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Notre Dame Vs. USF: To Even The Score

When Notre Dame hosts South Florida this Saturday, the game provides the Fighting Irish an opportunity to cross off one of five current Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams against whom it has lost but never defeated.

There were a couple of others prior to 1900 such as the University of Chicago, with coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, and Indianapolis Artillery. Then in the lone meeting with then college football superpower Yale in 1914, the Bulldogs won. However, the Ivy League has not been a member of the FBS since 1981.

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Notre Dame versus South Florida in 2011
South Florida defeated Notre Dame 23-20 in the 2011 season opener, the lone meeting between the two schools in football. (USF Bulls)

Remarkably, three of the current five against whom Notre Dame is at least 0-1 occurred in the last 11 years — with all those defeats coming at home infamously in three consecutive seasons. Here are those five opponents:

South Florida (2011) — 0-1, a 23-20 defeat.

Tulsa (2010) — 0-1, a 28-27 loss.

Connecticut (2009) — 0-1, a double-overtime setback (33-30) in Charlie Weis’ final home game as head coach.

Oregon State — 0-2, with both blowout defeats occurring in bowl games, the 2001 Fiesta and the 2004

Georgia — 0-3, a defeat in the 1981 Sugar Bowl when the Bulldogs’ 17-10 win clinched their lone national title, plus two hard-fought contests in 2017 (20-19) and 2019 (23-17).

While Georgia has established itself as a bona fide title contender, especially in recent years, Oregon State has mostly been in the Pac-12 cellar throughout most of its football history.

Making up that 0-1 deficit to Tulsa, and especially UConn, will be a challenge with the current scheduling, and with Huskies football on the verge of possibly dropping down to a lower level. UConn didn’t even become a Division I-A (now called FBS) member until 2000, while USF joined in 2001. Yet both are 1-0 against the most renowned college football program from the 20th century.

Exacerbating that 2011 defeat to South Florida in the opener was the Bulls’ head coach was Notre Dame alumnus Skip Holtz, son of 1986-96 Fighting Irish head coach icon Lou Holtz.

Remarkably, nine years later another son of a former Notre Dame head coach will have a major role again for the Bulls in this season’s encounter.

Charlie Weis Jr., son of the aforementioned 2005-09 Notre Dame head coach Weis, is South Florida’s new offensive coordinator under first-year head coach Jeff Scott. The younger Weis held the same position the past two years at Florida Atlantic. Last year, FAU finished 11-3 with an offense that ranked in the top 25 in scoring (14th, 36.4 points per game) and yards per game (23rd, 448.6).

The 27-year-old Weis Jr. is the youngest offensive coordinator in the FBS. His counterpart at Notre Dame this Saturday, Tommy Rees, is the second youngest at 28.

As a high school teenager, the younger Weis was often seen on a head set on the Notre Dame sidelines for games, which led to some derision among some Fighting Irish faithful.

In one of the elder Weis' final one-on-one interviews before he was terminated at Notre Dame, with Fanhouse writer John Walters, the former Irish head coach bitterly lashed out.

“The damage to [wife] Maura and Charlie Jr. is irreparable,” Weis told Walters. “… I’ll never forgive the people who character-assassinated me without even knowing me.”

When Walters asked Weis where 15-year-old Charlie would be attending college, he replied, “I know where he won’t be going to college.”

Whatever the outcome on Saturday, Weis Jr. has already established many victories as one of the promising young risers in the industry. For Notre Dame, a victory this weekend is to just even its own score versus USF.



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