Bowl bid may be at stake for ND
Originally Published: October 22, 2003By Adam Rittenberg | Special to ESPN.com
Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham confirmed the obvious Tuesday. At 2-4, the Irish need every win it can get to reach a bowl game. Willingham refused to speculate whether or not the Irish could reach a bowl at 6-6, a mark that would be impressive considering their remaining schedule, which features Boston College, Florida State and Syracuse. Last Saturday Southern Cal spanked Notre Dame by 31 points for the second consecutive season. "It puts a serious cramp in that effort," Willingham said when asked if the Irish could reach the postseason with a loss Saturday. "We have to be successful this week."
Last season Notre Dame's defense ranked in the nation's Top 10 in scoring defense and rushing defense. The Irish allowed more than 24 points in only two games and forced 33 turnovers. Following last Saturdays' 44-13 loss to Southern Cal, the Irish slipped to 35th in rushing defense at a respectable 120.5 yards a game. However, Notre Dame is tied for 72nd nationally in turnovers gained with 12 and tied for 80th in turnover margin with a minus-.5 average.
"It's hard to do what that defense did a year ago," Willingham said. "To create all the turnovers, to create all the scores they've created. You don't see many teams do that in a 10-year stretch. But there are some outstanding things our defense is doing this year."
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