ND seeks to match longest home streak in 15 yearsBy TOM COYNE
the Associated Press | September 18,2013AP PHOTO
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly watches a replay as his team played Purdue during the first half of an NCAA football game in West Lafayette, Ind., SaturdaySOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame Stadium is a tough place to play again, thanks in part to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train.”
Coach Brian Kelly has made the “House that Rockne Built” a tough win after nearly a decade of mediocrity. The 22nd-ranked Fighting Irish (2-1) enter Saturday’s game against Michigan State (3-0) on a nine-game home winning streak, the longest such streak at the school since winning 10 straight under Bob Davie in 1997-98.
Kelly made some subtle changes in how the team prepares for games, such as moving the pregame Mass from the morning of the game to a day earlier. Some other small schedule changes were made to help the players, he said.
“It’s given them the opportunity to regroup a little bit, focus in on the game and not all the other things that are going on around the campus,” he said.
The school helped out by trying to enliven what is known as a quiet stadium by piping in music during the game, such as “Crazy Train” — a staple when the opponent is facing third down — and playing Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” before the opening kickoff.
The university first started piping in music when Notre Dame played its first home night game in 21 years, a 31-17 loss to USC two years ago. The Irish haven’t lost at home since, going undefeated at home last season for the time since 1998.
“They like that extra energy of the music,” Kelly said.
Michigan has the nation’s longest home winning streak at 17 games, while South Carolina and Georgia are tied for second at 13 and Notre Dame’s streak is tied for sixth longest in the nation.
Kelly got off to a rough start at Notre Dame Stadium, going 6-5 in his first 11 home games, including stunning losses to Tulsa and South Florida. But the problems started long before Kelly arrived. His predecessor, Charlie Weis, was just 19-14 at home — a 57.6 winning percentage.
Under Weis, the Irish lost to Navy twice at home, and also fell to Air Force and Syracuse, the first eight-loss team to beat the Irish, and sustained the second worst loss in stadium history, a 38-0 defeat to Michigan in 2007.
Before that, Tyrone Willingham was a mediocre 11-7 at Notre Dame Stadium, including a 37-0 loss to Florida State.
Kelly believes the biggest change is the Irish players have taken on a tenacious attitude at home.
“I’ve always wanted our teams to play hard for four quarters and just fight really hard and we’ll figure out a way to win the games,” he said.
The streak, by Notre Dame standards, isn’t all that impressive. After all, Notre Dame won 40 straight at home from 1907 through 1918 and 38 straight under Knute Rockne, whose teams were 45-1-2 in South Bend. But after nine years of struggle, it’s a welcome change even for those who aren’t big fans of Ozzy Osbourne.
NOTES: Starting defensive end Sheldon Day sprained his ankle against Purdue and is wearing a protective boot. Kelly said he hopes to return to practice on WednesdayMORE IN Wire Sports
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