Earlier this week, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said history will have "no effect" on the 2012 Irish squad. That was specifically in reference to the 2002 season, when Notre Dame jumped out to an 8-0 start, beating No. 7 Michigan and No. 11 Florida State before losing to Boston College in South Bend to squash their title hopes in week 10.
The circumstances of Notre Dame's game this weekend are similar to what the 2002 Irish were facing heading into their contest with Boston College. Both teams were coming off a huge road win (@ Florida State, @ Oklahoma), and although Boston College was better in 2002 than Pittsburgh is in 2012, a loss to Pittsburgh would register as just as big of a letdown for the Irish.
Notre Dame had a good defense in 2002, averaging 16.7 points allowed per game -- good for ninth in the nation. But Carlyle Holliday, Ryan Grant and Arnaz Battle only managed to pace Notre Dame to 22.3 points per game, good for No. 92 in Division I.
That's where this year's Notre Dame squad separates itself from the 2002 team. With a stable of dynamic running backs and a quarterback who's growing every week, Notre Dame's offense is far better than it was a decade ago.
In 2002, Notre Dame's win over Michigan vaulted the Irish from No. 20 to No. 12 in the AP poll, serving as the biggest win of the year until Notre Dame beat FSU in Tallahassee. Grant rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns, while Shane Walton's interception of John Navarre sealed the win for the Irish in the third game of the season.
You can catch all the nostalgia from the 2002 Notre Dame-Michigan game tonight at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.
It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.
Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.
Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th.
Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.
The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.
Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.
Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.
Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.
"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"
Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.
"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"
Watch the video above to see the interaction.
Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.