Irish seek revenge at Insight Bowl

Published 11:20 am Tuesday, December 28, 2004

By Staff
For only the second time ever, Notre Dame faces Oregon State on the football field Tuesday in the Insight Bowl played at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix. This time, the Irish will be looking for revenge.
The only other meeting between the schools was also in a bowl game and was also in Phoenix. In the 2001 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Beavers thrashed Notre Dame 41-9.
In order to get back at Oregon State, Notre Dame will have to do so under the direction of defensive coordinator Kent Baer. Baer took over as interim head coach on Nov. 30 after the university fired head coach Tyrone Willingham after three seasons at the helm.
The Irish enter the Insight Bowl at 6-5 and are looking to snap a season-ending two-game losing streak. The Beavers, however, ended the season winning five of six games after a 1-4 start to the season. Oregon State's only loss in the time came to top-ranked USC, 28-20. Over their last six games, the Beavers are averaging 31.5 points per game.
Tuesday will be the 26th time in the program's history that Notre Dame has gone to a bowl game. The Irish are 13-12 in those games and look to maintain a winning record with a victory in the Insight Bowl.
Notre Dame completed the regular season with the nation's ninth-best defense against the rush, allowing an average of 94.4 yards per game. The Irish defense has also specialized in taking the ball out of its opponents hands, ranking 22nd nationally in turnover margin at plus-0.55 turnovers per game, plus-6 overall. Notre Dame has also prevented big plays in the punting game, ranking eight nationally in net punting at 39.3 yards per return.
The Irish have done a good job recently protecting the football. They ended the regular season with a streak of five consecutive games without losing a fumble.
Since a fumble lost against Stanford on Oct. 9, the Irish have gone 20 quarters and 151 rushing attempts without losing the ball. Over that span, Notre Dame has only fumbled twice, recovering both drops, one against Navy and one against USC.
Notre Dame's offense has produced an average of 218.2 passing yards per game this season. That ranks as the third-best per-game average in Irish history. Only two other Irish teams averaged more yards passing - the 1970 squad that averaged 252.7 yards per game and the 1999 team that passed for 238.2 yards per game. That success in the air has contributed to Notre Dame's total offensive average of 357 yards per game, the most by the Irish since 1999 (419.7 yards per game).