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ND forgets memories of green

Notre Dame last donned its green jerseys in 1995.

The game was the Fiesta Bowl. The opponent was Colorado. The loss was big: 41-24.

After that, the "lucky" jerseys went back on a shelf until senior tailback Autry Denson asked coach Bob Davie to resurrect them. Davie concurred.

"I think the tradition got tarnished during that game," said Denson, a senior. "Maybe we can help get it back.

"But no matter what we're wearing _ green, white, blue _ we have to go out there and play good football. That's what counts."

MANY HAPPY PEOPLE: The biggest crowd in 15 years is expected. As of Wednesday night, only about 2,000 tickets were left for the 72,000-seat stadium. The game last sold out in 1989, when the stadium held 84,000.

THE LAST TIME: Today marks Notre Dame's second trip to the Gator Bowl. The Irish beat Penn State 20-9 after the 1976 season. Georgia Tech has been to the Gator Bowl four times, winning twice.

The Irish last played the Jackets in 1997. Notre Dame came from behind when Denson's 1-yard run with 2:37 left won it 17-13.

"I was crushed," Tech senior Charlie Rogers said, remembering. "I don't want to feel that way again."

STOPPING MR. ROGERS: In a game that matches two mobile quarterbacks and tough defenses, Rogers could be a wild card.

The tailback/flanker was one of the most versatile players in the ACC, catching 21 balls for 233 yards, rushing for 439 yards on 47 carries and returning more punts (30) than any ACC player.

He also returned two punts for touchdowns and was ranked sixth in the nation in punt returns with a 14.2 average.

"If they make a mistake," Rogers said, "I think we can come up and make a big play."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Irish are hoping QB Jarious Jackson (2,181 total offense, 12 TD passes, 3 TD runs) can play despite a knee injury suffered in the final moments of a 39-36 win over LSU on Nov. 21. Denson (1,176 rushing, 15 TDs, all-time leading rusher in team history) is the key to the ball-control offense. The Yellow Jackets have a fine offense (13th in nation in scoring 35.6) led by QB Joe Hamilton (2,364 total offense, 17 TD passes, 4 TD runs) and WR Dez White (46 catches, 21.2 per catch, 9 TDs). Their front seven must follow the physical example of LB Delaunta Cameron (90 tackles, 10 for loss), DEs Jesse Tarplin (nine sacks), Nate Timson (four fumbles caused).

_ ROBBI PICKERAL, TIMES WIRES

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