SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Charlie Weis greeted his team’s upset victory over Pitt by being ornery all week, to let Notre Dame’s players know they hadn’t accomplished anything yet. So what kind of mood will a big win over Michigan bring?

“I think it’s the same level of ornery,” Weis said Sunday.

Why not? It worked well enough last week.

Weis knows that after consecutive road wins against ranked teams, a lot of people are racing to pat Notre Dame on the back. The win vaulted the Fighting Irish 10 spots in the rankings to No. 10. They are the talk of the town and of sports talk shows across the nation.

Weis knows the hype that’s coming, and wants no part of it.

“That was a big win for us yesterday. But with that said, I think they have a small timeframe to get back to business,” he said. “What you can’t ever do is let a win like that be followed by laying an egg.”

That was his message to players on Sunday. Weis spent part of his bus trip back to South Bend on Saturday taking congratulatory telephone calls from Irish alumni. The rest of the trip he spent looking up reasons to convince the Irish (2-0) they should forget about that victory and focus on Saturday’s home opener against Michigan State (2-0).

It didn’t take long.

He pointed out Michigan State has won four straight games at Notre Dame Stadium. Only Purdue, which won five games from 1954-62, has a longer streak.

He also noted that the Spartans have won 11 games at Notre Dame Stadium, more than any other opponent. Finally, he pointed out the Spartans have outscored their first two opponents by a combined score of 91-28.

“I can’t let them feel too good about themselves because we play Saturday against a team that’s definitely gotten the best of this rivalry the past bunch of years,” Weis said.

It might be a hard sell, though, because Notre Dame fans are as excited as they’ve been since the team opened 8-0 in the 2002 season. The Irish return home to play their first unranked opponent, and Weis is worried about the distractions players will face.

“The one thing you can play on when you’re on the road is, It’s us against the world,”‘ he said. “Now you’re coming home and the families start coming in for the games and the dog-and-pony show arrives for the pep rally on Friday. It can be quite a distraction.”

Irish players said after the win Saturday they know they can’t get wrapped up in the excitement.

“That’s something you always try to do, to not get caught up in the hype,” nose guard Derek Landri said. “Our job is to stay levelheaded. We’re 2-0, but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just two games.”

The Irish haven’t beaten Michigan State at Notre Dame Stadium since 1993. Which also happened to be the last time – until Saturday – that the Irish won at Michigan Stadium. That also marks the last time the Irish won a bowl game, finished ranked in the Top 10 or seriously challenged for a national title.

Which is why Irish fans are so excited. Notre Dame’s jump from being unranked at the start of the season to being No. 10 two weeks later marks their biggest leap to start a season since Ara Parseghian’s first year in 1964, when they began the season unranked and jumped to No. 9 the next week after beating Wisconsin 31-7.

That team went 9-1, losing 20-17 to Southern California in the final game.

So are the Irish, a 6-6 team last season, suddenly a top-10 team?

“Maybe if you go by what you see, maybe the answer is yes,” Weis said. “I’m not there to judge that.”

AP-ES-09-11-05 1713EDT


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