Another squeaker, another win for ND
If you have a faint heart you better not watch Notre Dame play football. Tape the game and after learning the outcome, replay it if you want.
Last week the Irish ended the six game losing streak against Boston College but only a late game interception by linebacker Brian Smith preserved the victory. ND managed, again, to pull out the victory. With the exception of the opener with Nevada, a 35-0 blowout, all the ND games have gone down to the final minutes, one in overtime. This is not good for the heart.
Last week the Irish offense continued to roll on led by QB Jimmy Clausen and receiver Golden Tate. It wasn't as smooth as previous games but they got it done. The defense showed promise as it held BC's running game in check, but the price of that was letting another freshman quarterback, David Shinskie, look like a seasoned senior giving up the "big plays" again. Shinskie ended up with a career high 279 passing yards but he was intercepted three times in the game's final 17 minutes which saved the day for ND. Kyle McCarthy got two of those intercepts to help the Irish move to 5-2.
Clausen and Tate hooked up 11 times including a go-ahead score with 8:12 left in the game and covering 36 yards. Tate finished with a career high 128 yards and two touchdowns. It was his third straight game of 100-plus reception yards.
Clausen finished with 246 yards on 26 of 39 and two TDs. Clausen is now ranked the number two passer in the country. He made up for the two worst performances in his ND career in prior games against BC.
The defense held No. 13 rusher in the nation, BC's Montel Harris, to just 38 yards on 22 carries and two fumbles. One of them at the goal line. He came into the game having never lost a fumble in 356 career carries.
On the minus side of the "D", ND gave up 10 pass plays of 20 yards or more, including a 28 yarder on a fourth and 16 in the final BC drive of the game. BC came into the game ranked 106th in the nation in passing offense and 62nd in passing efficiency.
Today the Irish face Washington State in a "home" game in San Antonio, Tex., in the 75,000 seat Alamodome. WSU enters at 1-6 record. The Cougars are ranked 111th in total offense and 119th in total defense this year.
The lone win was over SMU (30-27) in overtime. The Cougars lost their first four games before the SMU win, and now have now lost two in a row. The loses have been to California (49-17), Arizona State (27-14), Oregon (52-6), USC (27-6), Hawaii (38-20) and Stanford (39-13).
The Cougars are led by QB Jeff Tuel, a frosh. He starts but the Cougars also use sophomore Marshall Lobbestael a lot and also senior Kevin Lopina. Tuel is 54 of 88 with three intercepts and four TDs. Lobbestael is 49-105 and five intercepts and two scores.
Top runner is senior Dwight Tardy with 57 carries, 203 yards and a score backed by Logwone Mitz with 39-121-0. Top receivers are Jared Karstetter 24-337-3TDs, Gino Simone 23-243-1 and Daniel Blackledge 20-189-1.
This is the second meeting between the two schools. ND and the Cougars played in South Bend in 2003 with the Irish winning in overtime, 29-26.
Since this is a Irish home game it will be televised nationally by NBC-TV with a 7:40 p.m. kickoff.
IRISH NOTES:Some other stats from the BC game. TE Duval Kamara had seven catches for 60 yards in his most productive day in a Irish uniform. Rushing had Armando Allen with 21 rushes for 98 yards. Defensively Manti Te'o had nine tackles and Ian Williams seven. Tackles for losses led by Te'o with two for five and 10 yards....For ND to automatically earn a BCS bid they need to finish in the top eight in the final BCS standings. To merely qualify they need to finish in the top 14 and have at least nine wins....Robby Parris, ND's third leading receiver, was injured again in the BC game with a recurring problem with multiple leg injuries. He missed practice on Tuesday and is listed for doubtful for today. Head coach Charlie Weis said he would like to keep Parris out of tonight's game to give him a much needed rest....Top receiver before being injured, Michael Floyd, is on track to return to the lineup for next week's Navy home game....Allen is still hobbled with knee and ankle problems but is expected to play tonight. Robert Hughes had is "bell rung" in the goal line play in the BC game but has passed all medical exams and will play today....ND has played in six consecutive games decided by seven points or fewer which no other team has done this year in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Only Southern Mississippi is close, with five....ND's defense has managed 15 takeaways this season, 13 have come inside the Irish territory and five of those in the red zone....Washington State has lost seven straight to ranked teams and 16 of the last 17 to top 25 teams. We mention this because the Irish are ranked 25th this week. WSU has been outscored 112-3 in the first quarter this season....ND received another committment this week. St. Thomas Aquinas High School running back Giovanni Bernard announced he would attend ND next year. He is ranked No. 50 nationally by CBS College Sports Network analyst Tom Lemming out of a list of 100 players. He is the 17th recruit to commit to ND. He has a hamstring injury and has missed four of seven games this year for his high school. Bernard, 5-9 and 195-pounds, rushed for 1,579 yards as a junior with 18 TDs and averaging 9.6 yards per carry....Tate was one of 10 wide receivers named to the semifinalist list for the Biletnikoff Award by the Tallahassee QB Club Foundation. The award is given annually to the nation's top college receiver. Tate is tied for second with eight TDs receptions, ranks third with 847 receiving yards, fourth in the nation averaging 121 receiving yards per game, ranks 10th in receptions at 7.43 per game and his 11th in the nation with 16.29 yards per catch.....Clausen is one of 15 finalist for the Davy O'Brien award given annually to the best QB in college football. Also, some college scouts and those close to the NFL are urging Clausen to leave early for the NFL, after this season. Mel Kiper of ESPN, who ranks college players for the NFL, moved Clausen to third best QB in the country for NFL consideration....Because this is a ND home game the Irish transported their own goalpost pads the 1,303 miles to San Antonio. ND home announcer Mike Collins will handle those chores in the Alamodome....ND is a 29 point favorite tonight. If the Irish struggle with Washington State then the Irish won't have a chance for a BCS bowl and will probably lose at least two more games. The Irish must wi easily to show that they are worthy of a BCS bid.