Regular season Game 11 of 12 takes the Irish to the Bronx to face the Black Knights of Army for the first football game to be played in the New Yankee Stadium. Saturday’s contest will be the 50th meeting between the storied programs with the Irish holding a 37-8-4 advantage in the series.
Army last defeated Notre Dame in 1958, winning 14-2 as the nation’s third-ranked team over a No. 4 Notre Dame squad that finished the season losing three of its next six contests to finish 6-4 in head coach Terry Brennan’s final season. The two schools have matched up on just six occasions over the last 30 years with two of those contests – the 1995 and 1996 battles – decided in the final two minutes.
Below is our weekly look at the stats that define the upcoming contest.
1 – Touchdown allowed by the Irish defense over the last two contests. In a loss to Tulsa and win over Utah, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s unit took on offenses averaging 38.4 and 41 points per game, respectively. The Irish defense held Tulsa to one offensive touchdown and two other drives that ended in field goals while holding the previously powerful Utes to just one field goal over the course of the contest.
The last time a Notre Dame defense held back-to-back opponents to just one offensive touchdown was Game Five and Game Six of the 2002 season when the program’s best defensive unit of the decade held Stanford and Pittsburgh to one touchdown and two field goals, respectively, over an 8-quarter, two win span in early October.
2 – National ranking of Notre Dame’s 2010 schedule to date. The team’s collective opponents have totaled 63 wins and 36 losses trailing only Auburn and Texas A&M for the unofficial mantle of “toughest schedule” in the country .
The Irish are unlikely to drop in the ranks over the final two weeks as their upcoming opponents have won 13 of 20 combined contests with a collective five remaining.
3 – Ties between the programs in the series’ storied history in which no points were scored. The 1922, 1941 and famous 1946 matchups of the schools ended in 0-0 ties.
Notre Dame and Army tied once more – 6-6 in 1935. The Irish finished undefeated in both ’41 and ’46 while finishing with one loss and the Army tie in ’22 and ’35. Army also finished without a loss in 1922 and 1946, finishing second behind the National Champion Irish in the final Associated Press Poll.
4 – Number of sacks allowed by Army this season, tied with Stanford for fewest in the FBS. Five of Notre Dame’s 2010 opponents rank among the nation’s top 12 in fewest sacks allowed (Army, Stanford, Utah, Michigan, and Navy). Last week, Notre Dame’s Prince Shembo and Manti Te’o both recorded a sack vs. Utah, a team that had previously allowed just four sacks through its first nine contests.
5 – Wins by Army over the Irish in the original Yankee Stadium. The Black Knights prevailed over Notre Dame in 1925, 1927, 1931, 1944 and 1945. The Irish were held scoreless by Army in each of the five neutral site losses. Notre Dame holds a 14-5-3 edge over the Cadets in the old building.
6 – Army has won just six of its last 23 matchups vs. BCS foes over the last seven seasons. One of those wins occurred this year in a 35-21 Week Four victory at Duke. Previously, Army defeated Vanderbilt 2009 (16-13 OT); Temple 2007 (37-21); Baylor 2006 (27-20 OT); Cincinnati 2004 (48-29); South Florida 2004 (42-35) in matchups vs. the nation’s six power conferences.
7 – Touchdown passes thrown by Irish freshman Tommy Rees over the last two games. The number is the most ever by a Notre Dame freshman signal-caller over a two-game span. Only Brady Quinn has thrown more over a two-game stretch, twice tossing 9 TDs in back-to-back games vs. BYU and Tennessee (2005) and Michigan/Michigan State (2006); his junior and senior seasons, respectively.
8 – National ranking of the Black Knights Rushing Offense heading into Saturday’s matchup. Army has averaged 272.80 yards per game on the ground, while maintaining a 4.7 yards-per-carry average en route to 33 rushing scores. The Black Knights are one of three rushing offenses in the nation’s top 10 and four among the country’s top 20 that the Irish have faced this season (Navy #5, Michigan #8 and Stanford #17).
9 – Manti Te’o’s current slotting among the nation’s top tacklers. Te’o has 109 total tackles (55 solo, 54 assisted) through 10 games, a 10.9 average per contest. With 19 more tackles over the final two regular season contests, Te’o will surpass former junior inside linebacker Demetrius Dubose (127) for the highest single-season tackle total at the program since senior Tony Furjanic recorded 147 stops in 1985. Te’o is eight stops away from tying Courtney Watson’s decade-high mark of 117 set during the 2003 season.
10 – Matchups between the programs in which Army has entered the contest ranked among the nation’s top 20 teams according to the A.P. Poll. Army prevailed over the Irish in three of those meetings (1944, 1945, and 1958) while tying on two other occasions (the aforementioned 1941 and 1946 matchups). Notre Dame won over ranked Army squads in 1942, ’43, ’47, ’57, and 1985. With the exception of the ’85 game won 24-10 by the Irish, Notre Dame entered each of the matchups listed above ranked as well.
Neither squad is ranked entering Saturday’s contest. Previously, either Notre Dame or Army has been ranked in 25 of the teams’ last 26 matchups dating back to 1937 (the second year of the Associated Press Poll). The lone exception was a 1983 game won 42-0 by Notre Dame in Giants Stadium.
11 – Ranking of Army defensive end Josh McNary among the nation’s sack-masters. McNary, who recorded 12.5 sacks last season, has 9.5 QB takedowns over the first 10 games. After notching a sack in eight different games last season – including a 4-sack outburst vs. a Temple team that finished the season at 9-4 – McNary’s sacks have come in bunches this fall: 3 vs. Hawaii, 2 vs. North Texas, 2 vs. Tulane and 2 vs. Rutgers. Both outbursts occurred in separate two-game spans.
McNary has 27.5 career sacks, the fifth-highest total among active FBS competitors (Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan leads with 32.5 sacks entering Saturday). Each of the four players ahead of McNary on the list have played in 44 or more games. Saturday will be the Army senior’s 34th career contest.
12 – Games in which Notre Dame has held its opponent without a touchdown over the previous 200 contests prior to Saturday’s 28-3 win over Utah in South Bend. Games included in the streak: Nevada 2008 (35-0); UCLA 2007 (20-6); Washington 2004 (38-3); Rutgers 2002 (42-0); Pittsburgh 2002 (14-6); Maryland 2002 (22-0); Navy 1998 (30-0); Baylor 1998 (27-3); Rutgers 1996 (62-0); Purdue 1996 (35-0); Vanderbilt 1995 (41-0); Pittsburgh 1993 (44-0).
The ’93 shutout over the Panthers occurred 200 games prior to the 28-3 stifling of the Utes last Saturday.
On the Horizon
Irish players that could reasonably accomplish statistical milestones Saturday vs. the Black Knights:
David Ruffer:Has connected on 18 consecutive field goals and all 18 attempts in his career. Ruffer is 13 for 13 this season and needs two more successful attempts to break teammate Nick Tausch’s record of 14 consecutive field goals in a single season.
Michael Floyd: Has caught 151 passes in 25 career games. Floyd enters Saturday’s contest six receptions short of tying Tom Gatewood and Golden Tate (2007-09) for third on the programs list, and 28 short of Jeff Samardzija’s program record 179 grabs from 2003-2006.
Floyd currently ranks third on the program’s touchdown receptions chart is just one shy of tying Tate (26) and two from Samardzija (27) for the program record.
Likewise, Floyd needs just 3 receiving yards to pass Rhema McKnight (2,227) and Tom Gatewood (2,283) and move into 5th place on the program’s career receiving yardage list. Next on Floyd’s radar at No. 4: Tim Brown, with 2,493 receiving yards.
Ethan Johnson: With his next (full) sack, the junior defensive end will move into 10th place ahead of the late Wally Kleine (1983-86) on the program’s career sack list. Justin Tuck (2002-04) holds the program record with 24.5 sacks in 36 career games. Saturday’s contest vs. Army will mark Johnson’s 36th game played as a member of the Irish.
Darrin Walls: With 19 career pass breakups, Walls needs two to move ahead of Ralph Stepaniak (1969-71) and the legendary Todd Lyght (1987-1990) into fifth-place on the program’s career list.
Armando Allen: Out for the season due to hip surgery, the senior concluded his Irish career in 5th place among all running backs on the program’s receiving yardage list.
- Joseph Heap 1137 (1951-54)
- Bob Gladieux 947 (1966-68)
- Jim Morse 902 (1954-56)
- Darius Walker 816 (2004-06)
- Armando Allen Jr. 809 (2007-2010)
Allen moved past Rocket Ismail (1988-1990) into 5th place on the program’s all-purpose yardage list earlier this season. The senior will finish his career behind only Julius Jones (5,462), Autry Denson (5,327), Allen Pinkett (5,259) and Tim Brown (5,024) on the all-time list. Allen amassed 4,250 all-purpose yards thanks to the early portion of his career in which he totaled 1,360 kick and punt return yards. Allen finished with 2,078 career rushing yards, just 197 away from 10th place on the program’s career rushing list.