Kelly's .800 winning percentage is bested only by Chris Peterson of Boise State (.891), Gary Patterson of TCU (.852) and Nick Saban of Alabama (.807).
  • TURK ENTERS FOURTH YEAR AS STARTING PUNTER

  • After a shaky start to the 2011 season, senior Ben Turk rebounded nicely to average 41.6 yards per punt over the last 11 games with 17 of 44 punts landing inside the 20 yard line.
  • In his Notre Dame career, 59 of Turk's 162 career punts have landed inside the 20-yard line and 57 of his punts have been fair caught.
  • Turk has 18 career punts of at least 50 yards, including four in the last two weeks against Purdue on Sept. 8 and at No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15.
  • Turk played a critical role in the 20-3 victory at No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15. He landed four of eight punts inside the 20-yard line and averaged 42.4 yards per punt.
  • Turk's second-half punts traveled 53 (downed at Michigan State 12), 50, 46 (downed at Spartan four) and 35 - flipping field position on three of those four punts.
  • Turk launched punts of 50 and 54 yards in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8. It marked the first game for Turk with multiple punts of at least 50 yards since Oct. 30, 2010 against Tulsa.
  • BRINDZA OWNS QUITE THE LEG

  • Sophomore PK Kyle Brindza averaged 65.3 yards per kickoff on 71 attempts in 2011. He recorded 12 touchbacks, which was the most by an Irish kicker since the stat was recorded in 1998.
  • Brindza's 65.3 yards per kickoff average is the best since 1998 by a wide margin. The next best effort by an Irish kicker since '98 - David Ruffer's 64.3 yards per kickoff in 2010.
  • Brindza has already registered nine touchbacks in Notre Dame's first three games of 2012, including a career-best five at No. 10 Michigan State.
  • Brindza also connected on 29 and 47-yard field goals to help the Irish upend No. 10 Michigan State on Sept. 15.
  • Brindza stepped in for an injured Nick Tausch and connected on a pair of field goals in the victory over Purdue on Sept. 8. After missing his first career attempt, Brindza made field goals of 30 and 27 yards. The 27-yard field goal came with seven seconds remaining in regulation and gave the Irish a 20-17 victory.
  • BY GEORGE, IT'S ATKINSON AGAIN

  • Sophomore RB George Atkinson III equaled the school record for most kickoff returns for touchdown with two in 2011.
  • Only eight active players in the FBS have more career kickoff returns for touchdown than Atkinson III. He also ranks 13th among active players in career kickoff return yards/game, 13th in kickoff returns/game and 18th in kickoff return average.
  • Atkinson III registered a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against USC on Oct. 22. The 96-yard return was the longest at Notre Dame Stadium since Julius Jones went 100 yards against Nebraska on Sept. 9, 2000. It also was the tied for the fifth-longest in Notre Dame Stadium history.
  • The kickoff return for a touchdown was Atkinson's second of the season. He was the first Irish player to have multiple kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same season since Allen Rossum in 1997.
  • Atkinson III was the second Notre Dame freshman to ever return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season. Raghib "Rocket" Ismail had a pair in 1988.
  • Atkinson III was the fourth FBS player in 2011 to register a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns.
  • Atkinson III returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to give Notre Dame a 14-3 lead with 1:20 remaining in the first quarter against Michigan State on Sept. 17.
  • Atkinson III was the first Irish freshman to return a kickoff for a touchdown since Raghib "Rocket" Ismail had two kickoff returns for touchdown against Rice on Nov. 6, 1988. He was the first Notre Dame player to return a kickoff for a touchdown since Armando Allen Jr. raced 96 yards for a score against Hawai'i in the 2008 Hawai'i Bowl.
  • Atkinson III - the fourth Notre Dame rookie to ever return a kickoff for a touchdown - joined the company of running back Al Hunter (1973 Sugar Bowl victory versus Alabama), running back Allen Pinkett (1982 loss to Penn State) and Ismail (two against Rice in 1988). Hunter became Notre Dame's first 1,000-yard rusher, Pinkett is No. 2 on the school's all-time rushing chart and Ismail won the Walter Camp Award as a junior. Not a bad club to join.
  • Atkinson III recorded the first kickoff return for a touchdown by an Irish player at Notre Dame Stadium since Julius Jones against No. 1 Nebraska on Sept. 9, 2000 with his 89-yard kick return against Michigan State.
  • GREAT FOR TELEVISION

  • Notre Dame has appeared on national or regional television in 238 consecutive games entering this weekend against Michigan.
  • The Irish have made 356 appearances on network television - more than any other school and more than the next two combined.
  • NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL - A FAMILY AFFAIR

  • The Golic family is one of just several father-son combinations who have played for Notre Dame represented on the 2012 Irish roster. Mike Sr. earned four monograms at Notre Dame from 1981-84, while Mike Jr. is a graduate C/G and Jake is a senior TE. In addition to their father, Mike and Jake's two uncles also played for the Irish. Bob was not only a four-year monogram winner from 1975-78, but he was a two-time All-American and helped the Irish to the 1977 National Title. Greg earned a pair of monograms in 1981 and 1983.
  • Other current Notre Dame players whose fathers also played for the Irish include junior WR TJ Jones (Andre, 1987-90) and sophomore OG Conor Hanratty (Terry, 1966-68).
  • The Irish feature a pair of players who had elder siblings also suit up for Notre Dame. Senior WR Nick Fitzpatrick is the younger brother of former PK D.J. Fitzpatrick (2002-05). Senior S Dan McCarthy is the younger brother of former S Kyle McCarthy (2006-09).
  • In addition to the Golic brothers, the Irish 2012 roster has three other sets of brothers - Zack and Nick Martin, George III and Josh Atkinson as well as Chris and Will Salvi. Zack is a senior OT and Nick is a sophomore OT. George III is a sophomore RB and Josh is a sophomore CB. Chris is a senior S and Will is a senior CB.
  • No FBS schools have more than Notre Dame's four sets of brothers.
  • SIX FOOTBALL STUDENT-ATHLETES ENTER FIFTH YEAR

  • Six seniors on the University of Notre Dame football team were approved to return for a fifth year by the school's Faculty Board on Athletics.
  • C Braxston Cave, OG Mike Golic, Jr., WR John Goodman, DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, S Dan McCarthy and S Jamoris Slaughter have all graduated. The sextet are currently enrolled in the graduate studies program at Notre Dame.
  • OFFICIAL NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL POSTGAME SHOW

  • The Official Notre Dame Football Postgame Show will again be broadcast live following every Notre Dame game on Newsradio 960 WSBT and 96.1 FM, and televised live on UND.com. The show is hosted by Jack Nolan and Irish All-American Reggie Brooks. The televised version of the show on UND.com also features game highlights.
  • OFFICIAL NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL TAILGATE SHOW

  • The IMG College Notre Dame Football Radio Network will again originate the Notre Dame Football Tailgate show from outside Legends of Notre Dame south of the Football Stadium beginning one hour before the kickoff of each Notre Dame home game. The show features live guests and is hosted by Jack Nolan and Allen Pinkett.
  • AROUND THE BEND THIS WEEKEND

  • Sixty-two members of the 1977 Notre Dame national championship football team are returning to campus this weekend for their 35th reunion. That team will be honored on the field Saturday just prior to the Notre Dame-Michigan football game at Notre Dame Stadium.
  • Just prior to the Notre Dame-Michigan football game Saturday there will be a Notre Dame Stadium flyover by four U.S. Air Force F-16 planes from the 309th Fighter Squadron located at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The pilots are 2001 Notre Dame graduate Air Force Major Greg Keller, Major Steve Whisler, Major Brendan Shannon and Captain Tom Hayes.
  • The national colors will be presented on Saturday at the Notre Dame-Michigan football game by former Notre Dame head football coach Ara Parseghian and his wife Katie, in recognition of Notre Dame's celebration this season of 125 years of football (1887-2012). Coach Parseghian led the Irish from 1964-74, won consensus national titles in 1966 and 1973 and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He will be joined on the field by 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte as well as a group of captains of Parseghian-coached Irish teams - including Jim Carroll, Phil Sheridan, Larry DiNardo, John Dampeer, Walt Patulski, Frank Pomarico and Mike Townsend.
  • The 2012 NCAA runner-up Notre Dame women's basketball team will be recognized during a timeout Saturday at the Notre Dame-Michigan football game.
  • All former Notre Dame football monogram-winners were invited to form a pregame tunnel through which the Irish team will run Saturday just prior to kickoff for Notre Dame-Michigan and approximately 200 are expected to participate.
  • OFFICIAL Brian Kelly RADIO SHOW

  • The Brian Kelly Radio Show begins live on Sept. 6 (the first show of the year will has been taped due to Notre Dame's travel for the Navy game and will air on Aug. 30) - and University of Notre Dame football fans can attend the show on the Notre Dame campus at Legends of Notre Dame, just south of Notre Dame Stadium. It will be telecast live on UND.com and broadcast live on News & Sports Radio 96.1 FM & 960 AM WSBT in South Bend, as well as WXNT-AM NewsTalk 1430 in Indianapolis. Sirius/XM College SportsNation will also broadcast the show twice each week on Friday night and again on Saturday morning. The show will air from 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET.
  • Dates for the shows are Aug. 30; Sept. 6, 13 and 20; Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25; Nov. 1, 8 and 15.
  • Hosted by Jack Nolan, the Brian Kelly Radio Show is a production of Notre Dame Sports Properties.
  • INSIDE NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL WITH Brian Kelly (TELEVISION SHOW)

  • Taped on Sunday afternoons, Inside Notre Dame Football will feature a recap of the week's contest, Notre Dame player features and more. The show can be seen locally Sunday evenings on WNDU-TV following the late local news. It will also re-air on WNDU-TV the following Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. as well as 90 minutes prior to kickoff of Notre Dame home games. All shows can also be viewed on UND.com starting Monday of each week. Inside Notre Dame Football airs on a total of 25 affiliates nationwide reaching nearly 72 million households.
  • NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL PEP RALLIES

  • Notre Dame has announced locations for pep rallies for its six home football weekends on campus in 2012, as well as for its off-site game in October in Chicago:
  • -- Friday, Sept. 7 (Purdue): On South Quad in front of Rockne Memorial Building
    -- Friday, Sept. 21 (Michigan): On Library Mall between Hesburgh Library and ND Stadium
    -- Friday, Oct. 5 (Miami, Fla.): At Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park
    -- Friday, Oct. 12 (Stanford): At Purcell Pavilion
    -- Friday, Oct. 19 (BYU): At Purcell Pavilion
    -- Friday, Nov. 2 (Pittsburgh): At Purcell Pavilion
    -- Friday, Nov. 16 (Wake Forest): At Purcell Pavilion

  • All pep rallies at Notre Dame begin at 6 p.m. (Eastern time), with the Irish football team arriving at 6:30 p.m. All rallies at Purcell Pavilion are free to the public and DO NOT require tickets. The Chicago rally begins with a 5-6 p.m. (Central time) performance by the Chicago band Maggie Speaks. The pep rally portion featuring Irish head coach Brian Kelly begins at 6:15 p.m. (Central time).
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