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Notre Dame going bowling again

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

Coach Tyrone Willingham said the Irish (6-5) wanted to play in
the best bowl available.

"For us that has to be our focus, to get on the field and see
if we can find some way to be successful," he said.

The Irish accepted the bid to the bowl with a $750,000 payout a
day after losing to Southern California for a third straight
season, this time by 31 points. Willingham said the Irish welcome
the chance to end the season on a positive note.

"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," he said. "Even though our season should provide
great motivation for us during the winter because it was a season
we didn't reach our expectations, but you like to go in doing
anything feeling good about what you're doing."

The opponent is supposed to be the fourth- or fifth-place Pac-10
team. Whether No. 4 California (4-1) earns a Bowl Championship
Series berth will affect who the Irish play, as will USC's game
against UCLA. The Irish could face Arizona State (8-2), UCLA (6-4)
or Oregon State (6-5).

Minnesota:The Gophers will play in the Music City Bowl on
Dec. 31, Minnesota's third straight postseason appearance and
fifth in the last six years under coach Glen Mason.

It's not what they ultimately wanted, however, after starting
the season 5-0 and reaching as high as No. 13 in both major polls. They finished 6-5 overall, 3-5 and in eighth place in
the Big Ten.

Minnesota will play a Southeastern Conference opponent still to
be determined in Nashville, Tenn., at noon ET on ESPN. The Gophers
beat Arkansas 29-14 in the 2002 Music City Bowl.

"It's going to be a formidable opponent," athletic director
Joel Maturi said Sunday. "People are talking about Alabama,
they are talking about Florida. If it's either of those
programs, there's certainly storied tradition."

Memphis: The Tigers will accept an invitation to play
in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Dec. 22.

The university released a statement Sunday that said the Tigers
will sign a contract Monday with the GMAC Bowl.

Their opponent, a representative of the Mid-America Conference,
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.

It will be the second straight bowl appearance for the Tigers
(8-3, 5-3 Conference USA) following a 32-year drought. Last year,
Memphis beat North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles will face Sun Belt Conference champion North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl 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. It will be the
Golden Eagles' first trip to the New Orleans Bowl.

North Texas (7-4, 7-0) clinched its fourth consecutive Sun Belt
title and its fourth trip to the New Orleans Bowl on Nov. 13 with a
51-29 win over Idaho.

Alabama-Birmingham: The Blazers accepted an invitation to play in the Dec. 24 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, the
team's first-ever trip to a postseason bowl.

The announcement came after Saturday's 26-21 loss to Southern Mississippi.

UAB (7-4, 5-3 Conference USA), will meet an opponent still to be determined.

"This first bowl game for our program is special, not only for
our current players, but also for all the other guys from past
years who played a part in getting us started," coach/athletic director Watson Brown said in a statement.

The team, with intercollegiate play since 1991, has played at the Division I-A level only since 1996.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats were invited to
play in the Fort Worth Bowl, a day after losing 70-7 to Louisville (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today; No. 7 AP).

The bowl, played on Dec. 23, is one of five affiliated with
Conference USA. A Big 12 team normally would get the other
invitation, but the bowl-eligible schools have locked up bids
already.

Bowl officials are negotiating with the Atlantic Coast, Big East
and Mid-American conferences for another opponent.

Cincinnati (6-5) rallied from a 2-4 start to earn its fourth
bowl appearance in the last five seasons.