ND students show Spartans their Irish pride
By Linda Skalski
"Cheer, cheer, for Old Notre Dame," belted sophomores Matthew Burkhardt, Kiran Pillai and Steve Delosh as they sped along I-96 North toward Michigan State's campus.
These Stanford residents were just three of the hundreds of Notre Dame students who made the three-hour drive to East Lansing, Mich., to cheer the Irish to their 21-17 victory against Michigan State University.
"Seeing how our football team is unbelievably good this year and we finally had a chance to break our five game losing streak against State, I don't understand why anyone would not drive out to the game," said Burkhardt.
The intensity of competition was apparent early Saturday morning when students from both schools walked around the Michigan State campus before kickoff. Notre Dame students, identifiable by their Kelly green shirts, endured much heckling from Michigan State fans, who wore white T-shirts.
"I got a kick out of making comments to State kids," said freshman Christopher Murphy, who had never been to an away game before Saturday. "It's a whole different experience being the minority fan."
Yet being well outnumbered served to create a high level of camaraderie among Domers.
"Every time I walked past a student with a Notre Dame shirt on, I slapped them a high-five and shouted a cheer for the Irish, whether I knew them or not," said sophomore Justin Gallagher. "Practically every single Notre Dame tailgate offered us something to eat."
The already high level of enthusiasm only increased after the dramatic win, and students celebrated by doing everything from ripping off their shirts and running through the street to whooping out of car windows to simply going out to dinner.
"Victory dinner was the best," said Delosh. "We toasted and sang the fight song in this elegant Mexican restaurant."
Most students headed home to finish celebrating back on campus, but some opted to stay overnight and experience Michigan St. nightlife.
"You can always find someone who knows someone who will be willing to let you crash in their room overnight," said freshman Daniel Gediney who, along with four Notre Dame friends, slept on the floor of a Michigan State sophomore's dorm room. "She was an incredible host, especially since she only knew one of us."
Many students said the victory, which moved the Irish to 4-0 and No. 10 in both the AP and coaches' polls, left them with the desire to follow the team anywhere.
"Everything about the weekend was unbelievable," junior Tom Fisher said. "I am making it my personal goal to attend every single away game."
All News Stories for Monday, September 23, 2002