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.

Sunday, November 26

Quinn, Irish Still Have Much To Prove

Okay, so Brady Quinn didn’t have the all-world performance against USC to suggest, however unlikely, that he would beat out Troy Smith for the Heisman Trophy.

With just a week left in the regular season it would take a stunning surprise -– and generate cause for a recount -– if Smith didn’t win the award. He’s too consistently good, too consistently dominating, to not win.

And I say this as a Heisman voter.

Quinn, meanwhile, hit just 22-of-45 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns. He even added a career-long 60-yard scramble run. It was a decent showing that would have been better if Irish receivers could have avoided a mid-game flurry of drops, but it still wouldn’t have made a difference. USC’s defense was too good.

“It was a gutty performance,” coach Charlie Weis said. “He didn’t get a lot of help. Yes, he was far from perfect. Join the club. I was far from perfect, too.”

Weis still believes Quinn’s NFL worthiness will be displayed during the spring’s NFL Draft (scouts from the Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were at Saturday’s game). In the meantime the Irish (10-2) have a bowl game left. The Sugar Bowl is the most likely spot, although if BCS opportunity falls they’ll wind up in the Gator or Cotton bowls.

“This is a tough loss,” Weis says, “but fortunately there’s enough time to recover. Our seniors will have to suck it up and get ready to go to a bowl.”

After losing its last four big-time games (twice to USC, once each to Michigan and Ohio State), Notre Dame needs to show it’s ready for elite. That needs to come from a bowl victory against an elite opponent. Remember, three losses in a season isn’t nearly good enough.


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