Notre Dame's Rank & File Results

September 11, 2017 Lou Somogyi, Senior Editor

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Georgia with Kirby Smart was one of four AP Top 25 teams Brian Kelly and his Notre Dame team might play this year.
Photo by Bill Panzica

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This past weekend’s Georgia game was the first opportunity in 2017 to watch Notre Dame against a ranked team.

The next probably won’t be until Oct. 21, when the Fighting Irish host arch rival USC, currently ranked No. 4 after defeating now No. 19 Stanford (14th going into the game) by a 42-24 count. The Trojans offense amassed 623 yards — an amazing 307 on the ground and 316 more via the air.

Georgia moved up only two spots to No. 13 despite the road win against a quality Notre Dame team, although many might counter that it was more of a neutral-site outing for the Bulldogs, who had a “guesstimated” 25,000-30,000 in attendance.

The other two ranked foes on the Irish slate this year are Miami at No. 17 (Nov. 11) and the aforementioned Cardinal (Nov. 25) at No. 19.

The heartbreaking 20-19 loss to Georgia dropped eighth year head coach Brian Kelly to 11-15 overall versus the AP Top 25 at the time of the game. How does that compare to his predecessors since the advent of the poll in 1936? Here’s the overview, with the top 10 also included in the overall top 25 ledger:


Elmer Layden (1934-40)

Versus Top 25: 5-5 (.500)

Versus Top 10: 2-5 (.286)

Note: This does not include the famous 18-13 win at Ohio State in 1935, snapping the Buckeyes’ 10-game winning streak. That was the year prior to the start of the AP poll. The Irish did beat No. 1 Northwestern in 1936.


Frank Leahy (1941-43, 1946-53)

Versus Top 25: 29-4-4 (.838)

Versus Top 10: 19-3-1 (.848)

Note: One word: insane. However, Leahy was only 0-1-1 versus No. 1 — mainly because he was ranked No. 1 so often.


Terry Brennan (1954-58)

Versus Top 25: 11-13 (.458)

Versus Top 10: 4-7 (.364)

Note: The most famous was snapping Oklahoma’s NCAA record 47-game winning streak in 1957.


Joe Kuharich (1959-62)

Versus Top 25: 3-8 (.273)

Versus Top 10: 2-5 (.286)

Note: Two of the losses to the Top 10 were to future successor Ara Parseghian’s Northwestern teams.


Ara Parseghian (1964-74)

Versus Top 25: 14-11-3 (.554)

Versus Top 10: 10-9-3 (.523)

Note: He is the only coach in NCAA history to defeat three unbeaten and/or No. 1 teams in bowl games over a five year span: 10-0 Texas in 1970 and 11-0 Alabama in 1973 and 1974.


Dan Devine (1975-80)

Versus Top 25: 17-10 (.630)

Versus Top 10: 10-7 (.588)

Note: The highlight was a 38-10 dismantling of No. 1 Texas in the Cotton Bowl to earn the 1977 national title.


Gerry Faust (1981-85)

Versus Top 25: 7-14 (.333)

Versus Top 10: 3-6 (.333)

Note: The three Top 10 wins include at No. 1 Pitt in 1982, the same year the Irish opened with a victory versus No. 10 Michigan in the first night game ever at Notre Dame Stadium.


Lou Holtz (1986-96)

Versus Top 25: 33-20-2 (.618)

Versus Top 10: 21-15-1 (.581)

Note: In the six seasons from 1988-93, Holtz was a “Leahy-esque” 17-4-1 versus teams in the Top 10, including three wins against No. 1.


Bob Davie (1997-2001)

Versus Top 25: 6-15 (.286)

Versus Top 10: 1-7 (.125)

Note: The lone victory versus an AP Top 10 team was the 1998 opener versus No. 5 Michigan, which won a share of the national title the previous year.


Tyrone Willingham (2002-04)

Versus Top 25: 7-8 (.467)

Versus Top 10: 3-5 (.375)

Note: Two of the Top 10 triumphs came in his final season, at home versus No. 8 Michigan and later at No. 9 Tennessee.


Charlie Weis (2005-09)

Versus Top 25: 4-12 (.250)

Versus Top 10: 1-8 (.125)

Note: His one victory versus the Top 10 was in the second game of his career, a 17-10 conquest at No. 3 Michigan. That game on Sept. 10, 2005 represents the last time Notre Dame defeated a Top-5 ranked foe — a drought that might have a chance to end versus USC on Oct. 21.


Brian Kelly (2010-present)

Versus Top 25: 11-15 (.423)

Versus Top 10: 2-5 (.286)

Note: Both Top 10 wins occurred on the road in 2012, 20-3 at No. 10 Michigan State and 30-13 at No. 8 Oklahoma.

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