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Eye On The Enemy

Dec. 30, 2000

While many are unaware of the talent that Oregon State brings to the Fiesta bowl, college football analysts know whom to fear.

Ken Simonton.

This season alone he rushed for 1474 yards, which is a spectacular stat when compared to Notre Dame’s leading rusher Julius Jones who acquired 657 yards. Simonton averages around 134 yards per game.

In fact, the junior is the first Pac-10 running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. He is currently ranked fifth on the Pac-10 career-rushing list. The running back needs a little more than 800 yards to pass Marcus Allen and secure second place.

It is stats like that which the Notre Dame defense has to respect.

Simonton is a strong believer in Dennis Erickson and his agenda to turn the Oregon State program around. He believes that Monday’s game is not a must win for the critics but a must win for the team.

“We need to go make an exclamation point for each other,” Simonton said. “For staying (in Corvallis) in the summer and working out and not going home. We don’t need to make an exclamation point for the critics, we need to make it for ourselves.”

The most interesting part about Oregon State’s running back is his stance on college athletics. Simonton believes that college athletes should be paid for their playing time.

When Simonton chooses to offer up his opinion, it often turns out to be a controversial one. However, the running back is far from a head case. He boasts a 3.0 GPA and spends his free time working with children.

Simonton is a leading candidate for the Heisman in the 2001 season before it has even kicked off.

This week’s enemy is a true contender. Watch for the Irish linebackers to keep a watchful eye on Simonton when he lines up in the backfield.

On the other hand, the Irish have proven that they can handle a top-notch running back. Notre Dame held Nebraska’s Dan Alexander in check, making him a non-factor. Look for the Irish to do the exact same thing with Simonton.