Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2021

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

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12 JANUARY 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Sam Brunelle — Basketball The sophomore from Ruck- ersville, Va., has been Notre Dame's most trusted bench player so far this season. She is the team's second-leading scorer in conference games with 10.3 points per contest and is 7 of 15 (46.7 percent) from three-point range in ACC play, leading the Irish in both attempts and makes. Brunelle has continued her strong performance from the end last season, when she averaged 2.4 three-pointers per game in conference games. Bridget Deehan — Lacrosse The senior goalie from Mil- ton, Ga., picked up two pre- s e a s o n awa rd s f ro m U. S . Lacrosse magazine. She was tabbed as a first-team pre- season All-American and the Preseason Goaltender of the Year. Deehan enters her second year as a starter and ended the abbreviated 2020 season with a .547 save percentage that ranked seventh nationally. Notre Dame's defense allowed only 7.29 goals per game, which was second in the country. Alex Steeves — Hockey The junior forward from Eden Prairie, Minn., had a goal and an assist in Notre Dame's two- game series against Michigan State Dec. 19-20. He scored the lone goal in the Irish's first game, a 1-1 tie. He assisted on the first goal of a 4-3 overtime loss the next day. Through 10 games, Steeves led the Irish in goals (five) and points (10), and was tied for first in assists (five). Trey Wertz — Basketball The junior guard from Char- lotte, N.C., was expected to have to sit out this season after trans- ferring from Santa Clara, but an NCAA ruling Dec. 16 granted all transfers immediate eligibility. Wertz made his presence felt right away, scoring a team-high 27 points in just his second game with the Irish in an 88-78 loss to Purdue Dec. 19. He also contrib- uted five assists, four rebounds and a block while shooting 5 of 10 from three-point range. TOP TOP OF THE CLASS OF THE CLASS Irish student-athletes excelling on the field and in the classroom CHARTING THE IRISH PLAYOFF POSITIONING This winter marks the seventh year of the College Football Playoff (CFP). This is where the best four teams in the country, as determined by a designated selection committee, meet in a single- elimination tournament in order to crown the sport's national champion. For the second time since the CFP's inception in 2014, Notre Dame is among the final four teams. This puts the Fighting Irish in rare company. Only four other programs have appeared in the CFP on multiple occasions: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Alabama and Clemson, the top two seeds in this year's four-team tournament, each have missed the CFP only once (the Crimson Tide in 2019 and the Tigers in 2014). These programs also have the most national championships in the CFP era with two apiece. Ohio State and Oklahoma both have appeared in the CFP four times, with the Buckeyes winning the initial national championship in 2014. Six other programs have each made the CFP once: LSU, Georgia, Oregon, Michigan State, Washing- ton and Florida State. Among those teams, only LSU in 2019 was crowned champion. The ACC and SEC lead all other conferences with eight total appearances apiece (this includes Notre Dame's 2020 appearance, as the Irish are a member of ACC for this season). This is followed by the Big Ten with five, the Big 12 with four and the Pac-12 with two. No program from a Group of Five conference has ever made the CFP. COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PARTICIPANTS (2014-20) Team Appearances Championships Alabama 6 2 Clemson 6 2 Ohio State 4 1 Oklahoma 4 0 Notre Dame 2 0 Florida State 1 0 Georgia 1 0 LSU 1 1 Michigan State 1 0 Oregon 1 0 Washington 1 0 ✦ GIMME FIVE Following the New Year's Day clash with No. 1 Alabama in the Rose Bowl — held in Arlington, Texas, instead of Pasadena, Calif. — Notre Dame's senior class finished with a 43-8 ledger from 2017-20. That .843 winning percentage was just behind the 43-7 mark (.860) Notre Dame's class of 1992 had from 1988-91, the best at the program in the 55 years since 1965. The Fighting Irish finished with one of the five best records in the Football Bowl Subdivision the past four seasons with the 2017 recruiting class — which came on the heels of a 4-8 finish. Here are the top five with the best records from 2017-20, not yet includ- ing the Alabama-Ohio State title game: Notre Dame joins ACC champion Clemson among the top five winningest Football Bowl Subdivision programs in the nation over the past four seasons. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS Rk. Team Record Pct. 1. Alabama 50-4 .926 2. Ohio State 45-4 .918 3. Clemson 51-5 .911 4. Oklahoma 45-8 .849 5. Notre Dame 43-8 .843

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