NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Mike Mayock (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), Rob Hyland (producer) and David Michaels (director).
IMG College Sports is the exclusive national rights-holder for Irish football radio broadcasts. IMG College manages, produces and syndicates the Irish national football radio network. Notre Dame games will be broadcast by Don Criqui (play-by-play), former Irish great Allen Pinkett (analysis) and Jeff Jeffers (sideline). This broadcast can be heard live on both SIRIUS and XM Satellite Radio (channel 129).
All Notre Dame home games may be heard in South Bend on Sunny 101.5 FM and Newsradio 960 WSBT-AM.
Saturday is the 222nd 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 270 of its last 271 home games.
Neither Notre Dame nor Air Force are ranked in either of this week's Associated Press or USA Today Coaches' polls, but the Irish are receiving votes in both polls and the Falcons are receiving votes in the coaches poll.
Live in-game statistics will be provided through CBS College Sports GameTracker via UND.com.
This year's matchup will mark the 29th meeting between Notre Dame and Air Force, with the Irish holding a 22-6 series lead. Notre Dame owns a 10-4 mark against the Falcons at Notre Dame Stadium. (more on the series on pages 2-6 of the PDF version of this notes package).
NOTRE DAME-AIR FORCE SERIES NOTES
Saturday's game marks the 29th meeting between Notre Dame and Air Force, with the Irish holding a 22-6 series lead. Notre Dame owns a 10-4 record against the Falcons in Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame has won 11 of its last 13 games against Air Force, but the Falcons took the most recent meeting in 2007 - a 41-24 victory over the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium. Except for a four-game losing streak against the Falcons from 1982-85, the Irish have won 22 of the 24 series meetings with Air Force.
Notre Dame has scored 30 or more points in nine of its last 13 games against Air Force, averaging 34.9 points per game in those contests.
Quite possibly the wildest finish in the Air Force-Notre Dame series came on Oct. 28, 2000. Glenn Earl blocked the Falcons' game-winning, 28-yard field-goal attempt as time expired in regulation, clearing the way for Joey Getherall to score his third touchdown of the game in overtime as No. 19 Notre Dame beat Air Force, 34-31.
Two of the 11 overtime games in Notre Dame history have come against Air Force. The Falcons won 20-17 in 1996, while the Irish claimed a 34-31 win in 2000. Notre Dame's other OT contests were a 27-20 loss at USC in 1996, a 27-24 loss to No. 1 Nebraska in 2000, a 29-26 victory over Washington State in 2003, a 44-41 loss to Michigan State in 2005, a 46-44 defeat to Navy in 2007, a 36-36 loss to Pittsburgh in 2008, a 37-30 victory over Washington in 2009, a 33-30 loss to Connecticut in 2009 and a 34-31 defeat at Michigan State in 2010.
Of the six Air Force wins in the series, four came under the guidance of longtime Falcon head coach Fisher DeBerry. DeBerry retired at the end of the 2006 season.
Saturday's game is the first for Notre Dame this season against a service academy. The Irish play host to Navy on Oct. 29.
NOTRE DAME VS. SERVICE ACADEMIES
Notre Dame has won just over 82 percent of its games (131-26-5) against the service academies (Army, Navy and Air Force).
The Irish have won 18 of their last 22 games against the service academies, and they are 37-5 (.881) against these schools since 1986 (including an 18-4 mark at home). The only defeats in that time were a 20-17 overtime setback against Air Force in 1996 at Notre Dame Stadium, the 2007 meetings with both Navy (44-46, 3ot) and Air Force (24-41) and the 2009 and 2010 games with the Midshipmen.
More than half (84) of Notre Dame's 162 games against service academies, and more than half of its victories (71) have come against Navy as part of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country.
Notre Dame will face Navy later this season at Notre Dame Stadium (Oct. 29).
Notre Dame and Army met every season from 1913-47 with the exception of 1918. During an 11-season span from 1937-47, one or both teams were ranked, including six meetings when either side was first or second in the nation and back-to-back "No. 1 vs. No. 2" matchups in 1945 and 1946. However, the Irish and Black Knights have played just 15 times since 1947, with Notre Dame winning 14 of those encounters.
NOTRE DAME VS. MOUNTAIN WEST
Notre Dame has a 24-6 (.800) all-time record against current members of the Mountain West Conference, with the vast majority of those games (28) coming against Air Force.
The .800 Irish winning percentage vs. the Mountain West Conference is the second best in school history against a FBS conference, topped only by the .852 mark (23-4) Notre Dame has posted against Conference USA.
Saturday's game is just the 10th for the Irish against a team representing the Mountain West since that league began play in 1999.
The other nine meetings for Notre Dame against an MWC opponent came against Air Force in 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2007 along with the 2003, 2004 and 2005 meetings with BYU, the 2008 matchup with San Diego State and the 2010 meeting with Utah.
The only other current MWC teams the Irish have faced are TCU (a 21-0 win in 1972) and San Diego State (a 21-13 victory in 2008).
Notre Dame has never played Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV or Wyoming - the remaining members of the MWC.
NOTRE DAME - AIR FORCE CONNECTIONS
The 2011 Notre Dame roster features two players from the state of Colorado, including sophomore WR Ryan Liebscher (Colorado Springs/Cheyenne Mountain H.S.) and sophomore ILB Danny Spond (Littleton/Columbine H.S.).
Air Force and Notre Dame honored Gregg Lewis, the son of former Notre Dame secondary coach and current Community Relations/External Affairs manager Bill Lewis at the 2006 game by wearing a helmet decal during the game. Gregg was a 1992 graduate of the Air Force Academy and walk-on football player in 1988. He was killed on a training mission in the fall of 1998 while flying helicopters for the 66th Rescue Squadron from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The idea came from Lewis' brother, Geoff, who coordinated with both head coaches to honor his brother's squadron, the "Jolly 38" unit.
Notre Dame freshman OLB Troy Niklas has an older brother, Austin, that is a junior OLB for Air Force.
Notre Dame offensive line and run game coordinator Ed Warinner spent three seasons on Fisher DeBerry's staff at Air Force (2000-02). Warinner served as the Falcons offensive line coach and faced the Irish on two occasions, including the 2000 thriller in South Bend.
Notre Dame equipment manager Ryan Grooms spent five years at Air Force in a similar capacity (2003-07).
The 2011 Air Force roster features one player from the state of Indiana - sophomore OL Michael Husar, Jr. (Mt. Carmel/Mt. Carmel H.S.).
A VICTORY OVER AIR FORCE...
Improves Notre Dame's overall record to 4-2 overall and 2-1 at home.
Gives the Irish four straight victories overall and two consecutive wins at home.
Gives Notre Dame a four-game winning streak for the second time under second-year head coach Brian Kelly.
Gives the Irish a victory over Air Force in 12 of the last 14 meetings, including four of the last five.
Improves Notre Dame to 23-6 (.793) in the all-time series with the Falcons.
Improves the Irish to 11-4 (.733) in the all-time series with Air Force at Notre Dame Stadium.
Improves the Irish to 21-5 (.808) all-time against unranked Air Force.
Improves Notre Dame to 11-4 (.733) all-time against the unranked Falcons at home.
Improves the unranked Irish (post 1936) to 4-4 (.500) all-time against Air Force.
Improves unranked Notre Dame (post 1936) to 3-3 (.500) all-time against the Falcons at home.
Improves the unranked Irish (post 1936) to 4-3 (.571) all-time against unranked Air Force.
Improves unranked Notre Dame (post 1936) to 3-3 (.500) all-time against the unranked Falcons at home.
Improves Notre Dame's all-time record to 849-297-42 (.732).
Improves the all-time record for the Irish at home to 459-117-13 (.790).
Improves Notre Dame's all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 312-105-5 (.745).
Improves the Irish to 25-6 (.806) all-time against the Mountain West Conference, including 13-4 (.765) at home.
Improves Notre Dame to 132-26-5 (.825) all-time against the Service Academies, including 45-10 (.818) at home.
Improves Kelly's record to 183-64-2 (.739) overall.
Improves Kelly's record to 65-29 (.691) in FBS games.
Improves Kelly's record to 55-17 (.764) over the last six seasons.
Improves Kelly's record to 1-0 (1.000) all-time against Air Force, including 1-0 (1.000) at home.
Improves Kelly's record to 2-0 (1.000) all-time against the Mountain West Conference, including 2-0 (1.000) at home.
Improves Kelly's record to 3-1 (.750) all-time against the Service Academies, including 1-0 (1.000) at home.
A DEFEAT TO AIR FORCE...
Drops Notre Dame's overall record to 3-3 and home record to 1-2.
Denies the Irish four straight victories overall and two consecutive wins at home.
Denies Notre Dame its second four-game winning streak under second-year head coach Brian Kelly.
Gives Air Force only its third victory in the last 14 meetings with the Irish.
Drops Notre Dame to 22-7 (.759) in the all-time series with the Falcons.
Drops the Irish to 10-5 (.667) in the all-time series with Air Force at Notre Dame Stadium.
Drops the Irish to 20-6 (.769) all-time against unranked Air Force.
Drops Notre Dame to 10-5 (.667) all-time against the unranked Falcons at home.
Drops the unranked Irish (post 1936) to 3-5 (.375) all-time against Air Force.
Drops unranked Notre Dame (post 1936) to 2-4 (.333) all-time against the Falcons at home.
Drops the unranked Irish (post 1936) to 3-4 (.429) all-time against unranked Air Force.
Drops unranked Notre Dame (post 1936) to 2-4 (.333) all-time against the unranked Falcons at home.
Drops Notre Dame's all-time record to 848-298-42 (.731).
Drops the all-time record for the Irish at home to 458-118-13 (.789).
Drops Notre Dame's all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 311-106-5 (.743).
Drops the Irish to 24-7 (.774) all-time against the Mountain West Conference, including 12-5 (.706) at home.
Drops Notre Dame to 131-27-5 (.819) all-time against the Service Academies, including 44-11 (.800) at home.
Drops Kelly's record to 182-65-2 (.735) overall.
Drops Kelly's record to 64-30 (.681) in FBS games.
Drops Kelly's record to 54-18 (.750) over the last six seasons.
Drops Kelly's record to 0-1 (.000) all-time against Air Force, including 0-1 (.000) at home.
Drops Kelly's record to 1-1 (.500) all-time against the Mountain West Conference, including 1-1 (.500) at home.
Drops Kelly's record to 2-2 (.500) all-time against the Service Academies, including 0-1 (.000) at home.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played 14 previous games in its history on Oct. 8. The Irish are 10-4 all-time on this date.
HISTORIC NOTRE DAME STADIUM
The 2011 football season marks the 81st year of Irish football in fabled Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish have played 422 games in the facility to date and own a 312-105-5 (.745) record in the "House that Rockne Built." The most wins in a season by the Irish at home is seven by the 1988 national championship team and the longest home winning streak in Notre Dame football history is 28 games (from 11/21/42 through 9/30/50).
OPENERS AN INDICATOR?
Notre Dame is 102-16-5 (.850) in season openers, but have they been foretelling of the season ahead? Take a look:
The 102 seasons Notre Dame has won its opener, the Irish went on to post winning records 93 times (91.2%), with four losing seasons and five .500 records.
The 15 seasons the Irish lost their opener, the Irish posted winning records six times and a losing mark eight times (with one .500 season).
The five seasons Notre Dame registered a tie in its opener, the Irish had four winning records and one losing record.
Notre Dame has started a season 0-2 seven times in the 123-year history of Irish football. Notre Dame has rebounded to secure a winning record on two previous occasions.
Notre Dame has rebounded with three consecutive wins after an 0-2 start just twice in school history. The 1978 Irish squad posted eight straight victories after their 0-2 start.
NOTRE DAME IN OCTOBER
Notre Dame is 374-91-8 (.799) all-time during the month.
The Irish are 230-48-4 (.823) in October home games.
Notre Dame is 108-36-3 (.745) in October road games.
The Irish are 84-23-2 (.780) in October games at Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame has won eight of its last 10 games on the road in the month of October.
IRISH RETURN 51 MONOGRAM WINNERS, 17 STARTERS
Notre Dame opened fall practice with 51 returning monogram winners from 2010 - 21 on offense, 25 on defense and five on special teams.
Notre Dame had 12 players named to a major preseason award watch list. Only Alabama's 13 players on various watch lists bests the Fighting Irish dozen.
RIVALRY TROPHIES HEADING TO NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame has possession of the Megaphone (Michigan State), Jeweled Shillelagh (USC), Ireland (Boston College) and Shillelagh (Purdue) Trophies for the first time since Nov. 30, 1996.
REAL MEN WEAR PINK
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and the rest of the Irish sideline will be wearing the adidas® Breast Cancer Collection, a line of apparel and head wear created to support October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Notre Dame players will also wear pink arm and/or wrist bands, head bands and gloves.
IRISH ROAD WARRIORS
Notre Dame is one of only two teams in the Football Subdivision to go on the road each of the last two weeks and win. The Irish knocked off Pittsburgh and Purdue. SMU is the other FBS foe to accomplish the feat. The Mustangs upended Memphis and TCU.
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
Notre Dame is one of just three NCAA FBS programs to have not faced a non-FBS opponent since the current setup was established in 1978. The two other remaining schools that have yet to play a non-FBS opponent are USC and UCLA.
KELLY'S WINNING WAYS
In his first year at Notre Dame, Brian Kelly helped the Irish secure a 6-1 record when leading after three quarters and a 8-1 mark entering halftime with a lead. Kelly and the Irish were unable to continue that success at Michigan. The Wolverines rallied from a 17-point deficit heading into the final period for a 35-31 victory.
Notre Dame has not suffered a similar fate over the last three weeks. Kelly is 154-10 in his coaching career when taking a lead into the fourth quarter and an 90-4 mark since 2001. He owns a 143-12 record when taking a lead into halftime, including an 88-4 mark since 2001.
Here are a couple other pretty remarkable win-loss records during Kelly's career:
Kelly is 12-1 coming off a bye week.
Kelly is 120-22 when scoring first.
Kelly is 147-22-1 when outrushing his opponent.
Kelly is 110-12 when his team wins the turnover battle.
Kelly is 34-14-2 in games decided by three points or less.
Kelly is 61-4-1 when his team gets a defensive or special teams touchdown.
Kelly's is 51-13 in the month of November, including a 17-2 mark since 2006.
Kelly is 118-7 when his team scores 30 or more points, including a 68-1 mark with 40 or more points.
Kelly is 116-5-1 when his team allows 19 points or less.
Since 2006, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has compiled the sixth-most wins of any active NCAA FBS coach. Kelly has gone on to win 54 contests (54-17 overall) to tie him with Mack Brown of Texas and Brett Bielema of Wisconsin over that span. The only coaches ahead of Kelly in that time frame are Chris Peterson of Boise State (65), Gary Patterson of TCU (58), Bob Stoops of Oklahoma (58), Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech (55) and Les Miles of LSU (55).
Since 2001, Brian Kelly has totaled the third-most wins among all active FBS coaches. Kelly is 105-31 over the last 11 seasons and trails only Bob Stoops (113-26) and Mack Brown (110-23) for the best coaching record this decade.
Brian Kelly ranks as the fifth-most successful active NCAA FBS coach in winning percentage and sixth in victories.
Brian Kelly was one of 22 head coaches at the FBS level that took over new programs in 2010. Out of the that group, Kelly was one of just five coaches that produced at least eight wins and one of just four that led their teams to a bowl victory. Jimbo Fisher at Florida State led the group with 10 wins, while three other coaches, Skip Holtz at USF, Lane Kiffin at USC and Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech, each secured eight victories. Out of the five coaches who won at least eight games, only Kelly, Fisher and Holtz exceeded their team's win total from the previous season. Kelly, Holtz, Tuberville and Louisville's Charlie Strong were the coaches that won bowl games.
Notre Dame has had 15 different head coaches, including Brian Kelly, walk the sidelines in the all-time series with rival USC. Kelly became the first Irish head coach to knock off the Trojans in his first meeting since Lou Holtz.
Kelly became the first Irish coach in school history to capture a bowl game in his inaugural season with Notre Dame.
TAILS IT IS
Notre Dame opened each of its first 11 games in 2010 with the football. The Irish won the coin toss and elected to receive against both USF and Michigan State in 2011. Notre Dame won the coin toss at Purdue, but deferred to the second half. Notre Dame has opened 15 of its last 18 games with the football. The only exceptions? Notre Dame also won the coin toss against USC in `10 and Michigan earlier this season, but elected to defer each time.
2011 NOTRE DAME OPPONENT UPDATE
Notre Dame and USC are the only two FBS schools to face an opponent from a Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifying conference over the first five weeks of the 2011 campaign.
Even more remarkable, only 17 schools faced two such opponents over the first two games of '11 and only four of those 17 schools compete in a BCS AQ conference - Maryland, Miami, Fla., Wake Forest and USC. Not one member from the SEC, Big Ten, BIG EAST or Big 12 could make such a claim.
According to the NCAA, Notre Dame's schedule currently ranks as the 21st-most difficult in the FBS. Irish opponents have a combined record of 25-14 (.641). Notre Dame's past opposition schedule ranks tied for fifth. The quintet of USF, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Purdue have combined for an 12-3 mark (NCAA ratings includes opponent's record against FBS schools and excludes head-to-head results).
According to the Sagarin ratings, only four schools have a stronger strength of schedule than the Irish. Of those four schools, only Arizona hails from a Bowl Championship Series automatic qualifying conference.
According to the NCAA, no Football Bowl Subdivision school played a tougher regular season schedule based on opposition win-loss percentage than Notre Dame in 2010. Irish opponents had a combined record of 80-43 (.650).
Notre Dame's No. 1 ranking in the NCAA strength-of-schedule standings was its highest since a No. 1 ranking in 1995. The .650 winning percentage of Irish opponents made for its strongest schedule faced in 21 years - since a .655 percentage when Notre Dame finished tops in the toughest-schedule derby in 1989.
The Irish have a long history of playing challenging schedules - with Notre Dame ranking (since the NCAA began this rating in 1977) first in 1978, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1995 and 2010; third in 1986, 1999, 2003; and fourth in 1979 and 1990. That makes for 11 top-four finishes in that category in the 34 years the NCAA has calculated these numbers.
This season could prove to be just as tough as the Irish face nine teams that went to bowl games last year and 10 teams that finished with a winning record.
THE 2011 CAPTAINS
Notre Dame reinstated an old tradition in 2010, designating captains on a game-by-game basis for only the third time in school history. Back in 1946, legendary head coach Frank Leahy elected to choose captains for each game - the result was an 8-0-1 record and the fifth of Notre Dame's 11 national championships. The Irish also designated captains on a game-by-game basis from 2002-04 as well, but the team voted on season captains following the regular season.
Senior S Harrison Smith is Notre Dame's lone season captain. He is the first Irish lone season captain since 1999 when Jarious Jackson held the individual honor. The other single individual captains for Notre Dame in the last 40 years include Jarious Jackson (1999), Rodney Culver (1991) and Mike Kovaleski (1986).
Atkinson returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown to give Notre Dame a 14-3 lead with 1:20 remaining in the first quarter. He 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. Atkinson 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. He 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.
Atkinson - 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.
Lynch - seeing the most playing time of his Irish career - absolutely dominated his counterparts on the Michigan State offensive line. He recorded six quarterback hurries, one sack, a forced fumble and five tackles. While Notre Dame tracks quarterback pressures at home, not every Irish opponent does the same on the road. To put into perspective what an incredible number that is, consider that senior DE Ethan Johnson and senior DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, plus senior OLB Darius Fleming, led the Irish in that category -- with five apiece for the entire 2010 home season.
Notre Dame has played a total of nine freshman over its first five games and another six sophomore players that did not see game action as rookies in 2010.
Freshman TE Ben Koyack, from Oil City, Pa., registered his first career reception against Pittsburgh. Koyack hauled in a five-yard pass on Notre Dame's opening drive of the game.
Senior RB Jonas Gray certainly made the most of his first career rushing touchdown. He raced 79 yards for a touchdown to give the Irish a 7-3 lead at Pittsburgh. The 79-yard run was the longest by an Irish player since Terrance Howard went 80 yards for a touchdown at West Virginia on Oct. 21, 2000.
A number of Irish players established firsts in the 38-10 rout of Purdue on Oct. 1. Freshman RB Cam McDaniel not only made his first appearance in an Irish uniform, but the rookie registered his first career carry. Freshman RB George Atkinson III picked up his first career reception - a 10-yard screen pass. Sophomore WR Luke Massa made his first career appearance. Sophomore DE Kona Schwenke, senior QB Matt Mulvey and senior WR Deion Walker each saw their first game action of 2011.
GREAT FOR TELEVISION
Notre Dame has become quite accustomed to nailbiting finishes. In addition to each of the first two games in 2011 and against Pittsburgh, the Irish have been involved in 18 games decided by seven points or less since the start of the 2009 campaign. In fact, 14 of the last 19 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 56 games in the 123-year history of the program where the winning points have occurred in overtime or the game's final minute of regulation. Amazingly, 11 have come in the past five years alone.
Notre Dame's two losses have come by a combined seven points - 23-20 vs. USF and 35-31 at Michigan.
Five of second-year head coach Brian Kelly's seven losses at Notre Dame have come by a combined 15 points.
Notre Dame regained a 31-28 lead with 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter at Michigan. Had the Irish 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 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 junior WR 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.
NEVER A DRY MOMENT
Notre Dame Stadium was evacuated due to inclement weather and lightning just moments after halftime in the season opener against USF. The first half ended at 5:12 p.m. ET. The game resumed at 7:22 p.m. The contest was delayed two hours and 10 minutes at halftime. The game was halted a second time in the fourth quarter for a total of 43 minutes. In all, the game was suspended for two hours and 53 minutes, lasted five hours and 59 minutes and ended at 9:39 p.m. ET.
It is believed to be the first weather related delay in Notre Dame history - home or away.
According to Steve Boda, long-time NCAA statistics staffer and a particular expert on Notre Dame football history, the closest a Notre Dame game came to being postponed by weather was the 1923 season finale at St. Louis University. The game was played on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 29). There was a drenching, non-stop rain and the field was ankle-deep in mud. Knute Rockne proposed the game be postponed until the following day, but there already were 9,000 fans in attendance and St. Louis did not agree. The game went on as scheduled, Notre Dame won 13-0 and the teams' combined for 22 fumbles in the game.
The game officially goes into the record books as the longest in terms of time in school history. Longest recent Notre Dame games included the 4:01 quadruple overtime loss at home to Pitt in 2008 and another 4:01 marathon in the 44-41 overtime defeat to Michigan State at home in 2005.
CONTINUED FIRST QUARTER DOMINANCE
Notre Dame continued its trend of quick starts against Purdue. After Notre Dame outgained USF (152-62), Michigan (145-27), Michigan State (95-36) and Pittsburgh (72-31) in the first quarter, the Irish also outgained the Boilermakers, 185-39, in the opening quarter. Notre Dame has now outgained its first five opponents of the 2011 season in the opening period by a 649-195 margin.
The Irish have outgained their first five opponents of 2011 in the opening quarter by an average of 130-39.
Notre Dame has averaged 6.4 yards per play in the first quarter this season, while its five opponents have averaged just 3.5 yards per play.
The 185 yards in the first quarter against Purdue on Oct. 1 was the second-most for Notre Dame in any quarter this season (186 in the 2nd quarter at Pittsburgh). The 185 yards is the most for the Irish in any opening quarter under second-year head coach Brian Kelly.
The 185 yards is the most for Notre Dame in an opening quarter since the Irish recorded 211 in the first quarter at Air Force on Nov. 11, 2006.
Notre Dame averaged 7.1 yards per play and limited Purdue to 3.2 yards per play.
Notre Dame averaged 5.6 yards per play and limited Michigan State to 2.8 yards per play.
The Irish defense limited the Spartans to a pair of first downs and minus-one yard on eight carries in the opening quarter.
Notre Dame averaged 8.5 yards per play and limited Michigan to 2.7 yards per play.
The Irish averaged 8.0 yards per play while USF averaged 5.6 yards per play.
NOTRE DAME OFFENSE, DEFENSE QUARTER BY QUARTER BREAKDOWN
Notre Dame's 158 yards on the ground in the opening half at Purdue on Oct. 1 was the most in a half for the Irish this season. In fact, it is the most rushing yards in a half for Notre Dame under second-year head coach Brian Kelly. The previous single-half high for the Irish was 154 yards in the first half at Pittsburgh on Sept. 24.
Notre Dame junior RB Cierre Wood had 101 yards on nine carries in the first half, including a 55-yard scoring run, against the Boilermakers, while senior RB Jonas Gray had 56 yards rushing on nine carries. Wood (69 yards on 16 rushes) and Gray (80 yards on two carries) totaled 149 yards in the opening half at Pittsburgh on Sept. 24.
Notre Dame statistically dominated of Michigan over the first two quarters and most of the third period. The Irish outgained the Wolverines, 145-27 and 123-63, in the opening 30 minutes (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. The Wolverines managed just 223 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).
Notre Dame statistically dominated USF in three of four quarters in the season opener. The Irish out-gained the Bulls, 152-62, in the first quarter but trailed 13-0. USF's touchdown came on a 96-yard fumble return and its two field goals were assisted by a 23-yard Notre Dame punt and 34-yard punt return set up great field position. The two Bulls' scoring drives in the first quarter totaled 80 yards.
The Irish also outgained USF in the third quarter, 159-48, and fourth quarter, 156-24. USF held an advantage in the second quarter, 82-39.
IRISH DEFENSE ANSWERS THE BELL FOLLOWING TURNOVERS
Following Notre Dame's last nine turnovers, the Irish defense has not allowed a touchdown. Notre Dame has allowed a pair of field goals, forced four turnovers (three interceptions and fumble), two punts and one turnover occurred on the final play of the Michigan game.
The nine opponent possessions following an Irish turnover have resulted in only 146 yards on 30 plays - which averages to 3.3 plays and 16.2 yards per drive (only two of those possessions gained more than 18 yards and five resulted in fewer than five yards).
Notre Dame's defense again answered the challenge following a turnover in the first quarter by Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh opened its drive at the Irish 23-yard line following a fumble, but only managed a field goal.
Notre Dame's defense allowed a total of 12 yards on 14 plays - and one first down - on the four drives following an Irish turnover (prior to the Irish interception at the Pittsburgh five-yard line midway through the second quarter).
The Irish had three turnovers against Michigan State - all inside Notre Dame territory - and two of which occurred inside 25-yard line. The Irish defense only allowed a field goal. Notre Dame also answered with a pair of forced turnovers of its own on the other two possessions.
Michigan State opened a drive at the Irish 23-yard line following a 34-yard interception return, but the Irish limited the Spartans to a field goal. Michigan State gained just four yards on four plays following the turnover.
Notre Dame added its third turnover of the game late in the fourth quarter when senior WR John Goodman muffed a punt at the Irish 21-yard line. The Irish defense responded with an interception. Senior CB Robert Blanton picked off Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins and raced 82 yards to set up a Notre Dame field goal.
IRISH DEFENSE LEADS THE WAY
Notre Dame's defense has allowed one offensive touchdown or less in eight of its last 10 games.
Notre Dame has surrendered 13 points or less in three consecutive games - Michigan State (13), Pittsburgh (12) and Purdue (10). The Irish have 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 limited Purdue to just a pair of first downs over its opening five drives of the game. The Boilermakers totaled 20 yards on their first 18 offensive plays.
Eight of Purdue's 11 drives of the game garnered 21 yards or less of total offense.
Notre Dame has given up exactly two rushing touchdowns over its last 10 games (dating back to the Tulsa game in 2010). Even more amazing, neither of those rushing touchdowns have come from an opposing running back. USC's Mitch Mustain and Michigan's Denard Robinson each snuck in from one-yard out (Robinson's following a Wolverine fumble). Even crazier, each of the last four rushing touchdowns against the Irish have come from quarterbacks (when you include Ricky Dobbs' two rushing touchdowns in the third quarter of the game against Notre Dame on Oct. 23, 2010).
Notre Dame's defense has allowed only one rushing touchdown this year. No team in the FBS has allowed fewer rushing touchdowns than the Irish.
Notre Dame's rush defense has been downright naughty over its last nine games. The Irish have surrendered 100 yards on the ground just four times over the stretch and no team has rushed for more than 135 yards (it took Army, a triple option attack, 43 carries to reach that mark). Notre Dame has limited its opponents to 91.4 yards per game and 2.9 yards per rush along the way.
Notre Dame ranks among the top 40 in rush defense (19th; 91.20/game), total defense (31st; 321.60/game) and scoring defense (26th; 18.60/game). The Irish have not finished a season among the top 40 in all three of those defensive categories since 2002 when Notre Dame ranked 13th in total defense (300.00/game), 10th in rushing defense (95.2/game) and ninth in scoring defense (16.7).
Notre Dame is allowing 91.2 yards rushing per game in 2011. Only 11 Irish defenses since 1946 have allowed fewer yards rushing per game. The school record for fewest rushing yards per game was set in 1964 when Notre Dame allowed 68.7 yards per game on the ground.
Through Notre Dame's first five games of 2011, the Irish have allowed only five explosive carries (15 yards or more). Notre Dame limited USF to one, Michigan to two, Michigan State to none, Pittsburgh to one and Purdue to one (late in fourth quarter against Irish second and third team defense). That effort is even more impressive when you consider where those five teams rank in the FBS in rushing yards per game. The Bulls rank 6th (223.20 rushing/game), Wolverines rank seventh (293.25), Spartans rank 81st (128.80), Panthers rank 40th (180.40) and Boilermakers rank 19th (215.00).
Notre Dame ranks 19th nationally in rush defense, and that's with already having faced the nation's No. 3 (Ray Graham of Pittsburgh) and No. 4 (Denard Robinson of Michigan) rushers.
Notre Dame has limited USF, Michigan, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Purdue on the ground to significant worse numbers than those teams average against everyone else on its 2011 schedule.
Notre Dame's front line defense limited Purdue to 44 yards (21 rushes) and 2.1 yards per carry. The Boilermakers recorded 40 yards on six carries during their final drive of the game in the waning seconds against the Irish second and third team defense.
IRISH HOST A SACK PARTY
Notre Dame had 3.0 sacks in the victory at Purdue on Oct. 1. The Irish have at least 2.0 sacks in four of their five games and each of the last three contests. Notre Dame has totaled 11.0 sacks over its last three games.
The Irish registered 6.0 sacks at Pittsburgh. The 6.0 sacks were the most for the Irish under second-year head coach Brian Kelly and most since Notre Dame had 8.0 against Hawai'i in the Hawai'i Bowl to close the 2008 season. The 6.0 sacks also were the most by an Irish defense in a regular-season game since Notre Dame recorded seven at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
Notre Dame ranks tied for 19th in the FBS in sacks per game (2.80). No team in the FBS has averaged more sacks or totaled more sacks against five BCS automatic qualifying opponents in 2011.
Sacks became official by the NCAA prior to the 1982 season. Notre Dame is on pace to record 34.0 sacks in the 12-game regular season. That total would be the highest by an Irish defense since the 2003 edition had 39.0. The 2003 Notre Dame defense was led in sacks by Justin Tuck's 13.5.
Notre Dame has three different players rank among the top 100 in the FBS in sacks per game. Junior ILB Manti Te'o leads the trio with 0.80 sacks per game (t-15th). Freshman DE Aaron Lynch (t-32nd) follows Te'o with 0.75 sacks per game and senior OLB Darius Fleming (t-76th) closes out the threesome with 0.50 sacks per game.
IRISH PRETTY TOUGH ON THIRD DOWN
Notre Dame's defense ranks 19th in the FBS in third down defense. Irish opponents have managed to convert just 30.99% (22 of 71) on third down. Notre Dame's third down defense in the first two quarters of its opening five games has been downright incredible. Irish foes have converted just two third downs in 12 attempts in the opening quarter and only eight in 35 attempts in the first half.
DEFENSE LEADS IRISH TO VICTORY AT PITTSBURGH
Pittsburgh entered the contest with Notre Dame averaging 164.0 yards on the ground, 240.33 yards through the air, 404.33 total yards and 32.33 points. The Irish limited the Panthers to 103 yards rushing, 165 yards passing, 268 total yards and 12 points.
The 15 points scored by Notre Dame was the fewest en route to a victory since Sept. 2, 2006, when the Irish slipped past Georgia Tech, 14-10.
Pittsburgh's 103 yards rushing came on 38 carries, good for an average of 2.7 yards per carry. The Panthers' Ray Graham - who has three career 200-yard rushing games and ranks third in the FBS at 146.80 yards rushing/game - did have a 42-yard run, but otherwise Pittsburgh gained 61 yards on its other 37 carries (1.7 per carry average). Graham finished the contest with 89 yards on 21 carries (4.2 yards per rush). Again, without the 42 yard run, Graham managed 47 yards on his other 20 carries.
The Panthers managed just 3.8 yards per offensive play.
Notre Dame registered 8.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. The 6.0 sacks were the most for the Irish under second-year head coach Brian Kelly and most since Notre Dame had 8.0 against Hawai'i in the Hawai'i Bowl to close the 2008 season. The 6.0 sacks also were the most by an Irish defense in a regular-season game since Notre Dame recorded seven at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
All three Pittsburgh scores followed Notre Dame miscues (Tommy Rees' fumble led to field goal, Kyle Brindza kickoff out of bounds gave Panthers ball at the 40-yard line which resulted in field goal and Austin Collinsworth roughing the punter penalty gave Pittsburgh a first down to extend touchdown drive).
DEFENSE STYMIES MICHIGAN STATE RUNNING GAME
Michigan State managed just one rushing first down the entire game - and it came with two minutes remaining in the opening half. The Spartans have been held to one rushing first down or less just eight times in school history and three times have come against the Irish (1976, 1981 and 2011). Michigan State has been held to fewer first down rushes, zero, just once in school history and it came against Purdue in 1979.
Bob Diaco - Notre Dame's defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach and two-time all-Big Ten selection at Iowa - played a key role as the starting middle linebacker in the Hawkeyes' dominant effort of the Spartans in 1995 (another game in which Michigan State was held to one rushing first down).
Notre Dame limited Michigan State to 29 yards rushing on 23 carries. It is the fewest rushing yards by the Spartans in the series with Notre Dame since Sept. 19, 1987. Michigan State managed just 21 yards in a 31-8 defeat.
Michigan State entered the game averaging 175.0 yards per game on the ground.
It was the fewest rushing yards allowed by the Irish since limiting Boston College to five yards on the ground on Oct. 2, 2010.
Notre Dame registered 10 quarterback hurries, nine pass breakups, five tackles for loss and two sacks. The Irish also forced a pair of turnovers (both came following an Irish turnover).
Freshman DE Aaron Lynch - seeing the most playing time of his Irish career - absolutely dominated his counterparts on the Michigan State offensive line. He recorded six quarterback hurries, one sack, a forced fumble and five tackles. While Notre Dame tracks quarterback pressures at home, not every Irish opponent does the same on the road. To put into perspective what an incredible number that is, consider that senior DE Ethan Johnson and senior DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, plus senior OLB Darius Fleming, led the Irish in that category -- with five apiece for the entire 2010 home season.
Michigan State's longest run of the game went for eight yards.
Notre Dame limited the Spartans to one yard or less on eight of their 23 carries.
Notre Dame limited Michigan State to 13 yards rushing in the first half on 14 carries (just a 0.9 yards per carry average).
The 13 yards rushing allowed by the Irish were the fewest by a Notre Dame opponent in a half since Western Michigan managed minus-two yards in the second half on Oct. 16, 2010.
Michigan State's longest run of the first half went for five yards. In fact, the Irish held the Spartans to one yard or less on six of their 14 rushes before halftime.
Michigan State amassed 154 total yards in the first half, 80 of which came on its 11-play touchdown drive early in the second quarter. The Spartans managed 74 yards on their other five drives. Notre Dame limited Michigan State to fewer than 17 yards on four of its six drives before halftime.
The Irish allowed a total of 52 yards of total offense in the third quarter on 13 plays, including nine yards rushing on six carries.
JUST HOW MUCH OUT OF DEFENSIVE CHARACTER WAS FOURTH QUARTER AT MICHIGAN
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, in the opening 30 minutes (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.
DEFENSE DOMINATES FIRST HALF AGAINST MICHIGAN
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.
Notre Dame forced its first turnover of the season on the ensuing play following Michigan's initial first down of the game.
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).
DEFENSE DOES ITS PART VS. USF
Notre Dame limited USF to a total of 254 yards of offense, including 110 yards after halftime. Notre Dame allowed just 3.0 yards per rush, 3.5 yards per play, 4.3 yards per pass attempt, one offensive touchdown and 2-of-14 on third-down conversions.
In the second half with a lead and looking to run the football, USF managed a grand total of 43 yards on the ground on 21 carries or a 2.0 per rush. The Bulls' needed 37 plays from scrimmage to collect those 110 second-half total yards. USF averaged a shade under 3.0 yards per play after intermission.
USF wide receiver Lindsey Lamar had the longest scamper of the game against Notre Dame (a 17-yard run). Otherwise, the Irish contained the Bulls' running game. If you eliminate Lamar's 17-yard run and the Bulls averaged just 2.7 yards per carry over their other 41 rushes. USF had 22 carries for two yards or less.
The Bulls did mount one touchdown drive and marched 80 yards on 14 plays. On USF's other 14 drives against the Irish defense, it never gained fore than 45 yards. In fact, the Bulls had nine drives in which they failed to advance the ball more than 17 yards. Six drives did not even garner 10 yards.
Notre Dame forced USF into a punt on five of its seven second-half drives and one of those drives included the final play of the contest - a kneel down.
USF benefitted from great field position on two of its scoring drives (both field goals). The Bulls opened a drive at the Irish 20-yard line following a muffed punt by junior WR Theo Riddick and opened another drive at the Notre Dame 40-yard line following a 34-yard punt return.
The longest drive of the opening half for USF was 45 yards and it took the Bulls 12 plays to accumulate that total.
Notre Dame did not allow USF a third-down conversion in seven first-half attempts.
Notre Dame limited USF to 48 total yards in the third quarter, including five yards rushing on six carries.
The Irish collected two sacks against one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the country - B.J. Daniels. Notre Dame's starting defensive ends senior Kapron Lewis-Moore and senior Ethan Johnson combined for 12 tackles. The nose guard tandem of senior Sean Cwynar and sophomore Louis Nix III amassed 10 tackles, six for Nix in his first collegiate appearance. In all, the Irish defensive line registered 23 tackles. If you include senior OLB Darius Fleming, who spends significant action on the line of scrimmage in the Notre Dame 3-4 look, the group totaled 31 stops.
Notre Dame used 16 different players on defense via rotation during its first series on the field that lasted eight plays. Seeing action off the bench right away were the freshmen DE duo of Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Lynch, sophomore NG Louis Nix III, junior ILB Carlo Calabrese and junior S Zeke Motta.
STATS TURNED IRRELEVANT
Notre Dame racked up 27 first downs and 508 total yards against USF. The 508 total yards in the game for the Irish were exactly twice as many as the Bulls (254).
The 254 yards allowed are the second-fewest by an Irish defense under Kelly.
Notre Dame outgained USF, 152-62, in the first quarter, but the Bulls led 13-0.
The Irish outgained USF, 317-110, in the second half.
RED ZONE REPORT
Notre Dame has not had difficulty reaching the red zone, but, rather, capitalizing once entering the scoring area.
The Irish rank 117th in the FBS in red zone offense. Notre Dame has scored on just 12 of its 19 red zone chances, including only 10 touchdowns. The seven failed opportunities for the Irish include two missed field goals, three interceptions and two fumbles.
Notre Dame had five red zone chances at Purdue on Oct. 1 and came away with four scores (three touchdowns), but did have a 23-yard field goal blocked.
The Irish entered Pittsburgh's red zone on just one occasion and recorded a touchdown along with a two-point conversion.
The Irish defense made its own noise in the red zone against Michigan State. The Spartans ventured into the Notre Dame 20-yard line on five different occasions, but the Irish allowed just two scores and only one touchdown. Notre Dame stopped Michigan State on a pair of fourth down plays and senior DB Robert Blanton's interception at the goaline prevented another score.
Notre Dame has already committed six turnovers inside the red zone, including five inside its opponents' 10-yard line. Four of the six turnovers inside the 10-yard line have come on a first down play.
Prior to the first two games of 2011, Notre Dame had only six turnovers in the red zone over its previous 35 games.
TURNOVERS STILL A BONE OF CONTENTION
Notre Dame played its first turnover free game of 2011 at Purdue on Oct. 1. The Irish had not gone without a turnover in a game since the 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl victory over Miami, Fla.
Notre Dame committed two turnovers in the first half against Pittsburgh, one inside the Irish 25-yard line and another at the Panthers five-yard line. The Irish turned the football over 15 times over their first four games of the season.
As if the 15 turnovers were not costly enough, in addition to the six inside the opponents' 20-yard line, eight others have come in Notre Dame's half of the field, including five inside the Irish 20-yard line.
Despite the turnover free game at Purdue, Notre Dame still ranks 105th or worse in each of the four FBS turnovers categories. The Irish are tied for 105th in interceptions thrown (seven), tied for 114th in fumbles lost (eight), tied for 115th in total turnovers (15) and 117th in turnover margin (-1.80).
Notre Dame committed two turnovers in the first quarter against Michigan State, both inside its own territory. The Irish added a third turnover late in the fourth quarter - the final miscue coming inside the Notre Dame 25-yard line.
Notre Dame has forced six turnovers over its last four games - an interception on Purdue's first offensive play from scrimmage, a fumble against Michigan State and three interceptions off Michigan's Denard Robinson - but still is minus-nine in turnover margin after five games.
The 13 turnovers over the first three games of a season were the most for an Irish team since 1977. The '77 team had 14 turnovers over its first three games. In case you are curious, the '77 team won Notre Dame's 10th consensus national title.
Notre Dame had 12 turnovers over its first three games - and 10 in the first two games - of the 1978 season. Interestingly enough, the Irish opened the year 0-2 before ripping off eight straight regular season victories and capped off the campaign with Cotton Bowl victory over Houston.
The 15 turnovers over the first four games of a season are also the most for a Notre Dame team since the '77 squad had an astounding 20 turnovers over its first four games. The '76 Irish also had 15 turnovers over their first four games.
Notre Dame committed five turnovers in each of its first two games. Prior to the first two weeks of 2011, the Irish had not committed five turnovers in a single-game since Nov. 15, 2008 against Boston College.
Notre Dame had not gone consecutive games with five turnovers since `08.
Two of Notre Dame's turnovers against Michigan occurred inside the Wolverine 20-yard line, including one inside UM's 10-yard line.
Both of Notre Dame's turnovers inside the red zone against Michigan came on a first down play as well.
Sophomore QB Tommy Rees fumbled on a first down play from the Michigan eight-yard line and also threw an interception on a first-down play from the Wolverines' 18-yard line.
Notre Dame committed five turnovers in the loss to USF. The Irish had not had five turnovers in a home contest since Sept. 16, 2006 against Michigan.
Notre Dame was minus-five in turnover margin for the first time since Nov. 8, 2008 against Boston College. The Irish had not been minus-five in the turnover margin at home since Nov. 5, 1983 against Pittsburgh (Notre Dame lost, 21-16). That's a span of 166 games over 28 years.
The minus-five turnover margin was also the worst in the FBS in week one.
Notre Dame had a pair of first-half turnovers inside the USF 10-yard line. Senior RB Jonas Gray fumbled on a 3rd and goal carry at the Bulls' one-yard line and senior QB Dayne Crist was picked off in the end zone on a 3rd and goal pass from the USF seven-yard line.
Notre Dame had marched a total of 137 yards (76 and 61) on the two drives, but failed to score on either attempt.
Notre Dame committed its third turnover in the first-half when junior WR Theo Riddick muffed a punt and USF recovered at the Irish 20-yard line. Notre Dame's defense allowed just a single yard and limited the Bulls to a field goal.
The Irish added a third turnover inside the USF 10-yard line on their first possession of the second half. On first and goal from the Bulls' five-yard line, sophomore QB Tommy Rees was intercepted when his pass deflected off shoulder of sophomore WR TJ Jones.
Senior S Harrison Smith rebounded from a disappointing effort against Michigan with one of the top games in his Irish career a week later against Michigan State. Smith registered eight tackles, four solo stops and recorded five pass breakups. The five pass breakups are likely the most by an Irish player in single-game school history when you consider 10 over an entire season ranks tied for 10th most in single-season history. Only five players have recorded five or more pass breakups in an entire season dating back to 2007.
Smith leads the Irish with six pass breakups in 2011, which ranks tied for eighth in the FBS.
Smith now has registered 24 pass breakups over his career, which ranks fourth all-time in school history.
Smith has 247 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 24 pass breakups and seven interceptions over his Irish career. He is the first Notre Dame player to ever register 200 or more tackles, 15 or more tackles for loss and 15 or more pass breakups.
Smith has recorded 160 of 247 career tackles as a defensive back, which ranks just outside the top 10. His total of 93 tackles in 2010 ranks as the fifth-most in single-season history by an Irish defensive back.
Smith is Notre Dame's lone season captain. He is the first Irish lone season captain since 1999 when Jarious Jackson held the individual honor. The other single individual captains for Notre Dame in the last 40 years include Jarious Jackson (1999), Rodney Culver (1991) and Mike Kovaleski (1986).
Smith collected three interceptions in the first half alone of the Hyundai Sun Bowl in 2010. The three interceptions not only equaled a school record, but is also equaled the Sun Bowl record. Smith became 14th Notre Dame player to accomplish the feat and first since Shane Walton against Maryland in 2002. Buddy McClinton of Auburn had three interceptions in the 1968 Sun Bowl.
Smith's three interceptions was an Irish bowl game record. It bested Elmer Layden's previous school record of two picks set against Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl.
Smith finished 2010 with seven interceptions, which ranked fourth nationally in total picks and interceptions per game. Smith also joined Jayron Hosley of Virginia Tech and Marco Nelson of Tulsa as the only three players in the FBS in 2010 to record three interceptions in one game.
TE'O PACKS A HAWAIIAN PUNCH
Junior LB Manti Te'o has been named to a number of preseason award lists, including the Bednarik, Butkus, Lombardi and Nagurski. He was also named to numerous preseason All-American teams.
Te'o leads the Irish in total tackles (49), solo stops (29), assisted tackles (20) and tackles on running plays (33). He ranks tied for 23rd in the FBS in tackles per game (9.80). Te'o also ranks 15th in the FBS among active players in career tackles per game (8.2).
Te'o also leads the Irish in sacks (4.0) and tackles for loss (6.0). He ranks tied for 15th in the FBS in sacks and tied for 62nd in tackles for loss. Te'o ranks even higher among linebackers - tied for fourth in sacks and tied for 13th in tackles for loss.
Only one linebacker in the nation has more solo sacks than Te'o and only six have more solo tackles for loss.
Te'o paced the Irish defense with eight tackles, all solo stops, three for loss and two sacks, in the victory at Purdue on Oct. 1. He has led Notre Dame in tackles in all five games of 2011 and 15 different times over his career.
Te'o registered a team-high 10 tackles in the victory over Pittsburgh. He also added a sack. Te'o has eclipsed 10 or more tackles in three of Notre Dame's five games in 2011 and 12 different times over his career.
Te'o registered a team-high 12 tackles in the victory over No. 15 Michigan State.
Te'o finished with a game-high 14 tackles in the season opener against USF. He had seven solo stops, seven assisted tackles and one sack. The 14 tackles were the second-most in his career.
Te'o paced the Irish last year with 133 tackles and his nine and a half tackles for loss ranked second on the team. He was named a second-team All-American by SI.com after the season and Te'o was also a semifinalist in 2010 for both the Bednarik Award (top collegiate defender) and Butkus Trophy (top collegiate linebacker).
The 133 tackles by Te'o in 2010 were the most by a Notre Dame player since Tony Furjanic made 147 in 1983.
Off the gridiron, Te'o has excelled in the classroom and in the community. He has earned a 3.487 cumulative grade-point average at Notre Dame and has volunteered dozens of hours at a local youth center. While he was in high school, the former Eagle Scout volunteered his time at Hawaii Special Olympics and with the Head Start preschool program.
ROBERT "BIG PLAY" BLANTON
Senior DB Robert Blanton has turned himself into one of the top defensive backs in the country. Blanton is tied for the team-lead with two interceptions and ranks second on the Irish in tackles (29), solo stops (19), tackles for loss (5.0), passes defended (five) and pass breakups (three).
Blanton's 1.0 tackles for loss per game ranks tied for 95th in the FBS, but he ranks tied for sixth in the category among defensive backs. Only one defensive back in the nation has more solo tackles for loss than Blanton - Denicos Allen of Michigan State - and only four have more total tackles for loss.
Blanton and Winston Guy are the only two defensive backs in the country with at least 5.0 tackles for loss and two interceptions.
Blanton ranks tied for 48th in the FBS with two interceptions. His eight career picks lead all active Notre Dame players and ranks tied for 15th among all active FBS players.
Blanton quite possibly registered the best game of his career in the victory over No. 15 Michigan State. He had six tackles, three for loss, three pass breakups, one sack and an interception. After Michigan State recovered a muffed punt deep in Irish territory trailing by 15 points with just over four minutes left in regulation, Blanton picked off a Kirk Cousins' pass and raced 82 yards to set up a field goal that sealed the Notre Dame victory.
Blanton played in 12 games in 2010 and only started one contest, but it did not deter him from making a number of big plays.
Blanton blocked a punt and returned it six yards for a touchdown against Utah on Nov. 13. He was the first Irish player to block a punt since Dec. 24, 2008, against Hawai'i in the Hawai'i Bowl. Blanton was also the first Notre Dame player to return a blocked punt for a touchdown since Toryan Smith (14 yards) on Nov. 15, 2008, against Navy.
The touchdown was the second of Blanton's career. He registered a 47-yard interception return for touchdown against Purdue on Sept. 27, 2008.
Blanton registered 7.0 tackles for loss in 2010, which ranked third-best on the team. The 7.0 tackles for loss were the most by an Irish defensive back since A'Jani Sanders had 10.0 during the 1999 season.
LYNCH PIN OF IRISH FRONT FOUR
Freshman DE Aaron Lynch has come into his own over the last three games for Notre Dame. In his last outing against Purdue on Oct. 1, Lynch had three solo tackles, including his third sack of the season and third in as many games. Lynch is the first Irish player to register unassisted sacks in three consecutive games since Kyle Budinscak accomplished the feat in the final three games of the 2004 season. In fact, a Notre Dame player has not registered unassisted sacks in three straight regular season games since Justin Tuck in 2003. Ryan Roberts is the last Irish player to have a sack in four straight games - the first four contests of the 2000 season.
Lynch had a pair of tackles and sack in the victory over Pittsburgh on Sept. 24. In the rout of No. 15 Michigan State on Sept. 17, Lynch registered his first career sack and forced fumble on a 3rd and five play late in the first quarter. He not only sacked Spartan QB Kirk Cousins for a loss of 10 yards, but knocked the ball loose and senior DE Ethan Johnson recovered the fumble.
Lynch - seeing the most playing time of his Irish career - absolutely dominated his counterparts on the Michigan State offensive line. He recorded six quarterback hurries, one sack, a forced fumble and five tackles. While Notre Dame tracks quarterback pressures at home, not every Irish opponent does the same on the road. To still try and put into perspective what an incredible number that is, consider that senior DE Ethan Johnson and senior DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, plus senior OLB Darius Fleming, led the Irish in that category -- with five apiece for the entire 2010 home season.
Lynch ranks tied for 32nd in the FBS in sacks per game (0.75). He is one of six true freshman to appear on the FBS sack chart. Lynch's total of 3.0 sacks is third-best among all FBS first-year players.
Sophomore OLB Prince Shembo has played in 17 career games and started four. He has accounted for 26 career tackles, including 14 solo stops, but has also registered 7.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Just over 25 percent of Shembo's tackles fall behind the opponent's line of scrimmage and nearly 22 percent are sacks.
Shembo had a career-best six tackles and one sack in the victory over Pittsburgh.
Only junior ILB Manti Te'o (15.5), senior OLB Darius Fleming (14.5 TFLs) and senior DB Robert Blanton (12.0) have more tackles for loss for Notre Dame than Shembo combined over 2010 and 2011. Fleming (8.5) is the only Irish player with more sacks over the same time span.
Fleming and Johnson are each gaining ground on the career sack totals at Notre Dame. Sacks did not become an officially recognized statistics until 1982.
Fleming is also approaching the top 10 list for career tackles for loss.
IRISH TOUGH TO BEAT WHEN WINNING THE RUSHING BATTLE
Notre Dame's 27-game winning streak when outrushing its opponent was snapped in the loss at Michigan on Sept. 10. The Irish had not lost a game when outrushing their foe since Dec. 28, 2004 when Notre Dame lost to Oregon State, 38-21, in the Insight Bowl.
Notre Dame has outrushed each of its last three foes - all victories - to give the Irish 30 victories in the last 31 games when recording more rushing yards than their opponent.
QUICK STRIKE OFFENSE
Notre Dame's first touchdown at Purdue on Oct. 1 - a 35-yard TD pass from sophomore QB Tommy Rees to senior WR Michael Floyd - came just 24 seconds into the first quarter. It was Notre Dame's earliest touchdown to open a game since Floyd hauled in an 80-yard TD pass from senior QB Dayne Crist on the first play from scrimmage against Western Michigan on Oct. 16, 2010. That Floyd score came just 12 seconds into the contest.
The 10-second scoring drive was the fastest for the Irish since an eight second touchdown drive against the Broncos. Floyd hauled in a 32-yard TD pass from senior WR John Goodman on that drive.
IRISH COME OUT OF THE LOCKEROOM ON FIRE
Notre Dame outgained Purdue, 185-39, in the first quarter and 157-53 in the third quarter.
The Irish outscored the Boilermakers, 28-0, in the first and third quarters.
Notre Dame has now outscored its opponents in the third quarter this season, 35-6.
IRISH CHURN UP YARDS IN FIRST HALF
Notre Dame owned statistical advantages over Purdue in just about every offensive category in the half. The Irish had more first downs, rushing yards, passing yards, total yards and time of possession.
Notre Dame's 158 yards on the ground in the opening half is the most in a half for the Irish this season. In fact, it is the most rushing yards in a half for Notre Dame under second-year head coach Brian Kelly. The previous single-half high for the Irish was 154 yards in the first half at Pittsburgh.
Notre Dame junior RB Cierre Wood had 101 yards on nine carries in the first half, including a 55-yard scoring run. Senior RB Jonas Gray had 56 yards rushing on nine carries.
Notre Dame totaled 551 total yards in the rout of Purdue on Oct. 1. It was the most yards for the Irish since Oct. 31, 2009 when Notre Dame had 592 against Washington State.
Notre Dame has eclipsed 500 yards total offense in three of its first five games. Ironically, last week against Purdue was the first time the Irish came away with a victory in those games. Notre Dame had 500 or more total yards against both USF and Michigan.
Notre Dame's 2005 offensive totaled 500 or more total yards in four of its first five games and five of its first seven. The '05 Irish finished the season with seven games of at least 500 total yards, including 621 and 663 against BYU and Stanford, respectively.
In 1970, when Notre Dame set its all-time single-season record by averaging 510.5 yards per game (behind quarterback Joe Theismann), they had only two in their first five contests and finished with five 500-yard days for the season. More recently, in 2009 when the Irish ranked eight nationally with 451.75 yards per contest, they finished with four 500-yard efforts (with Jimmy Clausen at the helm). In 1968 - the only other year the Irish averaged 500 yards a game for the full season (504.4 to rate second nationally) - Terry Hanratty and Company accounted for five 500-yard efforts.
Notre Dame racked up an astounding 34 first downs in the victory over Purdue on Oct. 1. The Irish fell just two first downs shy of the school record set against Army in 1974 (36). The 34 first downs were the most for Notre Dame since they had 34 against Michigan State on Sept. 21, 1991. In fact, an Irish team has not recorded more first downs in a game since the school record 36 first downs on Oct. 19, 1974.
The Irish are tied for eighth in the FBS in first downs per game (26.00).
Notre Dame is one of seven FBS schools that rank among the top 41 in both passing and rushing offense. The Irish join Baylor, Missouri, USF, Stanford, Texas A&M and Wisconsin.
IRISH MOVE THE CHAINS ON THE GROUND
Notre Dame has rushed for 469 yards over its last two games. The Irish have not rushed for more yards over a two-game span since 2003 when Notre Dame totaled 204 and 320 yards on the ground against BYU and Stanford, respectively. The Irish had not posted a higher rushing total over back-to-back road games since 2000 (Notre Dame had 541 yards on the ground in victories at Rutgers and USC).
The Irish rushed for 287 yards - the most for Notre Dame since it ran for 320 yards at Stanford on Nov. 29, 2003.
The 7.2 yards per rush average is the highest for Notre Dame since Nov. 9, 1996 (when the Irish averaged 7.3 yards per carry; minimum 20 carries). The Irish rushed for 426 yards on 58 carries in a 48-21 rout of Boston College in Chestnut Hill.
Notre Dame has a pair of running backs ranked among the top 100 in the FBS in rushing yards per game. Junior RB Cierre Wood is ranked 14th and senior RB Jonas Gray is 92nd. The Irish are one of 17 teams across the nation to have two separate running backs on the NCAA rushing report.
Notre Dame is averaging 5.4 yards rushing per carry in 2011, which would equal the modern school record set during the 1946 season. The all-time school record was put up by Knute Rockne's 1921 squad (6.2 yards per rush).
Notre Dame converted three of five third-down attempts of three yards or shorter against Purdue. The Irish were a perfect five of five in such plays at Pittsburgh. Notre Dame has converted 10 of its last 12 third down attempts of three yards or less over the last three games (Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Purdue). The Irish were just 1-of-4 (including 0-of-3 in 2nd half) at Michigan.
Notre Dame also converted a pair of fourth down tries on quarterback sneaks at Pittsburgh.
IRISH OFFENSE OPEN SEASON IN MID-SEASON FORM
Notre Dame piled up 508 and 513 yards, respectively, over its first two games of this season. The 1,021 total yards were the most for the Irish in consecutive weeks since they compiled 1,104 yards on Oct. 31 (vs. Washington State, 592) and Nov. 7 (vs. Navy, 512) of 2009. In fact, it was the most total yards over the first two weeks of a season since the Irish registered 1,051 yards of total offense to open the 1974 campaign.
Notre Dame has totaled 2,245 yards of total offense over its first five games, which ranks 15th in the FBS.
No team in the country has piled up more rushing yards (898) than Notre Dame in five games against BCS automatic qualifying opponents.
Only one team in the country (USC, 1,589) has registered more passing yards (1,347) than the Irish in five games against BCS automatic qualifying opponents.
Notre Dame has recorded 32 explosive plays (15 rushes of at least 15 yards and 17 receptions of at least 20 yards) over their first five games of the season, which is the most during any five-game span of the Brian Kelly era at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame tallied seven more explosive plays in the rout at Purdue on Oct. 1.
Notre Dame collected five explosive plays in the victory over No. 15 Michigan State.
Notre Dame's offense tallied 10 explosive plays at Michigan, the most in the Kelly era. The previous high of eight was accomplished twice, including the season opener against USF and last year's 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl victory over Miami (Fla.).
Notre Dame recorded a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in each of the first two games of 2011. The Irish had not posted consecutive outings with a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver since Sept. 12 and Sept. 19, 2009 against Michigan and Michigan State. Notre Dame accomplished the feat again in the rout of Purdue on Oct. 1.
OFFENSE LINE PAVES THE WAY
Notre Dame's offensive line allowed 1.54 sacks per game in 2010, the best by an Irish group since 1998. The position has improved this year as Notre Dame has attempted 196 passes through five games and been sacked only five times (or 1.0 per game).
FLOYD IN THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT
Senior WR Michael Floyd owns Notre Dame school records in career receptions (218), career receiving yards (3,100), career touchdown receptions (31), career receiving yards per game (88.6) and career 100-yard receiving games (16).
Floyd registered 12 catches for 137 yards and one touchdown at Purdue on Oct. 1. The 12 receptions were just one shy of equalling his career-high of 13 set earlier this season at Michigan.
Floyd became the second active FBS receiver to eclipse 3,000 career receiving yards.
Floyd, who was held to four catches for 27 yards last week at Pittsburgh, surpassed that total on the second offensive play from scrimmage (35-yard TD catch).
Floyd eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the first half alone.
Floyd hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass from sophomore QB Tommy Rees just 24 seconds into the first quarter to give the Irish a 7-0 lead.
Floyd recorded his 200th career reception on a 22-yard grab early in the third quarter in the victory over No. 15 Michigan State.
Floyd finished the Michigan game with a career-high 13 receptions for 159 yards. The 13 catches were tied for the second-most in school history.
Floyd became Notre Dame's all-time leader in career receiving yards following his 21-yard catch early in the first quarter against the Wolverines. Floyd bested the previous school record of 2,707 held by Golden Tate (2007-09).
Floyd has eclipsed 10 receptions in a single-game seven times in his career and three already in 2011. He had never posted back-to-back games with 10 or more catches before the opening two games of 2011.
Among active FBS receivers, Floyd ranks second in career receiving touchdowns (31), second in career receiving yards (3,100), fourth in career receiving yards per game (88.6), fifth in career receptions per game (6.2) and fifth in career receptions (218).
Among FBS receivers in 2011, Floyd ranks second in receptions (47), seventh in receiving yards (561), seventh in receptions per game (9.40) and 16th in receiving yards per game (112.2).
Floyd recorded 79 catches for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010 despite missing one game due to injury. The 79 receptions were the second-most in single-season school history. His 12 touchdown receptions were tied for fourth-most in single-season school history. Floyd is the third wideout in Notre Dame history to have two separate seasons rank in the top 10 for receiving touchdowns in a single season (joined Golden Tate and Jeff Samardzija). His 1,025 receiving yards ranked seventh in single-season school history. Floyd was the sixth Notre Dame wideout to eclipse the 1,000 yard barrier in a single season. He is the only wide receiver in school history to have at least three seasons with four or more 100-yard receiving games.
Floyd has played in 35 career games, and in two of them (at Navy in 2008 and vs. Michigan State in 2009) he missed most of the action following an injury. Yet, Floyd has 16 career 100-yard receiving games over the other 33 games played.
Floyd is the only Notre Dame wideout to ever register five or more games with at least 11 catches. Jim Seymour is the only other Irish wide receiver to have multiple games with 11 or more receptions and he had two.
Floyd has recorded eight multi-touchdown games over his Irish career.
Floyd recorded three touchdown receptions against Western Michigan on Oct. 16, 2010 - the second such feat in his career. He also had three touchdown catches against Nevada on Sept. 5, 2009. Floyd is the third Notre Dame wideout to have three or more touchdown receptions in multiple games (Maurice Stovall, 2005; Golden Tate, 2009).
Floyd is the first player in school history to register a touchdown catch of at least 80 yards more than once in his career. He actually has recorded three touchdown catches of at least 70 yards.
Floyd has a reception in 34 of the 35 games he has suited up for the Irish. The only game he failed to make a reception came against Navy in 2008 when he was injured early in the first quarter while blocking down field.
Floyd still owns the school record for yards per reception in a single game. He recorded four catches for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the 35-0 rout of Nevada in the 2009 season opener. He averaged 47.3 yards per reception, which broke the previous school record of 41.6 yards per catch by Jim Morse against USC on Nov. 26, 1955.
Floyd's career-best reception went for 88 yards and a touchdown against Nevada in 2009. The 88-yard reception is the fourth-longest in Notre Dame football history. The 189 yards receiving in the rout of the WolfPack ranks 10th on the single-season list.
Floyd not only became the first Irish freshman to register a touchdown catch in a season opener (2008), but also became the first freshman to register Notre Dame's first points of a season by TD. He established new school records for receptions (48), receiving yards (719) and receiving touchdowns (seven) by an Irish freshman in 2008. He also set a freshman record with 10 receptions against Pittsburgh on Nov. 1, 2008.
Floyd was the fourth different rookie in the last 20 years whose first career catch was a TD. The others were Raghib "Rocket" Ismail and Derek Brown in 1988 and Derrick Mayes in 1992 - mighty impressive company for Floyd to join.
REES PIECES TOGETHER IRISH OFFENSE
Sophomore QB Tommy Rees will make his ninth career start this weekend against Air Force. He is 7-1 as the Irish starting quarterback, including 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) and back-to-back road games at Pittsburgh and Purdue. Rees was also the starting signal caller in Notre Dame's rout of Miami, Fla. in the 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Rees has thrown a touchdown pass in 10 straight games, which ranks tied for the third-longest streak in school history. Brady Quinn holds the school record with a touchdown pass in 16 straight games (2004-05).
Rees threw for three touchdown passes and 254 yards in the rout at Purdue on Oct. 1. He has now thrown for at least three touchdowns twice in 2011 and four times in his career.
Rees connected with senior WR Michael Floyd on a 35-yard touchdown pass just 24 seconds into the first quarter at Purdue to give the Irish a 7-0 lead.
Rees hooked up with junior TE Tyler Eifert on a six-yard completion with 12:00 left in the third quarter to give the Irish a 28-3 lead over the Boilermakers.
Rees added another touchdown pass - his third of the game, 10th of 2011 and 22nd of his career - late in the third quarter. He spotted sophomore WR TJ Jones for a seven-yard score with 2:07 left in the third quarter to give Notre Dame a 35-3 lead.
Rees hooked up with junior TE Tyler Eifert on a six-yard touchdown pass with 6:48 remaining against Pittsburgh to give the Irish a 13-12 lead. Rees then spotted Eifert again on the ensuing two-point conversion play to push the Notre Dame lead to 15-12.
Prior the 11-play, 85-yard go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter, Rees was just 15-of-32 for 135 yards, but the sophomore signal caller went 8-of-8 for 74 yards on the drive. In fact, Rees completed his final nine passes of the contest.
Rees connected with Eifert four different times on the drive, including the touchdown pass and two-point conversion.
Rees has captained the Irish to victories over both Michigan State and USC. Toss in a bowl victory 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, who was mere seconds from becoming the third Irish quarterback in school history to record road victories over both USC and Michigan in a career, completed 27-of-39 for 315 yards and three touchdowns against Michigan. He exceeded 300 yards passing for the second time in his career.
Rees came off the bench and sparked the Irish in the second half against USF. He completed 24-of-34 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns - all after halftime.
The 296 yards passing in a half ranks as the fourth-most in a half by a Notre Dame signal caller in school history.
Interestingly enough, two of Rees' three best passing games have come in games he did not start. Rees replaced an injured Dayne Crist on Oct. 30, 2009 against Tulsa and threw for 334 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 33-of-54 passes against the Golden Hurricane.
Rees was the ninth freshman quarterback to start for the Irish in the last 60 seasons (1951-present). The group includes Ralph Guglielmi (1951), Blair Kiel (1980), Steve Beuerlein (1983), Kent Graham (1987), Paul Failla (1991), Matt LoVecchio (2000), Brady Quinn (2003), Jimmy Clausen (2007) and Rees (2010).
Rees, who started in the 28-3 victory over No. 15 Utah last year, was the first Irish freshman quarterback to knock off a top 20 opponent since Blair Kiel helped Notre Dame get past No. 13 Miami, Fla., 32-14. Rees threw for the most touchdown passes (three) by a freshman in his first career start in school history. Rees also threw for the fourth-most yards ever by an Irish quarterback in his first start (second-most ever by a Notre Dame rookie quarterback in a victory).
Rees was the first Irish rookie quarterback to ever throw four touchdown passes in a single game. The four touchdown passes against Tulsa is tied with numerous others for the sixth-most in single-game school history. Rees completed 33 of 54 passes for 334 yards - the most ever by a quarterback that did not start the game. His 300-yard game was the 35th in school history and second-ever by a Notre Dame freshman. Brady Quinn is the only other freshman signal caller to throw for at least 300 yards in a single game (350, Oct. 25, 2003 at Boston College).
Rees became the first freshman quarterback in Notre Dame history to ever lead the Irish to a victory in a bowl game. He also was the first-ever, first-year starter (regardless of class) to lead Notre Dame to a bowl game victory.
Prior to Rees, freshmen or sophomore quarterbacks who are first-year starters at Notre Dame had a tough history in bowl games. From 1972 through 2004, they were 0-6 while averaging only 13 points per game.
They include 1972 sophomore Tom Clements (40-6 to Nebraska), 1980 freshman Blair Kiel (17-10 to Georgia), 1990 sophomore Rick Mirer (10-9 to Colorado), 1994 sophomore Ron Powlus (41-24 to Colorado), 2000 freshman Matt LoVecchio (41-9 to Oregon State) and 2004 sophomore Brady Quinn (38-21 to Oregon State). However, all but Quinn played a top-5 team.
Jimmy Clausen was a sophomore QB in 2008 when the Irish crushed Hawaii 49-21 in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, but it was Clausen's second season as a starter, not first.
Rees set a single-season freshman school record with 12 touchdown passes in 2010. He also established a single-season freshman record in completions percentage (.610). Rees ranked among the top-five in the following categories for Irish freshman quarterbacks: passing yards (2nd; 1,106), passing efficiency (2nd; 132.70) and completions (3rd; 100).
BY LAND, CIERRE
Junior RB Cierre Wood leads Notre Dame with 584 yards on the ground on 103 carries and five rushing touchdowns. He ranks 14th in the FBS in rushing yards per game (116.80) and 50th in all-purpose yards per game (133.0).
Wood raced for a career-best 191 yards on 20 carries in the rout at Purdue on Oct. 1. 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 earlier this season at Michigan.
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 with 9:06 left in the second quarter to give Notre Dame a 21-0 lead over the Boilermakers. The run was the longest of his career (bested 39-yard touchdown run against Western Michigan in 2010).
Wood also surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark in the opening half (101 yards on nine carries). He has registered 100 or more yards on the ground in three of Notre Dame's five games in 2011 (the first three 100-yard rushing games of his career).
Wood had 69 yards on 16 carries in the first half against Pittsburgh and finished the afternoon with 94 yards on 23 rushes.
Wood registered his first career multiple-rushing touchdown game in the victory over No. 15 Michigan State. Wood totaled only 61 yards on 14 carries, but he had scoring runs of six and 23 yards in the opening half. Wood carried six times for 59 yards on the opening scoring drive alone. He picked up a trio of first downs on runs of 11, 16 and 23 yards.
Wood was the first Irish running back with multiple touchdowns on the ground in the same game since James Aldridge had a pair at Washington on Oct. 25, 2008
Wood has now recorded eight career rushing touchdowns, six of which have come over Notre Dame's last seven games. He was the first Irish running back to record a rushing touchdown in four consecutive games (snapped at Pittsburgh) since Darius Walker over the final four games of the 2005 campaign.
Wood has already registered 12 plays of 15 yards or more, including 10 rushes and two receptions. He has recorded 23 rushes of 10 yards or more, 31 of his 103 carries have resulted in a touchdown or first down and seven of his 14 rushing attempts on third down plays have resulted in a touchdown or first down.
Wood rushed for 134 yards on 25 carries and one touchdown at Michigan. 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 has started at running back in nine of the last 10 games dating back to the Tulsa game of 2010. He has rushed for 971 yards on 179 carries over the span.
Wood rushed for 104 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown in the season opener against USF.
Wood surpassed the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career against the Bulls. He became the first Irish running back to eclipse 100 yards since Armando Allen against Connecticut on Nov. 21, 2009.
TYLER'S EIFERT NO LONGER UNNOTICED
Junior TE Tyler Eifert leads all Football Subdivision tight ends in receptions (24), receptions per game (4.8), receiving yards (282), receiving yards per catch (11.8) and receiving yards per game (56.4).
Eifert hauled in a six-yard touchdown pass from sophomore QB Tommy Rees with 12:00 left in the third quarter to give Notre Dame a 28-3 lead at Purdue. The touchdown reception was Eifert's second of the season (second in as many weeks) and fourth of his career.
Eifert registered a career-high eight receptions, including four on the 11-play, 85-yard, go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter at Pittsburgh on Sept. 24. Eifert's four grabs totaled 34 yards. He also added a the two-point conversion reception.
The eight catches by Eifert ties him 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.
Eifert, a 2011 Mackey Award candidate, earned the Mackey Tight End of the Week Award for his effort against Pittsburgh. He was honored with the same award following last year's Army game where Eifert caught four passes for 78 yards with one touchdown at Yankee Stadium.
Eifert's previous career-high was six catches in the season opener against USF. He also registered a career-best 93 receiving yards against the Bulls. He hauled in a 37-yard grab, the second-longest reception of his career.
Eifert was forced into the starting lineup following Rudolph's season-ending injury in 2010. He has now started 12 consecutive games and made an immediate impact for the Irish.
A starter in the last 12 games (equivalent to a regular season), here is where Eifert's production would rank in single-season tight end school history.
Despite a challenging start to the 2011 season (three of seven), senior PK David Ruffer is still 11th among FBS active leaders in career field goal percentage (83.87). He has connected on 26 of his 31 career field goal attempts. Ruffer actually made the first 23 field goals of his career. The 23 straight field goals was the longest streak in school history.
Ruffer made one of his three field goal attempts at Purdue on Oct. 1 - a 21-yard attempt. He has a 28-yard kick blocked and missed just wide from 49 yards.
Ruffer missed two straight kicks after the 23 straight, including a 30-yarder in the loss to USF, but connected on two straight before missing another field goal at Pittsburgh.
Prior to his first career miss against Miami (Fla.) in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in 2010, Ruffer was the only kicker in the FBS in 2010 still perfect in field goal attempts. He also was the only kicker in the FBS still perfect for his career.
Ruffer's 23 straight field goals was the longest active streak in the FBS. The NCAA record for consecutive field goals converted is 30 by Chuck Nelson of Washington in 1981-82. He also holds the NCAA record for consecutive field goals made in a single season (25, 1982).
Ruffer's 18 field goals in 2010 ranked as the third-most in single-season school history.
Ruffer is the second Irish kicker to ever register multiple field goals of 50 yards or longer in the same season. Harry Oliver had a pair of 50+ yard kicks in 1980. He also became the third kicker in school history to connect on multiple field goals of 50 yards or longer in his career.
ATKINSON GOES THE DISTANCE
Freshman RB George 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 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.
Atkinson III ranks fifth in the FBS in kickoff return average (30.56). He also ranks second among freshman. Atkinson III only trails Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska, who has average 35.13 per return.
Four returning veterans changed jersey numbers for the 2011 season. Sophomore DB Bennett Jackson will don No. 2, junior WR Robby Toma sports No. 9, sophomore NG Louis Nix also wears No. 9 and sophomore QB Tommy Rees dons No. 11.
A quintet of Irish players underwent position changes during spring practice. Freshman Brad Carrico, who played defensive line in high school, moved to offensive line. Sophomore Austin Collinsworth moved from wide receiver to safety. Sophomore Justin Utupo moved from outside linebacker to inside linebacker. Sophomore Bennett Jackson moved from wide receiver to defensive back. Sophomore Luke Massa moved from quarterback to wide receiver.
One other Notre Dame player entered the fall at a new position. Sophomore Bruce Heggie moved from defensive end to offensive guard/center.
WALK-ON PLAYERS JOIN THE IRISH SQUAD THIS SPRING
Nine walk-on players have been added to the 2011 roster. Junior S Blake Breslau (San Diego, Calif./Francis Parker), freshman S Connor Cavalaris (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest), freshman WR/RB Eric Lee (West Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling Catholic), sophomore WR Ryan Liebscher (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cheyenne Mountain HS), freshman LB Connor Little (Lake Elmo, Minn./Hill-Murray), sophomore TE Arturo Martinez (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit), sophomore RB Tyler Plantz (Frankfort, Ill./Providence Catholic), freshman ILB Joe Schmidt (Orange, Calif./Mater Dei) and senior WR Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich./Marshall).
SIX FOOTBALL STUDENT-ATHLETES ENTER FIFTH YEAR
Six seniors on the University of Notre Dame football team were approved to return for a fifth year by the school's Faculty Board on Athletics.
The Golic family is one of just several father-son combinations who have played for Notre Dame represented on the 2011 Irish roster. Mike Sr. earned four monograms at Notre Dame from 1981-84, while Mike Jr. is a senior C and Jake is a junior TE. In addition to their father, Mike and Jake's two uncles also played for the Irish. Bob was not only a four-year monogram winner from 1975-78, but he was a two-time All-American and helped the Irish to the 1977 National Title. Greg earned a pair of monograms in 1981 and 1983.
Other current Notre Dame players whose fathers also played for the Irish include sophomore WR TJ Jones (Andre, 1987-90), freshman OT Conor Hanratty (Terry, 1966-68) and senior OLB Jonathan Frantz (Mike, 1970-72).
In addition to the Golic brothers, the Irish 2011 roster has two other sets of brothers - Zack and Nick Martin as well as George III and Josh Atkinson. Zack is a junior OT and Nick is a freshman OT. George III is a freshman RB and Josh is a freshman CB.
RECRUITING CLASS OF 2011 FINISHES AT 24
The 24 student-athletes represented 14 states - four from Ohio, three each from California and Florida, and two each from Indiana, North Carolina and Texas, plus one each from Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.
As listed by group, Notre Dame added nine power players, eight skill players, six big skill players and one specialist. As listed by position, Notre Dame added six defensive linemen, four defensive backs, four linebackers, four offensive linemen, two wide receivers, one quarterback, one running back, one tight end and one kicker/punter.
Sixteen were selected for postseason all-star games.
One Gatorade State Football Player of the Year: OLB Ishaq Williams (New York).
NFL HAS LARGE INFLUENCE ON NOTRE DAME ROSTER
Several players also have family connections with the National Football League.
Senior C Mike Jr. and junior TE Jake Golic's father Mike Sr. played in the NFL forthe Houston Oilers (1986-87), Philadelphia Eagles (1987-92) and Miami Dolphins (1993). Their uncle, Bob, also played in the NFL for the New England Patriots (1979-81), Cleveland Browns (1982-88) and Los Angeles Raiders (1989-92).
Other players whose fathers played in the NFL include freshman WR DaVaris Daniels (Phillip, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins, 1996-2010), sophomore S Austin Collinsworth (Chris, Cincinnati Bengals, 1981-88), senior ILB Anthony McDonald (Mike, Los Angeles Rams, Detroit Lions, 1983-92, junior K Nick Tausch (Terry, Minnesota Vikings, San Francisco, 1982-89) and freshman RB George Atkinson III and freshman CB Josh Atkinson (George Jr., Okaland Raiders, 1968-77).
Senior ILB David Posluszny's brother Paul has played in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills (2007-10) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2011-).
Junior P Ben Turk has two uncles that have played in the NFL. Matt is currently the punter for the Houston Texans (2007-10), but has also suited up for the St. Louis Rams (1996), Miami Dolphins (2000-01, 2003-05), New York Jets (2002) and Washington Redskins (1995-99). Dan played 15 years in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1985-86), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-88), Los Angeles Raiders (1989-94), Oakland Raiders (1995-96) and Washington Redskins (1997-99).
Freshman OLB Troy Niklas' uncle Bruce Matthews played 19 seasons for the Houston Oilers/Tennesse Titans (1983-01). A former 14-time Pro Bowl selection, Matthews was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
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 Sunny 101.5 FM, and televised live on UND.com. The show is hosted by Jack Nolan and Irish All-Americans Reggie Brooks and Mirko Jurkovic. The televised version of the show on UND.com also features game highlights.
OFFICIAL NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL TAILGATE SHOW
The IMG College Notre Dame Football Radio Network will again originate the Notre Dame Football Tailgate show from outside Legends of Notre Dame south of the Football Stadium beginning one hour before the kickoff of each Notre Dame home game. The show features live guests and is hosted by Jack Nolan and Alan Pinkett.
The Brian Kelly Radio Show began Sept. 1 - and University of Notre Dame football fans can attend the show on the Notre Dame campus at Legends of Notre Dame, just south of Notre Dame Stadium. It will be telecast live on UND.com and broadcast live on Newsradio 960 WSBT in South Bend and WXNT-AM NewsTalk 1430 in Indianapolis. Sirius/XM College SportsNation will also broadcast the show twice each week on Friday night and again on Saturday morning. The show will air from 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET.
Dates for the shows are Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and 30; Oct. 6, 20 and 27; and Nov. 3, 10 and 17.
Hosted by Jack Nolan, the Brian Kelly Radio Show is a production of Notre Dame Sports Properties.
INSIDE NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL WITH Brian Kelly (TELEVISION SHOW)
Taped on Sunday afternoons, Inside Notre Dame Football will feature a recap of the week's contest, Notre Dame player features and more. The show can be seen locally Sunday evenings on WNDU-TV following the late local news. It will also re-air on WNDU-TV the following Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. as well as 90 minutes prior to kickoff of Notre Dame home games. All shows can also be viewed on UND.com starting Monday of each week. Inside Notre Dame Football airs on a total of 25 affiliates nationwide reaching nearly 72 million households.
2001 FOOTBALL PEP RALLIES
The traditional, season-opening Dillon Hall pep rally will be held on Friday, Sept. 2, in front of Dillon Hall on the South Quad of the University of Notre Dame campus.
The Sept. 17 rally prior to the home game against Michigan State will be held at Irish Green, south of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on the very south edge of campus.
The sites for the remaining home-game pep rallies will be determined at a later date.
Rallies are expected to be held from 6:00-7:30 p.m. All pep rallies are free of charge. Outdoor rallies are subject to cancellation due to inclement weather.
NOTRE DAME KICKOFF LUNCHEONS
Tickets are now on sale for the six Friday Notre Dame Football Live kickoff luncheons for the 2011 University of Notre Dame football season.
Those events are slated for noon (Eastern time) on Sept. 2 (South Florida) and 16 (Michigan State), Oct. 7 (Air Force), 21 (USC) and 28 (Navy), and Nov. 18 (Boston College) in the north dome (field house) of the Joyce Center.
Tickets are $23 each and can be ordered by writing to Athletics Business Office, 112 Joyce Center, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556. Checks can be made payable to University of Notre Dame. There is a $3 handling fee per order. There are 10 seats per table. You can also print an order form off the bottom of the front page of UND.com.
Irish head coach Brian Kelly, a combination of Irish players and assistant coaches, and other special guests will be in attendance.
Parking is available south of the Joyce Center. Entrances are Gate 1 or 2 of the Joyce Center. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern time).