Irish Hope To Start Strong At Home

For a program that has posted only a 17-16 home record over the past five seasons, Notre Dame needs to develop some home-game momentum in order to have a successful 2012 season.

Notre Dame great Jim Seymour

Recent home openers have tracked with the overall difficulty of the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium.  ND has dropped three of its last seven home openers – an overtime heart-breaker against Michigan State in 2005, a 33-3 shellacking at the hands of Georgia Tech in 2007, and last season’s inexplicable collapse against South Florida.

As in many areas, Ara Parseghian set the modern-day standard in home openers, going 10-1 from 1964-74.

Parseghian and his troops had no better opener than in 1966, when he unleashed a pair of sophomores – quarterback Terry Hanratty and wide receiver Jim Seymour – and knocked off a Bob Griese-led Purdue team, 26-14.  Hanratty and Seymour connected on 13 completions for 276 yards and three touchdowns, including an 84-yarder.  Seymour’s receiving total of 276 yards is still the single-game Notre Dame record, 46 years later. The victory propelled ND to a 9-0-1 season and the national championship.

Ironically, in the seven coaches since Parseghian, the best records in home openers belong to Ty Willingham (3-0), Bob Davie (4-1) and Gerry Faust (4-1).   Lou Holtz encountered three losses and a tie to go with seven victories, and Dan Devine was 4-2. Charlie Weis went 3-2 and Brian Kelly currently stands at 1-1.

Saturday’s game will mark the 13th time Purdue has been the home-opener opponent, as the Boilermakers are the most frequent guest to start the home season.  Notre Dame is 10-2 against Purdue in home openers, and hasn’t lost one since 1974 (Parseghian’s only loss in home openers).

People can debate about the atmosphere at Notre Dame Stadium, and what can or should be done to develop a more intimidating setting for opponents.  But Coach Kelly summed it all up when he said, “We win games, it will be nice and loud.”