Notre Dame-Louisville Countdown: 10 To 1
10 Brian Kelly is in his 10th season as Notre Dame’s head coach, joining luminaries Knute Rockne (13 years), Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz (11 apiece) as the fifth to achieve a full decade at the helm. Tonight will be his 117th game as the Fighting Irish head coach (81-35), which will move him past Parseghian (95-17-4) for the third most contests.
Only Holtz with 132 (100-30-2) and Rockne with 122 (105-12-5) have officially had more games (even though not always on the sidelines for health reasons).
9 Consecutive games lost by Louisville — the longest current losing streak in the nation. Rutgers had entered the season with the previous high at 11 but opened its campaign with a 48-21 win over UMass on Friday night. During the nine-game skid last year to finish 2-10, the Cardinals were outscored by an average of 55-19, which is why Scott Satterfield, 51-24 at Appalachian State from 2013-18, is now the new head coach.
Notre Dame’s No. 9 rating in the preseason is also the highest since 2006, when it began the year No. 2.
8 Straight night openers Notre Dame won from 1974-96 after losing its first one ever in 1956 at SMU. From 2001-18, Notre Dame has had eight other night openers in which it was 5-3, and the game at Louisville will represent the ninth in the first 19 years of the 21st century after having nine in all the 20th century.
7 First-time starters projected for Notre Dame on offense, defense and kicking specialists. On offense they are sophomores Jarrett Patterson at center and Lawrence Keys III at slot. Defensively it would be four juniors: tackles Kurt Hinish and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Mike linebacker Drew White and rover Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Freshman punter Jay Bramblett, who also doubles as the holder on placekicks, likewise will make his starting debut.
Junior tight end Brock Wright technically made a start last year versus Florida State when the first Irish possession began in short-yardage, goal-line situation after an interception return.
6 Since the start of the 20th century, this will be only the sixth time a Notre Dame football season doesn’t begin on a Saturday, and the first time the Fighting Irish play on Labor Day Monday. They also will open on Labor Day Monday at Florida State in 2021.
• This will be the third Monday night opener for Notre Dame, with the other two occurring in Parseghian’s final season in 1974 and then successor Dan Devine’s debut in 1975. The reigning national champion Fighting Irish won at Georgia Tech in 1974 (31-7) count and defeated Boston College the following year (17-3) in Foxboro.
• The 1989 season, which saw Notre Dame as the reigning national champion again, opened on a Thursday night Aug. 31 in the Kickoff Classic in New Jersey. The Irish roared to a 33-0 halftime lead versus Virginia before coasting to a 36-13 outcome.
• In Holtz’s final season in 1996, Notre Dame opened on a Thursday night as well, this time trailing 7-6 in the fourth quarter at Vanderbilt before prevailing with a 14-7 win.
• In 2016, the Fighting Irish debuted in their first Sunday night outing ever, a 50-47 double-overtime defeat at Texas.
5 Power 5 Conference schools among the 65 total who have achieved more wins than Notre Dame’s 22-4 record the past two seasons: Alabama (27-2), Clemson (27-2), Ohio State (25-3), Oklahoma (24-4) and Georgia (24-5). The 22 victories also represent the second-most over a two year period at the school since going to an 11-game regular season format in 1974 (and 12-game regular seasons as the norm in 2006).
The highest total wins over two seasons was 24-1 by the 1988-89 juggernaut that won a program record 23 straight.
4 The Fighting Irish are seeking to score a touchdown on their fourth straight opening possession to begin a season. They marched 75 yards in just 1:25 last year versus Michigan, 70 yards in 33 seconds against Temple in 2017 and 78 yards in 2:32 at Texas in 2016.
In four straight years prior from 2012-15, Notre Dame tallied two touchdowns apiece in the first quarter. It has been exceptional at fast starts on offense to begin the year.
3 No Notre Dame head coach has ever lost three openers, and Kelly wants to avoid becoming the first. His Irish were upset at home by South Florida (23-20) in 2011 and at Texas in 2016 (50-47 in double-overtime). Other Notre Dame coaches to lose two openers were Devine (1976 and 1978), Gerry Faust (1984 and 1985) and Holtz (1986 and 1995). Leahy opened with ties in 1942 and 1952.
2 Turnovers committed by Notre Dame in the last six openers since 2013, a laudable feat considering sloppiness often is a hallmark in openers (it had five turnovers in the 2011 opening game loss to USF).
The Irish went four straight years from 2013-16 without a turnover in the opener, but did have one interception versus Temple and Michigan in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
1 This marks the first time ever Notre Dame is playing a football game in the state of Kentucky, even though it borders Indiana. The Fighting Irish did host Louisville in 2014 and lost 31-28, but the football program has never played in The Bluegrass State. Kentucky will be the 37th overall state on that list.
Alphabetically, the other 13 states Notre Dame football has not played in are Alaska, Arkansas (where Notre Dame is scheduled to play the Razorbacks in 2025), Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming.