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Notre Dame Football Throwback Thursday: Irish VS North Carolina, 2006

Brady Quinn lead the Irish over Carolina 45-26

Jeff Samardzija drags a UNC defender in the match-up between the Fighting Irish and the Tar Heels in 2006.

After a week off the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are back at it, traveling to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to face the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The two teams have met a total of 19 times, with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish winning 18, and the Tar Heels winning once (twice if you count the vacated game of 2008). Notre Dame’s largest margin of victory was the 1949 game in which ND won 42-6, and the Tar Heel’s largest margin of victory was the 1960 game in which they won 12-7. Notre Dame’s longest win streak is 10 (from 1949-1959), and UNC’s longest win streak is 1 (1960).

This week I am going to throwback to the 2006 meeting between the Fighting Irish and the Tar Heels. On Saturday, November 4th, 2006, the Notre Dame and UNC faced off in chilly Notre Dame, Indiana (the high was 49F, and the low was 24F), in front of a sell out crowd (80,795). Notre Dame quarterback, Brady Quinn, passed for four touchdowns (and had no interceptions) and a season-high 346 yards to help the No. 11 Irish overcome their defensive weaknesses and beat the Tar Heels 45-26. The win was their eighth win of the season.

Quinn got the Irish on the scoreboard quickly by executing a six play, 65-yard drive, which ended in a seven yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Rhema McKnight. The Tar Heels responded in kind, executing their own eight play, 80-yard drive which ended in a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Dailey to Jesse Holley.

The Irish would respond with two consecutive touchdown drives, first a 74-yard drive ending in a touchdown pass to tight end John Carlson, and second a 57-yard drive ending in a touchdown pass to wide receiver Rhema McKnight (his second of the game). Carlson would finish the game with eight receptions for 91-yards (and one TD), and McKnight with six receptions for 56-yards (and two TDs).

As McKnight was busy catching touchdown passes in the first half, Jeff Samardzija was also busy, making catches; a lot of them. He had 100 receiving yards by the end of the first half, and in the third quarter broke Derrick Mayes’ career record for touchdown passes on a 45 yard TD catch.

Irish safety Tommy Zbikowski would get in on the scoring action, too, returning his first punt for a touchdown that season. Then, Darius Walker would add the sixth Irish touchdown of the game, scoring on a 1-yard rushing play at the end of a 10 play, 61-yard drive (his fourth rushing touchdown of the season). Walker would end the game with 20 carries for 86-yards of rushing.

Despite a dazzling output by the Irish offense, the Irish defense struggled to stop the Tar Heel offense, who managed to tally 26 points. However, even with a struggling Notre Dame defense, the Tar Heel offense just could not stay toe-to-toe with the offensive production from the Irish.

What say you? How do you think the Irish will fare against the 2020 Tar Heel squad? Will the Irish offense overpower the Tar Heel defense, or will Notre Dame have a fight on its hands on Friday? Where are you watching the game?

I hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and are able to enjoy the company of some family members. Don’t forget to count your blessings. Even in difficult years there are still many to count.

Cheers & GO IRISH!