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 SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -Notre Dame is enjoying its new-found success at home.
Jimmy Clausen threw for two touchdowns and Armando Allen Jr. ran for another in the third quarter as Notre Dame beat Purdue 38-21 on Saturday to improve to 3-1 overall and extend its home winning streak to four games.
By Notre Dame standards, the four straight home wins aren't particularly impressive. The Fighting Irish went seven straight seasons without a loss at home in the 1940s, and three straight seasons in the 1980s. So no one is getting too excited about the current streak, especially when none of the four teams - Duke, San Diego State, Michigan and Purdue - were ranked or close to being ranked.
But the Irish are coming off a school-record six straight home losses last season, leaving fans disillusioned.
``Last year we felt like every home game was an away game,'' receiver Golden Tate said.
-0 loss to Southern Cal was the second worst loss ever at Notre Dame Stadium. Overall, they were outscored 223-127 at home.
To put last season's six straight home losses in perspective, Ara Parseghian's team had fewer home losses (52-5-1) in 11 seasons than the Irish had last year, and Frank Leahy (37-6-2) had just as many in 11 seasons. Even Bob Davie, who was 35-25 in five seasons overall, was 24-7 at home.
So the current home winning streak that began against a Duke squad that was 1-9 at the time last season is at least somewhat satisfying, especially since the Irish haven't started a season 3-0 at home since 2002.
``There's no better feeling than winning at home,'' center Dan Wenger said.
Fans are even more excited because of how the Irish are winning. Ten of Notre Dame's 12 touchdowns this season have been scored by freshmen or sophomores.
Leading rushers Allen and Robert Hughes, leading receiver Golden Tate and Clausen are all sophomores, as are fourth and sixth leading tacklers Brian Smith and Harrison Smith, while second leading receiver Michael Floyd and starting tight end Kyle Rudolph are freshmen.
``I think these guys are starting to show they can get some production, coach Charlie Weis said.
in 2006. Last year the only time they scored more than 28 points at home was in a 46-44 double overtime loss to Navy. But 16 of those points came in overtime.
Weis, who has a 14-9 record at Notre Dame Stadium that is second worst among Irish coaches, said the home victories help to build the team's confidence and make the stadium a tougher place to play.
Irish fans started this season skeptical, with good reason. The Irish needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat 21-point underdog San Diego State in the opener, 21-13. But since that comeback win, the fans have been solidly behind the Irish.
``When things are going well, everyone's having a good time,'' Weis said.
Even better for the Irish, they likely will be favored in their final home games against Stanford (3-2), Pittsburgh (3-1) and Syracuse (1-4), meaning their first undefeated home season since 1998 is a possibility. Right now, though, the Irish are only thinking about Stanford.
``I think we have another opportunity this week to take another step. You've got another one at home against a formidable opponent,'' Weis said. ``That's what we need to do. We need to take the next step.''
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