Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2018

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

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52 JANUARY 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI O ver the last 30 years, the state of Florida has been targeted as one of the most important football recruiting hotbeds at Notre Dame. It shows on the 2017 roster with 10 Fighting Irish scholarship play- ers from the Sunshine State (led by leading tackler Te'von Coney at line- backer), which is behind only the 14 from Illinois. Furthermore, three of the first 18 verbals in the class of 2018 are from Florida — wide receiver Kevin Austin (Coconut Creek), tight end George Takacs (Naples) and corner- back Joseph Wilkins Jr. (North Fort Myers) — which ties it with New Jer- sey for the most so far from one state. Rounding out the 2018 class with two more Floridians in coveted cor- nerback Houston Griffith (Braden- ton) and offensive lineman Nick Petit-Frere (Tampa) — ranked as the No. 35 and No. 67 overall players nationally, respectively, by Rivals — would likely help give Notre Dame a top-10 haul. Part of the appeal for the Irish join- ing the Atlantic Coast Conference in most sports, and as a partial member in football, in 2013 was the affilia- tion with Florida, whose members included Florida State and Miami, for recruiting purposes. Unfortunately, playing football in the Sunshine State has not been as rewarding for the Fighting Irish, spe- cifically since 1981. Playing at the University of Miami since 1981, Notre Dame is 0-6 while getting outscored 207-40, or an aver- age margin of 34.5-6.7. That includes the 41-8 debacle this Nov. 11. Those first five outings with Mi- ami were played in the now torn down Orange Bowl, while this year's contest was at Sun Life Stadium — where the only other Fighting Irish appearance resulted in a 42-14 blow- out loss to Alabama in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game. The two games in that venue have seen Notre Dame outscored 83-22. Since Jan. 1, 2003, Notre Dame has lost six games in a row in Florida. Chronologically they were: • 2003 Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) to North Carolina State, 28-6. • 2011 Champ Sports Bowl (Or- lando) to Florida State, 18-14, in the same stadium where it will play LSU this New Year's Day. • 2013 BCS National Championship Game (Miami) to Alabama, 42-14. • 2014 to Florida State (Tallahas- see), 31-27, albeit in controversial fashion on an Irish touchdown in the closing seconds that was ruled an il- legal "pick play." • 2016 versus Navy (Jacksonville), 28-27. • The aforementioned Miami fi- asco this Nov. 11. Florida Funk Since 1981, Notre Dame has seldom tasted success in the Sunshine State Notre Dame's 28-6 loss to North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl at Jacksonville in January 2003 was the beginning of an active six-game losing streak for the Irish in the state of Florida. PHOTO COURTESY THEWOLFPACKER.COM

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