Clock Ticking for Struggling Irish

Oct 26, 2003

AP Sports Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Disheartening was the way Notre Dame linebacker Courtney Watson described it.

Watson was talking about the Irish defense allowing Boston College to drive for the last-minute, game-winning field goal in a 27-25 loss in Boston on Saturday. He could have just as easily been talking about the entire Notre Dame season.

After raising Notre Dame fans' hopes with a 10-3 record in Tyrone Willingham's first year as coach last year, disheartening is the only way to describe the 2-5 season so far.

The Irish need to win four of their last five games just to stay bowl eligible.

Frankly, though, they just need a win.

"Most of us are tired with not playing the type of football we can," receiver Omar Jenkins said.

The most disappointing part of Saturday's loss at BC (5-3) is that it appeared the Irish had the game won. After trailing 24-6 with 3:27 left in the third quarter, the Irish rallied for 19 points on a pair of TD passes by Brady Quinn and a blocked punt returned 25 yards for a TD by Carlos Campbell with 3:34 left.

All the Irish needed was their special teams and defense to keep BC out of scoring position. Both failed.

BC returned the kickoff 42 yards to almost midfield. Then on third-and-11, Grant Adams caught a 26-yard pass from Quinton Porter to keep the drive alive. Sandro Sciortino kicked a 26-yard field goal with 38 seconds left to give the Irish a loss in what Willingham had described as a "must win."

"When it came down to it, all we had to do is stop them, and we win the ball game. We weren't able to do it," Watson said.

Now the Irish face No. 5 Florida State (7-1). The Irish already have played two teams that were ranked No. 5 when they faced them, Michigan, which beat the Irish 38-0, and Southern California, which won 45-14.

The Irish are 0-5 against teams ranked in the top 5 since beating No. 5 Michigan 36-20 to open the 1998 season.

Watson said the Irish can't worry about the season or anything else when they face Florida State.

"We won't want to look at anything too far down the line. We're looking at the wrong things," he said. "We have to look now at Florida State, and do the kind of things we need to do to win that ball game."

Watson said the Irish shouldn't have to look hard for a reason to try to finish strong even though most of their goals for the season are gone.

"At this point, what you're playing for is you're playing to win a ballgame," he said. "You have a team coming in that's a Top 10 team. You have to have some pride when you play the rest of the season, to say we're going to play the best football we can, which is a lot more than we've shown."

That is disheartening for a team that expected so much.

Football Home

Tyron Willingham's second season at the helm of Notre Dame has been a let down after last year's 10-3 finish.