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Football: Clausen 8th freshman starting QB for ND

Joe Meixell | Monday, September 10, 2007

First time starter

On Saturday, freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen became just the eighth freshman to start at quarterback for Notre Dame since 1951. Clausen also became only the second freshman starter to lose his debut.

The only other freshman quarterback to lose his inaugural start was Brady Quinn, who threw one touchdown pass and four interceptions in a 23-10 loss to Purdue in 2003.

Defensive scores

Sophomore cornerback Darrin Walls’ 73-yard interception return in the first quarter was Notre Dame’s first interception return for a touchdown since Terrail Lambert returned a Drew Stanton pass for a score against Michigan State last season. Lambert’s score capped a 16-point, fourth-quarter comeback in East Lansing.

Specializing kickers

Sophomore Nate Whitaker – Notre Dame’s long-range kicker – attempted the first field goal try of Saturday’s game. His 50-yarder was long enough, but missed wide right.

Freshman Brandon Walker – the short range kicker – made the second field goal the Irish attempted, a 22-yarder in the second quarter.

Whitaker is a walk-on, while Walker and sophomore Ryan Burkhart are Notre Dame’s two placekickers on scholarship.

Struggling offense

Notre Dame’s offense has not scored a touchdown since the second quarter of the team’s 41-14 Sugar Bowl loss to LSU. The scoreless streak has spanned 10 quarters.

Huge crowd

The announced crowd of 110,078, who mostly dressed in white as part of Penn State’s “white out,” was the second largest in Beaver Stadium history.

“You hear legends about 110,000, but playing in front of them is something you just have to experience,” Nittany Lions receiver Terrell Golden said. “You cannot put it in words.”

Washington introduced

Former Notre Dame basketball player and new Penn State women’s basketball coach Coquese Washington was introduced during the second quarter.

Washington was previously an assistant for the Irish before being named the Nittany Lions’ coach in April.

Coin toss

Penn State won the toss, but deferred to second half. Nittany Lions kicker Kevin Kelly boomed the opening kick into the Notre Dame end zone for a touchback.