By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
SOUTH BEND —
It’s pretty hard to go to a Notre Dame home football game without encountering a celebrity.
On Saturday, prior to a 17-13 Irish victory over Michigan State, photographer Chad Weaver and I rode up the Notre Dame Stadium elevator with former Irish running back and current radio broadcaster Allen Pinkett.
Later on I ran into Goshen High School and Indiana University graduate Tyler Miller who was helping out the Notre Dame media relations department. His job during the game was keeping track of Irish player participation.
Also in the press box was former FOX 28 sports broadcaster Allison Hayes who is currently working for the BIG TEN NETWORK as a sideline reporter.
Before Saturday’s game the 1977 Notre Dame team that won the National Championship was honored. The Irish won 11 consecutive games that year, defeating sixth-ranked USC in October in South Bend to end a 23-game win streak for the Trojans and then knocked off unbeaten and top-ranked Alabama 24-23 in the Sugar Bowl.
Tight end Dave Casper and defensive back Mike Townsend both earned consensus All-American honors for the Irish coached by Ara Parseghian.
The Irish offense averaged 350.2 yards per game, still an all-time Notre Dame record. The defense was ranked second nationally in total defense and third in scoring average giving up on 6.6 points per game.
Rees in good company
Senior Tommy Rees is the second Notre Dame quarterback to have passed for more than 300 yards in each of the first three games of a season. He passed for 346 against Temple, 314 against Michigan and 309 against Purdue. The only other Irish QB to do that was Jimmy Clausen in 2009. Rees managed just 142 yards passing Saturday against the stingy Spartan defense.
Outstanding Irish efforts
Among the more memorable performances by Notre Dame players in the series with the Spartans is 1987 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown returning two punts for touchdowns on Sept. 19, 1997.
Phil Carter set a school record for carries in a single game (40) on Oct. 4, 1980, when he rushed for 254 yards. The is the third most ever by an ND running back.
Brady Quinn threw for 487 yards and five TDs in 2005. Ron Powlus tied a school record with 14 straight completions on Sept. 20, 1997. Former Valparaiso High School standout and current starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs Jeff Samardzjia had three TD receptions on Sept. 17, 2005.
ND vs. Big Ten
The Irish have faced no other conference as often as the Big Ten with 375 all-time games against the 12 current members of the league. Notre Dame had an all-time record of 234-125-16 (.645 winning percentage). The ACC (192) and Pac-12 (144) are the only other conferences with more than 100 meetings against the Irish.
Purdue leads the Big Ten with 86 games against Notre Dame followed by Michigan State 77.
Notre Dame has played at least one member of the Big Ten every season since 1915.
Irish in the NFL
There are 30 former Notre Dame players currently on NFL rosters with 15 on AFC teams and 15 on NFC squads.
The Minnesota Vikings have the most with five. They are tight Kyle Rudolph, center John Sullivan, strong safety Robert Blanton, tight end John Carlson and free safety Harrison Smith. Others in the NFC are wide receiver Michael Floyd of the Arizona Cardinals, strong safety Zeke Motta of the Atlanta Falcons, long snapper J.J. Jansen of the Carolina Panthers, running back Theo Riddick of the Detroit Lions, offensive lineman Eric Olsen (injured reserve) of the New Orleans Saints, defensive end Justin Tuck of the New York Giants, nose tackle Ian Williams and outside linebacker Darius Fleming of the San Francisco 49ers, wide receiver Golden Tate of the Seattle Seahawks and defensive end Derek Landri of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Four AFC teams each have two former Irish on their rosters. Defensive end Kapron-Lewis Moore (injured reserve) and running back Jonas Gary (practice squad) are on the Baltimore Ravens, tight end Tyler Eifert and guard Trevor Robinson on the Cincinnati Bengals, tackle Ryan Harris and running back Cierre Wood on the Houston Texans, defensive back Darrin Walls and quarterback Brady Quinn on the New York Jets. Guard Sam Young is on the Buffalo Bills, safety Jamoris Slaughter (practice squad) the Cleveland Browns, safety Sergio Brown the Indianapolis Colts, tight end Anthony Fasano the Kansas City Chiefs, center Braxston Cave (practice squad) the New England patriots and inside linebacker Manti Te’o the Sand Diego Chargers.