Jan 1, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Detailed view of a gold Notre Dame Fighting Irish helmet during the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Elijah Burress, son of Plaxico, commits to Notre Dame

Elijah Burress, the son of former NFL wide receiver and Super Bowl champion Plaxico Burress, committed to play college football at Notre Dame on Saturday.

The younger Burress, who also is a wideout, is a product at DePaul Catholic High School in Wayne, N.J. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound player had 25 catches for 434 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games last season and ranks as the 36th wide receiver in the 2025 recruiting cycle by 247Sports.

He reportedly chose the Fighting Irish over Duke, James Madison, Marshall, Cincinnati and Liberty, among others.

The 2025 recruiting class for Notre Dame also features cornerback Ivan Taylor, who is the son of Ike Taylor. The elder Taylor was a former teammate of Plaxico Burress with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The elder Burress’ top highlight of his NFL career was catching the game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLII. He finished his career with 553 receptions for 8,499 yards and 64 touchdowns over 148 career games (138 starts) with the Steelers, New York Giants and New York Jets.

–Field Level Media

Oregon State quarterback Ben Gulbranson (17) warms up before the spring showcase at Reser Stadium, Saturday, April 22, 2023, in Corvallis, Ore.

Oregon State Spring Game36

Sun Bowl: Quarterbacks in focus when Oregon State faces Notre Dame

The Sun Bowl could have featured a quarterback battle between Sam Hartman and DJ Uiagalelei.

Instead, two signal-callers making their first starts of the season will be on display when No. 16 Notre Dame battles No. 19 Oregon State on Friday in El Paso, Texas.

Hartman opted out of the contest for Notre Dame to prepare for the NFL draft, while Uiagalelei of Oregon State entered the transfer portal.

Also, Beavers second-string quarterback Aidan Chiles entered the portal and chose Michigan State, the school that just hired Jonathan Smith away from Oregon State to be its coach.

So, when the Beavers (8-4) and Fighting Irish (9-3) line up in the Sun Bowl, it will be Ben Gulbranson (one pass attempt this season) for Oregon State and Steve Angeli (25 attempts) for Notre Dame.

The good news for the Beavers is that Gulbranson went 7-1 as a starter in 2022 before being buried on the sidelines this season. In his last extensive action, he was the MVP of the Las Vegas Bowl when Oregon State routed Florida 30-3 to end last season.

“It’s kind of helped me become a more well-rounded person,” Gulbranson said of the situation. “You realize football is a gift. It’s an opportunity. It’s a privilege to play this game. I think being able to kind of step back and see it like this is pretty sweet. I’m cherishing every snap I get, whether it be in practice, whether it be in a bowl game.”

Angeli threw four touchdown passes in his limited work this season and gets to make his case for being the Notre Dame starter in 2024.

“Obviously, I’m now the starter, but my preparation — the way I’m preparing for the game — doesn’t change,” Angeli said. “Now it’s time for the real bullets to fly. We’ve got a job to do to get to 10 wins (by winning) the Sun Bowl. And that’s my only job, my focus.”

Among the other Notre Dame standouts to opt out of the bowl include running back Audric Estime (1,341 yards, 18 touchdowns rushing) and All-American left tackle Joe Alt.

Oregon State’s list of opt-outs includes star linebacker Easton Mascarenas-Arnold (team-best 107 tackles) and receiver Anthony Gould (718 yards to tie for team lead).

Beavers star running back Damien Martinez is not expected to play despite having a suspension for a DUI arrest lifted by the school. Martinez rushed for 1,185 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season.

It isn’t just the player front where Oregon State is making adjustments.

After Smith took the Michigan State job, defensive coordinator Trent Bray was promoted to head coach. However, Bray elected to focus on filling out his staff and recruiting and isn’t part of the coaching process for the Sun Bowl.

Instead, wide receivers coach Kefense Hynson is serving as interim coach, and he’s excited about Oregon State’s third all-time meeting with Notre Dame. The Beavers won the first two — a 41-9 shellacking in the Fiesta Bowl to end the 2000 season and a 38-21 victory in the 2004 Insight Bowl.

Hynson wants to finish on a winning note after Oregon State lost to then-No. 5 Washington and then-No. 6 Oregon in its past two outings.

“It’s another test,” Hynson said. “You’ve got a really, really good team, they’re well coached, they’ve got good players. Then obviously, finishing the year the way we finished it, we’re excited to just get back on the grass and try to finish the year with a ‘W.’ “

Notre Dame enters the contest with a two-game winning streak. It also features Bronko Nagurski winner Xavier Watts as the national defensive player of the year. The junior safety led the nation with seven interceptions during the regular season.

The Fighting Irish are 20-21 all-time in bowl games, including 1-0 at the Sun Bowl. Oregon State is 12-7, including a 2-0 mark in El Paso.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman (10) throws the ball against Ohio State Buckeyes during the first quarter of their game at Notre Dame Stadium.

No. 19 Notre Dame limps into meeting with Wake Forest

While the hopes of playing for a national championship evaporated weeks ago, No. 19 Notre Dame still believes it has plenty to play for on Saturday afternoon against visiting Wake Forest at South Bend, Ind.

“We have a shot to send the seniors out the right way,” Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said in advance of the final home game of the season. “That’s our motivation. We know Wake Forest will be motivated. This team will be ready to go. They will come in knowing they have to win to become bowl eligible. We know we have a challenge in front of us.”

The challenge not only will come from Wake Forest, but also replacing several key players who are sidelined with injuries.

Notre Dame (7-3) most recently lost players on the offensive line during a 31-23 loss at Clemson on Saturday.

Rocco Spindler went down with a knee injury and the right guard is out for the season. Starting center Zeke Correll is in concussion protocol and his backup, Andrew Kristofic, went down with a high ankle sprain.

Billy Schrauth is expected to start at guard against Wake Forest and Ashton Craig will remain at center after finishing Saturday’s game.

“Ashton Craig did a really good job filling in at the center position,” Freeman said. “I was really impressed with what he did.”

The Fighting Irish lost safety Luke Talich to a broken collarbone during practice last week, while wide receivers Deion Colzie, Jayden Thomas and Matt Salerno remain sidelined.

Complicating things even more for Notre Dame is the slow mesh offensive system that the Demon Deacons run, a complicated system of run-pass options that can leave a defense spinning.

“How do you defend it?” Freeman said. “Linebackers attack and then create open areas behind you. They are really good to answer when you react to their system. It’s not the triple option, but it’s a system and they have answers. We have to be aggressive though and that is important.”

Wake Forest (4-6) got off to a promising 3-0 start but has dropped six of its last seven games. The Demon Deacons most recently fell to visiting North Carolina State, 26-6 on Saturday.

“It was not even a competitive football game,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “It’s on me. It’s Game 10 and to show up like that is very disappointing.”

Wake Forest switched quarterbacks in the second quarter last week and Michael Kern led the Demon Deacons to their only touchdown, but he was then picked off on the two-point try and that was returned for two points the other way.

The rushing attack was even more shackled, as Wake Forest combined for seven net yards on 18 carries.

“On offense, right now, we’re broken,” Clawson said. “This isn’t anything like the offense that was put out there the last six years. I should have had us in a better spot with some of the personnel losses we had. We’re not getting the most out of these guys. I think we have good players, but they’re not playing well and it all boils down to coaching.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 4, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers running back Phil Mafah (7) runs against Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Adon Shuler (21) during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Phil Mafah leads Clemson past No. 15 Notre Dame

Phil Mafah rushed for a career-best 186 yards and scored two touchdowns as host Clemson upset visiting No. 15 Notre Dame 31-23 on Saturday in South Carolina.

Mafah got the start because Clemson (5-4) was playing without lead rusher Will Shipley, who was ruled out prior to the start of the game. Shipley, who averages 4.6 yards per carry and has scored five total touchdowns this season, had been in concussion protocol since the Tigers’ loss to North Carolina State last weekend.

The victory for Clemson gave coach Dabo Swinney his 166th win, moving him one win past Frank Howard and making him the winningest coach in program history.

Notre Dame (7-3) was led by Audric Estime’s 87 rushing yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. The defeat for the Irish means that quarterback Sam Hartman — who transferred in from Wake Forest — will finish his career 0-5 against the Tigers. Hartman threw a pair of interceptions and no touchdowns on a day where he completed just 13 of 30 passes for 146 yards. Hartman did rush for 68 yards and a touchdown.

It’s the first time since 2016 that Notre Dame has lost to multiple ACC teams in the same season.

Clemson jumped out to a 24-6 lead in the second quarter following a 9-yard touchdown pass from Cade Klubnik to Tyler Brown, and then a 28-yard pick-six for a score by linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr.

Notre Dame chipped away at the deficit in the third quarter as Estime and Hartman both rushed for touchdowns.

The Irish had a chance to drive for the game-tying score with 1:47 remaining after Mafah fumbled — which was Clemson’s 11th lost fumble of the season. But Notre Dame’s drive flamed out in six plays, with Hartman throwing four straight incompletions.

Clemson’s defense held the Irish to 3-of-14 on third and fourth down conversions. The Tigers forced Notre Dame into six punts.

The Tigers also played a penalty-free game, while the Irish were penalized five times for 40 yards.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Cade Klubnik (2) and head coach Dabo Swinney react after a game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. North Carolina State won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Unranked Clemson under fire with No. 15 Notre Dame up next

Each of the last four times Notre Dame has met Clemson on the football field, at least one of the teams has been ranked in the top five of The Associated Press poll — and two of those meetings have come in the postseason.

This time around, much less is at stake as an unranked Clemson team hosts Notre Dame — No. 15 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings of the season — on Saturday in upstate South Carolina.

Clemson (4-4, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) is coming off a 24-17 loss at N.C. State and is enduring its first season with at least four losses in league play since 2010, which was the second full season on the job for coach Dabo Swinney.

In their defeat to the Wolfpack, the Tigers fell behind 24-7 in the third quarter after quarterback Cade Klubnik threw a pick-6 and then the Clemson defense allowed Wolfpack receiver Kevin Concepcion to score on a 72-yard touchdown pass.

Earlier this week, Swinney felt the heat from fans during his weekly radio show. They criticized the 53-year-old’s inability to adapt in the changing landscape of college football, where the top programs are embracing the transfer portal and name, image and likeness opportunities for players. Swinney seemed to take offense when a fan named “Tyler from Spartanburg” mentioned his 10-year, $115 million contract.

“Is this a bad year? Yeah, and it’s my responsibility,” Swinney said. “Take 100 percent responsibility for it. But all this bull crap you’re thinking, all these narratives you read. Listen, man, you can have your opinion all you want, and you can apply for the job.”

According to the website On3, Clemson brought in just one transfer this offseason, quarterback Paul Tyson from Arizona State, who has thrown just three passes this season.

By comparison, Notre Dame (7-2) brought in seven transfers. Among them are starting defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste (Ohio State), defensive back Thomas Harper (Oklahoma State) and starting quarterback Sam Hartman (Wake Forest).

Hartman didn’t play all that well in Notre Dame’s 58-7 win last weekend over Pitt, but he didn’t have to. The Irish led 44-0 at the end of the third quarter after notching a pair of defensive touchdowns and an 82-yard punt return for a score.

Still, Hartman ranks among the best quarterbacks in the country in various categories this season and is a big reason the offense is 12th in the nation in scoring with 38.3 points per game. Hartman is 14th in passer rating, with a 165.34 mark, and 17th with 18 passing touchdowns. He has led the Irish to a pair of wins over ranked opponents in Duke and Southern California.

Despite Hartman throwing a pair of interceptions against Pitt, Irish coach Marcus Freeman doesn’t plan to change his approach on offense.

“We’re going to continuously be aggressive, even if the result isn’t what we want,” Freeman said. “(Hartman) is a consistent individual and always responds with the proper response.”

Clemson is 4-3 all-time against Notre Dame. The Irish beat the Tigers 35-14 last season in South Bend, Ind.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2023; East Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Duke Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard (13) heads onto the field to warm up before the start of the game against the UConn Huskies at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

No. 11 Notre Dame, No. 17 Duke take over Tobacco Road

Rarely does Durham, N.C., ever feel like the center of the college football universe, but it might on Saturday as ESPN’s College GameDay comes to town with No. 17 Duke hosting No. 11 Notre Dame.

Duke (4-0) has never been part of the longtime pregame college football show as a host or opponent. Second-year coach Mike Elko is doing his best to keep the Blue Devils focused on what’s happening on the field, not off it.

“With all the noise and the buzz that’s around that … we’re getting a lot of congratulations for GameDay coming here. I’d rather wait and get some congratulations for how we play a football game Saturday night and just trying to stay focused on the task at hand,” Elko said. “That’s going out and having really good practices and getting the game plan down and knowing what we’re trying to execute.”

The task at hand for the Blue Devils is beating Notre Dame (4-1), a team motivated to get back in the win column after suffering its first loss of the season, 17-14 to then-No. 6 Ohio State at home last weekend.

Notre Dame had only 10 men on the field for the final two plays from scrimmage, the second of which saw the Buckeyes score the go-ahead touchdown on a run up the gut. Second-year Irish coach Marcus Freeman took blame for the mistake and the defeat.

“We tell our players, every play you can’t be distracted by the things that don’t matter,” Freeman told ESPN. “You have to do your job. The same thing applies to coaches. We can’t get caught watching the game and not do our job.”

Notre Dame boasts the nation’s 18th-best scoring offense — putting up 39.6 points per game — and a stingy defense, allowing just 12.8 points per game, which ranks 15th in FBS. Duke is 28th in offense and fourth in defense, allowing just 8.8 points per game.

Duke’s defense was at its best this past Saturday in the first road game of the season. In their 41-7 win at UConn, the Blue Devils had two sacks, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two recoveries — one of which was returned for a 26-yard touchdown by defensive tackle DeWayne Carter.

The win over UConn also featured another standout performance by Duke quarterback Riley Leonard, who threw for a touchdown and rushed for one in another efficient performance. Leonard is completing 67.7 percent of his passes this season and has yet to throw an interception through four games.

Notre Dame quarterback Sam Hartman has faced Duke twice in his career when he was playing for Wake Forest, going 1-1 in those starts. Despite Hartman throwing for 347 yards and three touchdowns against the Blue Devils last year, Duke picked him off once and wound up beating Wake 34-31 last season in Durham.

“Listen, you can be living in a cardboard box somewhere and know that Sam Hartman’s a really talented quarterback at the college level,” Elko said. “He’s really good. We’re going to have to figure out how to control them as best as we can.”

Duke is 2-5 all-time against Notre Dame. The last time the Blue Devils beat the Irish in Durham was in 1961.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman (10) throws in the third quarter against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

QB experience a factor as No. 6 Ohio State visits No. 9 Notre Dame

Notre Dame signal-caller Sam Hartman will make his 50th career start on Saturday when the No. 9 Fighting Irish host No. 6 Ohio State, quarterbacked by junior Kyle McCord in his fifth start.

That disparity in experience may come into play when the heavyweight programs renew their rivalry in South Bend, Ind.

“I think it’s a factor,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said. “Kyle’s been around. He hasn’t played a whole bunch of football, but he has been around. He’s seen it. He’s older and more mature than maybe a freshman who’s coming in in the same situation, but I think experience does play a part of it.

“It’s not the No. 1 thing overall. There’s a lot of other things that come with it, but I do think it’s significant.”

Hartman has thrown for 13 touchdowns with no interceptions and has Notre Dame (4-0) rolling, opening the season with four straight 40-point games for the first time since 1900 when the opponents were Goshen (55 points) and Englewood (68) high schools, a South Howard Park club team (64) and the University of Cincinnati (58).

The Irish have never scored 40-plus in each of their first five games.

Hartman, who played the previous five seasons at Wake Forest, embraces the challenge of going against an Ohio State defense that has allowed only 20 points this season.

“It’s a clash of two football greats that, growing up, you think about and look at those games of Ohio State and all the other big ones that you’d be like, ‘That would be a cool game to play in,’” Hartman said. “It’s exciting. It is a big game. To shy away from that is foolish, but like every week, it’s about us executing at the highest level.”

Ohio State (3-0) struggled to find consistency on offense due to McCord — who started one game as a freshman in 2021 — sharing snaps with Devin Brown the first two games. Although McCord started both, it wasn’t until four days before the third game that Day officially named him the starter.

McCord responded with his best game of the season against Western Kentucky, going 19-for-23 for 318 yards and three touchdowns, including a 75-yarder to Marvin Harrison Jr.

“You’ve seen their offense kind of evolve over the first three games,” Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said. “It’s explosive, you see a lot of tempo. I think I’ve seen more tempo recently.”

The Ohio State defense prepped for Hartman by limiting Western Kentucky’s Austin Reed, the FBS active career leader in passing yards, to 207 yards with one TD and one interception.

Hartman will present more of a test. He is tied for seventh with former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones on the FBS all-time list with 123 touchdown passes.

“You can tell Hartman has been around, a veteran,” Day said. “Accurate, very intelligent. A lot of good attributes for a quarterback. Won a lot of games at Wake Forest.”

Hartman has shown the ability for big plays, too, with touchdown throws of 76 and 75 yards against Central Michigan on Saturday.

Ohio State leads the series 5-2 with five consecutive wins since 1995. Notre Dame’s last win was 7-2 in South Bend in 1936. The Buckeyes won 21-10 in Columbus last season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 16, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Sam Hartman (10) throws in the third quarter against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

No. 9 Notre Dame pulls away for 41-17 win over Central Mich.

Sam Hartman threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another to propel No. 9 Notre Dame to a 41-17 victory over visiting Central Michigan on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.

Hartman completed 16 of 26 passes for 330 yards and has now thrown for 13 TDs without a single interception through his first four games with the Fighting Irish (4-0). Hartman spent the past five seasons at Wake Forest.

Audric Estime rushed for a career-high 176 yards and a score on 20 carries for Notre Dame, which has opened the season with four consecutive wins for the third time in the last four years.

Two of Hartman’s passing touchdowns came on deep balls, as he hit Tobias Merriweather for a 75-yard score just 4:08 into the game before connecting with Chris Tyree for a 76-yard strike early in the second quarter.

Holden Staes caught the other touchdown, a 4-yarder with 5:45 left in the fourth quarter.

Jase Bauer had 137 yards on 10-of-20 passing to go along with a rushing touchdown for the Chippewas (1-2), who have yet to beat an FBS opponent this season.

Myles Bailey had 12 rushes for 59 yards and a TD, and Jesse Prewitt III hauled in two catches for 59 yards for CMU.

After Merriweather found the end zone, the Chippewas responded with a six-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Bailey scoring on the ground from 6 yards out.

Estime rushed for a 17-yard TD to wrap up the Fighting Irish’s ensuing drive, and Hartman made it 21-7 when he found Tyree streaking down the middle of the field with 14:17 left in the first half.

Notre Dame failed to extend its lead when Spencer Shrader came up short on a 59-yard field-goal attempt later in the quarter. Tristan Mattson missed a 36-yarder, but the Chippewas pulled within 21-14 just 17 seconds before the break when Bauer punched in a 1-yard TD.

Hartman matched that with a 1-yard score of his own to open the third quarter to put the Irish back up by 14.

Mattson made a 23-yard field goal with 1:59 left in the third, but Shrader hit from 50 and 31 yards ahead of Staes’ score to put the game out of reach.

Notre Dame outgained the visitors 578-268.

–Field Level Media