SOUTH BEND, Indiana (Ticker) -- Notre Dame had a week off to recover from its near disaster against Navy. The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish will be looking for a sharper effort Saturday when they host Rutgers in their final home game of the season.
Notre Dame (9-1), which has hardly resembled a top 10 team in its last two games, hopes to carry some momentum into next week's annual showdown against Southern California in which a BCS bowl berth could be on the line.
The Fighting Irish also would like to put their sudden turnover problems behind them.
In a 14-7 loss to Boston College on November 2, Notre Dame lost three of seven fumbles and committed five turnovers. In a 30-23 win over Navy the following week, the Fighting Irish lost three fumbles.
The Midshipmen led midway through the fourth quarter, but Carlyle Holiday engineered two late scoring drives as the Fighting Irish rallied for their 39th straight win over Navy.
On Saturday, Tyrone Willingham can become the winningest first-year coach in Notre Dame history. He has tied Terry Brennan (1954) and Ara Parseghian (1964) for most wins by a first-year Notre Dame mentor.
A victory also will enable the Fighting Irish to double last year's win output (5-6) and record their 14th 10-win season. Notre Dame last reached 10 wins in 1993, when it finished 11-1 and beat Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.
Rutgers (1-9) was in position to get its second of the season last week, but squandered a 14-point lead and suffered a 20-17 loss to Temple.
Rutgers has dropped six straight since beating Army, 44-0, for its only victory of the season on September 14.
On paper, the Scarlet Knights should be no problem for the Fighting Irish, but they have played a pair of ranked opponents tough.
They led Tennessee by a touchdown at halftime before falling, 35-14. In a 42-17 loss to top-ranked Miami three weeks ago, the Scarlet Knights led, 17-9, late in the third quarter before the Hurricanes erupted.
Notre Dame has won all three meetings with Rutgers by a combined score of 155-17.