Irish look to Champs

Notre Dame accepts a bid to face Florida State in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl, December 29 in Orlando.

Brian Kelly's second Irish squad won one more regular season contest than did his first. The end result was a post-season destination two days prior to the Sun Bowl contest played by Kelly's 2010 Irish, but a game with at least one step up in national significance as 8-4 Notre Dame today accepted a bid to appear in the Champs Sports Bowl later this month.

Pitted vs. the Irish is former early-90s rival Florida State. The Seminoles likewise finished 8-4, its four losses at the hands of Oklahoma, Clemson, Wake Forest, and Virginia. The Demon Deacons were the only like opponents shared by the Seminoles and Irish, Notre Dame winning 24-17 in Winston-Salem on November 5; FSU dropped a 35-30 decision one month prior.

"When you play a bowl game, these are the kinds of challenges that you want," said Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly of the matchup, adding, "Tommy Rees is our starter (at quarterback), he'll start the bowl game. Andrew (Hendrix) will get an opportunity to play as well."

As for transferring quarterback Dayne Crist's status, Kelly offered, "Yet to be determined. We've given him a release and he's going to have to pursue some of those things. It's up in the air and I have to focus on the guys that are going to be here."

Kelly added that junior slot receiver Theo Riddick will be a running back for the Champs Sports Bowl. Notre Dame lost touchdown leader and breakout senior runner Jonas Gray to a knee injury in a Game 11 win over Boston College, necessitating the move.

Riddick played running back as a freshman in the 2009 season under former head coach Charlie Weis.

Series Briefs

Florida State owns a 4-2 edge over the Irish in the all-time series between the programs, winning two games of note in South Bend: their first visit in 1981, 19-13, then again in 2003 while posting an ugly home shut-out of the Irish, 37-0.

The Seminoles also defeated Notre Dame following the 1995 season in the Orange Bowl, 31-26, a game in which the Irish led 26-12 entering the final period.

No. 2 Notre Dame defeated No. 1 Florida State in the 1993 "Game of the Century" played November 13 in South Bend. The Seminoles gained a measure of revenge the following season with a regular season "neutral site" win at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, site of this December's contest.

The Irish earned their second victory of the series when they hammered then-No. 11 FSU 34-24 in Doak Campbell Stadium in 2002 to move to 8-0 on the season.

The Champs Sports Bowl has been played at the Citrus Bowl (capacity 70,000) in Downtown Orlando since 2001. Florida State played in the first Champs Sports Bowl in 1990, then at the Miami Gardens, defeating Penn State 24-17. In the Seminoles only other visit to the contest they hammered Wisconsin 42-13 in 2008.

The bowl has ACC and Big East tie-ins with the option of selecting Notre Dame once every four years.

Kick-off is set for 5:30 PM (ET) December 29 on ESPN.


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