FOOTBALL: Night games humble Irish
When the lights go out, the Irish nightmares begin.
Since Bob Davie became head coach in 1997, Notre Dame is only 1-6 in night games.
With kickoff set for 7:07 p.m. Saturday in Lincoln, Neb. the Irish must change their nighttime fortune or face another long night.
But Irish players said they relish the chance to play at night, regardless of past success or failure.
"I think the night atmosphere is going to be great. I remember the Tennessee game [in 1999] and the atmosphere was great," linebacker Tyreo Harrison said. "Things went the way they went in the game but I wouldn't say they wouldn't go that way if it was a day game. I would say there is an extra bit of excitement just to play at night. It's like back in high school when everyone was a superstar."
The Irish have been far from superstars at night.
Not only have they lost at night, they have frequently been crushed after the sun went down.
Davie's three worst losses of his career have all come at night including last year's 41-9 Fiesta Bowl loss.
Although he hasn't had much success at night in the past, Davie doesn't think the late start will make a huge difference in Saturday's outcome.
"...in the end, I've been in a lot of big games at night and in the afternoon, and I don't think it's going to make a whole lot of difference," Davie said. "We've got a pretty mature football team that's played some night games. I don't think that's going to be much different in the end."
Getting ready for the game is a different concern for Davie, however.
The usual pregame routine and meal schedule is changed when kickoff is push back to 7 p.m.
To simulate the mental preparation needed for a later game, Davie has held several later scrimmages.
"We tried to have a game plan for the scrimmage days just like a game day would be," he said.
Killing the time from waking up to kickoff will be one of the toughest things for both teams, according to Cornhuskers quarterback Eric Crouch.
"Obviously the day of the game you want to be thinking about the game as much as possible. I am used to playing at 12 or 12:30," he said. "There is a lot of dead space in there. The best thing you can do is focus on Notre Dame and know your assignments."
Irish players have similar plans for Saturday afternoon. Anthony Weaver plans to watch some college football while Harrison will call his father for some last might advice.
But he is going to keep the call brief.
"I'll definitely call home and talk to my dad a little," Harrison said. "But just for a little bit because it will get a little too deep. He'll get too into it and he will get me all excited."
Overall, however, the Irish aren't concerned about playing under the lights or under the sun.
"People forget that we played Rutgers at night too," Weaver said about Rutgers game played mostly after dark last year. The Irish won 40-17.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, September 6, 2001