10 Passes completed by Notre Dame this season that gained at least 20 yards — classified as an “explosion play” by coaches — with three coming against Michigan and seven versus Ball State. Meanwhile, the two opponents have managed only one. Furthermore, of the 80 recorded running plays by the two foes, only four have gone for at least 10 yards, and none more than 13.
9 Notre Dame full second-half possessions — out of 12 this year — that resulted either in a punt (6) or turnover (3). The Irish have tallied only 13 second-half points this season, and zero in the fourth quarter. In fact, 39 percent of their season yards and 44 percent of their points have come in the first quarter.
8 Ranking of Notre Dame in this week’s Associated Press poll. The most recent Fighting Irish team to rank higher after only two game was in 2006 when it was No. 2 before losing 47-21 at home to Michigan. Since 1997, the Irish have reached a 3-0 record only four times: 2002, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
7 Straight home games won by Notre Dame, the last five from 2017 and the first two this season. A victory over Vanderbilt would give head coach Brian Kelly his second-longest winning streak at home in his nine seasons. The longest was 10 straight from 2011-13.
6 Top-10 non-conference teams Vanderbilt has faced in its history coming into this game, with the most recent in 1996 when it hosted Notre Dame in the opener. The Irish eked out a 14-7 win to drop the Commodores to 0-6 all time against top-10 non-league foes.
5 This is the fifth Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) coaching stop for Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea — who received both his undergraduate (2004) and master’s degree (2007) in political science from Vanderbilt University. The first-year Irish defensive coordinator has been at UCLA (2009-11), Bowling Green (2012), Syracuse (2013-15), Wake Forest (2016) and now the Irish.
4 Consecutive years Notre Dame has a representative from the Southeast Conference on the regular season schedule. It had Georgia last year and in 2019, and Arkansas in 2020. The school record is six in a row from 1976-81 with Alabama (1976 and 1980), Ole Miss (1977), Tennessee (1978-79) and LSU (1981).
Arkansas (2020, 2025), Texas A&M (2024-25) and Alabama (2028-29) are on the docket so far in the future.
3 Wins in a row by Vanderbilt, dating back to last year’s 42-24 romp over in-state rival Tennessee, in which senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur has not thrown an interception, compared to eight touchdowns. When Shurmur doesn’t throw an interception, the Commodores are 12-4. When he throws one or more, they are 2-13. Last week Irish junior safety Jalen Elliott recorded two picks, ending a 15-game drought where Irish safeties did not record one.
2 Previous meetings between Notre Dame and Vanderbilt, which came in back-to-back years in 1995-96. The first was at home in 1995, with defensive coordinator Bob Davie serving as acting head coach because head coach Lou Holtz was recuperating from major surgery on his neck/spine performed at the Mayo Clinic. The Irish limited Vanderbilt to 94 yards total offense in a 41-0 win on Sept. 16 (almost 23 years to the date of today). That game helped set into motion Holtz’s exit and Davie’s promotion the following year.
In 1996, the Irish rallied for a 14-7 win in the opener at Vanderbilt. The Commodores had only five first downs and two yards rushing, yet Notre Dame needed a short touchdown run by fullback Marc Edwards (who had fumbled three times while the team had seven overall) with 4:59 left in the contest to prevail.
1 Touchdown apiece permitted by the Notre Dame defense in the first two games. This is the first time since 1996, Holtz’s final season with the Irish, that the Notre Dame defense did not permit more than one touchdown in the first two games.