DATE TIME: Saturday, November 7, 2009 2:43 p.m. EST SITE (CAPACITY): Notre Dame Stadium (80,795); Notre Dame, Ind.
NBC national telecast with Tom Hammond (play-by-play), Pat Haden (analysis), Alex Flanagan (sideline), Rob Hyland (producer) and David Michaels (director).
ISP Sports is the exclusive national rights-holder for Irish football radio broadcasts. ISP 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 providing pre-game, sideline and post-game reports. This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 159) and XM Satellite Radio (channel 117), as well as nationwide on the ISP Radio Network (CLICK HERE for list of affiliates).
All Notre Dame games may be heard in South Bend on Sunny 101.5 FM and NewsTalk 960 WSBT-AM.
Saturday is the 211th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every Irish home football game has been a sellout except one - a 1973 Thanksgiving Day game vs. Air Force. Notre Dame has now played in front of sellouts in 259 of its last 260 home games.
Notre Dame has played in front of sellout crowds in 216 of their previous 250 games, including 91 of their last 102 contests dating back to the 2001 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (the '01, '03, '05 and '07 games at Stanford, the '04 game vs. Navy at the Meadowlands, the '05 and '08 games at Washington, the '07 game at UCLA, the '08 Hawai'i Bowl and this season's game at Purdue and in San Antonio vs. Washington State were not sellouts).
Notre Dame (und.com), Navy (navysports.com)
Live in-game statistics will be provided through CBS College Sports Gametracker via each school's respective official athletic website.
Notre Dame is ranked 19th in the AP and 21st in the coaches polls. Navy is unranked in both polls.
Notre Dame and Navy will play one another for the 83rd consecutive year on Saturday, making it the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the country. The Irish hold a 71-10-1 (.872) edge in the series. Notre Dame upended the Midshipmen, 27-21, last season. Navy captured the 2007 meeting to break a 43-game Irish winning streak in the series (NCAA record for longest streak against one opponent). Notre Dame and Navy have met every year since 1927, playing 52 times at neutral sites and 30 times at Notre Dame Stadium (more on the series history on pages 25-27).
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen enters this Saturday's game against Navy with 124 consecutive passes without an interception. The streak dates back to the Washington game. The 124 passes without a pick ranks as the fifth-longest such streak in Notre Dame single-season history. Clausen had a streak of 132 passes without an interception in 2008. He also added a streak of 147 passes without a pick that stretched from the USC game of 2008 into the Purdue game of 2009.
Junior WR Golden Tate needs just 73 yards to surpass 1,000 yards receiving for the second consecutive season. It would be the seventh 1,000-yard season in Irish history. Tate would also join Jeff Samardzija (2003-06) as the only Notre Dame wideouts to ever record multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
Senior OT Sam Young owns a streak of 46 consecutive starts -- dates back to the 2006 season opener at Georgia Tech. He has started every game of his Irish career and is the only Notre Dame offensive lineman to have started every game since his freshman year. Former DB Tom Zbikowski (2004-07) and LB Maurice Crum, Jr. (2004-08) own the school record for career starts with 48.
AN IRISH VICTORY THIS WEEK WOULD...
Improve Notre Dame to 7-2 (.778) on the season for the first time since 2005.
Improve Notre Dame to 5-1 (.833) this season inside Notre Dame Stadium.
Secure Notre Dame's 103rd all-time winning season in 121 years of varsity football.
Improve Notre Dame to 72-10-1 (.873) in the all-time series with Navy.
Improve the Irish to 27-4-0 (.871) in the all-time series with the Midshipmen at Notre Dame Stadium.
Give the Irish victories in 45 of the last 46 meetings with the Midshipmen, including 22 of the last 23 at Notre Dame Stadium.
Improve a ranked Notre Dame squad to 48-3-1 (.933) all-time against Navy.
Improve a ranked Notre Dame squad to 16-1 (.941) all-time against the Middies in Notre Dame Stadium.
Improve Notre Dame to 60-6 (.909) all-time against Navy when the Middies are unranked.
Improve Notre Dame to 23-2 (.920) all-time against Navy in Notre Dame Stadium when the Middies are unranked.
Improve Notre Dame to 131-24-5 (.834) all-time against the Service Academies (Army, Air Force and Navy).
Improve Notre Dame's all-time home record against the Service Academies to 45-9 (.833).
Improve Notre Dame's all-time record to 838-286-42 (.737).
Improve Notre Dame's all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 307-99-5 (.753).
Improve Weis' Notre Dame record to 36-23 (.610) overall, 4-1 (.800) against Navy and 6-2 (.750) against Service Academies.
Improve Weis' home record to 20-12 (.625) overall, 4-2 (.667) against the Service Academies and 2-1 (.667) against Navy.
Improve Weis' record to 11-7 (.611) in November games.
Improve Weis' record to 28-18 (.609) in afternoon games.
AN IRISH DEFEAT THIS WEEK WOULD...
Drop Notre Dame to 6-3 (.667) on the season for the first time since 2004.
Drop Notre Dame to 4-2 (.667) this season inside Notre Dame Stadium.
Drop Notre Dame to 71-11-1 (.861) in the all-time series with Navy.
Drop the Irish to 26-5-0 (.839) in the all-time series with the Midshipmen at Notre Dame Stadium.
Drop a ranked Notre Dame squad to 47-4-1 (.913) all-time against Navy.
Drop a ranked Notre Dame squad to 15-2 (.882) all-time against the Middies in Notre Dame Stadium.
Drop Notre Dame to 59-7 (.894) all-time against Navy when the Middies are unranked.
Drop Notre Dame to 22-3 (.880) all-time against Navy in Notre Dame Stadium when the Middies are unranked.
Drop Notre Dame to 130-25-5 (.828) all-time against the Service Academies (Army, Air Force and Navy).
Drop Notre Dame's all-time home record against the Service Academies to 44-10 (.815).
Drop Notre Dame's all-time record to 837-287-42 (.736).
Drop Notre Dame's all-time record at Notre Dame Stadium to 306-100-5 (.751).
Drop Weis' Notre Dame record to 35-24 (.593) overall, 3-2 (.600) against Navy and 5-3 (.625) against Service Academies.
Drop Weis' home record to 19-13 (.593) overall, 3-3 (.500) against the Service Academies and 1-2 (.333) against Navy.
Drop Weis' record to 10-8 (.556) in November games.
Drop Weis' record to 27-19 (.587) in afternoon games.
KEEP AN EYE ON THE UNUSUAL AGAINST NAVY
If history is any indication, expect the unexpected when Notre Dame takes on Navy. In seven of the past 13 meetings between the Irish and Midshipmen, one of the two teams has scored at least one touchdown on defense or special teams. This recent trend began with the 1996 game in Dublin, Ireland, when Notre Dame DE Renaldo Wynn scored on a 24-yard fumble return. In 1999, Navy scored twice in an unorthodox manner, as Chris Oliver recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a TD and David Alexander scored on a 20-yard interception return. In 2000, Irish FS Tony Driver tied an NCAA record with two fumble returns for touchdowns, both coming less than seven minutes apart in the first quarter at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. In 2001, Notre Dame SS Gerome Sapp got his team going with a 39-yard fumble return for a touchdown early in the first quarter. In 2002, Irish CB Vontez Duff ran back a third-quarter kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to help the Irish defeat the Midshipmen in Baltimore. In 2007, Navy LB Chris Kuhar-Pitters scooped up a fumble and rumbled 16 yards for a touchdown to give the Midshipmen a 28-21 lead. Then, last year Notre Dame senior LB Toryan Smith returned a blocked punt 14 yards for a touchdown.
2008 TD Punt Block Toryan Smith, Notre Dame
2007 TD Fumble Return Chris Kuhar-Pitters, Navy
2002 TD Kickoff Return Vontez Duff, Notre Dame
2001 TD Fumble Return Gerome Sapp, Notre Dame
2000 TD Fumble Return Tony Driver, Notre Dame
2000 TD Fumble Return Tony Driver, Notre Dame
1999 TD Int. Return Davede Alexander, Navy
1999 TD Punt Block Chris Oliver, Navy
1996 TD Fumble Return Renaldo Wynn, Notre Dame
FOURTH QUARTER MAGIC
Notre Dame did it again. The Irish rallied from behind in the fourth quarter to upend Boston College. Notre Dame trailed 16-13 with 9:16 remaining in the fourth quarter before a pair of junior RB Armando Allen runs gained 13 yards and junior QB Jimmy Clausen found junior WR Golden Tate for a 36-yard touchdown with 8:12 left. The Irish defense did the rest, forcing a three-and-out and two interceptions on the Eagles' final three drives of the game.
Notre Dame has now registered four come-from-behind, fourth-quarter victories this season - a first in Irish football history. The previous record for fourth-quarter, comeback victories was three (set on numerous occasions).
The Irish have actually rallied from five fourth quarter deficits this season, but were not able to hold off Michigan on Sept. 12.
Notre Dame rallied from fourth quarter deficits in four consecutive games (winning three) against Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Washington. The Irish had four fourth quarter comebacks during the 1999 season. Notre Dame also had three fourth quarter comebacks in each of the 1990, 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003 seasons.
The previous school record for consecutive fourth quarter comebacks was three during the 2000 season. Interestingly enough, those three straight fourth quarter comebacks to open the 2000 season came under the guidance of three different quarterbacks (Arnaz Battle, Gary Godsey and Matt LoVecchio).
Notre Dame nearly pulled off its fourth consecutive fourth quarter come-from-behind victory against No. 4 USC. The Irish trailed the Trojans, 34-14, with just under 11 minutes remaining in the contest before the Irish caught fire. Notre Dame scored a pair of touchdowns and drove all the way to the Trojans' four-yard line trailing 34-27, but was unable to get the tying touchdown.
The comeback would have been the greatest fourth quarter rally since the Irish stormed past Houston in the 1979 Cotton Bowl behind Joe Montana, erasing a 22-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 35-34 win.
Notre Dame has become quite accustomed to nailbiting finishes. The Irish played in six consecutive games decided by seven points or less prior to last week's rout of Washington State. No team in the FBS has played in more such games this season.
The streak of six consecutive games decided by a touchdown or less for Notre Dame equals the school record. Notre Dame last played in six consecutive games decided by seven points or less in 1983-84, when they went down to the wire with Pittsburgh (L, 16-21), Penn State (L, 30-34), Air Force (L, 22-23), Boston College (W, 19-18 in 1983 Liberty Bowl), Purdue (L, 21-23) and Michigan State (W, 24-20). No Irish team has ever played seven straight games decided by a touchdown or less.
Six straight football games in a single season decided by seven or fewer points? It hasn't happened in the 120-year history of Notre Dame football. The previous single-season school record for consecutive games decided seven points or less came during the 1939 season when the Irish started the season with five games in that fashion (W 3-0 vs. Purdue, W 17-14 vs. Georgia Tech, W 20-19 vs. SMU, W 14-7 vs. Navy, W 7-6 vs. Carnegie Tech).
With its late-game heroics against Washington, Notre Dame captured three consecutive games by seven points or less. The last time the Irish won three straight games by a touchdown or less came in 2002 during Tyrone Willingham's first season: 24-17 vs. Purdue; 25-23 vs. No. 7 Michigan; 21-17 at Michigan State.
Prior to the 2002 streak, the last time it happened was Nov. 8-22, 1941, when rookie head coach Frank Leahy led the Irish to narrow wins over No. 6 Navy (20-13), No. 8 Northwestern (7-6) and USC (20-18).
The Notre Dame record for consecutive wins by seven points or less is five, the first five games of the 1939 season (Sept. 30-Oct. 28) under head coach Elmer Layden.
The recent Irish streak marked just the fifth time Notre Dame has won three straight games by seven points or less. The others are the aforementioned streak in 2002, the last three games of 1941, the first five games of 1939 and the last three games of the 1937 season (Nov. 13-27).
The Notre Dame record for wins by seven points or less in a season is six, set in 1939 when that club had a 6-1 record in games decided by seven or less. The 1937 team was 5-1-1 and the 2002 club was 5-1-0 in games decided by seven or less, while the 1929 (4-0), 1940 (4-1), 1974 (4-0), 1990 (4-3), 1997 (4-2) and 1998 (4-1) teams all had four wins by seven or less over the course of the season.
As for winning percentage in games decided by seven points or less, the 1929 and 1974 teams were both 4-0, while the 1926, 1928, 1954 and 1957 teams finished 3-0.
One item of note on the greatness of Knute Rockne: he was 20-3-5 (.804) in games decided by seven points or less over his Notre Dame career, including 16-0-2 (.944) over his last seven years. Charlie Weis is 12-8 (.600) in games decided by seven points or less.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
With the victory over Washington, Notre Dame snapped its three-game losing streak in overtime games. The Irish had not won an overtime game since 2003.
Notre Dame improved to 3-6 in overtime in school history. Eight of the nine Irish overtime contests have come at Notre Dame Stadium.
W 37-30 vs. Washington (2009)
L 33-36 vs. Pittsburgh (2008)
L 44-46 vs. Navy (2007)
L 41-44 vs. Michigan State (2005)
W 29-26 vs. Washington State (2003)
L 24-27 vs. Nebraska (2000)
W 34-31 vs. Air Force (2000)
L 20-27 at USC (1996)
L 17-20 vs. Air Force (1996)
Prior to the victory over Washington, Notre Dame had never won a game in overtime the week following a victory in the last minute of regulation in its storied history.
Notre Dame has now won four games in its storied history by scoring a touchdown in the last 30 seconds of regulation. Here is that list of games:
Sept. 26, 2009 Notre Dame 24, at Purdue 21 (0:25)
Oct. 21, 2006 at Notre Dame 20, UCLA 17 (0:27)
Nov. 14, 1992 at Notre Dame 17, Penn State 16 (0:19)
Jan. 1, 1979 Notre Dame 35, Houston 34 (1979 Cotton Bowl) (:00)
Notre Dame has now won 17 games all-time in overtime or with less than 25 seconds remaining in regulation and only five of those have come on the road.
The Irish have never registered a longer drive (72 yards) to win a game on the road with less than 25 seconds to go in the contest in school history than it did at Purdue.
Notre Dame scored with just 24.8 seconds remaining on the clock at Purdue. It is the latest the Irish have scored to secure a victory on the road since 1997 when Scott Cengia booted a field goal with five seconds left to secure a 23-22 victory at Hawaii.
Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34
The Wolverines scored a go-ahead touchdown with 11 seconds left to secure a 38-34 victory over the Irish.
Notre Dame 33, Michigan State 30
The Irish regained the lead with 5:18 to go in regulation on junior WR Golden Tate's 33-yard touchdown catch, but the Spartans drove to Notre Dame's 18-yard line before senior SS Kyle McCarthy's interception at the four-yard line with 57 seconds left secured the victory.
Notre Dame 24, Purdue 21
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen completed a two-yard touchdown pass to sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph with 24.8 seconds to play, and Notre Dame rallied for a 24-21 win over Purdue. Clausen led the Irish on a 12-play, 72-yard drive. He went 6-for-9 on the drive for 69 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown pass.
Since the series with Purdue resumed in 1946, there have been just five games where the winning points were scored in the final five minutes. Ironically, three have come on the date of Sept. 26. Here is a list of those five games:
Sept. 26, 2009 Notre Dame 24, at Purdue 21
Sept. 16, 2000 at #21 Notre Dame 23, #13 Purdue 21
Sept. 26, 1998 at #23 Notre Dame 31, Purdue 30
Sept. 26, 1981 at Purdue 15, #13 Notre Dame 14
Sept. 25, 1971 #2 Notre Dame 8, at Purdue 7
Notre Dame 37, Washington 30 (ot)
Notre Dame waited even later than the last minute to pull out this finish. Junior RB Robert Hughes scored on a 1-yard run in overtime and junior FS Harrison Smith and senior SS Kyle McCarthy jarred the ball loose from Washington receiver D'Andre Goodwin near the goal line on fourth-and-19 as the Fighting Irish beat the Huskies 37-30.
USC 34, Notre Dame 27
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen nearly executed another thrilling fourth-quarter rally, but came up four yards short as No. 6 USC held on for a 34-27 victory against No. 25 Notre Dame. On Clausen's first pass into the end zone, sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph made a juggling catch but was out of bounds. The second was knocked down by Josh Pinkard and the Trojans started celebrating thinking the game was over. But the officials ruled there was 1 second left. Clausen fired to junior WR Duval Kamara, who slipped and couldn't get a hand on it.
Notre Dame 20, Boston College 16
Junior WR Golden Tate caught 11 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns to lead Notre Dame to a 20-16 victory over Boston College, ending a six-game losing streak to the Eagles. The Irish came up with three interceptions in the second half, the final one with 98 seconds left. The last five games Notre Dame has played were decided in the final minute.
NOTRE DAME IN NOVEMBER
Notre Dame is 309-117-28 (.711) all-time during the month of November.
The Irish are 143-42-7 (.763) in November home games.
Notre Dame has an all-time mark of 116-63-16 (.636) in road games during November.
The Irish are 50-12-5 (.784) in November neutral games.
Notre Dame has gone 10-7 (.588) in November under head coach Charlie Weis.
ON THIS DATE
Notre Dame has played 17 previous games in its history on Nov. 7. The Irish are 13-3-1 all-time on the date. The Irish were ranked inside the top 25 on eight occasions, including each of the previous three games and five of six (not including this year's meeting).
Nov. 7, 1982: Blair Keil and Joe Howard teamed up for a 96-yard touchdown pass and catch to propel the Irish over Georgia Tech, 35-3. The reception remains the longest in Notre Dame history.
IRISH OFFENSIVE LINE PASSES CENTURY MARK FOR CAREER STARTS
First-year offensive line coach Frank Verducci is charged with improving the Irish rushing attack in 2009 and will attempt to do so with one of the most experienced offensive line units in Notre Dame's recent history.
Six players having starting experience for the Irish, led by right tackle Sam Young's 46 starts. Eric Olsen (27 starts), Paul Duncan (20 starts), Dan Wenger (18 starts), Chris Stewart (18 starts) and Trevor Robinson (11 starts) help bring the Irish total to 140 combined career starts. Notre Dame's total of 100, entering this season, was the second most in the past decade at Notre Dame.
SOFT SCHEDULE? NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND
According to the strength of schedule (both past and future opposition records) tabulated by the NCAA, only 11 schools currently ranked by the BCS have a stronger schedule than Notre Dame.
Of those 11 schools, only four teams are ranked in the top 12 of the BCS.
Based on the cumulative record of future opposition, only two schools (Ohio State and Pittsburgh) ranked in this week's BCS top 25 face a tougher schedule than Notre Dame the rest of the regular season.
UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME GRADUATES
The 2009 Notre Dame roster features eight players who have already earned their undergraduate degree from the University. They all graduated from Notre Dame in May of 2009. Here is a list of the graduates on the 2009 Notre Dame football team:
OT Paul Duncan: degree in management-entrepreneurship from the Mendoza College of Business.
QB Evan Sharpley: degree in history from the College of Arts and Letters.
CB Mike Anello: degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
S Ray Herring: degree in sociology from the College of Arts and Letters.
S Kyle McCarthy: degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
LB Scott Smith: degrees in management from the Mendoza College of Business and sociology from the College of Arts and Letters.
WR Barry Gallup: degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business.
OG Chris Stewart: degree in history from the College of Arts and Letters.
Notre Dame's eight graduates is tied with Auburn, Penn State, Texas Tech, UNLV, Miami, Fla. and East Carolina for the fourth-most graduates on a 2009 FBS roster.
ONLY THE BIG BOYS
Notre Dame is one of just four NCAA FBS programs to have not faced a non-FBS opponent since the current setup was established in 1978. The three other remaining schools that have yet to play a non-FBS opponent are USC, UCLA and Washington. The list shrunk from five following Michigan State's contest with Montana State on Sept. 5.
Voting was conducted Friday, Aug. 14, with the results announced to the team by head coach Charlie Weis. Clausen and Olsen will captain the offense, McCarthy will serve as the defensive captain and Smith will represent the special teams. The results from the vote also helped form the leadership committee. Joining the four captains on the leadership committee are: senior FB James Aldridge, senior CB Mike Anello, senior S Sergio Brown, sophomore WR Michael Floyd, junior DE Kerry Neal, sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph, senior DE John Ryan, junior LB Brian Smith and senior OT Sam Young.
YOUNG PUPS NOW GROWING UP
Notre Dame had 20 scholarship players make their respective Irish debuts in the season opener against Nevada. That group included seven freshmen and 12 more sophomores for a total of 19 first-year players.
The Irish have had 17 different players start on defense. Of those 17 players, 12 have at least one year of eligibility remaining and eight have at least two years remaining.
Notre Dame has a tremendous amount of experience on its offensive line. The Irish have a total of 140 combined starts amongst six different players. As experienced as Notre Dame's front line is on the offensive side of the ball, the defensive line is equally inexperienced. Sophomore DE Kapron Lewis-Moore made his first career start against Michigan State and sophomore DT Ethan Johnson made just his seventh career start.
Of the 24 players that started the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl (including punter and placekicker), 18 players return in 2009 and 11 of those players have at least two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Entering the game at Purdue, Notre Dame was the only offense among all 120 FBS schools that had a running back rank among the top 20 in rushing yards per game (Armando Allen), two wide receivers rank among the top 20 in receiving yards per game (Michael Floyd, Golden Tate) and a quarterback rank among the top 20 in passing yards per game (Jimmy Clausen). All four of those players, as well as sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph, who leads all FBS tight ends in yards per reception among qualifying receivers, are eligible to return in 2010 and both Floyd and Rudolph have two more years.
The Irish still managed to come away with a victory on the road against the Boilermakers despite the absence of both Floyd and Allen (each missed the game completely) and a limited Clausen. Notre Dame's depth was on display. The Irish got quality performances from sophomore QB Dayne Crist (5-for-10 for 45 yards in the air and four carries for 16 yards on the ground), freshman RB Theo Riddick (24-yard rush), sophomore RB Jonas Gray (18 yards rushing and 42 yards receiving) and freshman WR Shaquelle Evans (one catch for 12 yards). Crist guided the Irish on both of their first half touchdown drives.
HOW DO THEY STACK UP?
Average weight of the offensive and defensive lines:
Notre Dame OL 315.0 lbs. vs. Navy DL 262.3 lbs.
Notre Dame DL 275.0 lbs. vs. Navy OL 264.8 lbs.
Average height of the receivers and the secondaries:
Notre Dame WR/TE 6' 3 1/3" vs. Navy DB 6' 0"
Notre Dame DB 6' 1" vs. Navy WR/TE 5' 10"
WHO NEEDS A PUNTER?
Notre Dame has had little difficulty mounting up points (151) and yards (1,691) in its meetings with Navy the past four seasons. The Irish were not forced to punt against the Midshipmen in either of the 2005, 2006 and 2007 games. Notre Dame ran 90 plays over nine drives in 2007, 62 plays over 10 drives in the 2006 and 70 plays over nine drives in 2005.
Notre Dame did punt three times in last year's triumph, but the Irish went 230 offensive plays against Navy between punts.
NO TURNOVERS = VICTORY (USUALLY)
Notre Dame is 54-4-1 since 1985 when its does not commit a turnover. The Irish are 14-4 in turnover-less games under head coach Charlie Weis. Notre Dame actually had an amazing 41-game unbeaten streak (40-0-1) in games without a turnovers snapped in 2004 against USC. Prior to that game, the last time a Notre Dame team lost a game without committing a turnover was in a 34-30 loss at Penn State on Nov. 12, 1983.
Two of Notre Dame's six victories in 2009 have been keynoted by errorless outings in the turnover department as the Irish collected wins over Nevada (35-0) and Boston College (20-16) while not losing the ball via a turnover.
LEAVE NO DOUBT
Notre Dame dominated Nevada in every facet of the game, including, and most importantly, the scoreboard. The 35-point margin of victory was the largest under head coach Charlie Weis and the largest since Sept. 25, 2004 when the Irish defeated Washington 38-3.
NOTRE DAME OFFENSE CLICKING ON ALL CYLINDERS AGAINST WASHINGTON STATE
Notre Dame totaled 592 yards of total offense - the most by an Irish team since Nov. 26, 2005 at Stanford (fourth most in the Weis era).
The Irish rolled up 255 yards on the ground - the most by an Irish team since Sept. 3, 2005 at Pittsburgh (second most in the Weis era).
Notre Dame recorded 31 first downs - the most by an Irish team since Sept. 30, 2006 vs. Purdue (tied for fourth most in the Weis era).
The Irish registered 40 points for the 13th time under Weis and first time of the 2009 season.
Notre Dame totaled 21 points in the second quarter and 30 points in the first half. The 21 points in a quarter are tied for second most in any quarter under Weis. The 30 first-half points are the third most in any half from the Weis era.
The 26-point margin of victory (40-14) is tied for the fourth largest under Weis.
The Irish averaged 5.31 yards per carry (fifth best in the Weis era), 10.2 yards per pass attempt (ninth best under Weis) and 7.3 yards per play (eighth best in the Weis era) in the rout.
Notre Dame ran 81 offensive plays and totaled 40:54 in time of possession. The 81 offensive plays ranked tied for eighth best in the Weis era and also marked the 11th time under Weis that the Irish surpassed 80 offensive plays. Notre Dame had not eclipsed the 40:00 plateau in terms of time of possession since Oct. 27, 2001 against Boston College when the Irish totalled 40:15.
Notre Dame also racked up 654 all-purpose yards on 88 attempts (most in the Weis era).
Notre Dame totaled an astounding 22 first downs, 151 rushing yards, 240 passing yards and 391 total yards in the first half. The Irish also scored 30 points for the first time in a half since totaling 31 in the first half against North Carolina in 2006. Notre Dame averaged a remarkable 9.1 yards per play in the first half.
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen spearheaded an astounding offensive assault in the first half for Notre Dame. He completed 18-of-21 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in the opening 30 minutes. In fact, Clausen completed 12-of-13 for 179 yards and one touchdown in the second quarter alone. He completed his last 11 passes before halftime.
Junior WR Golden Tate had an equally jaw-dropping first half. The wideout had 82 yards receiving and another 61 on the ground to total 143 all-purpose yards. He also added a 50-yard touchdown reception and 16-yard touchdown rush.
Notre Dame outgained Washington State 391 to 104 in the first half. The Irish ran 43 plays to the Cougars 24.
CHARLIE AND THE IRISH OFFENSIVE FACTORY
Fifth year head coach Charlie Weis came to Notre Dame with a tremendous reputation as one of the premier offensive minds in all of the NFL. The Irish saw immediate results in 2005, setting 11 school records, including passing yards (3,963), touchdown passes (32, bested in 2006 and equalled in 2008), total offense yards (5,728) and total points (440). Notre Dame has surpassed the 40-point barrier on 13 different occasions in Weis' 57 games as head coach. Prior to his arrival, Notre Dame had eclipsed 40 points just 14 times in its previous 108 contests. In addition, the Irish had 83 separate 100-yard receiving games over its first 116 seasons of football, but Notre Dame has had 36 under Weis. To put those numbers in perspective, Notre Dame averaged a 100-yard receiving effort every 13 games before Weis. Under Weis, the Irish are recording a 100-yard receiving effort a little better than every other game.
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen recently passed for at least 300 yards in four consecutive games, a first in Notre Dame history. It began with 401 at Hawaii last December, followed by efforts of 315 (Nevada), 336 (Michigan) and 300 (Michigan State) this season. Former All-American QB Brady Quinn, another Weis protege, had three consecutive 300 yard passing games during his record setting 2005 season.
Clausen threw for a career-high 422 yards and junior WR Golden Tate added a career-high 244 yards receiving in Notre Dame's overtime victory over Washington. Clausen and Quinn, both under Weis, are the only two Irish quarterbacks to eclipse 400 yards passing more than once in a career. Clausen and Tate's efforts rank seventh and second, respectively, on the all-time passing yards and receiving yards list in Notre Dame single-game history.
In fact, eight of the top 10 single-game passing efforts and four of the top 10 single-game receiving efforts have come under Weis.
Notre Dame racked up a season-high 530 yards of total offense against Washington. The 530 yards were the most for the Irish since they rolled up 663 yards at Stanford to close the 2005 regular season. Notre Dame has registered 500 or more yards of total offense in 10 different games under Weis (a span of 58 games). The Irish managed 500 yards or more of total offense 10 times over the previous 110 games before his arrival.
Notre Dame has had 10 players register 56 or more receptions in a single season. Seven of those 10 players have come during the Weis era, including former All-American WR Jeff Samardzija's school record of 78 in 2006.
Five of the top eight best individual receiving yard seasons have come under Weis.
Notre Dame had eclipsed 5,000 total yards in a season just seven times over its 119 years of football entering 2009. The Irish have registered 5,000 yard seasons twice under Weis. The 2009 edition is well on its way to giving Weis a third season with 5,000 or more total yards.
MORE ON WEIS' OFFENSE
Notre Dame has registered three of its top four passing seasons in school history under Weis. The Irish averaged 330.3 yards (1st) in the air in 2005, 264.7 (2nd) in 2006 and 245.4 (4th) in 2008. Notre Dame has averaged 309.8 yards per game passing so far in 2009.
The Irish have eclipsed 475 or more total yards in 13 games under Weis, including six of Notre Dame's last nine games (Notre Dame still managed 437 yards in one of those contests). Weis has served as offensive coordinator and play caller for each of those games.
Notre Dame racked up 27 first downs against Michigan and USC - the most by an Irish squad since Oct 7, 2006 against Stanford before eclipsing that total in the rout of Washington State.
The Irish followed up the offensive outburst against Michigan with an equally impressive output against Michigan State. Notre Dame registered 25 more first downs.
Notre Dame has totaled at least 20 first downs in each of its first eight games this season. The Irish have not opened a season with eight consecutive games of 20 or more first downs since 1992 when Notre Dame totaled 20+ first downs in its first nine games.
POINTS A PLENTY
Notre Dame scored 33 or more points in four consecutive games and each of its first three games in 2009 (streak ended against Purdue). The last time a Notre Dame team scored at least 33 points in three games to open the season was the 1943 national championship season that began with victories of 41-0 over Pittsburgh, 55-13 over Georgia Tech and 35-12 over #2 Michigan.
The Irish have not had a longer streak of consecutive 30+ point games since setting the school record of eight straight games during the 2005 season.
Notre Dame set a school record in 2005 under Weis with 10 games of 30 or more points. The previous school record was nine such games by the 1991 Irish.
Notre Dame is averaging 31.2 points per game in 2009. It is a major improvement when you consider the Irish averaged just 16.4 in 2007 and 24.7 in 2008.
IRISH OFFENSE TAKING FORM
Notre Dame piled up 510 and 490 yards, respectively, over its first two games of this season. The 1,000 total yards were the most for the Irish in consecutive weeks since they compiled 1,083 yards on Nov. 19 (Syracuse, 420) and Nov. 26 (at Stanford, 663) of 2005. In fact, it is 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's offense has gotten out to fast starts this year as well, scoring on 27 of 46 first half possessions (17 touchdowns, 10 field goals).
Notre Dame ranks fifth in the nation in passing efficiency. The Irish have a 162.01 quarterback rating. Notre Dame also ranks fifth in time of possession (33:19), fifth in first downs (24.8/gm), eighth in passing offense (309.8/gm), fifth in total offense (457.6) and 28th in scoring offense (31.2/gm).
Prior to sophomore WR Michael Floyd and junior RB Armando Allen's injuries that caused each to miss the Purdue game (Floyd could also miss the rest of the regular season), Notre Dame was the only offense among all 120 FBS schools that had a running back rank among the top 20 in rushing yards per game, two wide receivers rank among the top 20 in receiving yards per game and a quarterback rank among the top 20 in passing yards per game. Floyd ranked seventh (119.33 ypg), junior QB Jimmy Clausen ranked eighth (317.0 ypg), Allen ranked tied for 15th (108.67 ypg) and junior WR Golden Tate ranked 20th (100.33 ypg).
The quartet has also made its fair share of big plays already in 2009. Clausen has 27 completions over 20 yards, Tate has 11 20+ yard receptions, Floyd has collected six passes over 20 yards and Allen has ripped off 12 runs of at least 10 yards. Sophomore Kyle Rudolph has even added four receptions over 20 yards from the tight end position.
Notre Dame did not have a single three-and-out in the victory over Michigan State. In fact, the Irish had just four three-and-outs over their first three games and three came against Michigan.
The Irish did not have a three-and-out in the rout of Washington State and have recorded three games this season without a single three-and-out drive. Here is a look at Notre Dame's game-by-game in terms of three-and-outs.
vs. Nevada 1
at Michigan 3
vs. Michigan State 0
at Purdue 3
vs. Washington 0
vs. USC 1
vs. Boston College 3
vs. Washington State 0 Total 11
Notre Dame has posted just 10 three-and-outs with Heisman Trophy candidate Jimmy Clausen under center.
IRISH RUNNING GAME REAPING MAJOR BENEFITS FROM EXPERIENCED OFFENSIVE LINE
Notre Dame posted its two worst rushing seasons in school history in 2007 (75.25 ypg) and 2008 (109.69 ypg), but the Irish have made significant strides in 2009. Notre Dame is averaging 147.9 yards per game on the ground this season - 153.9 per game excluding sacks and QB rushes.
Notre Dame managed just 24 carries of 10 or more yards over its first eight games in 2008, but the Irish have nearly doubled that total in 2009. Notre Dame has 42 explosive runs this season. The Irish registered a season-high 13 runs of 10 or more yards in the rout of Washington State.
Notre Dame's wide outs and running backs had just two negative rushes against Michigan State. Junior WR Golden Tate was tackled for a one-yard loss on a reverse and junior RB Armando Allen had a minus four-yard rush when he was brought down after colliding with Tate. The Irish equalled that total on their first two carries of the game against the Spartans in 2008.
The Irish struggled mightily on the ground against both Michigan and Michigan State in 2008, but rebounded with impressive efforts against each in 2009 (again, excluding sacks and QB rushes). The Spartans had allowed just 2.2 yards per rush over their first two games.
Notre Dame managed just two yards on six rushes in the first quarter against Purdue, but rumbled for 136 yards on 16 carries in the second quarter. The Irish used four different ball carriers (Tate, Theo Riddick, Dayne Crist and Robert Hughes) in that second quarter.
The Irish outgained the Boilermakers, 169-64, in the second quarter.
Notre Dame registered six rushes for at least 10 yards in first half against Purdue. In fact, each of the six carries for 10+ yards came in the second quarter. The Irish had 14 such carries over their first three games combined. Notre Dame finished the night with six 10+ yard rushes (which tied the season-high total set against Michigan).
Notre Dame called 15 rushing plays out of the 16 plays called during its back-to-back touchdown drives covering 73 and 62 yards in the second quarter. The final 13 plays in those two combined drives were runs. The lone pass attempt, by Crist, fell incomplete.
Crist's 16 yards gained came on a quarterback misdirection keeper on his first play in the second quarter. That was the longest run by a Notre Dame quarterback since Brady Quinn had a 60-yard scamper in a 44-24 loss at USC in 2006.
Notre Dame officially rushed for 108 yards against Washington, but the Irish really performed much better. The Irish were hindered by three sacks of Clausen, two of which occurred when he simply slipped on the wet field. Notre Dame had 140 yards on 21 carries excluding those sacks.
Notre Dame has out rushed Nevada, Michigan State, Purdue, Boston College and Washington State this season and not coincidentally, the Irish are 5-0 in those contests. In fact, since Weis arrived in South Bend, Notre Dame is 20-0 when out rushing its opponent.
USC entered the contest with Notre Dame ranked fifth in the FBS in rushing defense, allowing just 64.8 yards per game on the ground and even more impressive, just 2.0 yards per rush. The Irish did managed to rush for 82 yards and 110 if you take out the sacks allowed. Junior RB Armando Allen averaged 4.2 yards per carry on his 12 rushes (51 yards).
THE LONG MARCHES
The Irish have produced numerous long scoring drives during 2009. Throw out Notre Dame's one touchdown drive after senior SS Kyle McCarthy's interception in Michigan territory and its other touchdown drive after junior DB Gary Gray's interception in USC territory, Notre Dame has traversed an average of 71.5 yards on its 26 conventional touchdown drives. Those drives have averaged 7.1 plays and include 18 drives of 70 or more yards and six of 80 yards or longer. Here's the breakdown:
Nevada: 67 yards on 12 plays, 78 yards on nine plays, 79 yards on two plays, 80 yards on eight plays and 99 yards on four plays. Michigan: 76 yards on seven plays, 69 yards on seven plays and 80 yards on 14 plays. Michigan State: 84 yards on four plays, 55 yards on five plays, 70 yards on six plays and 73 yards on eight plays. Purdue: 73 yards on nine plays, 62 yards on seven plays and 72 yards on 12 plays. Washington: 78 yards on three plays, 63 yards on five plays. USC: 56 yards on nine plays, 78 yards on four plays and 68 yards on seven plays. Boston College: 74 yards on 12 plays and 49 yards on three plays. Washington State: 80 yards on six plays, 71 yards on eight plays, 80 yards on eight plays and 75 yards on six plays.
IRISH OFFENSE QUICK OUT OF THE BLOCKS
Over Notre Dame's first four games, the Irish averaged 264.3 net offensive yards in the first half (1,057 total), compared to 190.8 in the second half (763 total), but that trend changed in the two games against Washington and USC.
Notre Dame averaged 186.0 net offensive yards in the first half (372 total), compared to 262.5 in the second half (525 total) against the Huskies and Trojans.
The Irish trend changed again in the victories over Boston College and Washington State. Notre Dame averaged 310.0 net offensive yards in the first half (620 total), compared to 162.0 in the second half (324 total) against the Eagles and Cougars.
Notre Dame has averaged 256.1 net offensive yards in the first half (2,049 total), compared to 201.5 in the second half (1,612 total).
The Irish were even more impressive in the opening 15 minutes of their first three games. Notre Dame totaled 131, 142 and 152 yards of total offense in the opening quarter of its first three games this season against Nevada, Michigan and Michigan State.
Notre Dame outgained Purdue, 169-64, in total yards in the second quarter and 134 yards to two yards on the ground.
Notre Dame also outgained USC, 133-55, in the fourth quarter.
The Irish outgained Boston College, 111-46, in the opening quarter, but led by just a single point.
NOTRE DAME GROUND GAME TAKES OFF IN "LEPRECAT" FORMATION
The Irish have broken out their version of the wildcat formation in 2009. Notre Dame lined up in the "leprecat" formation (direct snap to junior WR Golden Tate) five times in the second quarter against Purdue. The Irish rambled for 46 yards out of the formation, including Tate's 14-yard touchdown run to grab a 17-7 second quarter lead. Notre Dame averaged 9.2 yards per carry out of the formation against the Boilermakers, registering three rushes of 13 yards or longer, including freshman HB Theo Riddick's 24-yard rush.
Notre Dame used the formation to supreme efficiency in the victory over Michigan State as well. Junior HB Armando Allen not only raced 13 yards up the middle for a touchdown on a direct snap in the first quarter, but he added a touchdown pass to senior WR Robby Parris out of the formation in the third quarter.
It paid dividends on the touchdown drive late in the first quarter against Washington State. The Irish went 80 yards in six plays and 59 came on the ground out of the Leprecat formation. Junior WR Golden Tate had two carries for 43 yards, including a career-best 33-yard scamper.
Tate capped off a 71-yard, eight play drive with a 16-yard touchdown run, again, out of the Leprecat to give Notre Dame a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter.
NOTRE DAME WINNING TIME-OF-POSSESSION BATTLE
While Notre Dame's offense has been piling up the yardage this season (averaging 457.6 yards per game), it also has won the time of possession battle in seven of eight games this season (only Washington had the ball longer than the Irish). Overall, Notre Dame averages 33:19 minutes per game with the ball, compared to 26:41 for its opponents.
Notre Dame recorded an astounding 40:54 of time of possession in the victory over Washington State. The Irish held the ball for over 10 minutes in two different quarters. In fact, Notre Dame had the ball for 12:50 in the third quarter alone.
Notre Dame had the ball for 11:40 and ran 21 plays in the third quarter against Purdue. The Boilermakers, on the other hand, had the ball for just 3:20 and ran nine plays. The previous high the Irish had in ball possession during a quarter this season was 10:03 in the second quarter against Nevada in the opener.
Washington ran 19 plays and used up 9:19 of the fourth quarter before settling for a field goal to grab a 27-22 lead, but the Irish needed just 1:44 to go 63 yards on five plays to grab a 30-27 lead. The Huskies had 10:39 time of possession in the fourth quarter compared to Notre Dame's 4:21, but the Irish outscored Washington, 11-6, in the period to force overtime.
Notre Dame is 3-2 this season and 25-8 under Weis when the Irish win the time of possession battle.
The Irish won the time of possession battle with USC, but dominated it in the second half. Notre Dame rolled up 17:10 time of possession compared to 12:50 by the Trojans after halftime.
Notre Dame racked up 10:22 in time of possession in the first quarter this afternoon. It was the third most time of possession in any quarter for the Irish this season. Notre Dame totaled 10:36 in the opening quarter against Nevada and 11:40 in the third quarter at Purdue.
IRISH EFFICIENT ON FIRST & SECOND DOWN
Notre Dame has a 72.9% completion percentage (94-for-129) on first down. Junior QB Jimmy Clausen is 90-for-122 (73.8%) for 41 first downs and seven touchdowns on first down. The Irish (60-for-90, 66.7%) and Clausen (56-for-81, 69.1%) are nearly as good on second down.
Junior RB Armando Allen and junior RB Robert Hughes are each averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Allen is also averaging 6.5 yards per carry on second down, while Hughes is picking up 6.2 yards per second down rush. Allen has recorded 16 first downs and one touchdown on 37 carries on second down. Hughes has registered six first downs on 18 such carries. The Irish, which average 5.0 yards per carry as a team excluding sacks, are ripping off 6.1 yards per rush on second down.
Allen has also proven he is able to advance the chains on third down. He is averaging 3.4 yards per carry for 10 first downs on third down. He is 8-for-10 on third down and short (two yards or less) on the season. In fact, Allen is averaging 4.0 yards per carry on third and short. As a team, Notre Dame has converted 15 of its 22 third down and short rushing plays.
Junior WR Golden Tate is averaging 8.2 yards per rush on the season, including a remarkable 9.0 yards per first down carry. Tate is also averaging 9.3 yards per rush on third down.
Notre Dame averaged 7.8 yards per play on first down against Washington State. In fact, 10 of the 39 first down plays for the Irish exceeded 10 yards.
WHO TO LOOK TO ON THIRD DOWN?
Notre Dame has converted 27 of its 56 (48.2%) third down passing attempts this season. Junior WR Golden Tate, sophomore TE Kyle Rudolph and senior WR Robby Parris have registered six, five and four first down receptions, respectively, on third down passing plays. In fact, of Parris' 17 catches this season, eight have produced an Irish first down and six have come on either third or fourth down, including a trio of third and fourth or 10+ plays.
IRISH DON'T GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE
Since Charlie Weis became head coach at Notre Dame, the top priority of every game has been to win the turnover battle. In games the Irish have won the turnover battle, Notre Dame is 25-9.
Notre Dame held a plus-five margin in turnovers in the victory over Boston College. The Irish failed to commit a turnover, while the Eagles had five. Dating back to last year's game against Purdue, it was the seventh time in Notre Dame's last nine home games the Irish did not commit a turnover.
Last season, the Irish did not commit a turnover in five games and have already posted three turnover-less games. In fact, Notre Dame has not turned the ball over in 18 games since 2005.
Quite often in a season opener a team is sloppy in terms of penalties and turnovers, but the Irish committed just three penalties and did not commit a single turnover. Notre Dame was one of two schools in the county among FBS teams that had fewer than three penalties and no turnovers on opening day. In addition, only seven FBS schools had fewer penalties in its season opener than the Irish.
Notre Dame has only lost three fumbles this season, which ranks tied for fifth-best in the FBS. Interestingly though, the Irish have actually fumbled 11 times, but then recorded eight of those recoveries.
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF
The Irish are fourth in the nation with a +1.43 turnover ratio. Just two FBS squads have fewer turnovers than Notre Dame's six: Cincinnati's four and Oregon State's. Two of those Irish turnovers were long desperation tosses near the end of the first half and the other interception was a perfect pass that slipped through the hands of junior RB Armando Allen and into the hands of a Washington defender.
Oregon State 5 Notre Dame 6
Air Force 6
Northern Illinois 6
Notre Dame has three fumbles lost all season. The only schools in the FBS with fewer fumbles lost are Cincinnati (zero), Colorado State (one), Oregon State (one) and Miami, Fla. (two). The school record for fewest fumbles lost in a season is four by the 2000 Irish. The 1993 Irish lost just five fumbles.
The NCAA record for fewest season turnovers is eight, held by Clemson in 1940, Miami (Ohio) in 1966 and Notre Dame in 2000. Prior to that 2000 campaign, Notre Dame's record for fewest turnovers in a season was 10 in 1993 with the 1997 team third-best (13).
Notre Dame and its 2009 opponents could not have less similar red-zone success, with the Irish totaling 166 red-zone points (converting 30-of-34 chances, 88.2%) while its opponents have combined for a lower red-zone point total (123) and conversion rate (20-of-27, 74.1%). The Notre Dame defense has allowed 16 red zone touchdowns (in 27 opponent chances) while the Irish offense has cashed in 19 touchdowns after crossing the opponent's 20-yard line (in 34 chances).
The only four drives in which Notre Dame failed to produce points when entering the red zone came against Michigan, Purdue, USC and Boston College. The Irish took the opening kick and marched 69 yards, but missed a 28-yard field goal against the Wolverines. Against the Boilermakers, Notre Dame's final drive came when the Irish recovered a Purdue fumble at the nine-yard line with three seconds left in regulation. Notre Dame took a knee to secure the victory. The Irish marched 17 plays and 74 yards to the USC four-yard line in the final seconds of the game, but were unable to score the game-tying touchdown. Notre Dame moved 56 yards on 11 plays, but junior RB Robert Hughes was stopped on fourth and goal from the one-yard line by Boston College.
The Eagles also denied the Irish touchdowns on two other red zone chances. Notre Dame did manage two field goals.
Over Notre Dame's first three games, the Irish recorded seven touchdowns in 10 red zone chances, but Notre Dame has managed just 12 touchdowns in its last 24 opportunities. On the other hand, Irish opponents registered touchdowns on seven of their first 12 chances, but have scored touchdowns just 9 of their last 15 red zone opportunities.
Notre Dame entered the Washington contest with 10 touchdowns in its previous 15 drives into the red zone, but the Irish managed only field goals on their first four red zone chances against the Huskies. On the other hand, Washington registered touchdowns on its first two red zone chances.
In fact, Notre Dame had first-and-goal on three separate occasions against Washington and failed to register a touchdown on any of those opportunities.
The Huskies were denied on their third red zone attempt of the game when Notre Dame stuffed Washington on consecutive quarterback sneaks on third and fourth down and goal from the one-yard line late in the third quarter. The Huskies were held to a field goal late in the fourth quarter due to an Irish goal-line stand. The Huskies ran six offensive plays from inside the Irish six-yard line, including five inside the two-yard line, but were not able to score a touchdown.
The other drives for Notre Dame that entered the red zone and did not result in a touchdown came against Michigan and Michigan State. The Irish drove to the Wolverine 17-yard line before settling for a field goal (Notre Dame did have a touchdown overturned on the drive). Notre Dame also kicked a field goal against the Spartans after driving down to the MSU one-yard line before a fumble on third down forced the field goal.
Despite scoring five touchdowns in the 2009 opening win over Nevada, Notre Dame ventured into the "red zone" just twice (other three touchdowns, all by sophomore WR Michael Floyd, came from 24, 70 and 88 yards out). The Irish scored two touchdowns in red zone chances against the Wolf Pack, which marched inside the Irish 20 three times and failed to score a single point.
Michigan and Michigan State each scored three touchdowns on four red zone attempts.
Purdue made just one trip into the red zone, but walked away with a touchdown.
Notre Dame in 2008 came away with points in 31 of 44 red-zone chances (70.5 percent) - including touchdowns on 52.2 percent - while opponents posted points on 81.8 percent of their chances, but barely half of the opposing chances, 22 of 44, produced touchdowns.
NOTRE DAME AIRS IT OUT AGAINST BOSTON COLLEGE
Notre Dame completed 19 passes and attempted 27 in the first half against Boston College. The 19 completions are the most in a single half by the Irish this season. The 27 pass attempts are the second-most in any half this season. Notre Dame registered 29 passes in the second half against USC.
The 19 completions were the most for the Irish in any half since the 2006 Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State when Notre Dame completed 22 in the second half.
The 19 completions also went to seven different receivers, including freshman WR Roby Toma, who made his first appearance in an Irish uniform. Toma finished the game with two catches for 13 yards.
IRISH GIVE STOUT USC DEFENSE ITS TOUGHEST TEST
No. 4 USC entered the game with Notre Dame ranked among the top 10 in the FBS in the following categories. Here is an interesting look at how the Irish fared against the Trojans in those specific categories:
Category National Rank Actual Notre Dame
Rushing Defense 5th 64.80 82
Pass Efficiency Defense 8th 90.01 122.0
Total Defense 6th 238.60 367
Scoring Defense 4th 8.60 27
The Trojans had allowed 73 first downs over their first five games, good for an average of 14.6 per game. Notre Dame racked up 27 first downs -- the most for an Irish team against USC since 2005. In fact, the Trojans had not allowed that many first downs to an opponent since that same meeting in 2005.
USC had not allowed a single passing touchdown over its first five games, but junior QB Jimmy Clausen tossed a pair.
The Trojans' red zone defense had been almost impenetrable heading into the contest. USC had surrendered just three touchdowns over its opponents 13 red zone chances. The Irish equalled that output and nearly surpassed it on the game's final drive.
Notre Dame totaled 27 points against USC. No team had scored more against the Trojans since Nebraska totaled 31 on Sept. 15, 2007.
The Irish also passed for 285 yards against the Trojans, the most USC had yielded in a game since Illinois totaled 301 on January 1, 2008 in the Rose Bowl.
The Notre Dame offense only had a pair of three-and-outs against USC. No opponent had fewer three-and-outs against the Trojans since Oregon State had just one in last year's meeting.
AGAINST THE WOLVERINES
Michigan scored the winning touchdown with 11 seconds remaining in the game. It marked the third meeting between the two rivals where the deciding points were scored with less than 12 seconds to go in the contest. The Wolverines last captured a meeting decided so late into the contest in 1994 when Remy Hamilton kicked a field goal with two seconds left to secure a 26-24 victory in Notre Dame Stadium.
Junior QB Jimmy Clausen's 336 yards were the most ever by an Irish signal caller against Michigan.
Notre Dame racked up 27 first downs and 490 yards on the afternoon, the most ever by an Irish squad in the all-time series with the Wolverines.
Sophomore WR Michael Floyd's 131 yards against Michigan set a school record for receiving yards by an Irish player in the series with the Wolverines. The previous record was 127 set last season by junior WR Golden Tate.
Tate's nine receptions are the most by an Irish player in the all-time series with the Wolverines, besting the previous high of seven set by three different players (most recently Darius Walker in 2006).
Tate also tied five other Irish players (most recently junior RB Robert Hughes in 2008) with the most touchdowns against the Wolverines in the series.
Notre Dame managed just 10 first downs and 79 total yards on 55 plays in the 2007 meeting with Michigan, the last trip to Ann Arbor for the Irish. Notre Dame registered 15 first downs and piled up 302 yards on 37 plays, good for an average of 8.2 per play in the first half.
The Irish were also held to minus-seven yards on 33 carries in that meeting. Notre Dame rushed for 112 yards on 19 carries, good for a 5.9 average, in the first half.
IRISH OFFENSE ROLLS IN SEASON OPENER AGAINST NEVADA
Notre Dame finished with 510 yards of total offense, the most since recording 663 yards at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2005.
The Irish recorded those 510 yards on just 61 plays, good for an average of 8.36 yards per play (best in the Charlie Weis era).
Notre Dame set new highs for the Weis era in most passing yards per attempt (16.6), yards per completion (19.5), highest passing efficiency (290.44) and yards per play (8.4).
The Irish have now eclipsed 500 yards of total offense in nine games under Weis.
Notre Dame not only converted both of its third downs of nine or more yards (nine and 16 yards) in the first half, but did so each time with touchdown passes. Jimmy Clausen's touchdown pass to Kyle Rudolph in the first quarter came on a third and 16, while Clausen's second quarter touchdown pass to Michael Floyd came on a third and nine.
The Irish totaled exactly 300 yards on 34 plays in the opening half, good for an average of 8.8 yards per play.
Notre Dame averaged just 3.3 yards per rush in 2008. Weis and the Irish coaching staff have established 4.5 yards per carry as a standard for the season. Notre Dame equalled that mark prior to its final drive of the game (158 yards on 35 carries). The Irish also accomplished the feat against a defense that ranked sixth in the nation against the run in 2008 (88.62 yards per game). Notre Dame finished the afternoon with 178 yards on the ground.
The Irish offensive line did not allow a single sack. Nevada ranked 10th in the nation in sacks a season ago, averaging 2.85 per game.
Notre Dame registered touchdowns on four of its first five drives. The Irish marched 67, 78, 79 and 80 yards. In fact, Notre Dame added a school record-tying 99-yard drive for its final touchdown of the game. The average scoring drive by the Irish went for 80.6 yards.
Notre Dame was limited to just one three and out over the course of the entire game.
The Irish quarterbacks completed passes to seven different receivers.
THE O'BRIEN ON-THE-ROAD CAMPAIGN CONTINUES IN WEEK 10
The Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award® (The O'Brien) continues its On-the-Road Campaign as it stops at four more Semifinalists' campuses Saturday, Nov. 7. College football enthusiasts and fans alike are encouraged to stop by The O'Brien display and vote for their favorite Semifinalist. Fans who vote at The O'Brien display will automatically be entered into the "Defend Your Pride. Vote O'Brien Sweepstakes," for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2010 O'Brien Awards Dinner at The Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas. The O'Brien displays will be open pre-game through kickoff.
Fans not able to cast a vote in person can register and vote at www.VoteOBrien.org. Online fan voting will close at noon CST on Nov. 22 and Finalists will be announced on Nov. 23. Finalists will be selected by The O'Brien Selection Committee, comprised of journalists, broadcasters, commentators and former winners, with the Fan Vote accounting for 5 % of the total vote.
NOTRE DAME DEFENSE DOMINATES WASHINGTON STATE
The Irish put together their top defensive performance of the season in the rout of Washington State. Notre Dame limited the Cougars to 206 total yards on 49 offensive plays (4.2 yards per play). The Irish also surrendered just 104 yards in the air.
The Irish did not allow Washington State a first down until the final play of the first quarter. The Cougars managed just 30 total yards in the opening 15 minutes (19 rushing yards and 11 passing yards).
Washington State did not cross midfield until its final drive of the first half.
Notre Dame recorded six three-and-outs in the Cougars' first 10 drives of the game. Ten of Washington State's 13 drives went for less than 20 yards.
The Irish limited Washington State to 115 total yards on 30 plays (3.8 yards per play) over the first three quarters against the first team defense.
The secondary did not yield a single pass play longer than 15 yards. Washington State threw for 385 yards in its previous game at California.
Nine of the Cougars' 23 plays on first down resulted in zero or negative yards.
IRISH DERAIL BOSTON COLLEGE
Boston College entered the game against Notre Dame averaging 155.3 yards per game on the ground. The Irish allowed just 70 yards on the ground on 29 carries (just 2.4 yards per rush).
Eagles running back Montel Harris rushed for 264 yards and five touchdowns (both school records) in the previous week's victory over NC State. Harris' day was the best rushing performance in the FBS this year as he topped UTEP's Donald Buckram who rushed for 262 yards on October 3. He also tied Jahvid Best of California and Mike Bell of Nevada for the most points in a single game this season with 30. Harris ranked second in the ACC and 13th in the nation in rushing with 108 yards per game prior to the contest, but he managed just 38 yards on 22 carries against the Irish. In fact, Notre Dame forced Harris into 15 carries of two yards or less, including five behind the line of scrimmage.
The Irish outgained BC, 111-46, in the opening quarter. Notre Dame limited the Eagles and Harris to seven yards on four carries.
The Irish continued to control the Eagles running game in the second quarter. Notre Dame limited BC to just eight yards on the ground on 11 carries in the opening 30 minutes.
Harris entered the game against Notre Dame without a fumble lost in a span of 362 touches, but Notre Dame forced him into a pair of fumble in the victory. In fact, Harris had a third fumble that Boston College managed to recover.
19 of Boston College's 25 first down plays gained two yards or less.
11 of Boston College's 25 first down plays either failed to gain or lost yardage.
Three of Boston College's 25 first down plays gained more than four yards.
NOTRE DAME'S FRONT SEVEN STEPPING UP
Entering the USC contest, Notre Dame was led in tackles by a pair of safeties, senior SS Kyle McCarthy (49) and junior FS Harrison Smith (32). The fourth leading tackler for the Irish at that point of the season was sophomore CB Robert Blanton (22).
However, the defensive line and linebackers have become much more active the last three weeks.
The Irish defensive backs totaled 51.6% (141 of 273) of the tackles on the opposition's offensive plays over the first five games of the season. Over the last three games, Notre Dame's front seven has totaled 62.4% (93 of 149) of the tackles, while the secondary has totaled 37.6% (56 of 149).
In the matchup with the Trojans, the Irish defensive line totaled 18 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 5.0 TFL, three quarterback hurries and one pass breakup. The linebackers collected 16 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1.0 TFL, and two QB hurries.
Against Boston College, the Irish defensive line totaled 20 tackles, 1.5 TFL, eight quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery. The linebackers collected 19 tackles, 3.5 TFL, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one interception, one pass breakup and two QB hurries.
In the victory over the Eagles, Notre Dame's top four tacklers --all linebackers and linemen, not safeties - registered 28 tackles. Freshman LB Manti Te'o led the charge with nine, junior NT Ian Williams had seven, and sophomore DE Kapron Lewis-Moore and junior LB Brian Smith made six apiece.
In the rout of Washington State, the front four totaled 18 tackles, four sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Lewis-Moore led the Irish defense in stops with five.
DEFENSIVE LINE INCREASING PRODUCTION
Notre Dame's defensive line struggled mightily over the first four games of the season. The group managed just 52 tackles (13.0 per game) and three sacks against Nevada, Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue. In their last four outings against Washington, USC, Boston College and Washington State, the group has amassed 79 tackles (19.8 per game) and 11 sacks.
HURRY AND LOOK BETWEEN THE LINES
While Notre Dame officially was not credited with a sack, the Irish did apply pressure on Boston College quarterback Dave Shinskie. The Irish registered an astounding 10 quarterback hurries in the game.
The Irish were not credited with any quarterback hurries in games against Nevada and Washington, but Notre Dame has 16 in its last two games (USC and Boston College).
Quarterback hurries are tracked at Irish home games, but FBS schools are not required so few actually do.
IRISH IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
Notre Dame's defense has registered 17 takeaways this season and 14 have come inside Irish territory, including five inside the red zone and four inside the 10-yard line. Here is a list of the eight Notre Dame takeaways inside its 25-yard line:
The only three takeaways not inside Notre Dame territory were sophomore DT Ethan Johnson's fumble recovery at the Purdue nine-yard line with seconds remaining in the game, junior CB Gary Gray's interception at the USC 43-yard line and junior NT Ian Williams' interception at the Washington State 27-yard line.
IRISH BALL HAWKING DEFENSE
Notre Dame forced turnovers on four of final six possessions of game against Boston College. The other two Eagles' possessions in the stretch were both three-and-outs.
The Irish forced five turnovers in the game, the most since the 2008 Michigan contest when Notre Dame forced six.
The Irish either forced a turnover or held Boston College to a three-and-out in eight of its last 12 possessions of the game.
NOTRE DAME RUN DEFENSE GAINING STEAM
After Notre Dame's first two games, the Irish were surrendering 171.5 yards rushing per game. The Irish defensive coaching staff made a couple schematic changes along the defensive line and the results are noticeable.
Notre Dame allowed just three rushing plays of 10 yards or more in the victory over Boston College and one was a quarterback scramble. The Irish allowed the same amount the week prior against No. 4 USC. Notre Dame has made significant strides in preventing explosive running plays since the opening two weeks of the season.
The Purdue ground attack entered the game with the Irish ranked 22nd in the country averaging 210.7 yards per game. The Boilermakers were led by Ralph Bolden, who ranked second in the country at 140.3 yards per game.
The Irish limited Purdue to only 74 yards (136.7 below its average) on the ground on 26 attempts, good for a 2.8 yard per carry average. The Boilermakers were running for just over 6.0 yards per carry coming into the contest. Notre Dame allowed just three rushes of 10 yards or more.
Bolden totaled just 67 yards on 17 carries, only 3.9 per rush (well below his average of 6.8 yards per carry entering the game). The Irish really kept him intact after halftime when Bolden managed 22 yards on eight rushes. He did register three carries for 56 yards (26, 15 and 15), but was limited to 11 yards on his 14 other carries.
NOTRE DAME'S DEFENSE HOLDS OWN AGAINST USC FRONT
Notre Dame totaled three sacks (for 18 yards) and eight tackles for loss (for 26 yards) against the Trojans, their outstanding offensive line and the tandem of Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford. The three sacks, 18 yards lost in sacks and eight tackles for loss were the most against USC this season. In fact, Notre Dame was the first team this season to record more tackles for loss against the Trojans than they registered in the game.
The eight tackles for loss by Notre Dame are the most by a USC opponent since UCLA had 14 on Dec. 1, 2007 and no team has registered more sacks (three) against the Trojans since Stanford had four on Oct. 6, 2007.
USC entered the contest with the Irish ranked 17th in the FBS in rushing offense (208.00). The Trojans also averaged 5.5 yards per rush over their first five games, but Notre Dame held USC well below its average it each category.
The Irish allowed only three explosive rushing plays of 10 or more yards (25 and 17 to Joe McKnight and 23 to Allen Bradford). Notre Dame limited USC to just 56 yards on its 30 other carries in the game.
GOAL-LINE STAND ONE FOR THE AGES
Washington was denied on their third red zone attempt of the game. The Huskies had first and goal from the Notre Dame eight-yard line, but after two rushes pushed the ball to the Irish one-yard line, Notre Dame stuffed Washington on consecutive quarterback sneaks on third and fourth down and goal from the one-yard line late in the third quarter.
Washington was again held to a field goal late in the fourth quarter due to an Irish goal-line stand. The Huskies ran six offensive plays from inside the Irish six-yard line, including five inside the two-yard line, but were not able to score a touchdown.
In all, Washington ran nine plays from inside the five-yard line over two different drives and failed to score a touchdown (the Huskies managed just a field goal).
Has there ever been a more impressive goal-line stand in Notre Dame football annals than the one made in the fourth quarter of the victory over Washington? Four criteria were used: Did it have a bearing on a victorious outcome? How close was the opponent to the goal line on first down? At one point of the game did the stand occur? How good was the opponent on short-yardage offense? Notre Dame historian Lou Somogyi recently released a top 10:
10) Oct. 21, 1995: A Key(shawn) Stop
No. 5 USC had a prolific passing attack led by WR Keyshawn Johnson, the No. 1 pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. No. 17 Notre Dame held a 21-7 lead when USC faced first and goal at the two with 15 seconds left in the first half. Three straight passes into the end zone intended for Johnson fell incomplete or out of bounds -- and on fourth DE Renaldo Wynn and LB Kinnon Tatum stopped a short pass by QB Kyle Wachholtz to RB Rodney Sermons as time expired. The Irish went on to post a 38-10 drubbing of that year's Rose Bowl champs.
9) Sept. 9, 1974: Pepper Spray
Defending national champion Notre Dame opened at Georgia Tech under new coach Pepper Rodgers, a veer specialist. The Ramblin' Wreck trailed 10-7 when it had a first down at the Irish three midway through the second quarter. Two yards were gained on first down, but DT Steve Niehaus and LB Greg Collins stuffed Tech for no gain on the next two plays. On fourth down, the Irish swarmed RB Charles Myers for a two-yard loss, with the first hit made by S John Dubenetzky. Notre Dame rolled thereafter to a 31-7 victory.
8) Oct. 3, 2009: Part I
Leading 24-19 late in the third quarter, Washington had first and goal at the Irish 8. RB Chris Polk gained four yards on first down, and QB Jake Locker rushed for three to the one on second down. On two straight sneak attempts, though, the 6-3, 226-pound Locker was unable to break the goal line. Notre Dame's offense responded by driving 93 yards to convert a field goal and cut its deficit to 24-22.
7) Nov. 10, 1928: By George, They Did It!
Against an Army team that boasted an 11-game winning streak, including an 18-0 victory versus Notre Dame a year earlier, head coach Knute Rockne implored his Irish to "win one for the Gipper." The Irish scored the go-ahead TD with 2:30 left to make it 12-6, but Army had first and goal at the Notre Dame 10 in the closing seconds. A five-yard penalty and two incomplete passes made it 3rd and goal at the 15. On third down, Dick Hutchinson completed an 11-yard pass to the Irish four. On fourth down, Hutchinson plunged to within a foot of the goal line -- just as time elapsed.
6) Nov. 14, 1992: Notre Dame 17, Penn State 16
With just over 10 minutes left in the contest and Penn State trailing 9-6 in "The Snow Bowl," the Nittany Lions had first and goal at the one. On first down, Penn State TB Richie Anderson leapt high toward the goal line but was met head on by S Jeff Burris for no gain. A two-yard loss on second down and a Kerry Collins incomplete pass on third down forced a game-tying field goal. It would prove crucial in the 17-16 victory where the Irish had to score a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the final 20 seconds to win.
5) Nov. 29, 1958: A Parting Gift
In the season finale at the L.A. Coliseum, Notre Dame led USC, 20-13, early in the fourth quarter when the Trojans drove 77 yards to a first down at the Irish one-foot line. On first down, USC fumbled but recovered the ball at the one. On second down, Bob Williams and Bob Scholtz threw USC QB Tom Maudlin for a one-yard loss on a sweep, and on third down Maudlin was stopped by Frank Reynolds for no gain. On fourth down, Myron Pottios stopped Trojans' HB Don Buford short of the goal line. The Irish held on in the fourth quarter for the 20-13 victory.
4) Dec. 3, 1949: By Rote Or Tote
In the season finale at the Cotton Bowl, the national title was on the line in the final five minutes when Kyle Rote drove SMU, trailing 27-20, from its 21 to a first down at Notre Dame's five. Rusty Russell lost a yard on first down, and Fred Benners threw an incomplete pass on second down. Rote picked up two yards on third down, and on fourth Rote's pass was intercepted at the goal line by Jerry Groom and Bob Lally with 3:52 left. Frank Leahy stated he had never experienced so much excitement in a game than in this 27-20 triumph.
3) Jan. 1, 1990: Bowled Over
Late in the first half of a scoreless game in the Orange Bowl, No. 1 and 11-0 Colorado drove to a first down at the Irish one. On first down, Eric Bieniemy tried to dive over the top, but D'Juan Francisco met him head on and the officiating crew ruled the running back didn't break the goal line plane -- much to the protest of CU. QB Darian Hagan was stopped cold for no gain on a second-down sneak, and DL Troy Ridgley forced an errant option pitch to Bieniemy that bounced out of bounds at the three. On fourth down, Colorado set up for a field goal, but holder Jeff Campbell rolled to his right on a fake. The intended receiver got jammed at line of scrimmage, so Campbell was forced to tuck it and was stopped short of the goal line by Ridgley. In the second half, Notre Dame took control in its 21-6 victory.
2) Nov. 7, 1998: A "Cloud" Of Dust
Trailing 31-26, Boston College QB Scott Mutryn drove the Eagles from his 23 to a first and goal at the four with 1:07 left and no timeouts remaining for Notre Dame. BC featured RB Mike Cloud, No. 2 nationally in rushing yards per game (153.4), and a line that featured future NFL standouts Damien Woody and Doug Brzezinski. On first down, Cloud found an opening but LB Bobbie Howard stopped him at the two. On second down, Howard stopped Cloud for a yard. On third down, it appeared Cloud might have broken the plane, but LB Jimmy Friday pushed him back. On fourth down and inches from the goal line, S Deke Cooper, instructed to pursue the run and disregard the pass or anything to the outside, shot through the middle unblocked and nailed Cloud for a two-yard loss.
1) Oct. 3, 2009: Double Time!
This is the standard against which all future Notre Dame goal-line stands will be measured for several reasons. One, the Irish already made a stand minutes earlier (see No. 8). Two, a TD might have put the game out of reach. Three, the Irish had to do it not once but twice against a team ranked in the top five in third-down conversions. On first down from the one with 7:07 left and the Huskies leading 24-22, HB Chris Polk lost one yard on a stop by DT Ethan Johnson. A second-down pass by Locker fell incomplete, and on third down Locker was engulfed for no gain on a scramble. When Notre Dame was called for a rare roughing-the-snapper call on the field-goal attempt, it had to start all over again from the one. The defense stopped Polk for no gain on first down, benefited from a false start on the Huskies, stopped a five-yard completion to Paul Horner at the one, and did not permit Locker to get the final yard on a sneak, thereby forcing a field goal to make it 27-22 with 3:04 left. Down only one score, the Irish moved ahead briefly and then won it in overtime, 37-30.
IRISH DEFENSE STINGY OUT OF THE GATE
Notre Dame was quite impressive defensively coming out of the locker room in 2008. The Irish allowed only three touchdowns in the first quarter over the entire 2008 campaign and just one over their last nine games of the year. Notre Dame continued that trend, blanking Nevada over the first 15 minutes.
The Irish surrendered 14 points in the first quarter at Michigan. Notre Dame had allowed just 19 points in the first quarter over their previous 10 games.
Notre Dame has allowed three points or less in the opening quarter in 12 of its last 17 games.
MORE ON THE DEFENSE
After allowing Purdue to score a touchdown on its opening drive, the Irish forced four punts and a turnover on downs on the Boilermakers' final five drives of the opening half.
Notre Dame limited Purdue to just 1-for-7 on third down over the second and third quarters. In fact, the Boilermakers netted 113 yards on 32 plays (3.5 yards per play) with five punts, a turnover on downs and the end of half possession on seven drives between the first and fourth quarter scoring drives.
Washington totaled 56 and 53 yards on its first and last drives of the first half, but Notre Dame limited the Huskies to 59 total yards on their other five drives of the half (17 plays). The Irish forced four punts and a turnover on those five drives.
IRISH PITCH SHUTOUT AGAINST NEVADA
Notre Dame posted its first shutout since blanking Rutgers 42-0 on Nov. 23, 2002 -- a span of 76 games.
Notre Dame posted its first shutout in a season opener since blanking Maryland, 22-0, on Aug. 31, 2002.
Notre Dame posted its first shutout in a season opener at home since Sept. 22, 1973 when the Irish beat Northwestern, 44-0.
Nevada was shut out for the first time since Dec. 12, 2007 versus New Mexico. The shutout was also just the third in Hall of Fame coach Chris Ault's 25-year coaching career at Nevada. This comes after Nevada averaged 37.6 points, 509 total yards and 278 rushing yards per game (school record) last season.
Notre Dame limited the Wolf Pack to 307 total yards and 153 yards rushing, well below their explosive output from a year ago, and, obviously, no points.
Notre Dame was one of two FBS schools, Kentucky being the other, to shut out another FBS school in its season opener.
TENUTA AND BROWN'S BOYS MAKE QUITE AN OPENING IMPRESSION
Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick not only threw two interceptions in the game after throwing just seven all of last year, but he also averaged only 3.9 yards per rush compared to his near 7.0 yards per carry average in 2008.
Notre Dame forced three Wolf Pack turnovers, including two in the red zone, and denied another possible scoring opportunity for Nevada on a 4th and short stop.
Notre Dame ranked 20th in the country in 2008 in third down defense (32.76%). The Irish continued their success on third down against Nevada. Notre Dame limited the Wolf Pack to just 2-for-11.
The Irish red zone defense was equally impressive. Notre Dame did not allow any Nevada points despite the Wolf Pack's three trips in the red zone. The Irish were the only team in FBS to deny their season-opening opponent points on three drives that crossed the 20-yard line.
KICK RETURN DEFENSE
Notre Dame led the NCAA FBS in kickoff return defense last season allowing only 16.5 yards per return and became the first Irish special teams unit to lead the nation in this category. It was also the first time Notre Dame led the NCAA in a statistical category since 1988. What made the feat even more impressive was the fact that the Irish registered just one touchback during the season. The 16.5 yards allowed on kickoffs was the best by a Notre Dame squad since 1975 when that team permitted only 14.9 yards per kick return.
KICK RETURN DEFENSE REBOUNDS
Michigan's Darryl Stonum returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to give the Wolverines a 14-3 lead with 34 seconds to go in the opening quarter. Stonum was the first Irish opponent to return a kick for touchdown since USC's Brian Cushing returned an onside kick for a touchdown in 2006 (42 yards).
Since that kickoff return, Notre Dame has regained its form from a season ago. The Irish have allowed just 19.6 yards per kickoff return on the 42 kickoffs following Stonum's touchdown return. In fact, Purdue never started a drive outside its own 20-yard line following a kickoff and Washington was forced to start three drives inside its own 15-yard line.
C.J. Gable of USC entered the game with Notre Dame ranked 71st in the FBS averaging 23.17 yards per kickoff return. The Irish limited Cable to an average of just 13.6. In fact, Notre Dame pinned Cable and the Trojans inside their own 15-yard line on two of those five kickoffs.
IRISH WINNING HIDDEN YARDS
Freshman PK Nick Tausch averaged 61.5 yards per kickoff over the first three games, but the rookie averaged 67.4 yards per kick against Purdue. He even had three separate kicks carry into the end zone.
Junior PK David Ruffer has taken over the majority of kickoff duties in Notre Dame's last three games (USC, Boston College and Washington State). He has averaged 62.9 yards per kick on his 15 attempts.
Avg. Drive Start (Drives Started At/Inside 20)
Nevada Own 26-yard line (Four)
at Michigan Own 37-yard line (Three)
Michigan State Own 26-yard line (Five)
at Purdue Own 28-yard line (Six)
Washington Own 32-yard line (Four)
USC Own 22-yard line (Four)
Boston College Own 31-yard line (Zero)
Washington State Own 31-yard line (Three)