Notre Dame could soon match worst slide in program history

By Tom Coyne

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Notre Dame could hit another historic low against UCLA on Saturday.

The Fighting Irish (0-5) already are off to the worst start in school history. A loss Saturday would match the school’s longest losing streak at eight and could remove any doubt the Irish are in the midst of their worst stretch of football ever.

The Irish aren’t just losing, they’re losing big.

In the last seven games, Notre Dame has been outscored 251-84, an average of 36-12, and that includes two games with Brady Quinn at quarterback, Darius Walker at halfback and Jeff Samardzija at wide receiver.

The 1960 team, led by former Chicago Cardinals and Washington Redskins coach Joe Kuharich, lost eight straight games between winning its first and last games against California and USC. That team included several future NFL standouts, including Daryle Lamonica and Nick Buoniconti.

That Irish team was outscored 181-73, losing by an average of 23-9. But at least the Irish were competitive in some of those games. Five of those eight losses were decided by a touchdown or less, including a 14-7 loss to a Navy squad led by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino that finished the season ranked No. 4.

The closest the current Irish squad came to winning was a 33-19 loss to Purdue on Saturday. That’s how bad this season has been: the Irish are talking about trying to build off playing a good second half against the Boilermakers.

Close isn’t good enough for Notre Dame fans 19 years removed from their last national championship, 14 years removed from their last bowl victory and 11 months removed from their last win.

To make matters even worse, the Irish are three-touchdown underdogs to an unranked team for the second week in a row. They then face No. 7 Boston College (5-0) and No. 2 USC (4-0), which could stretch the losing streak to 10 games.

Coach Charlie Weis said he’s not losing sleep over the losing streak.

“What I lose sleep over is what I’m going to be doing on a day-to-day basis. I promise you that’s all that I think about,” he said.

Reality for the Irish this year is they are on pace to score the fewest points per game in school history and to give up the most points per game in school history.

Weis, though, isn’t worried his team will get caught up in the fact they could break the losing streak record.

“I think the team is aware that they’re 0-5. I don’t think they’re worrying about history. I think they’re trying to get the first win. I think that’s what they’re worrying about,” he said. “I don’t think they’re worrying about any games from last year. I don’t think they’re worried about 1960. I think they’re just trying to get one win, trying to beat UCLA.”