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Football: Irish move to No. 11 in BCS rank

Mike Gilloon | Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Notre Dame moved up three spots in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings this week, from No. 14 to No. 11, after its 41-21 win over Tennessee Saturday. That three-spot jump could equal approximately $15 million in gains for the University.

Under the current arrangement Notre Dame has with the BCS, the Irish need to win nine games and finish the season in the BCS top-12 to be eligible for a berth in a BCS bowl – this season, the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose bowls.

Notre Dame is guaranteed a BCS berth if it has nine wins and finishes in the BCS top six.

If selected, the Irish will receive approximately $15 million in a payout normally reserved for a major conference team. Notre Dame is considered a partner in the BCS along with the six major conferences and, therefore, is eligible for the same benefits.

But before the Irish can cash in, they still have some work to do.

Navy is the first of three games remaining on the squad’s schedule. Notre Dame kicks off with the Midshipmen at 1 p.m. Saturday in Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish then will have one more home game Nov. 19 against Syracuse before traveling to Stanford for a Nov. 26 matchup.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis believes his team cannot look past its opponents, despite being aware of what winning the remainder of its regular season games would mean.

“Both the coaching staff and the players are not ignorant about the ramifications of each game,” Weis said at his Sunday press conference. “But the only way you build up your stock as a team is by winning week by week, and as long as you look at it that way, each week is a means to an end.”

This will be the final year of the current BCS arrangement. The BCS will add a fifth bowl to the rotation next season, and Notre Dame will earn $4.5 million for a berth instead of $15 million.

But a stipulation of that arrangement also will award Notre Dame $1.3 million each season, regardless of whether it plays in a BCS bowl. If the Irish play in a non-BCS bowl game in any given season, they still will receive the full payout for that game in addition to the $1.3 million.

Notes:

u Irish strong safety Tom Zbikowski earned a “Game Ball” from the Master Coaches Survey Monday, gaining official recognition for his two-touchdown return performance against Tennessee.

Zbikowski returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown and an interception 33 yards for a score against the Volunteers Saturday. He is also a nominee for USA Today Player of the Week and Cingular/ABC Sports All-America Player of the Week.

Coaches named Zbikowski special teams captain for Saturday’s game against Navy, the third time this season he has received that nod.

u Charlie Weis found out who dumped the Gatorade on his back after Saturday’s 41-21 win over Tennessee. The Irish coach was not sure immediately after the contest who gave him the unwanted bath, but watching film Sunday revealed that defensive end Justin Brown and defensive tackle Trevor Laws were the culprits.

“I’ve done my research and we will address that later this afternoon,” Weis said with a laugh during his Sunday press conference. “I saw Trevor Laws and Justin Brown with a bucket behind me.”