Prediction #15: Touchdown Trio

A pair of juniors with a mere eight career touchdowns between them hold the key to Prediction #15 in our summer series.

It's only happened once. One time since Notre Dame began tracking official offensive records (1918) has an Irish team enjoyed 10 or more touchdowns from three different athletes in the same season.

Not surprising, it was Charlie Weis' first squad, the 36.7 points-per-game juggernaut of 2005 led by the breakout junior passing combination of Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija, and sophomore do-everything running back, Darius Walker.

2010 saw a disparity in touchdown production with Michael Floyd recording a team-high 12 in as many games, including nine in his final six games played (Floyd missed Week Eight at Navy) en route to setting the school record with 28 career receiving scores at season's end.

That end zone prowess from Notre Dame's all-time leading touchdown target brings us to the next prediction in our summer series:

Prediction #15 – Irish Trio to Total 30 scores

But wait, there's a catch. The third member of the trio, whoever it may be, must score at least seven touchdowns, as indicated in the text at the bottom of the prediction.

As I'm already on record noting a 10-score season for junior running back Cierre Wood, and I side with the majority that Floyd will again lead the team in touchdowns scored, that leaves the third and final leg of my three-pronged player prediction: junior receiver Theo Riddick.

Riddick scored his first three career touchdowns last season, all in a three-game span between Week Three (at MSU) and Week Five (at Boston College). That span coincided with a 33-reception run through four games in which he emerged as the team leader in receptions (37), receiving touchdowns (3, tying Kyle Rudolph), while ranking second in receiving yards (383).

Riddick then suffered an ankle injury in a Week Seven win over Western Michigan, ending the impact portion of his 2010 campaign.

He'll pick up where he left off last October, finishing with at least seven scores, which will be enough to push the Floyd/Wood/Riddick triumvirate over the top and into rarified program air for touchdowns by a trio.

Easier said than done

In fairness to the unique quality of the feat, it's only been a viable option since Ara Parseghian took over in 1964 and four years later, Notre Dame's scoring average hit a still-record 37.6 points-per-game. But despite posting six of the 13 highest scoring per game averages in program history, no Parseghian duo of players, much less trio, accounted for 10 or more scores in the same season.

In fact only five players notched double digit scores in a single season under the coaching legend.

  1. Halfback Bill Wolski with 11 in Parseghian's first season
  2. Halfback/athlete Nick Eddy scored 10 in the title season of 1966
  3. Halfback Bob Gladieux with a Parseghian-era best 14 rushing scores in 1968
  4. Fullback Andy Huff with 10 in 1972
  5. And later bruising ‘back Wayne Bullock in 1973-74 (11 and 12 TD respectively)

10 Scores or More

Since Wayne Bullock turned the double-digit touchdown trick in 1974, 19 Irish players have scored 10 or more touchdowns in a single season.

The majority have been running backs (13) while six receivers have accomplished the feat, including five since the 2005 season. (Derrick Mayes was the first pass-catcher to hit double digits, doing so as a junior in 1994.)

Note: I've included bowl statistics for every season below, though the NCAA began including the post-season game in 2002.

  • Al Hunter (1976): 13 (12 rushing)
  • Vagas Ferguson (1979): 17 (all rushing). The number remains a program rushing record, tied by Allen Pinkett in 1984.
  • Allen Pinkett (1983-84-85): 20, 19, and 11 respectively, and including bowl games
  • Anthony Johnson (1987 and 1989): 11 and 13, respectively including two in the 1989 Orange Bowl
  • Ricky Watters (1989): 10 regular season scores to lead the 12-1 Irish.
  • Jerome Bettis (1991 and 1992): Bettis scored 23 (his official team record is 20), but the bruising sophomore added three in a Sugar Bowl victory. He scored 15 including three Cotton Bowl touchdowns in 1992.
  • Reggie Brooks (1992): Officially led the squad with 14 scores (13 rushing)
  • Derrick Mayes (1994): Scored 13 including two Fiesta Bowl touchdowns. No other Irish player hit pay dirt on more than four occasions.
  • Marc Edwards (1995-96): 12 touchdowns including an Orange Bowl plunge to lead the team. Edwards added 10 more in 1996.
  • Randy Kinder (1995): Hit pay dirt 10 times including 9 rushing scores
  • Autry Denson (1996-97-98): Including the 1998 Gator Bowl, Denson produced 11, 13, and 18 touchdowns in his final three seasons.
  • Tony Fisher (2000): 10, including a Fiesta Bowl score in a 41-9 defeat
  • Julius Jones (2003): 10, which is remarkable considering he operated behind a hideous offensive line.
  • Jeff Samardzija (2005-06): Scored a team-high 15 in '05 and added 13 more in '06 including a fake field goal rushing score vs. Purdue.
  • Maurice Stovall (2005): Joined the Shark in double digits with 11 touchdown receptions of his own in a breakout senior season.
  • Darius Walker (2005): Rounded out the only single-season trio to score 10 or more with 12 as a sophomore in '05 including both Irish scores in a Fiesta Bowl loss to Ohio State.
  • Rhema McKnight (2006): Quietly produced 15 touchdowns in his 5th-year at the school.
  • Golden Tate (2008-09): Piled up 11 thanks to a trio in the Hawaii Bowl in '08 then erupted for 18 as a junior in '09. His 15 receiving scores in that final season tied Samardzija and McKnight for the program record.
  • Michael Floyd (2010): Caught a career-best 12 last fall, setting the program mark (28) with his final touchdown in the Sun Bowl win over Miami.

Of note: Only three Irish running backs – Fisher, Jones, and Walker – have scored 10 or more touchdowns since the turn of the century.

10 other Irish players have hit double-digit scores in one season: John Mohardt (12) 1921; Don Miller and Red Hammer (10 apiece) 1923; Fred Evans (11) 1941; Creighton Miller (13) 1943; Bob Kelly (13) 1944; Terry Brennan (11) 1947; Neil Worden (10-11 respectively) in 1952-53; Bill Wolski (11) 1964; and Nick Eddy (10) in 1966.

Michael Floyd will again put his name on this list, joining Golden Tate, Jeff Samardzija, and Derrick Mayes as the only pass targets to appear more than once. Look for Floyd to better his total of 12 from 2010.

Prediction #1 in our summer series called for Cierre Wood to do the same, which means Theo Riddick must pick up the slack, scoring at least seven times to bring Prediction #15 home.

(I couldn't pull the trigger and predict a 10-spot for Riddick as well.)

1-2-3…4 Punch

Notre Dame's top scoring trios and quartets (minimum 7 scores apiece) in program history (bowl games included):

  • 2005 (12 games): Jeff Samardzija 15, Darius Walker 12, Maurice Stovall 11
  • 1995 (12 games): Marc Edwards 12, Randy Kinder 10, Autry Denson 8, Derrick Mayes 8 – Mayes helped form the top quartet on the list with two acrobatic touchdowns in the Orange Bowl at season's end.
  • 2006 (13 games): Rhema McKnight 15, Samardzija 13, Walker 8
  • 1993 (12 games): Edwards 9, Ray Zellars 9, Jeff Burris 7, Lee Becton 7
  • 1989(13 games): Anthony Johnson 13, Ricky Watters 10, Tony Rice 7
  • 1996 (11 games): Autry Denson 11, Edwards 10, Robert Farmer 8
  • 1987 (12 games): Johnson 11, Tim Brown 8, Rice 7
  • 2000 (12 games): Tony Fisher 10, Julius Jones 8, Joey Getherall 7

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