Notre Dame scoring at historic pace
For the 18th time since the start of the Ara Parseghian era at Notre Dame in 1964, the Irish are off to a 3-0 start following their 30-14 victory over Purdue in Indianapolis Saturday night.
In the process, the Irish have put up scoring numbers that date back an astonishing 71 Notre Dame football seasons.
By scoring 48 points in the season-opening victory over Rice, 31 against Michigan in the Sept. 6 whitewash, and 30 versus the Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Field, it marks the first time since 1943 that the Fighting Irish have a) scored as many as 109 points in their first three games of the season and b) scored at least 30 points in each of the first three games.
Frank Leahy’s 1943 national championship squad opened with a 41-0 victory over Pittsburgh, a 55-13 conquest of Georgia Tech, and a 35-12 win over No. 2-ranked Michigan for a total of 131 points out of the chute.
The 2009 Notre Dame team - led by quarterback Jimmy Clausen - scored 35, 34 and 33 points (102) against Nevada, Michigan and Michigan State respectively to open the season, although the Irish fell to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, 38-34.
Prior to 2009, the last Notre Dame team to score 30 points or more in the first three games was Parseghian’s 1964 squad that opened with 31-7, 34-15 and 34-7 victories over Wisconsin, Purdue and Air Force respectively.
Lou Holtz’s 1992 squad scored 111 points in its first three games, including 42 versus Northwestern in the opener and 52 against Michigan State in Week Three. But sandwiched in between was a 17-17 tie with Michigan.
The 31 points allowed by Brian VanGorder in his debut season with the Irish as defensive coordinator hasn’t been quite as spectacular as the offensive output, but it joins a list of strong-starting defenses. At 10.3 points allowed per game, the Irish are tied for fourth nationally in scoring defense.
The 2012 defense held Navy to 10, Purdue to 17 and Michigan State to 3 - a total of 30 points - en route to the No. 2 scoring defense in the country (12.77 points per game). Prior to 2012, the last time the Irish held their first three opponents to as few as 31 points was Holtz’s last team, in 1996, when the Irish defeated Vanderbilt, 14-7, Purdue, 35-0, and Texas, 27-24.
Notre Dame’s 1988 national championship team surrendered just 27 points out of the gate with 19-17, 20-3 and 52-7 wins over Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue respectively.
Dan Devine’s 1976 squad held its first three opponents to 31 points (just 43 through six games) and the first three foes of 1975 to just 10 points.
In 11 seasons as head coach, Parseghian’s defenses held its first three opponents to 31 points or less six times - 1964 (22), 1966 (21, and just 17 points over the final eight games), 1970 (14), 1971 (16), 1972 (14) and 1973 (17).
The 3-0 start to Notre Dame’s 2014 season is just the third since the end of the Holtz era, which is now 19 seasons removed. Tyrone Willingham’s 8-0 start in his first season at Notre Dame (2002) was the program’s last undefeated three-game start prior to 2012 when the Irish won all 12 of their regular-season games.
Of the 17 previous times the Irish have opened 3-0, all but two have finished with three losses or less, including 10 with two losses or less and eight with one loss or less.