FINALLY !! Irish Stun USC

by Wally

Several weeks ago, I stated that I would cease featuring a ND football article until the program turned it around and gave us something positive to ponder and write about.    That day has arrived.   It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t dominant, but Saturday’s win over rival Southern Cal was HUGE for a struggling program looking to get over the hump and overcome a season that was seriously in the ditch about 4 weeks ago.   Notre Dame played stout defense, found a power running game, somehow overcame several serious turnovers, and used a little luck o’ the Irish to beat the Trojans in the LA Coliseum by a 20-16 margin … AND END AN 8 GAME LOSING STREAK to the Trojans.   AMEN, brothers and sisters!!

So the Irish finished the regular season on a significant upswing by winning the final 3 games and finishing 7-5.    This is particularly noteworthy since good Novembers haven’t been seen in South Bend in about a decade.   Willingham and Weis’s teams typically cratered in November, so finishing strong this season is very encouraging.   Before the season, I predicted the Irish would indeed finish 7-5 with hope for something better.   That forecast was a bit more pessimistic than the average ND follower who was confident the Irish would go 8-4 with hopes for better.  9-3 was also a very popular prediction.    The main reason I wasn’t more optimistic is because ND would be breaking in a new quarterback.   As it turned out, they ended up breaking in TWO new QBs!!!   And along the way, they suffered through key mistakes or growing pains at this position.   Glaring QB mistakes were key causes in 3 of the 5 Irish defeats (Michigan, Michigan State and Tulsa).  Of course, there were glaring and unmistakable coaching errors to blame for those defeats as well.   And the two weaknesses appear to be inter-related, as huge QB errors often occured when Brian Kelly (no longer Smelly) put way tooooooo much faith in his inexperienced QBs which was certainly obvious and quite disturbing in losses to Michigan and Tulsa.   Although Freshman QB Tommy Rees almost singlehandedly cost the Irish a chance at winning the SoCal game with several turnovers  in Irish territory, the coaching staff’s employment of a power running game at critical junctures is cause for celebration.   And so is the late season resurgence of the defense, which quite honestly is bordering on becoming a dominant unit after their last 3 performances.

So in looking back at the regular season, Notre Dame at 7-5 could’ve easily been 9-3 with a little more luck and/or common sense … certainly the Michigan State and Tulsa losses were very winnable game and should’ve been won.   To a lesser extent, the Michigan game was winnable if one or two basic mistakes were avoided.   Losses to Stanford and Navy were just flat out trainwrecks and well-deserved.   On the flip side, of ND’s 7 wins, only one … yesterday’s conquest of USC … was fairly lucky (dropped USC passes at the end).   However, ND overcame several key mistakes by Rees in the game, played GREAT defense 90% of the time and ran the ball down USC’s throat when they had to.    No apologies for this win.

What’s next for the Irish?    Well, there are several bowls wanting to attract ND, especially after yesterday’s win.   It appears as though they’ll be headed to the Dec 28 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando … opponent and final details TBA.   But those details aren’t nearly as important as the fact that the Irish have positive momentum, are allowed to practice for a few more weeks, and can stay somewhat in the spotlight for recruiting purposes.   IT’S ALL GOOD.   And thank goodness we’ve exorcised that USC demon after 8 loooooong seasons!


Other notable happenings in CFB this weekend:

— Boise State’s loss was very disappointing to those of us rooting for the underdog to upset the BCS apple cart(el).   It ended a 24 game winning streak and put BSU in possibly the Humanitarian Bowl instead of a likely date in the Rose Bowl  … had they beat Nevada.   But what the loss points out is that any team can have a bad half of football and some bad luck to lose to a worthy opponent, especially on the road.    I’M STILL INSISTING THAT THE LAST SECOND REGULATION FIELD GOAL WAS GOOD.   Somebody prove me wrong … got video?    Well … it was a fun run … hopefully TCU does a good job carrying the torch for the little guys.   Hope they get a crack at the title game … Auburn still looks somewhat vulnerable.

— Michigan lost … AND THEY LOST HUGE!!!   (Have I mentioned my disdain for the Skunkbears before 😉   Not only were they road kill … they were steamrolled by their biggest rival, Ohio State.   Folks are very unhappy in Ann Arbor … and the more unhappy they are, the more I enjoy college football.

— LSU and the Mad Hatter, Les Miles, turned back into pumpkins Saturday with a second loss … this one to Arkansas, as Wally predicted.   Life is gooooooooood.

— Anyone catch the wild end of the Bedlam game … Oklahoma at OK State???    Told ya the Cowboys had a very suspect defense … Sooners capitalized and won a barnburner 47-41.   There were like 35 points scored in the final 5 minutes or something like that.      It appears as though Oklahoma will represent the Big 12 South in the conference championship game.   Looks like Texas A&M is getting screwed a bit as they recently beat the Sooners and are the hottest team in the conference … but tie-breakers are tie-breakers.   We’ll see.   But great turnaround for A&M and looks like they may get the Cotton Bowl bid.

—  Looks like either Stanford or Wisconsin will move into the #4 BCS slot behind TCU.   Hard to argue that these two aren’t the best one-loss teams.   I’d give a slight edge to Stanford … their body of work slightly more impressive than Bucky’s.    Idiot of the Week award goes to Mr Gee from Ohio State who looks like a total buffoon after disparaging remarks against the non-AQ conferences and self-serving to his own interests.   MORON!

— Auburn has taken LSU’s place as the “team that somehow gets it done” although they haven’t been doing it almost purely with luck as LSU has.   Auburn is very, very good but obviously driven by two players … Cam Newton on offense and Fairley on defense.    They fell behind 24-0 at one point in second quarter and were down 24-7 at half at Alabama.   Shoulda been about 34-7 if Bama were a bit more competent.    Somehow, Auburn prevailed 28-27 after Bama simply and inexplicably collapsed in 2nd half.    Will Steve Spurrier and SCarolina pull the rug from under Auburn’s feet in the SEC title game???   We’ll see.

HAVE A GREAT WEEK.    Please chime in with your thoughts on Notre Dame or CFB in general.

21 Responses to "FINALLY !! Irish Stun USC"

  1. Crossword Pete   November 28, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Glad you have finally come around, my good man! What pleased me most about yesterday was that the Irish survived a very poor day by Rees to still pull out the win. When predictions were put out there I overly optimistically said 11-1 (hoping for better). As I look back, I believe I was not far off. 4 of the losses could easily have been wins – Mich, MSU, Tulsa and … Navy. Only Stanford was truly better than ND on this year’s schedule. I am looking for big things next year. I am also looking for Crash’s current license plate so I can “nudge” it. GO IRISH!

  2. Chas   November 29, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Now I’ve heard everything:

    I’ve also heard that Boise St. is currently in negotiations to join the SEC.

  3. Wally   November 29, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Chas —
    You are kidding about the Boise State to SEC comment, right? That will never happen. They’re already slated to join the Mountain West with other WAC defectors Nevada and Fresno State.

  4. Chas   November 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Yeah, that was a joke, Wally. A team from Texas in the Big East would be slightly less ridiculous than a team from the Northwest in the Southeastern Conference.

  5. Wally   November 29, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Use the link below to take a look at the Boise State – Nevada video (last several plays). Tell me if you think the first field goal in regulation was good or not. I have played this back and forth 20 times, and it actually looks to me that the ball was solidly between the goal posts by at least 1 yard and maybe 2 yards when it went over the crossbar. Seriously. BSU was robbed !!!

  6. Chas   November 29, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Would love to see a better replay than that, and of course, the depth and angle of the view make it difficult to judge…but, based on years of watching hundreds of similar replays (and I’m sure the rest of you might say thousands), I think the kick looks like it was probably good.

  7. Crossword Pete   November 29, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Wally, I wish I could confirm your feeling (or maybe better that I can’t) but I have watched that replay numerous times and I still walk away unsure. I wish there was another angle, but I have yet to see one other than that. I know BSU was special to you, but I am still hoping for TCU to make it to the championship game, or at least play one of the top ranked AQ schools – maybe Wisc in Rose – to put to rest once and for all the mid-major bias. A TCU victory in such a bowl would be a vicarious win for BSU, given last year’s bowl victory by them over TCU. The only “good news” in BSU’s loss is that the BCS can’t once again match 2 mid-majors, thus leaving the issue of how they would fare against “big boys” still hanging.

  8. Wally   November 29, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Usually, the net is stationed a solid 10 yards behind the goalposts in most stadiums … we don’t know for sure where it is in this case … but if it is 10 yards at Nevada, that kick was almost certainly good and it wasn’t even close to being not good. (Meaning it was a solid yard+ within the goal posts).

    I’m over BSU losing … I’m just disappointed at the NCAA’s lack of quality control in this instance. They review tons of other judgment calls ad nauseum, but never batted an eyelash over this one. Heck, they spent 3-4 mins reviewing the long catch that immediately preceded the kick. They often spend several minutes reviewing whether potential TD runs to see if the ball crossed the plane of the goal line. With several millions of dollars and reputations and livelihoods at stake, why not pause to make sure you have this call right? I’m 99.9% certain they got it wrong. Poor Brotzman.

  9. Crash   November 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Clearly you are not over Boise’s loss…I didn’t see the game Friday night I was watching Sarah Palin’s Alaska on TLC…You lived in Alaska right ? Did you ever meet Sarah Palin ? Man what a hottie ! Anyway, I watched the replay several times and both Brotzman attempts were missed…1 shanked and 1 pulled…
    Sorry…Besides no one on the field disputed either kick nor did Brent Hamburger or Kirk Herbstreit say anything after both attempts…Obviously the 80,000 Nevada fans wouldn’t have said anything but someone on thye BSU sideline would have gone balistic if they thought they were robbed and I didn’t see that happen…Just a major choke job by a 20 year old kid ! I’d love to see Boise join the Pac 10…What’s their SOS this season anyway ?

  10. Anthony   November 29, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Good win for the Irish! We can finally lift the family ban on them. I agree with you about Boise St and the lack of proper review, as most calls that are even the slightest bit questionable are reviewed to death; the biggest shame is that we will never know the actual outcome because of the lack of other camera angles. Oh well…as a student of this fine institution, I think a trip to the humanitarian bowl would be best suited to give the seniors a great send-off. in front of the home crowd.

  11. Boog   November 29, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    The Tulsa loss was just what they needed. They might not lose another game for a long time. I still don’t think Rees or Crist are the answer for this offense, but for the first time in a long time, all the players are playing as a team.
    Boise St. needed this ref.
    Even with the view under the goal, I still think it was good, regardless of what the announcer says.

  12. Wally   November 30, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Boog —
    I wouldn’t write off either QB yet, particularly Rees. Just a year ago he was quarterbacking Lake Forest HS or something like that. Just a “true freshman” (I hate that term) and the USC game was what … his 3rd start? On the road against a quality opponent in a really important game. He’s made a lot of “freshman mistakes” … just like Crist … but he REALLY is a frosh. But he’s also done some pretty good things and has at times exhibited pretty good touch on the ball and seems to know where receivers should be. Think about what he might’ve done this year if ALL the receivers were healthy … Rudolph, Riddick, et al. It should be a good competition for the starting job in 2011 … I think there are also some other decent freshman QBs currently on the roster as well. Anxious to see if Rees can eliminate mistakes and improve over next 4 weeks leading into the bowl game.

  13. Wally   November 30, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Crash —
    I actually have met Sarah Palin in person … and concur with your assessment on “that aspect”, but I have severe reservations about “the intangibles”. Hopefully most Americans realize, like I do, that she is ill-equipped to lead the nation, let alone Alaska … quite possibly the easiest state in the union to manage. Eye candy … yes. Leader of the free world … NO!

    Anthony —
    Have you read anything or heard if Chris Peterson was asked about the end of regulation field goal? Did he think of asking for a replay appeal to the ref up in the booth? Has he commented on it afterwards? Do tell, Mr. Bronco.

  14. Anthony   November 30, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    No information or comments from Coach Pete on the blown field goal, then again he is never one to complain about calls or point his finger on one person. His sentiments have been similar to the players who all say the fault falls on the entire team. Although I will speak for students and fans around here who still question it. Seems odd no review was taken by Coach Pete or the replay officials.

  15. Crossword Pete   December 1, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Peterson is a good coach, and good coaches usually think that “when we win, it’s the players and when we lose, it’s the coach.” Peterson is probably blaming himself for even letting the game get that close, and for not asking for a review (is that a reviewable play? Penalties aren’t.) He probably will not blame players in anyway, even though they have a “team” attitude.

  16. Crossword Pete   December 1, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Palin will get my vote in a pageant, but never in an election.

  17. Crossword Pete   December 1, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I was just wondering if Palin has thought ahead to making it to Washington. If she was there 1) what would she be keeping an eye on, Maryland? Virginia? and 2) who would be keeping an eye on Russia (Siberia, i.e.)? Maybe she should re-think this presidency aspiration! Maybe she should enter the Mrs. America pageant instead. I’ve already pledged my vote for her in that one! Oh, and 3) what would she hunt and fish for in DC?

  18. Wally   December 1, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Palin could hunt down Democrats in DC !!! I’d support that. 😉

    And she could fish for correct and informed answers to those “tricky questions” that very often trip her up.

  19. Chas   December 1, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Let’s not get political here, guys. Casey might have to get an NC-17 rating for the site if we do. 😉

  20. Crossword Pete   December 1, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Just “broad”ening our horizons. No political agenda intended on my part!

  21. Wally   December 1, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Crash opened the door … I simply walked through (gladly) 🙂

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