For the past several summers, Irish Illustrated has offered to its readers 100 Hunches, a list of speculative predictions for the upcoming season, usually fact-based with a few twists here and there.
This series of stories has been replaced by the 2015 Fighting Irish Facts, which are exactly what they sound like they would be. These are facts about Notre Dame and its opponents, as they pertain to 2015 as well as the Notre Dame record book.
• Of Notre Dame’s 12 regular-season opponents, six will have additional time (more than seven days) to prepare for the Irish. Clemson plays at Louisville on Thursday, Sept. 17 – 16 days before hosting Notre Dame. Wake Forest takes on Louisville at home on Friday, Oct. 30 and doesn’t play again until visiting Notre Dame on Nov. 14 – 15 days between games. Boston College’s only off weekend of the season comes on Nov. 14, giving the Eagles 14 days between hosting N.C. State and playing Notre Dame in Fenway Park on Nov. 21. USC, Pittsburgh and Temple each have nine days between games before taking on the Irish.
• After the Irish host USC on Oct. 17, they play just one more game at Notre Dame Stadium (Wake Forest) with trips to Philadelphia to play Temple, Pittsburgh, Fenway Park to play Boston College, and Stanford to close the season.
• Through five seasons at Notre Dame, head coach Brian Kelly has 45 victories. Only Lou Holtz recorded more victories in his first five seasons with the Irish when his squads won 46 times from 1986-90. Of course, Kelly has benefitted from playing 13 games each season, although his Irish teams have qualified for a bowl each of those seasons.
Dan Devine’s 1975-79 teams won 44 games. Ara Parseghian’s teams played just 10 regular-season games per season at a time when Notre Dame was just returning to the bowl scene. The Irish won 40 times from 1964-68. Frank Leahy’s 1941-45 squads won 39 games during an era when nine or 10 regular-season games were the norm. After his 3-1-2 first season with the Irish in 1918, Knute Rockne won 45 games from 1919-23.
• Notre Dame has won at least eight games in five straight seasons for the first time since 1989-93 when Lou Holtz’s squad won 52 games in five seasons. The streak of at least eight wins per season under Holtz was seven, dating back to 1987 (eight wins) and 1988 (12).
• Over the last eight seasons, Notre Dame has had just one 1,000-yard rusher – Cierre Wood (1,102) in 2012. The previous 1,000-yard rusher prior to Wood was Darius Walker, who rushed for 1,196 yards in 2,005 and 1,267 yards in 2006.
• Junior running back Tarean Folston has rushed for 1,359 yards in his first two seasons at Notre Dame. If he rushes for at least 641 yards in ’15, he will become just the 17th running back in Irish history to gain 2,000 yards on the ground.
• If Folston averages 821 or more yards per season in 2015-16, he will become the sixth Irish running back to reach 3,000 yards, joining Autry Denson (4,318), Allen Pinkett (4,131), Vagas Ferguson (3,472), Darius Walker (3,249) and Julius Jones (3,018).
• After rushing for more than 100 yards just once in his first 18 games for the Irish (140 vs. Navy in 2013), Folston has rushed for at least 106 yards in four of his last seven games.
• Only four players in Irish history have scored as many as 15 receiving touchdowns in a season – Jeff Samardzija (2005), Rhema McKnight (2006), Golden Tate (2009) and current junior wideout Will Fuller (2014). Each scored 15 times.
• Fuller enters the 2015 season with 82 career receptions. If he duplicates last year’s 76 receptions this year, he will be fourth on Notre Dame’s all-time list, moving past Thom Gatewood, who held the record for receptions (157) from 1971-2006 when Samardzija (179) and McKnight (170) both surpassed him.
• Fuller would have to average 95 receptions per season in 2015-16 to surpass Michael Floyd on Notre Dame’s all-time reception list. Floyd had 271 receptions for 3,686 yards from 2008-11.
• Malik Zaire rushed for 96 yards in Notre Dame’s 31-28 victory over LSU in the Music City Bowl. The last Notre Dame quarterback to rush for at least 100 yards in a game was Andrew Hendrix (111) versus Air Force in 2011.