The last time the Irish and the Beavers matched up was the 2001 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl where the Irish were manhandled 41-9. Oregon State should present another difficult challenge for the Irish.
The Beavers are led by quarterback Derek Anderson. Anderson has led the Beavers to their No. 8 ranking in passing offense this season with 304 yards per game--not a good sign for the Irish. Anderson also likes to get out of the pocket and throw on the run, and the senior has thrown for 3, 257 yards and 25 touchdowns on the season—another bad sign for the Irish.
Oregon State's leading receiver is junior Mike Hass. Hass has 81 catches on the season for 1,274 yards and seven touchdowns. Their second-leading receiver is tight end Joe Newton with 49 catches for 602 yards and five touchdowns—another bad sign for the Irish.
Luckily for Notre Dame the Beavers struggle running the football and are currently ranked No. 116 out of 117 teams in rushing offense.
However, with Notre Dame's struggles in the secondary, they'll have to slow down Anderson to have a chance to win.
The Beavers are ranked No. 30 against the run allowing 123 yards per game and No. 6 in pass efficiency defense in the country. They are also ranked No. 55 in scoring defense allowing just under 25 points per game.
Irish interim head coach Kent Baer said the Notre Dame football team is looking forward to the challenge.
"Playing Oregon State is a tremendous opportunity and challenge for our football team," said Baer. "We'll be taking on a team with an excellent offense that features a lot of weapons, plus it's a team that has improved as the season progressed winning five of their last six games after a 1-4 start.
"Oregon State has been a power in the Pac-10 the last several years, and they have a lot of talent. We're looking forward to the challenge of playing them."
Senior linebacker Mike Goolsby remembers the 2001 Fiesta Bowl and looks forward to playing the Beavers once again.
"When I heard about the matchup, I had flashbacks to the (2001) Fiesta Bowl, so it's kind of ironic that my first season at Notre Dame and my last both will end against Oregon State," he said. "I know I can speak for my teammates when I say we're looking forward to going down there and, especially, looking forward to playing and winning a bowl game. I know there are going to be some distractions because of what's going on in our program right now, but I know we're excited about this matchup."
The Irish will hold practice on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week and Irish Eyes will be there after practice bringing you the latest on Notre Dame's bowl preparations.