Pete DiPrimio, sports columnist and college beat writer for The News-Sentinel of Fort Wayne, Ind., takes his best shots on the world of Notre Dame football.

Wednesday, November 8

Bouncing Back Boosts Irish

What do you think the biggest challenge Charlie Weis has faced this year? Would it be the inconsistent offensive line play? How about that darned defense, which still is perceived as the team's Achilles Heel?

Actually, Weis said the biggest challenge was getting the Irish to bounce back from the Michigan loss. That defeat was so decisive, so surprising, so deflating, that it knocked them out of the national title picture. Not even a six-game winning streak could restore the luster, at least when it came to poll voters' perspectives.

"The one thing was the egg we laid against Michigan," Weis said. "That was the biggest challenge. When you go into the year with high expectations, and all of a sudden you turn the ball over five times...

"I take credit for the loss now. I think overcoming that, getting the players to fight as hard as they have, a lot of times these kids don't get enough credit. A disheartening loss early in the year can break a team's spirit. It didn't break their spirit. I've really grown to admire the fight that these guys have."

That fight has left Notre Dame positioned for a BCS bowl. It's not the national title so many had hoped for, but it's not a bad consolation prize. If, and this is a big if, the Irish win out.


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