Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 19, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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54 NOV. 19, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED T wo notable feats were achieved in Notre Dame's 42-13 victory against Florida State, in addition to controlling its destiny for a College Foot- ball Playoff spot. First, this is the third time in the last seven years the Fighting Irish finished unbeaten at home, joining the 2012 and 2015 teams. Big deal, huh? That's what should be routine — protecting your sacred sod, or FieldTurf as it is. Yet to put this into con- text, consider that in the 22 years from 1990-2011, Notre Dame was unblem- ished at home only once: 6-0 in 1998, head coach Bob Davie's second season. That's right, even with Lou Holtz from 1990-96, Notre Dame did not finish undefeated at home. Se- nior Day in particular had devastating setbacks in the four-year stretch from 1990-93. First was the 8-1 and No. 1 Irish squandering a 21-7 halftime lead in a 24-21 loss to Penn State in 1990. The following year, the 8-1 Irish led Tennessee 31-7 before falling 35-34. And in 1993 was the most painful of all when at 10-0 Notre Dame lost its No. 1 ranking again with a 41-39 loss to Boston College, the week after defeating the No. 1-ranked Seminoles. From a more recent perspective, even the Alabama dynasty under Nick Saban finished unbeaten at home only twice during the six-year stretch from 2010-15. It's not as easy as it might sound. Three unbeaten seasons at home in seven years has been achieved two other times at Notre Dame since 1950. The first was from 1964-70 to begin Ara Parseghian's seven-year reign, which featured a consensus national (1966), a shared one (1964) and a No. 2 finish (1970) despite de- feating No. 1 Texas. The other was from 1987-93 under Lou Holtz, although none in the final four. That was another halcyon era in the program's annals. The seven-year stretch from 2012-18 is not renowned in a similar vein (bar- ring a 2018 national title), but it is a significant and laudable accomplish- ment. Team objectives are outlined each preseason, and one that never changes is protecting home turf. The amenities added to the stadium in recent years to enhance the overall feel have been evident, but far more important is the results on the field. "One of them internally we had was to protect this stadium," ninth-year head coach Brian Kelly said of yearly team goals and the approach toward the home finale this year. "Finishing that off against Florida State is cer- tainly very important to us." The second momentous coup in the victory versus FSU is the winning streak at home was extended to 11: all six games this season and the final five in 2017. It began versus Miami (Ohio) last year and has included de- feating four ranked teams, USC and North Carolina State last year, and Michigan and Stanford this year. The Cardinal also was in the top 10 at the time, while Michigan is now vying for a spot in the CFP. Since the opening of Notre Dame Stadium in 1930, or head coach Knute Rockne's final season, that would be — believe it or not — the third-longest streak in the edifice over 89 campaigns. The longest streaks are as follow: • 1942-50 — 28: Under Frank Leahy, this streak began after losing to Michigan in November 1942, and then ended with a 28-14 defeat to Purdue early in 1950. That is a standard that in today's schedul- ing template would re- quire approximately five consecutive unbeaten re- cords at home. • 1987-90 — 19: Holtz and his troops fashioned three straight perfect records at home from 1987-89, and the first two games in 1990, before losing their No. 1 rank- ing with a shocking 36-31 loss to a Stanford team that had lost the previous week to San Jose State, and would finish 5-6. Especially noteworthy is seven of those wins came against ranked teams — six of them in the top 10, highlighted by No. 1 Miami in 1988. Until last weekend, the 10-game winning streak in 2017-18 was tied for third place with two other eras: From 1969-71, there would have been 17 straight wins under Ara Par- seghian were it not for the 14-14 tie versus USC in 1969. Prior to the tie with the Trojans, the Irish had a six-game streak before it and 10 contests after it. It ended with a 28-14 loss to USC in October 1971. This featured a 3-0 conquest of SEC champ LSU in 1970 to improve to 9-0. F ro m 1 9 9 7 - 9 9 , D a v i e ' s c re w reached double digits by winning the final three home games in 1997, all six in 1998 and the 1999 opener versus Kansas before falling to Sa- ban's Michigan State Spartans, 23-7. The highlight was a 36-20 triumph versus defending co-national champ and No. 5 Michigan, quarterbacked by Tom Brady, in the 1998 opener. Winning 10 or 11 in a row at home in college football is challenging enough. That's why to start 10-0 any time in a season is even more special. ✦ Notre Dame Is Finding A Better Home Remedy THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI Senior Editor Lou Somogyi has been at Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 1985. He can be reached at The 11-game winning streak at home is the third longest since the opening of Notre Stadium 89 years ago when Knute Rockne was the head coach. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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