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Notes: Record number of close games

Jenn Metz | Monday, November 16, 2009

The Irish loss to the Panthers Saturday marks the eighth game Notre Dame has played in decided by seven points or less this season — a school record. The 1990 team played in seven such close games, including the Orange Bowl.

Junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen became the second Irish quarterback to achieve over 3,000 passing yards in both multiple and consecutive seasons in Notre Dame history (2008 and 2009). He joins Brady Quinn (2005 and 2008) in holding that title. Clausen’s one touchdown pass (to junior wide receiver Golden Tate at 9:10 in the fourth) grants him sole possession of second place on the career passing touchdown list. Saturday’s game was his 11th-straight with at least one touchdown pass.

Tate registered Notre Dame’s first punt return for a touchdown since Tom Zbikowski against North Carolina in 2006. His 87-yard run was the seventh-longest punt return in school history and the longest since 1989.

Tate and sophomore wide receiver Michael Floyd both recorded more than 100 receiving yards at the game, with 113 and 107 yards respectively. For the first time in school history, two players have had over 100 receiving yards in two straight weeks. Last week against Navy, Tate had 132 yards and Floyd had 141 yards. The 100-yard receiving game is Tate’s seventh of the season and the 13th of his career. He now is tied with Tom Gatewood (1969-71) for the Notre Dame record for 100-yard receiving games.

Tate’s 113 receiving yards bring his season total to 1,172 this season, placing him behind only Jeff Samardzija (1,249 in the 2005 season) for best in single-season school history. Tate has 2,383 career receiving yards, which ranks fourth best in Notre Dame career history.

Senior right tackle Sam Young registered his 48th consecutive start against Pittsburgh, tying the school record held by Tom Zbikowski (2004-07) and Maurice Crum (2005-08). He is the only Notre Dame offensive lineman to start every game of his career.

Junior kicker David Ruffer started in Saturday’s game after freshman Nick Tausch suffered an injury in pregame warm-ups. The former kicker for Siegfried’s interhall football team recorded his first career point with his 42-yard field goal at 4:21 in the second quarter. He later made one of two point after attempts. Ruffer joined the team in the 2008 season before the game at Washington.