The pressure of coaching the nation's No. 1 team is getting to Notre Dame's Lou Holtz.

"I am tired," Holtz said. "The pressure mounts every game, every year. There's pressure because there isn't any letup. It's not from the administration. I don't talk to anybody on the phone or read the mail. I just can feel it. Nobody cares how rocky the sea is. Just bring the ship in."With a national title two years ago and another possible this season, Holtz has rivaled such Irish coaching greats as Ara Parseghian and Frank Leahy, who each coached 11 Irish teams.

"I wouldn't make 11 years," Holtz said. "Leahy went to war (as a Navy officer in World War II). ... That would be a welcome relief."

Holtz vows he will remain at Notre Dame if the school wants him after his contract expires this season.

The Irish, 8-1, are home against No. 14 Penn State and visit No. 19 Southern Cal next week. Victories in both games should make an expected Orange Bowl showdown with No. 2 Colorado a battle for the national title.

Penn State, 7-2 and headed for the Blockbuster Bowl, has the nation's No. 2 defense and a seven-game win streak, its longest since an undefeated 1986 national championship season.

"I don't know if we're physically capable of matching up with the Irish," Penn State Coach Joe Paterno said. "Notre Dame is by far the fastest team we play. They have a great team. They could take the ball and move up and down the field on us. I hope they don't but it's a distinct possibility.

"They don't fumble the ball and they have the best return guy maybe who ever played (Raghib Ismail). We have to play as well as we can and hope we keep Ismail to reasonable numbers. We have to play everything well, maybe play better than we're capable of playing."

The Orange Bowl will invite Colorado regardless of how the Buffaloes, 9-1-1, end their season today against Kansas State. The Wildcats, 5-5, have more victories this year than in their past four seasons combined.

Two Southeastern Conference games today will play a major role in deciding who faces No. 3 Miami in the Sugar Bowl. No. 11 Mississippi, 8-1, plays No. 13 Tennessee, 5-2-2, while No. 21 Auburn is home against Georgia. Ole Miss leads the race for New Orleans with a 4-1 league mark, a half-game ahead of Auburn, and the Rebels have only SEC doormat Mississippi State on their schedule after the Volunteers. SEC runners-up are set for Fiesta, Gator and Peach bowl bids as consolation prizes.

No. 5 Georgia Tech, the nation's only unbeaten team at 8-0-1, can clinch the Atlantic Coast Conference crown and a Citrus Bowl bid with a victory at Wake Forest. A loss, combined with a victory by No. 7 Virginia over Maryland, would give the Cavaliers the ACC title. No. 9 Nebraska, 9-1 and bound for the Citrus Bowl, ends its season against arch-rival Oklahoma.

No. 4 Brigham Young, 8-1, the Western Athletic Conference leader, visits Utah and No. 6 Texas, 6-1, can remain atop the Cotton Bowl chase with a Southwest Conference triumph at Texas Christian. No. 3 Miami plays Boston College and No. 10 Florida State, set to meet Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl, plays Memphis State.

No. 8 Washington, already assured the Pacific-10 title and a Rose Bowl bid, travels to Washington State while No. 12 Iowa tries to remain ahead in the Big Ten race with a victory over Purdue. No. 18 Ohio State, a half-game behind the Hawkeyes, plays league doormat Wiscosnin.

No. 16 Michigan, No. 21 Michigan State and No. 23 Illinois and Minnesota have slim Rose Bowl hopes, but other postseason action is more likely. The Wolverines are home against Minnesota, Michigan State is at Northwestern and the Illini visit Indiana. The Hoosiers need to win one of their last two games to reach the Peach Bowl.

Other games involving ranked teams find bowl longshot South Carolina, 5-4, at No. 15 Clemson, which is set to face Illinois in the Hall of Fame Bowl; UCLA at No. 19 Southern Cal, Michigan State's scheduled foe in the Hancock Bowl; Stanford at No. 25 California, which will meet Wyoming in the Copper Bowl; Arkansas at No. 20 Texas A&M and San Jose State at No. 23 Fresno State, with the winner taking the Big West title and a Raisin Bowl berth against Central Michigan.

Other games with bowl implications find Air Force, 5-5, trying to win a Liberty Bowl bid at Texas-El Paso; Syracuse, 5-3-2, needing to beat West Virginia to secure a spot in the Aloha Bowl; and Louisiana State, 4-5, trying to impress Independence Bowl scouts by beating Mississippi State.