Oct. 29, 2002
By Peter J. Stuhldreher
The Notre Dame football team returned to the cold of Cartier Field this week as one of the hottest teams in the nation after posting a 34-24 victory over Florida State in Tallahassee. The win moved the Irish record to 8-0, their best start since 1993 when the team won their first 10 games before losing to Boston College after beating then No. 1-ranked Florida State. That serves as an eerie reminder on the week of Halloween that if the 2002 Irish want to escape the fate of simply being a ghost in Notre Dame football past and become immortal in Notre Dame football glory, they cannot afford to take Boston College lightly.
The Notre Dame offense finally showed a glimpse of how good it could be against Florida State. Carlyle Holiday threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns, including a teardrop fade to Omar Jenkins in the corner of the end zone that gave Irish fans a glimpse of Holiday’s talent as a passer. Running back Ryan Grant continued his emergence with 94 yards and two touchdowns against a talented Seminole defense.
The Irish defense continued its success with another strong outing in Tallahassee. Florida State’s highly touted back Greg Jones was held to 34 yards on 14 carries. In the third quarter on successive FSU possessions, Courtney Watson intercepted a Chris Rix’s pass and Glenn Earl forced a Rix’s fumble giving Notre Dame field position in Florida State territory. Those big plays by the defense led to a Nicholas Setta field goal and a Grant touchdown run, respectively, and broke the game wide open.
The defense will look to do more of the same this week to get a win against Boston College.
“We’re just a bunch of guys who want to make big plays,” said defensive lineman Ryan Roberts.
“The best way to make big plays is to get the ball back to the offense and score some points. Our defense is hungry to get the ball, score some points ourselves, or get the ball and get our offense field position to win the game for us.”
The Irish know that Boston College is a formidable opponent and are focused on Saturday’s game. The defense is especially motivated by the final minutes of the game against Florida State.
“At the end of the game we let up a bit and that leveled our attitude about that we are humans and we make mistakes,” said Roberts.
“We have to stay as focused as possible and practice hard this week and then go out and play hard against Boston College.”
Notre Dame will enter the game this weekend as No. 3 in the BCS poll, No. 4 in the coaches’ poll, and No. 6 in the AP poll. They trail Miami by only .3 of a point in the BCS and could conceivably move ahead of the Hurricanes with a win on Saturday. However, those things are not on the minds of the players as they prepare this week.
“Our coach tells us not to get caught up in the hype each week,” said Roberts.
“It’s exciting. We’re having a lot of really good things happen for our team this year. We have to keep our team level and keep focused on the idea that it’s not where we’re ranked early in the year, it’s how we are ranked in December. The only way to do well in December is to stay focused, practice hard and keep your eye on the goal all week, every week.”
The goal this week – Beat Boston College.