Notre Dame Home Remedy
Notre Dame opens its 2019 seven-game home season tomorrow versus New Mexico with, believe it or not, the third-longest winning streak inside the edifice’s 89-year history.
Notre Dame Stadium opened in 1930, Knute Rockne’s final season with the Fighting Irish that resulted in a consensus national title.
The current 11-game string — the last five in 2017 and all six in 2018 — is behind only the 28 straight from 1942-50 and the 19 in a row from 1987-90.
Last year marked the third time in the last seven years the Fighting Irish finished unbeaten at home, joining the 2012 and 2015 teams. To put that into context, consider that in the 22 years from 1990-2011, Notre Dame was unblemished at home only once (6-0 in 1998 under head coach Bob Davie, whose health setback Aug. 31 has prevented him from returning this weekend as the Lobos' head coach ).
The lone defeat at home since the opening of the Campus Crossroads project in 2017, which included a jumbotron on the south end of the structure, was a 20-19 defeat to Georgia in the second contest of 2017. The Bulldogs went on to play for the national title that season.
Team objectives are outlined each preseason, and one that never changes is protecting home turf. The amenities added to the stadium in recent years to enhance the overall feel have been evident, but far more important is the results on the field.
“It has gotten better and better in my time here in terms of just the support that we have, as our students are great at the games, a part of it,” head coach Brian Kelly said. “Certainly the video graphics, the jumbotron, just all of those things add to the gameday experience that we're feeling.
“At the end of the day, you have to play exciting football and you've got to play good football to get everybody enthusiastic. So it is our job to put a great product on the field, one that's exciting, one that people want to see, and our players recognize that.
“It’s important for them to play well at home. We talk about protecting our house and, quite frankly, it is part of the things we do in our summer work that they want to be in our stadium and they want to play their very best in front of the crowd.”
Even with Lou Holtz from 1990-96, Notre Dame did not finish undefeated at home. Senior Day in particular had devastating setbacks in the four-year stretch from 1990-93. First was the 8-1 and No. 1-ranked Irish squandering a 21-7 halftime lead in a 24-21 loss to Penn State in 1990.
The following year, the 8-1 Irish led Tennessee 31-7 before falling 35-34. And in 1993 was the most painful of all when at 10-0 it lost its No. 1 ranking again with a 41-39 loss to Boston College the week after defeating the No. 1-ranked Florida State Seminoles.
Winning 11 straight at home is not as easy as it might sound. The longest streaks are as follow:
1942-50 — 28
Under Frank Leahy, this streak began after losing to Michigan in November 1942, and then ended with a 28-14 defeat to Purdue in the second game of 1950.
That is a standard that in today’s scheduling template would require approximately five consecutive unbeaten records at home.
1987-90 — 19
Holtz and his troops fashioned three straight perfect records at home from 1987-89, plus the first two games in 1990 before losing the No. 1 ranking with a shocking 36-31 loss to a Stanford team that had lost the previous week to San Jose State and would finish 5-6.
Especially noteworthy is seven of those wins came against ranked teams — six of them in the top 10, highlighted by No. 1 Miami in 1988.
2017- Current — 11
Most notable were back-to-back routs of No. 11 USC (49-14) and No. 14 North Carolina State (35-14) in 2017. Last year the Irish ended a three-game losing streak versus No. 7 Stanford with a 38-17 triumph, and began the season by defeating No. 14 Michigan, 24-17.
There is currently a two-way tie for fourth with 10 apiece
1969-71 — This would have been 17 straight wins under Ara Parseghian were it not for the 14-14 tie versus USC in 1969.
Prior to the deadlock with the Trojans, Notre Dame had a six-game winning streak before it and 10 contests after it. It ended with a 28-14 loss to USC in October 1971. This string featured a 3-0 conquest of SEC champ LSU in 1970 to improve to 9-0.
1997-1999 — Davie's Fighting Irish reached double digits by winning the final three home games in 1997, all six in 1998 and the 1999 opener versus Kansas before falling to Nick Saban’s Michigan State Spartans, 23-7.
The highlight was a 36-20 triumph versus defending co-national champ and No. 5 Michigan, quarterbacked by Tom Brady in his starting debut, in the 1998 opener.