Just the Facts

Irisheyes.com unearths five pertinent historical facts as the Irish prepare to take on traditional foe Purdue in South Bend.

1 -- Season in the last five in which Notre Dame has started 2-0. After beginning the season with consecutive wins in both of Charlie Weis' first two seasons (2005-06), the Irish have enjoyed such an opening season cushion just once since -- Weis' fourth year of 2008. The 2007 Irish began 0-5 while both the 2009 and 2010 Irish started 1-1. Brian Kelly's 2011 squad began 0-2 last season.

Since Lou Holtz left campus following the 1996 season, just four Irish teams have enjoyed 2-0 starts: Weis' aforementioned squads and Tyrone Willingham's first Notre Dame team in 2002.

Remarkably, the consistently successful Holtz began 2-0 in just six of his 11 seasons at the helm, including a 1-0-1 start in 1992. Just 11 of the program's last 30 squads have begun a season with consecutive victories. The combined records of those teams is 102-31-1with only three of the 10 losing more than three games over the course of the season.

2 -- Wins by an unranked team vs. the ranked foe over the series' last 30 matchups. In 1984, unranked Purdue upset No. 8 Notre Dame, 23-21 at the Hoosier Dome in the season opener for both teams. 16 years later, unranked Purdue and first-year head coach Joe Tiller took out No. 12 Notre Dame and its first-year head man Bob Davie, 28-17 in West Lafayette.

Notre Dame enters Saturday's contest ranked #22 in both the Associated Press and Coach's Poll.

3 -- Wins by Purdue in South Bend since Ara Parseghian began as Notre Dame's head coach in 1964. No. 1 Purdue beat No. 2 Notre Dame 37-22 in South Bend in 1968 and an unranked Boilermakers squad upset the No. 2 ranked Irish in 1974, 31-20.

Not until 2004 when Joe Tiller's No. 15 Boilermakers hammered Tyrone Willingham's unranked Irish, 41-16 did Purdue again taste victory on a trip north.

4 -- Irish quarterbacks to win their first start vs. Purdue since the millennium -- but the names of the victors and interspersed defeated signal-callers might surprise you. Both Brady Quinn (2003) and Jimmy Clausen (2007) lost in their opening efforts while Gary Godsey (2000), Carlyle Holiday (2001), Dayne Crist (2010), and Tommy Rees (2011) each guided Irish teams to victories over the Boilers.

Jarious Jackson (1998), Ron Powlus (1994), Kevin McDougal (1993), Paul Failla (1991), Rick Mirer (1990), Tony Rice (1988), and Terry Andrysiak (1987) each prevailed consecutively in their first outings vs. Purdue.

5 -- Wins by Purdue over Notre Dame in the teams' last 15 matchups. Ex-Irish head coach Lou Holtz never lost to Purdue (11-0), but his successors each ran into trouble vs. the in-state rival. In his first season at the helm, Bob Davie lost to the Boilers in West Lafayette, 28-17 and finished 3-2 vs. revolutionary Purdue head coach Joe Tiller.

Tyrone Willingham followed Davie and after an initial victory in 2002 in which the Irish scored 24 points without an offensive touchdown, Willingham's squads lost back-to-back efforts to the Boilers in 2003 (23-10) and 2004 (41-16). The latter loss marked the first by an Irish team to Purdue in South Bend since 1974.

Charlie Weis won his first two and last two contests vs. the Boilers, losing only in 2007 (33-19). Weis escaped with a thrilling last second victory in West Lafayette in his final season as Notre Dame head coach, winning 24-21.

What commonality does each loss above share? None of the Notre Dame teams that suffered a loss to the Boilers finished with fewer than six losses on the season.

In short, when Notre Dame loses to Purdue, the defeat offers a portent for the remainder of the campaign.

Brian Kelly is 2-0 vs. the Boilers including a win in his Irish coaching debut, 23-12 in 2010. The Irish are 32-10 vs. Purdue since 1970 and lead the series overall, 55-26-2.


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