Friday, November 30, 2012

Where Are They Now? Ruth Riley

[]  Ruth Riley is the type of woman that stands out in a crowd. Not just because of her 6-foot-4 ½-inch height, either. Riley helped team USA win a women’s basketball gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece, helped her Notre Dame team win a national title and was part of two WNBA championships with the Detroit Shock. The first person to win the MVP award in both the NCAA and the WNBA championship games, Riley comes from humble beginnings. She was born in Ranson, Kansas, but spent most of her childhood growing up in Macy, Ind. Raised by her mother, Sharon Riley, Ruth Riley quickly learned her mother’s creative ways had a way of making her and her brother and sister feel like family was the strongest bond. Faith, hard work and respect were the foundation of her childhood and they are what helped mold Riley into the person she is today. Riley currently splits her time between Chicago, where she plays for the Chicago Sky, and Miami, where her WNBA career began.

Q: What made you decide on Notre Dame? Did the Final Four trip the year before you came influence your decision?
Notre Dame Alum, Ruth Riley
[Photo from Ruth Riley Fan Page]

A: “Notre Dame was the only official visit I took, but the recruiting process was very difficult for me. All of the top women’s basketball programs were recruiting me quite actively, and there was a lot for me to consider. Ultimately, I just knew that Notre Dame was the right fit for me. It was the perfect combination of what I was looking for in a school. A good women’s basketball program, an instant comfort level with the head coach, the opportunity to be the student-athlete I wanted to become and a chance to continue to develop my faith and being so close to home were huge selling points for me. It was important to me that my family had the opportunity to come see me play.”

“I have an older sister, Rachel, and a younger brother, Jake and we are all very close. My sister ran cross country and played basketball, and my brother played football and basketball as well, but my brother and I share a similar passion for basketball.”

“Rachel is not just my older sister, she is my best friend as well. We were always competing against each other for the best grades, so it was only fitting that we ended up both attending Notre Dame.”

“My brother is my other half when it comes to basketball. We grew up playing many heated games of one-on-one, which continues, even today, every time we are together. Although it took him till my junior year in college to first beat me, I must say he is pretty tough competition now.”

Q: You were 25 inches long when you were born, so you were always taller than even the other babies in the nursery. You were 6-foot tall as a 12-year-old and 6-4 1/2 now. How have you dealt with that over the years?

A: “It’s a struggle for sure. At a young age I got a lot of unwanted attention. You get made fun of a lot, which made me become very shy and introverted. When I started playing sports there were high expectations that were placed on me, that I should be very good simply because of my height. This became a big source of frustration for me, because at the beginning I was not very good yet.”

“Playing sports was a great help for me, though, because it helped me to discover that I was not the only tall girl. Especially when I got to college, and I had friends who played on the women’s volleyball team who were actually taller than me, I realized that there were other tall women in the world. This helped me to become much more confident as a woman and as an athlete.”

Q: What’s it like being the first person to win MVP awards in the NCAA Tournament and WNBA Championship?
Ruth Riley raises MVP trophy in
2003 with the Detroit Shock.
[Photo from]

A: “Wow …. I would have thought that Sheryl Swoopes would have held such a record. It’s a huge honor, obviously. It means the work that I’ve put in to being an athlete has paid off; that I’ve managed to perform to my ability, at a high level, when it is needed most.”

Q: You best Notre Dame basketball memory?

A: “This one is kind of a no-brainer … the championship game in St. Louis in 2001. (Riley had 28 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks in the title game. She also made the final two free throws to seal the win over Purdue.) Being able to play in a championship game like that is truly the ultimate accomplishment of your athletic career. I was very blessed to have that be the last game of my collegiate career; so blessed to finish on top like that.”

Q: What was your biggest challenge at ND?

A: “Early on in my career, time management was a big challenge. Trying to maintain a high grade-point average and to excel on the court was very difficult, especially in my first two years. Notre Dame helped me learn how to manage that. They have a great resource system in place for their student-athletes. It is a huge adjustment, making the transition from a small-town high school to a big-time university. Practice, studying, going to class, plus all of the extra time that I personally spent in the gym … it takes some time to figure out how to juggle all of that and remain successful at the same time.”

Q: How do you remember your WNBA draft day?
WNBA player, Ruth Riley
[Photo from Ruth Riley Fan Page]

A: “It was a complete whirlwind. The media coverage that I received and the realization that I was actually going to have the opportunity to play in the WBNA were quite overwhelming. Playing in the WNBA was a dream (and) a goal of mine and seeing that all came true was an ultimate high. It was great to meet some of the other girls at the selection show who were going through the same process. Most importantly, having my mom there made it all complete, because I couldn’t have done it without her love and support!”

Q: What was it like growing up in Kansas and Indiana? What was the culture shock like when you moved to Florida?

A: “It was the perfect time for me. I grew up in a sheltered environment, and college brought me a little bit out of that shell, but to go from South Bend, Ind., to South Beach (in Miami) really opened my eyes to the world. Being introduced to many different people and cultures helped me see the world, and ultimately myself, in a different way.”

Q: You have two years left on your WNBA contract with the Chicago Sky … what has been the highlight of your WNBA career so far?

A: “The two championship wins with Detroit in 2003 and 2006 were definite highlights for me. Something about the 2003 team was very unique. In 2002, Detroit had the worst record in the league. They brought in myself and a bunch of new players, to turn the franchise around and went from worst to first. That very seldom happens in sports, but when it does it is something pretty remarkable to watch, let alone be an active contributor to the success.”

“The opportunity to compete at the highest level of your craft, to compete against the top players of your sport, has to be one of the best highs of playing in the WNBA. My job is to play a game I love, and I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to do it for so long.”

“There are always going to be injuries, or shooting slumps, or losing streaks which can be difficult to overcome, but the highs definitely make up for them.”

“Off the court, the hardest thing is the time you lose with your family and friends. You have to miss weddings, birthdays and holidays because you are on the road or playing overseas. You don’t have the opportunity to spend the amount of time with them that you feel you should, but that is the price that you play to compete at that level.”

Q: You have an NCAA championship, Olympic gold medal, WNBA championship, the Naismith Award as the nation’s top collegiate player and the AP Player of the Year award. Which one was the hardest to win? Which one are you the most proud of?
Ruth Riley, National
Championship Game 2001
[Photo from]

A: “There is something unique about the college game, and the NCAA tournament. Sixty-four teams, one championship and being able to play against the best athletes in your age group … that experience is the most memorable for me. Also because it was the first championship that had ever I won. I had a big role on that team as a leader and they looked up to me to lead them towards accomplishing that.”

“In the pros I didn’t have the same kind of leading role because there were so many good players.”

Q: What was it like being inducted into the Academic All-American Hall of Fame?

A: “It was an unbelievable honor. I did not expect it at all. I feel very blessed that I was able to spend that evening, and share that moment, with my mom. Growing up she did not have the opportunities that I have been given, but she did her best to provide for us in any way that she could. She inspired me to dream big and to believe that I could do anything I wanted. Being able to share that night with her was very special to me.”

Q: You wrote a children’s book “The Spirit of Basketball,” that was given out before one of your Detroit WNBA games. Did you enjoy that experience and do you have any other plans to continue writing?

A: “Writing is something that I most definitely enjoy doing. Currently I have a blog ( and the blog posts that I write about are the things that I am most passionate about. I definitely plan on writing a book pretty soon. I want to tell my life story, but I also want to inspire people and make a difference in the world.”

Q: What are your plans after your basketball career ends?

A: “I still have two more years left and I really don’t know if at that time I will want to sign for another year or whether that will be it for me. My degree from Notre Dame is in psychology. I probably won’t go onto graduate school to continue studying psychology, but my passion is being able to work with people and in that respect I use my psychology degree every day.”

“There are several organizations that I am very active with right now, that will probably be a part of my transition from the WNBA to where my passion leads me next.”

“I want to use my platform to inspire others and to make a positive impact in the world.”


A young mother of 3, already lost 1 child,
is given a net for the first time!
[Photo from]
Nothingbutnets is the UN Foundation’s global grassroots campaign to help eradicate malaria. The NBA/WNBA were founding partners, and likewise I have been a spokesperson since its launch in December of 2006.”

TRIAD Trust: Training to Reduce the Incidents of AIDS-related Deaths

“In June 2007, more than 4,500 orphans and vulnerable children were identified in the surrounding villages of Nkomazi, South Africa. Over 350 households were headed by children ages 16-18 and close to 5 percent of the population between the ages of 18 to 34 were HIV-positive. Since then, I have had the opportunity to travel with TRIAD Trust and take part in their sports programs. Our purpose is to identify and train young adult leaders within remote, impoverished communities so they can independently initiate fundamental health-enhancing behavior change. Through education and empowerment, we intend to create self-sustainable social improvement.”

TRIAD Trust takes a comprehensive approach to reducing the affects and instances of this AIDS pandemic. It targets children and young adults who are most vulnerable to AIDS, and has created programs using sports (basketball & soccer), music, drama, photography, and journalism as an avenue to develop trust and relationships within the community. Our sports programs work to teach the fundamentals of team-building, conflict resolution, sportsmanship, skills mastery, self-esteem, and knowledge of HIV/AIDS and healthy lifestyles. Not only do we work to educate players and coaches about how to prevent contracting HIV, but we work to de-stigmatize those who have the virus.”

No Kid Hungry Campaign

“Most people have mental pictures of starving children in Africa when the issue of poverty and hunger are raised—you might be surprised to learn that there are actually more than 16 million American children who do not have reliable access to the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Recently I had the opportunity to represent the NBA/WNBA in Chicago at the Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign launch.”

“This is an issue that hits close to home for me, because my family benefited from free and reduced lunch programs when I was growing up. My mom did everything she could to raise my brother, sister and I, often working two jobs while raising us on her own, but sometimes there just was not enough money to go around. The free and reduced lunch program at my elementary school made sure that my siblings and I had a nutritious meal that my mom could not always afford herself.”

“Share Our Strength is a national nonprofit committed to ending childhood hunger in America by making sure that children in need are enrolled in federal programs, it invests in community organizations fighting hunger, teaches families how to cook healthy meals on a budget, and builds public-private partnerships to end hunger on a national and state level. The NBA/WNBA are committed to working with Share Our Strength to connect more than 50,000 youth to free meals this summer across the United States. (”

Q: Do you have any advice for girls who are playing sports in today’s society?

A: “What I would say first is to dream big. Secondly, work really hard to achieve those goals. There is so much opportunity for young girls today. Society pressures you to act or look a certain way and people are quick to tell you that your dreams are not possible … I would tell them to keep working and go for what you want.”

“I am so proud of how far women and sports have come since Title IX was put into place. What I’m most passionate about is the platform that sports and athletics gives women. Without sports, I would have never been able to achieve all that I have achieved. Most people want to do something good, they just don’t make it a priority. Everyone has an area of influence, they don’t realize that all it takes is a little time, so much can be done with just using our time to invest in others. I love the fact that I have a platform in which to inspire other people to help.”

A big thank you goes out to Ruth Riley for stopping by the blog. If you want to learn more about Ruth, please visit her web site Next up on “Where Are They Now?” is Notre Dame linebacker, Devon McDonald.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Notre Dame Undefeated Streak Continues, Defeat BC 21-6

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson throws under pressure from an approaching Boston College defender, Kasim Edebali. [AP photo: Winslow Townson]

[] Notre Dame “shipped up to Boston” and did exactly what they needed to do - take care of business and get another win. In the process they improved their record to 10-0, a mark not seen since 1993. It wasn’t pretty, but at least it wasn’t the heart attack that Notre Dame fans had to suffer through last week against Pitt.

The Eagles were hoping to have a repeat of their upsets over Notre Dame in 1993 and 2002 when they broke Irish hearts and halted Notre Dame’s undefeated seasons. But the 2012 Boston College squad just didn’t have the talent to compete with a scrappy, motivated, hard working Fighting Irish squad.

Notre Dame’s 21-6 victory gave them their third straight win in a series that dates back 37 years. The Irish may not have won tonight in style points, but their undefeated streak continues and with an Alabama loss to Texas A&M their national title hopes are still very much alive.

Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig had a productive day despite the final score of the game. Rettig completed 27 of 43 passes for 247 yards, the ninth time this season he has passed for more than 200 yards. Wide receiver Alex Amidon caught six passes for 84 yards and has a total of 73 catches for 1,157 yards on the season, which breaks the Boston College season record.

Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson won his eighth consecutive game as the starter, completing touchdown passes to John Goodman and Troy Niklas and running one in himself. Linebacker Manti Te’o had another banner day with five tackles and a fourth-quarter interception that brought this total to six for the season, a school record for linebackers. Golson completed 16 of 24 passes for 200 yards, and Irish multi-threat running back Theo Riddick again broke the century mark running for 104 yards and catching six passes for 67 yards.

This 2012 edition wasn’t pretty. There wasn’t much fancy footwork this week or big time plays, but Notre Dame got the job done. And most importantly for Irish fans there was no upset this year in "The Holy War." Just two Catholic teams with very different seasons.

While Notre Dame revels in their 10-0 record, 2-8 Boston College has to now figure out what they need to do to rebuild this team and bring it back to relevance. The Eagles have beaten just one FBS team this season, and the two ranked teams they faced prior to Notre Dame — Florida State and Clemson — beat them by a combined 58 points.

In the past four seasons, the gap has grown between Boston College and elite teams both in the ACC and around the nation. The Eagles are barely competing in the ACC and rapidly sinking into irrelevance nationally.

Now Brian Kelly has to keep his Irish squad focused for one final home game against Wake Forest next week, and a season finale against the Trojans in Los Angeles. Both other undefeated teams have tough tests ahead, with the Oregon Ducks facing Stanford and Oregon State, and Kansas State taking on Baylor and Texas. Notre Dame fans will have a lot to cheer for in the next few weeks if they want a chance at the national title spotlight.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Notre Dame – Boston College Preview

[Photo]: Stephan Savoia, File/Associated Press - FILE – In this Oct. 2, 2010, file photo, Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig (7) looks to pass in his first start against Notre Dame in Boston.

[] The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame “ship up to Boston” this week to play the Eagles of Boston College at 8pm ET on ABC,  Saturday, Nov 10.

You may wonder why a 9-0 Notre Dame team (favored by 19 points) is matched up with a 2-7 Boston College team in prime time? Well, for whatever reason, the Eagles of Boston College have a great knack for knocking Notre Dame down from high places. The last three times Notre Dame faced Boston College while ranked in the Top 10, the Irish came up miserably short. And in the last 20 years, Notre Dame has been undefeated twice heading into November match ups against Boston College. Both times the Eagles crushed the Irish hopes and chances of winning the national title.

Keep your eye on Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood on Saturday. In the past five games the senior running back has gained 442 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Wood does a great job at following his blockers and running in between the tackles. He leads an Irish three-headed rushing attack, also featuring Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III, that’s averaging more than 200 yards on the ground per game. With Boston College’s run defense being ranked 116th in FBS, Notre Dame will surely use this to their advantage and utilize their running game to its fullest potential.

Boston College wide receiver Alex Amidon will be a top target on Saturday and the Irish defense will need to make sure to contain him. Amidon has averaged more than 115 receiving yards per game this season and ranks in the top 5 nationally. He is known for his precise route-running and Irish cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell and Bennett Jackson must be prepared to defend explosive bursts and double moves from Amidon. He has six 100-plus yard games, which ties the school record. He was the ACC receiver of the week against Clemson on Oct. 1, with 193 receiving yards that week. This is the most yardage for a BC pass-catcher since Doug Flutie connected with Gerard Phelan for 226 yards in their 1984 victory over Miami (including the famous last-second Hail Mary pass).

Golson and company yet again find a way to win in overtime versus Pitt last Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. Photo: Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images
While Notre Dame has an excellent arsenal of passing targets for quarterback Everett Golson including wide receivers Robby Toma, TJ Jones, and tight end Tyler Eiffert,  DaVaris Daniels could also shine big on Saturday. The sophomore wide receiver is coming off his top game of the season with seven catches for 86 yards against Pitt. Not only did Daniels snag a crucial catch in OT of the Stanford game, he hauled in a clutch 45-yard catch on a game-tying drive in the final minutes of the Pitt game last week. In Coach Brian Kelly’s press conference on Tuesday, Kelly said that Daniels continues to improve with his route running.

Boston College will put all hopes of beating the Irish on Saturday on the shoulders of their quarterback, Chase Rettig. The Eagles have found themselves trailing in far too many games this season, relying on Rettig’s arm to try to close the deficit. In the last three games, Rettig has averaged more than 39 pass attempts per game. During the same stretch he also averaged more than 300 yards passing per game. Turnovers haven’t been much of a problem for Rettig in 2012, but he threw three last week in the Eagle’s loss to Wake Forest.

The key to an Irish win on Saturday is going turnover free. The Irish are 9-0 under Coach Kelly when they don’t commit a turnover, and they are 23-4 in their last 27 games when having a turnover free game. Notre Dame did its best to lose last week against the Pitt Panthers, committing three turnovers in that game.

The winner of Saturday’s match up  receives two trophies: the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl and the Ireland Trophy, both of which honor the schools’ shared history and tradition.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

No. 4 Notre Dame Hangs On, Beats Pitt in 3OT

[Photo: Mike DiNovo US Presswire]

[] Notre Dame’s hopes to get a chance at a national title were almost crushed last night by the Pittsburgh Panthers. Instead the Panthers were left stunned with a loss of their own, and the Irish went on to celebrate another check in the win column.

Panther running back Ray Graham shined almost as brightly as the golden dome yesterday, rushing for a total of 172 yards on 24 carries. The Panthers had several opportunities to put away the unbeaten Irish, but just couldn’t get the job done. Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson scored on a quarterback sneak play in the third overtime to give Notre Dame a 29-26 victory after Pitt threw away a 14-point lead.

“We had opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of them enough,” Pitt  head coach Paul Chryst told the media after the game. “That’s what this game comes down to.”

The Panthers (4-6) increased their lead to 11 points in the third quarter when Pitt linebacker Eric Williams intercepted Irish backup quarterback Tommy Rees at midfield. Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri then completed a 43-yard pass to tight end J.P. Holtz for a first down, and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Holtz to go up 17-6. The Panthers further increased their lead to 20-6 later in the third quarter on a 21-yard field goal by kicker Kevin Harper.

The Panthers were hoping to follow in the footsteps of the 2002 Boston College team which beat an 8-0 Notre Dame also at Notre Dame stadium. But the Panthers somehow could not find a way to finish the job.

“A couple times I thought we had it sealed, but that’s why you play to the last whistle. You never know what’s going to happen,” Pitt linebacker Joe Trebitz told the media after the game.

Pitt appeared to have the upset in hand when cornerback K’Waun Williams intercepted a Golson pass in the end zone. But the Irish defense came to the rescue and held Pitt’s offense. Golson then returned to complete a 45-yard pass to wide receiver DaVaris Daniels at the Pitt 5. Golson followed that up with a 5-yard touchdown pass to running back Theo Riddick. Then Golson ran in the two-point conversion himself, sending the game into overtime tied 20-20.

The Panthers’ big chance to win the game came in the second overtime when one of the Pitt defenders hit the ball in Cierre Woods hands squarely with his helmet and Wood could not hang on to the ball as he attempted to dive into the end zone. The ball was recovered by Pitt safety Jarrend Holley in the endzone, and Pitt got the ball back. Unfortunately, their subsequent drive ended in a missed 33-yard field goal by Pitt kicker Kevin Harper.

“We missed a field goal, that’s why we lost the game,” Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri told the media post game. “It came down to a special teams play, we didn’t make the play. Give credit to Notre Dame for being able to finish it off.”

The Irish survive another nail biter, moving on to 9-0. [Photo: James Brosher, South Bend Tribune]

Notre Dame finally secured the win in triple overtime on a series of Riddick rushing plays, and a one-yard rushing touchdown by Golson himself.

This is yet another home game that the Irish have narrowly escaped defeat. All five Notre Dame home games this season have been decided by a touchdown or less (with two going to overtime), while their four away games have been decided by an average margin of 28 points.

Kelly has been urging his team to play better at home, but yet again they continue to make mistakes. He told the Irish they had to play better against Boston College, Wake Forest and Southern California.

As one of few remaining undefeated teams left, everyone is trying to pull the big upset against Notre Dame.

“I told them that they have to understand that everybody they play against will play their absolute best. Next week BC will play out of their minds against us. Wake Forest will. They can’t just highlight certain teams on their schedule because they will play their best,” Kelly told the media post game. “I think that’s a lesson learned.”

Notre Dame faces the Boston College Eagles next week, who are 2-7 on the season. However, no Boston College team should be dismissed. They have broken the hearts of Irish fans on far too many occasions to be overlooked. Coach Kelly needs to find a way to keep his squad focused and to not underestimate any team on their remaining schedule.


Friday, November 2, 2012

No. 4 Notre Dame to Face Pitt Panthers at Home

Jeff Samardzija's first career touchdown came against Pittsburgh on this diving catch to open the 2005 season. [Credits: AP]

[] No. 4 Notre Dame returns to South Bend this week to face another common rival the Pittsburgh Panthers. The Irish and Panthers have met 67 times, with Notre Dame holding a 46-20-1 advantage. Pitt is actually the fifth most common opponent ever for Notre Dame behind Navy, Purdue, USC and Michigan State.

Notre Dame has beat the Panthers in the past two meetings, but this series has been close in recent years with seven of the last eight meetings being decided by eight points or fewer.

This is one of my favorite rivalries, personally, as I was born in Pittsburgh, and my father’s first Notre Dame game as a child was a Notre Dame-Pitt game in Pittsburgh.

Here is a little history behind this classic rivalry.

The series first began in the year 1909.

The first ever meeting between the two teams ended in a 6-0 Irish win.

The first five meetings ended in four Panther losses and one tie. In 1932 the Panthers earned their first victory over the Irish with a 12-0 win. It was the first of three consecutive shutout wins for Pittsburgh over Notre Dame.

In 1936, for the first time both Notre Dame and Pittsburgh entered the contest as ranked opponents. The ninth-ranked Panthers prevailed in this contest, beating the seventh-ranked Irish 26-0.

Frank Leahy’s first meeting with Pittsburgh in the fall of 1943 was a 41-0 victory. This win was the start of eight straight wins for the Irish over the Panthers. During this streak, the Irish would go on to outscore the Panthers 302-15.

In 1952 the Panthers ended Notre Dame’s eight-game series win streak with a 22-19 upset over the eighth ranked Irish.

After two previous wins over the Panthers, in 1966 Ara Parseghian’s top-ranked Irish crushed Pittsburgh 40-0 on their way to winning the national championship. The win was the third game in Notre Dame’s 11-game winning streak over the Panthers from 1964-74.

Dan Devine’s first crack at the Panthers in 1975  ended with his ninth-ranked Irish losing 34-20 to an unranked Pittsburgh squad. Panther legend Tony Dorsett rushed for an opponent record 303 yards in the Pitt win.

In the following year’s match up in 1976 Dorsett rushed for 181 yards to lead Pittsburgh to the 31-10 win and to the eventual national title.

In 1982, freshman Allen Pinkett scored on a 76-yard touchdown run to help Notre Dame upset Dan Marino and the #1 ranked Pittsburgh Panthers by a score of 31-16.

With starting quarterback Terry Andrysiak hurt, sophomore backup Tony Rice made his first appearance in 1987 and lead an Irish rally that just fell short as Pitt held on to get the 30-22 victory.

In 1988, a couple of red-zone fumbles helped the eventual national champion Irish hold on and beat Pitt 30-20.

In Coach Lou Holtz’s next to last  home game at Notre Dame (1996)  the Irish cruised to a 60-6 over the hapless Panthers.

The Panther’s send out old Pitt Stadium in style 1999 as they beat  Notre Dame 37-27.

In a rare shining moment during the 2003 football season, Julius Jones rushed for 262 yards in helping Notre Dame beat Pittsburgh 20-14.

Charlie Weis’ Notre Dame debut came in 2005 against Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. After giving up an opening drive touchdown, the Irish continued on to dominate the Panthers, winning by a score of 42-21. Jeff Samardzija caught his first career touchdown with an incredible diving catch.

It took 99 years for the Irish and Panthers to play their first overtime contest (2008).  The Panthers came out victorious  after four overtimes by a score of 36-33 when Brandon Walker’s final field goal attempt went wide.

And finally, last year (2011) Jonas Gray ran for a career-long 79-yard touchdown to give the Irish the lead early, but it would be a late fourth quarter touchdown pass from Tommy Rees to Tyler Eifert that would secure the 15-12 win for Notre Dame.

The Irish faithful are looking forward to the game against Pitt on Saturday, hoping to see a game that gives the Irish a little breathing room compared to last week’s match up against Oklahoma. A win over the Panthers would improve Notre Dame to 9-0 for the first time since 1993. It would also give the Irish nine straight victories to open a season for the 16th time in school history.

Notre Dame enters this week ranked No. 3 in the BCS standings. It equals the highest Irish ranking during the BCS era since Notre Dame was No. 3 in the standings released the weeks of Oct. 19 and Oct. 26, 2002.

Notre Dame is 9-0 under Brian Kelly when they don’t commit a turnover in a game. The Irish have played three  turnover-free games so far this year, including road games at No. 10 Michigan State and No. 8 Oklahoma.