Sept. 6, 2000
By TOM COYNE
Associated Press Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind.- Notre Dame coach Bob Davie talked to his
Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum, after beating the Aggies last week and got some
advice about playing top-ranked Nebraska, another Big 12 school.
"He said, 'Get them off your schedule next season,"' Davie said
Too late for that now, though. The No. 23 Irish play host to the
Cornhuskers on Saturday, marking only the seventh time a top-ranked team
than the Irish will play in South Bend. Notre Dame is 3-3 in those games
including winning their last two, beating Miami 31-30 in 1988 and Florida
31-24 in 1993.
Despite Slocum's friendly advice, Davie said now is the best time for
Irish to face Nebraska.
"We're pretty healthy. Our confidence is pretty high. Our kids are
So now's the time," he said.
The Irish weren't healthy last November when they were ranked 24th in
country and traveled to Knoxville to face fourth-ranked Tennessee. The
Volunteers beat the Irish 38-14, Notre Dame's worst loss in 13 years. It
triggered a four-game losing streak that gave the Irish their first losing
record (5-7) since 1986.
Davie said there's no comparison to last year's game with the
this year's game with the Cornhuskers.
"When I say that 21 people couldn't play at the end of last season, I
think people really listen to that. I mean by that point in that season,
the football team we put on the field in Tennessee compared to the one that
put out there with those nine draft picks, it wasn't close," he said. "We're
a lot better football team right now than the one we took to Tennessee."
They'd better be. The Volunteer squad that manhandled the Irish were
overpowered by Nebraska 31-21 in the Fiesta Bowl.
"What Nebraska did to Tennessee with Tennessee's football team intact
really impressive because I know what kind of athleticism Tennessee has,"
Many fans are comparing Saturday's game to the Irish's opening game two
years ago against Michigan when the Wolverines were coming off their
championship season. The Irish were coming off a disappointing 7-6 season
were ranked 22nd at the time. They beat No. 5 Michigan in that
"In that game we got stronger as the game went on, and the crowd really
became a factor. You sensed the momentum and you sensed the confidence," he
Davie said for the Irish to pull off such an upset again, they are
have to keep it close early. That will allow the crowd, and hopefully the
mystique, to become factors.
"We can all sit back and say it's a tremendous atmosphere. What a great
opportunity," he said. "That's just talk."