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Irish remain unranked despite win streak

Heather VanHoegarden | Wednesday, September 29, 2004

After defeating then-No. 7 Michigan on Sept. 11 and dominating unranked Washington Saturday to extend their winning streak to three, the Irish are still unranked.

In both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll, Notre Dame is first in “others receiving votes,” but have yet to crack the rankings this fall.

However, Irish coach Tyrone Willingham is focused on Purdue, not the rankings.

“Purdue offers us enough challenges that we don’t need to look at anything else,” Willingham said.

Willingham does, however get a vote in the rankings, and he said they take care of themselves.

“If we win the game with the schedule we have at Notre Dame, we’ll be exactly where we should be,” Willingham said. “It’s almost impossible for us not to be there.

“There are opportunities. We just have to play, and if we do that, everything will unfold in a wonderful manner.”

Vernaglia strong and healthy

True freshman Anthony Vernaglia is healthy after missing some of fall camp with injuries. The former linebacker is playing strong safety in practice, Willingham confirmed Tuesday.

“He’s been improving and getting better every day,” Willingham said.

Vernaglia was a U.S. Army All-American in high school as a linebacker, and was listed as the 95th best player in the country by espn.com.

Grant uncertain

Willingham said running back Ryan Grant’s status for the game against Purdue is uncertain, as it has been in past weeks.

Grant did not play against Washington Saturday. True freshman Darius Walker started in his place.