Phoenix bound

It was fitting that former Oregon State standout receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson chewed up the Raven secondary for 332 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday just hours before Oregon State accepted a bid to play Notre Dame in the Insight Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 28.

Houshmandzadeh and Johnson were integral parts of the Beavers’ success in 2000 as they helped their team to an 11-1 season and a 41-9 thrashing of Notre Dame in Fiesta Bowl.

"We are very excited to be playing Notre Dame in the Insight Bowl,” head coach Mike Riley said. “This is a great opportunity for our team to get to play in the postseason, to get to play Notre Dame, and to represent the conference in Phoenix."

Each team sports a 6-5 record as Oregon State has rattled off five wins in their last six games while the Irish have split their last six contests. The Irish will be without their head coach for the bowl game as Tyrone Willingham was fired last weekend. Despite Willingham’s oust in South Bend the players voted to accept the Insight bowl bid and elect defensive coordinator Kent Baer as the interim head coach.

The Notre Dame coaching staff and players are in a difficult situation. Most of the coaches will be out of a job at the conclusion of the postseason, while some of the players are disappointed with the decision to fire Willingham.

"When we agreed to do this, myself and the staff, we wanted to do this as a united front and make sure the team wants to do it together,” Baer said. “I think there was concern whether the staff would do it with them. We certainly agreed to do that. We have loyalty to these guys and we're going to do everything we can to go and win the football game, believe me.“

The coaching staff is familiar with Pac-10 football as most coached with Willingham at Stanford. Baer has 15 years of Pac-10 football under his belt as he spent five years at California, three at Arizona State, and seven at Stanford.

The Irish defense is led by team MVP and defensive end Justin Tuck who leads the team in sacks (6) and tackles for loss (14). Tuck became the schools all-time sack leader this year (24.5) after setting the single season record in 2003 (13.5). Senior linebackers Derek Curry and Mike Goolsby provide Notre Dame with experience and are first and fifth, respectively, in team tackles.

Offensively the Irish are lead by quarterback Brady Quinn (174-324 (53.7), 2372 yds, 15 TD, 9 INT) and freshman running back Daris Walker (778 yds/6 TD on 172 carries) along with three receivers who have caught at least 20 passes for 300 yards each this season.

The 2004 Insight Bowl will be the Beavers third trip to Arizona for a bowl game in the last five years. It will also be the second time they have played in the Insight Bowl as they lost to Pittsburgh 38-13 in 2002.

The Beavers will leave for Phoenix on Dec. 21 and spend Christmas in Arizona.

Insight Bowl Quick Facts:

  • The team’s one common opponent was USC. The Beavers lost 28-20 in Corvallis to the Trojans while Nortre Dame lost 41-10 in Los Angeles to the Men of Troy.
  • Each team will receive $750,000
  • This is Notre Dame’s 26th postseason game, it is Oregon State’s 11th.
  • Oregon State will be at the Hilton Scottsdale Resort and Villas and will be practicing at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale
  • Kick off is at 6:30 p.m. PST on ESPN
  • Oregon State will wear their black home jerseys while Notre Dame will wear their white away jerseys with gold pants

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