Fighting Irish OK Insight Bowl bid

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 29, 2004

The Associated Press

Notre Dame accepted an invitation Sunday to play in the Insight Bowl in Phoenix against a Pac-10 team on Dec. 28.

The Irish (6-5) accepted the bid a day after losing to Southern California 41-10.

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''It makes the winter a lot easier if you finish on a high note as opposed to finishing on a losing note with that losing taste in your mouth,'' Irish coach Tyrone Willingham said.

In other bowls, Minnesota accepted a bid to the Music City Bowl; North Texas will face Southern Mississippi in the New Orleans Bowl; Memphis will play in the GMAC Bowl; and Alabama-Birmingham accepted a bid to the Hawaii Bowl.

Notre Dame has lost three of its last four games. The Irish have a six-game losing streak in bowl games.

The Insight Bowl has a $750,000 payout.

Notre Dame's opponent is supposed to be the fourth- or fifth-place team in the Pac-10. The Irish could face Arizona State (8-2), UCLA (6-4) or Oregon State (6-5).

In the Music City Bowl, Minnesota will take on a Southeastern Conference opponent to be determined in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 31.

The Golden Gophers will be making their third straight bowl appearance, and fifth in six seasons.

In the New Orleans Bowl, Sun Belt Conference champion North Texas will take on Southern Mississippi on Dec. 14.

Southern Miss (6-4, 5-3 Conference USA) accepted an invitation to the game after becoming bowl eligible with a 26-21 win over Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday. The Golden Eagles will play in a bowl game for the seventh time in eight years.

North Texas (7-4, 7-0) secured its fourth consecutive trip to the bowl by clinching the Sun Belt Conference on Nov. 13.

In the GMAC Bowl, Memphis will accept an invitation Monday for the game against a Mid-America Conference team in Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 22.

Memphis' opponent will be announced later this week. GMAC Bowl selection committee chairman Murray Cape said four MAC teams - Toledo, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois and Miami of Ohio - are possible opponents.

In the Hawaii Bowl, Alabama-Birmingham will be making its first bowl appearance on Dec. 24.

The Blazers (7-4, 5-3 in Conference USA) lost to Southern Mississippi 26-21 Saturday. Their opponent for the game will be determined.