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IrishCentral caught up with Notre Dame’s mascot, leprechaun Dan Collins, on the eve of a crunch game for the Fighting Irish against Michigan State.

Collins, who is now entering his third game as mascot, is in fighting spirit despite last week’s setback, and was readying himself for a huge pre-game rally Friday night on campus when IrishCentral caught up with him.

“Last week was obviously a tough one to take, but you don’t see any of us hanging our heads. This week we are definitely determined to make a statement here at home to show everyone that we can bounce back from that.

“Tonight at the rally, we are going to let all the students know that we are going to come out in full force behind the team.

“From what I have heard, the team has this energy and dedication with them that will help them bounce back, and we are all feeling good about tomorrow.”

If the team needed any further motivation to get up for the game, then they will receive it tonight at the rally.

“At tonight’s rally we will be honoring the 1949 National Championship team and our team is going to be here and it is going to be open to all the students and fans on campus.”

As for Dan himself, he is taking the job of mascot in his stride .

“There is definitely high stress but there is also high energy. It is incredible to be down on the field in that environment,” said Collins as the college band marched by his room.

“Being down there with the band and everything, it’s just all energy. It is pretty exhausting afterwards, but it is an amazing experience when you are down there.”

Though gutted to be on the losing side last week, Collins is trying to harness that feeling to fuel motivation for this weekend’s challenge.

Ever the perfectionist,  he has even noticed a few things he can do at game day in South Bend to improve his own performance.

“I could maybe get around more to fans more and get the entire stadium involved. I stuck close to the student’s section mostly last stadium, but hopefully we can get our entire crowd into it this game.”

Collins is in no doubt as to where the best place is to be for a football game.

“With one home game and on away game behind me, I can definitely say that the mystique and the energy at Notre Dame Stadium is unlike anything else. The Big House was huge and it was a hostile environment, but it still could not compare to what we have going on at Notre Dame Stadium.”

The tension and excitement that is building up at South Bend ahead of tomorrow’s game is almost unbearable. One gets the feeling that every man, woman and child that is an Irish fan would suit up in order to get the win tomorrow, even the lads from the 1949 team!

“Everyone on campus is getting ready. It is a make or break game for us and we are all excited to set the season off on the right course, right here, right now.”