Football season kicks off in South Bend with the threat of thunderstorms looming.
Notre Dame opens its season at home, facing Rice at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30. The skies are cloudy (but dry) for now, but the National Weather Service calls for a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms after 2 p.m.
If a severe weather delay happens, just hope Notre Dame isn’t down 16-0 this time.
Notre Dame-Rice history
- Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Rice, 4-0, dating back to 1915.
- In those four games, Rice has only scored one collective touchdown against Notre Dame.
- The last time Notre Dame and Rice played was 1988, the year the Irish won their last national championship. Incidentally, that game marked the only time Rice has scored a touchdown against the Irish.
What to watch for
- A revived punt return game? It wouldn’t take much for Notre Dame to improve its punt return production. The Irish averaged 7.07 yards per return last year, good for 80th in the nation. Cornerback Cody Riggs and running back Greg Bryant are slotted to run back punts this year. Riggs dabbled in kick returns in high school, but never before returned punts.
- Everett Golson’s return. If you haven’t heard that Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson is making his re-debut Saturday, you might want to come out of the rock you’ve been living under. Saturday marks exactly 600 days since Golson played in a college football game. All eyes will be on him Saturday.
- New defense, new names. Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder makes his Notre Dame coaching debut as the Irish roll out their revived, more aggressive defense. Defensive tackle Sheldon Day, linebacker Jaylon Smith and safety Austin Collinsworth will be the only defensive starters with significant starting experience, so don’t feel embarrassed to consult a roster Saturday.
Totally trivial trivia
- Notre Dame opens this season against the Rice Owls after opening 2013 against the Temple Owls. The last time the Irish opened up consecutive seasons against different opponents with the same nickname was in 2003-04. Notre Dame beat the Washington State Cougars, 29-26, on Sept. 6, 2003. The Irish lost to the BYU Cougars, 20-17, Sept. 4, 2004.
- Notre Dame is 15-0 when scoring first in season openers, a record that dates back to 1987.
- Notre Dame and Rice are tied for No. 18 in the latest U.S. News & World Report national university rankings.