Where's the love?

Weis is wondering why Notre Dame isn't ranked

October 4, 2009, 3:07 PM

By: Eric Hansen

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame head football coach Charlie Weis played the respect card Sunday.

For the 24th time since the inception of the Associated Press college football poll in 1936, the Irish football team finds itself 4-1 five games into a season.

Clausen

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jimmy Clausen leads the nation with a 179.25 passing efficiency rating.

It's only the second time in those 24 seasons that a 4-1 Irish squad was unranked.

The first time? Last season, when a 4-1 start evolved into a 7-6 finish that tested Weis' job security.

Among the 22 ND teams that were ranked when 4-1, two were coached by Weis (12th in 2006, ninth in 2005). The highest-ranked among all of them was the 1965 team (fourth). One of them, the 1977 squad that was 11th when 4-1, went on to win a national title.

"I think if you look at some of the other teams that are playing and look at how their games have gone, tell me where the difference is," Weis said Sunday, less than 24 hours after his Irish survived Washington, 37-30, in overtime.

It was ND's third straight win and fourth consecutive game decided in the final minute of regulation or overtime.

"I can go right up to the Top 10 and work right on down," Weis said. "You tell me what teams that are in there that haven't had some trouble in their schedule. I mean, almost everybody has. If you compare apples to apples, I think that we deserve to be there right with everybody else."

The Irish garnered nine points in this week's AP Poll, two more than last week. In the coaches poll, the Irish were just three spots removed from the top 25 with 57 points, up from 23 the week before.

What some voters might get stuck on isn't the closeness of ND's games, but why they're close. The Irish are 96th nationally in total defense.

After an open date this coming Saturday, Notre Dame will have a chance to earn its way into the top 25 when seventh-ranked USC (4-1) visits Notre Dame Stadium on Oct. 17.

Irish items
•The nation's No. 1 prospect in the 2007 recruiting cycle finds himself atop the nation's passing-efficiency standings for the first time in his career this week.
Junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen moved from No. 4 to No. 1, and sports a 179.25 rating. Boise State's Kellen Moore (176.31) is second, with 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of Florida third (170.31).
Clausen is at his best when the game is on the line. In the fourth quarter and overtime of ND's five games this season, the 6-3, 223-pounder is 29-of-45 for 396 yards and four TDs and no interceptions.
And he has played the past 2 games with a painful turf toe injury.
"Maybe we should give him another turf toe," Weis joked. "You know what I'm saying?"
•Irish receiver Golden Tate's 244 receiving yards on nine catches against Washington, is the most by a receiver in the 120-team Football Bowl Subdivision this season.
•Freshman kicker Nick Tausch's streak of 10 straight made field goals -- including a school record-tying five against the Huskies -- constitutes the longest by an Irish kicker since 1995.

Eric Hansen covers Notre Dame for ESPNChicago.com and the South Bend Tribune.

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