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Irish hope to avoid repeat of 2001 Fiesta Bowl

Matt Lozar | Tuesday, December 14, 2004

It’s not about revenge, but the details are too coincidental to discount the obvious.

“I don’t know about revenge. It’s hard to take out revenge on guys you haven’t seen in four years,” Irish fifth-year senior Kyle Budinscak said. “I think I definitely don’t want to have the taste in my mouth finishing my career that I had when I first got here. It’s funny how things work.”

“It’s the same city, the same timing, against the same team. I don’t know exactly what that means. I would hate to end my career the way it kind of began.”

While revenge isn’t on the forefront of motivational tools for Dec. 28’s Insight Bowl game against Oregon State, four years after the Beavers destroyed the Irish 41-9 in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl, the memories of that “Fiasco Bowl” aren’t forgotten.

The score was only 12-3 at halftime, but in the third quarter, Oregon State scored 29 unanswered points en route to amassing 446 total yards of offense compared to Notre Dame’s 155.

“I remember freshman year. I didn’t participate, [but] basically we got our butts kicked. It’s not how you want to go out.” Irish fifth-year defensive lineman Greg Pauly said. “It’s not like we’re looking for payback. This is a big game for us, and we’re going out there and playing like that.”

Over the past five years, the Irish have not had the best finishes to their seasons. In 1999 they lost their last four games. In 2000 there was the Fiesta Bowl loss. In 2001 they won their last game but Bob Davie was fired the next day.

During the Willingham era, in 2002 the Irish were blown out by Southern California and North Carolina State and in 2003, a 5-6 Syracuse team embarrassed the Irish 38-12.

This game gives the Irish another opportunity to avoid ending their season with a bad loss.

“I think this team is full of competitors, and that’s who we are, and that’s what

we’re going to do, whether were playing in the national championship game or the

Insight Bowl,” Irish offensive lineman Dan Stevenson said. “Right now, I think you have to play for pride. … There’s a lot to show about this team. It sets up next year.”

One big key in this game is going to be the Irish secondary against the Oregon State passing attack.

The Beavers rank eighth in the country in passing per game, averaging 304.4 yards per game.

The Irish have allowed a total of 10 touchdown passes in the past two games.

Irish interim coach Kent Baer said Friday he isn’t too concerned about the recent performance of the secondary.

“I think they’re fine. We got a lot of pride. I like the group. Quentin Burrell is our leader. The rest of those guys will rally around him,” Baer said. “They’re going to be fine. Some of the things that happened in the last couple of games, they schemed us pretty good a couple of times. We’ve learned from a lot from those games.”

A lot has been talked about what this team has left to play for – pride, the old coaching staff, a winning record – but the leaders of this team are taking a pretty basic approach.

“Our goal is to try to go out, and what we’ve talked about as the leaders of this team and a lot of the guys that are going to play a lot, and take it to another level, let it all hang out and play the best game we’ve played all year and let’s really do it,” Budinscak said. “There’s no pressure, we have nothing to worry about. Let’s take it to another level and surprise everyone.”