Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 8, 2012

NOTRE DAME NOTEBOOK: Soldier Field has been good to Irish

By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS

CHICAGO — Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, is known as the “Friendly Confines,” but the same moniker could be applied to Soldier Field when it comes to Notre Dame football.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the Miami Hurricanes, 41-3, Saturday night in the historic venue that serves as the home of the Chicago Bears.

Plans for the stadium began in 1919 and construction was completed in three stages from 1922 through 1939 for a total cost of $13 million dollars. The facility officially opened Oct. 9, 1924 (the 53rd anniversary of the Chicago Fire) under the name of Grant Park Municipal Stadium. One year later at the request of Chicago Gold Star Mothers it was renamed Soldier Field.

Notre Dame’s victory over the Hurricanes improves its all-time record to 10-0-2 at Soldier Field.

Prior to the Miami contest, Notre Dame’s last trip to Soldier Field was on Sept. 3, 1994 when the Irish, coached by Lou Holtz, defeated Northwestern 42-15. It was the first career start for sophomore quarterback Ron Pawlus, who completed 18-of-22 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns.

Notre Dame used Soldier Field for home games during the 1929 season when Notre Dame Stadium was under construction, The Irish, coached by Knute Rockne, defeated Wisconsin 19-0, Drake 19-7 and USC 13-12 on the way to a 9-0 record and the school’s second national title.

History with the Hurricanes

Saturday night was the 25th meeting in the series, and the victory gives the Irish a 17-7-1 lead.

Notre Dame has now won nine of the last 10 meetings. Notre Dame is 8-1-0 at home in South Bend while the record is 6-6-1 when playing in Miami. The Irish are now 3-0 against the Hurricanes at neutral sites.

Shamrock Series

This is the fourth straight season Notre Dame has hosted one of its games at an “off site” after starting with Washington State in San Antonio, Texas, at the Alamodome in 2009. Notre Dame played Army in 2010 at Yankee Stadium in New York City and Maryland in 2011 at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C.

In 2013, the Irish will square off with Arizona State at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Golson suspension

Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson was held out of Notre Dame’s first offensive series due to a violation of team rules.

About the suspension coach Brian Kelly said, “I want our guys to be accountable. He was accountable. He knew that he’s got to do a better job of communicating. Look, he was meeting with a professor and he lost track of time, and he knows he’s got to communicate with us and do a better job of that.

“But he took full responsibility for it, accountability for it; I thought he came in and played very well. I was proud of him today.”

Entering on the team’s second series, Golson completed his first six passes on the way to an impressive performance of 17-of-22 passing for 186 yards.

Irish running game

Notre Dame rushed for a season-high 380 yards as sophomore George Atkinson III gained 127 yards on 10 rushes and senior Cierre Wood 118 on 18.

It’s the first time two Irish running backs have gained 100-or-more yards in the same game since Rashon Powers-Neal and Ryan Grant in 2009.

Winning tradition

The game was Notre Dame’s 104th night game with an overall record of 66-36-2. The first night game was a 48-6 rout of Detroit on Oct. 5, 1951 at Briggs Stadium.

The school’s record also improves to 61-16-2 all-time in games following a bye week and 71-20-3 all-time when playing in an NFL stadium (19-6-2 in current NFL stadiums).

October is a good month for the Irish — the Miami win gives Notre Dame an all-time mark of 377-92-8 (.799 winning percentage) in games played during the month, including 37-7-1 in games at neutral sites and 145-43-4 in contests away from home.

Defensive prowess

The 36 points allowed by the Irish through the first four games are the fewest by a Notre Dame team during the opening four games of a season since the 1975 group yielded only 20.

“I thought we adjusted well to the speed of the game after the first quarter, and again, we have now held University of Miami, Michigan and Michigan State to not scoring a touchdown, and that’s an incredible feat for our defense,” Kelly said.

The Irish have not allowed a rushing touchdown all season and are the only FBS school that has done so.

Playing ahead

Notre Dame is the only FBS team that has not trailed in any game this season. The last time a Notre Dame team didn’t trail in its first four games was in 1989.

Indiana product

Freshman running back Brandon Yosha (Carmel) is the lone Indiana product on the Miami roster.

Honored guests

John Lattner, 1953 Heisman Trophy winner while playing for the Irish, conducted the coin toss before the game.

Among the other celebrities in attendance were former Chicago Bears Hall-of-Fame running back Gale Sayers and former Notre Dame player and current Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija.