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

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54 OCT. 7, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED M ajor League Baseball had its 61*, and now Notre Dame football has its 900*. The victory versus Virginia put it in exclusive company — for the sec- ond time. During the weekend of Sept. 21, the University of Nebraska picked up its 900th all-time football victory, making it only the fifth Football Bowl Subdivision school to reach that milestone, joining Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama and Texas. This past weekend (Sept. 28) Notre Dame and Oklahoma joined that ex- clusive company. In reality, it was the second time in three years Notre Dame picked up its "900th" all-time football victory. It put the Fighting Irish publicity department in an awkward position. On one hand, it is celebrating a feat few have achieved. On the other, it is acknowledging a decision with which it vehemently disagreed. Just think what it will be like when Notre Dame nears its 1,000th win sometime in the 2020s (hopefully not in the 2030s). By NCAA regulations, Notre Dame officially stood at 899 victories entering the Virginia game. That's because on Feb. 13, 2018, the NCAA denied the university's appeal to not have to va- cate its 21 total victories from the 2012 (12) and 2013 (nine) seasons due to aca- demic misconduct from the inadver- tent (and self-reported) use of ineligible players during those two seasons. When Notre Dame defeated Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 30, 2017, it was at the time the program's 900th all-time victory, joining it with the University of Michigan as the first two Football Bowl Subdivision schools to achieve that milestone. However, when the NCAA made its ruling five months later in February 2018, that put Notre Dame back to 885 wins at the conclu- sion of the 2017 football season. Following the 2017 campaign that saw Notre Dame finish 10-3 and Michigan 8-5, the Fighting Irish were barely behind the Wolverines on the all-time winning percentage chart — and would have passed them after the 24-17 victory in last year's season opener Sept. 1. In fact, in 2018 Notre Dame picked up two more games in winning per- centage against Michigan by finish- ing 12-1 while the Maize and Blue were 10-3. Minus the NCAA-im- posed vacancy of the 21 wins from the 2012-13 seasons, the Fighting Irish record would be 920-326-42 for a .73074 winning percentage, ahead of Michigan's current No. 1 pace of .72938. As it stood entering last weekend's game versus Virginia, there was merely .00464 separation between No. 1 Michigan and No. 6 Oklahoma (see chart on this page). And just my opinion, but Boise State shouldn't really be pertinent in this discussion until it, too, has played at least 800 games. In NCAA parlance, "vacating" a victory is not the same as "forfeiting" one. It affects only the victor of the game, not the loser. For example, USC had to vacate its last two wins in 2004 (and thereby the national title) and all 12 wins from the 2005 season. However, that did not mean that the 34-31 win at Notre Dame in 2005 was now a "victory" for the Irish. Notre Dame's final re- cord remained 9-3 that year even with the loss to the Trojans. It counted nei- ther as a win nor a "non-loss." The losing team retains the defeat. Likewise, when USC was stripped of the 2004 national title, unbeaten Auburn was not named the national champion. Neither was Oklahoma, which lost 55-19 to the Trojans in the title game. Hence, the word "vacated." A vacated win affects only the penal- ized team's season records, all-time records and the head coach's record. It gives new meaning to the phrase "vacation from hell." ✦ The Awkward 900* … And Beyond THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI Senior Editor Lou Somogyi has been at Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 1985. He can be reached at Notre Dame and Michigan are among two of the six Football Bowl Subdivision schools that have a winning percentage in the .724 to .729 range at the top, and the Fighting Irish also joined the 900-win club — again. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA FBS ALL-TIME WIN PERCENTAGES Entering Sept. 28 weekend Ties are counted by the NCAA as a "half victory." Thus, to get the proper winning percentage for Notre Dame it comes from dividing the total number of games played (1,267) into 920 (899 wins plus 21, which is half of the 42 ties) Rk. School Games Record Win Pct. 1. Michigan 1,334 955-343-36 .72938 2. Boise State 622 452-168-2 .72829 3. Ohio State 1,293 915-325-53 .72815 4. Alabama 1,281 909-329-43 .72638 5. Notre Dame 1,267 899-326-42 .72612 6. Oklahoma 1,277 899-325-53 .72474 7. Texas 1,315 911-371-33 .70532 8. USC 1,243 842-347-54 .69911 9. Nebraska 1,329 900-389-40 .69224 10. Penn State 1,323 890-391-42 .68858 Notes: Entering this year Florida State (.67542) and Tennessee (.67486) were not far apart for the next two spots but are going through an awful current cycle … Ohio State had 12 victories vacated by the NCAA during the 2010 season … Alabama had eight victories and one tie forfeited by the NCAA during the 1993 season, plus 21 victories vacated by the NCAA for the 2005-07 seasons … USC had 14 victories vacated by the NCAA during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

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