Monday, October 20, 2014
Congrats on the win Florida State. I believe that referees are there for a reason and part of their job is to call penalties. I also believe that if it is a penalty on the first play of the game, it is a penalty on the last play of the game. So I will not complain about the call.
However, here is what I do have a problem with. Spare me the the crap about "we know how to win." Acknowledge that you were very fortunate to get the victory. Was it a penalty? Yes. Would Robinson have scored if not for the pick? Not sure, but probably. I remember two years ago when we were lucky to dodge a missed field goal in OT to escape Pittsburgh. We weren't arrogantly saying "we know how to win." We were feeling fortunate to still be unbeaten. That is how Seminole fans should be looking at this.
Celebrate your win. Fine. 23 straight wins is a big deal. You are on pace to win a second straight National Title. But at the same time acknowledge that you are a bit lucky that your winning streak is still alive. Good luck the rest of the way. I hope you not only win the rest of your games, but I hope you blow everybody off the face of the earth. The reason is that I want a rematch in the playoffs. Nothing was settled in this one and deep down you guys know that.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Going into this game, I really did not know what to expect. Notre Dame was 6-0, but I like so many was still not sure how good this team is. Their signature wins were Michigan and Stanford. Michigan is horrible and the jury is still out on Stanford. Then last week North Carolina gave the Irish a scare. However, I have a feeling that that win will look better in the upcoming weeks. But the point is that there was real uncertainty as to how Notre Dame would match up against the elite teams in the nation.
Well, that question was answered by the end of the first quarter. Not only was this game on the road against the defending national champions, but it was probably the most hostile environment the Irish have seen in a long time. Often when Notre Dame is on the road or at a neutral site, the Irish fans are just as loud if not louder than the opposition. That was clearly not the case tonight. Before the game was the loudest tomahawk chop I have ever heard. But the Irish came out and were unphased by it.
They attacked the Seminoles and really dominated the line on both sides early. Notre Dame actually had a 17-10 halftime lead. Then the second half was back and forth. Notre Dame kept taking the lead, but Florida State kept answering it. It was not until the 4th quarter when the Seminoles took the lead at 31-27.
Then Notre Dame appeared to have come back late for the win when a touchdown got called back for offensive pass interference. It was a controversial ending and you hate to see a game get decided by a flag. But if it is a penalty, it is a penalty. By rule it was the correct call.
Although Notre Dame came up short, a lot of positives can come out of this one. This is the premier program in the country right now and the Irish dominated the line of scrimmage for much of the game. That is a much needed confidence boost for the offensive line.
Everett Golson was able to throw for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns. He did have two more interceptions but one was on an attempt to win the game and he did not fumble. His best receivers were Corey Robinson who caught 8 for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns and Will Fuller who caught 8 for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Tarean Folston had another big day with 120 yards rushing. He has established himself has the primary runner.
The primary concern I would have is that the defense looked solid in the first half but really wore down in the second half. They could not stop the Seminoles in the second half.
But even with a loss, I have a much more certain feeling about this team going forward. Notre Dame's playoff hopes are alive and well. In fact, once it was apparent that this game was going down to the wire, I thought to myself that the final score is somewhat irrelevant because both teams will be in the playoffs if they win out.
The reason why I am so certain of that is because of how the schedule is set up. After a bye, the Irish have their third neutral site game against traditional rival Navy. That is kind of a tune up game for 4 really tough games to finish it up. They have two road PAC 12 road trips to Arizona State and USC. Northwestern really has been up and down in the Big 10 and Louisville is no slouch as their last ACC opponent. The good thing about it is that the Navy game is first which means no more trap games.
For Florida State, they do not have a team on that schedule who will challenge them with the possible exception of Louisville.
What also helps is the fact that Baylor lost and is likely out of the picture due to a weak non-conference schedule. That will make it tough for the Big 12 to be represented because all the teams could end up with multiple losses. In the SEC the two Alabama schools and two Mississippi schools still have to play each other and will knock each other out. In the Big 10, Michigan State and Ohio State will cancel each other out when they play. Oregon could possibly get in if they win out but they still have a brutal PAC 12 schedule ahead.
Bottom line is that Notre Dame will make the playoffs still as long as they win out. So I really have just two things to say to Florida State and their fans. 1) Congratulations and great game. 2) I want a rematch.
Friday, October 17, 2014
It is just a day away. The game we have been talking about since Notre Dame's schedule game out. Two teams who have played in the last two BCS Title Games. Both have quarterbacks who know nothing but winning. Neither team has lost a regular season game with their current quarterbacks. Both teams have hard hitting defenses. But both teams have had their problems with the offensive line.
Turnovers for both offenses have been a problem in recent weeks as well. Although both teams are 6-0, there is still questions about how good either team is because at this point, neither has really played a tough schedule. Neither program can be faulted for that though.
Notre Dame Scheduled annual Big Ten rivals Michigan and Purdue. It is not the Irish's fault those teams aren't up to par this year. Florida State cannot help who is in their conference. They were not that impressive in their opener against Oklahoma State. But Oklahoma State is a legit program and has not lost since. Their only other notable game was Clemson. In that game, Jameis Winston was suspended. The Tigers were in position to win but self destructed. Florida State knows how to win. The following week they had a let down against North Carolina State. They were down 24-7 after one quarter before they put together a huge rally in the second half.
Getting back to the Irish, they had a similar situation after the Stanford game when North Carolina got a big lead in minutes before the Irish got going. So neither team is really been that battle tested this season. It is hard to say how good Clemson, Oklahoma State, and Stanford are at this point. We shall see how as the season plays out and how they do in their conferences.
To this point, they have had one common opponent is Syracuse and the score was very similar in both cases. Notre Dame won 31-15 while Florida State was 38-20. That is almost equal.
This is really a hard one to predict because there is still a lot that needs to be found out about both teams. This is really Notre Dame's first true road game. They only had two neutral field games up to this. It is also their first game on grass. That is an advantage for the Seminoles. But where Notre Dame will have an edge is that they will have a bigger chip on their shoulder.
Time for talk is done. Let's get it on.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
For weeks leading up to this game, I have heard from so many fellow Irish fans bashing Jameis Winston and Florida State and how they have handled him. They say, "If he were at Notre Dame he wouldn't make it." That may be true, but that doesn't mean we are right. Each school handles it's discipline it's own way and yes some are better than others.
But looking at all the incidents involving Winston, I am not sure I can blame Florida State or Jimbo Fisher for anything. Let's go case by case. First up was an alleged rape. That was a bunch of "he said/she said." Nothing was proven and no criminal charges were filed. Could the team have suspended him? Sure, but I don't think there is anything wrong with letting the legal system handle it and then determining appropriate action. Now, if it comes out that the school covered things up, that is a different story. But so far there is no evidence of that.
Next up, was when he went into a store and stole crab legs while trying to say he just forgot to pay for them. That was horrible, but that was during baseball season and he is on the baseball team. That means that at that time he was the responsibility of the baseball team. They suspended him for the rest of the season. So if I am Jimbo Fisher and the football team, I ask, "What do you want from us?"
Next was the really obscene gesture that took place during the week. Now if this was a stand alone incident, nobody would care. He did get suspended for the Clemson game which is a bigger game to them than Notre Dame. If they would have lost that game, the Seminoles would not play in the ACC Championship. The punishment fit the crime. One game was appropriate for that.
Now we have the autograph allegations. All we have is speculation at this point. If it comes out that he did take money, he will get the consequences coming to him. But I am going to give Florida State the benefit of the doubt right now. I am not sure I would have done anything different based on the facts that I have.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Everett Golson and Jameis Winston are two of the premier quarterbacks in all of college football. They both led their teams to the BCS Title game as Redshirt Freshmen. The obvious difference is that Winston finished the job. Both are winners. Neither has lost a regular season game as a starter.
Both have had their off the field troubles. Golson lost a whole year of eligibility due to cheating on a test. Winston has just trouble follow him everywhere. None of us know what happened with that girl, so it really is a bunch of he said/she said. But then he stole crab legs from a store and claimed he just forgot to pay for them. That action got him suspended from the baseball team the rest of the year. Then earlier this season, he got suspended a game for yelling a really obscene remark. Now he might be involved with signing autographs for money. So while both have had their troubles, it does appear that Golson has at least learned from his mistakes.
On the field their numbers this season are similar as well. Golson 1683 yards passing with 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in 6 games. Winston has 1605 yards with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 5 games. Where Golson has an edge on him is in the running game. He has 209 yards with 4 touchdowns while Winston has just 38 yards and 2 touchdowns. Of course, Winston has not fumbled 5 times the last 3 games.
But the thing that these two have in common above all else is that they both are at their best with the game on the line. That is a big reason why neither has tasted defeat in the regular season. That will obviously change for one of them this weekend. But neither will want it to be him. The drama is just crazy thinking about that.
Now I will talk about the game of the year. I am the type of person who refuses to put up a Christmas tree until the day after Thanksgiving. Along those same lines, I have been annoyed the past few weeks hearing all the talk about our game with Florida State. I deal with one game at a time. I refused to talk about Florida State until the final tick of the North Carolina game.
Now it is time to hype the crap out of it. For Notre Dame, this is in all sense a playoff game. I know it is only the half way point of the season, but whether or not the Irish ultimately make the playoffs will be greatly influenced by what happens in this game.
There are three scenarios that can happen after this game for the chances of Notre Dame making the playoffs.
Scenario #1-Irish Win
Notre Dame wins and they control their own destiny. A victory would certainly put the Irish in the top 4 and as long as they keep winning, they make the Final Four.
Scenario #2-Irish lose a close one
Looking at the schedule before the season, I thought that if there is one game Notre Dame can lose and still make the playoffs this is the one. They will still have two PAC 12 road trips to Arizona State and USC. Both are among the best in the conference. They also play Northwestern at home who is suddenly making some noise in the Big Ten. Louisville is their last ACC game and they are no slouch either. So there is still plenty of opportunity to impress the committee even with a loss.
But here is the thing. They have to at least be close to Florida State. By close, I mean within single digits. We will also have to get help and hope many of the Power five champs have multiple losses.
That is obviously a much less comfortable path.
Scenario #3-Irish get beat handedly
Bottom line is that if Notre Dame loses by two touchdowns or more, they are done. What they do the rest of the season will mean nothing in terms of making the playoffs.
Conversely, Florida State will not be impacted at all by this game in terms of them making the playoffs. Of course, they will come ready because everybody wants to beat Notre Dame. But still, it will have no impact on the selection process.
They are the reigning national champs. If they lose this game, they fall maybe to #5 or #6. That will not matter because SEC and Big 12 teams will knock each other out. The Seminoles will win the ACC and have a victory over Florida. Being that they already have a non-conference win over Oklahoma State, there is no way they get denied regardless of what the outcome of this game is.
This is huge game for both programs, but make no mistake of it. It is much bigger for the Irish in terms of making the playoffs.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
We were all afraid of North Carolina being a trap game. Whenever you are coming off an emotional win and you have the #1 team in the nation and defending champs on deck, it is so easy for a let down to occur. Top that with the fact that the team you are playing is actually better than their record indicates at least on offense anyway. Those are the kind of conditions in which upsets occur.
The way this game started, that is exactly what it would like. Everett Golson missed his first five passes. He also fumbled which set up an early touchdown. He also threw a pick six.
But right after that, North Carolina was put on their Tar Heels. Notre Dame scored touchdowns on four straight possessions. The Irish hung 50 points in all. Despite his continued problems with turnovers, Golson threw for 300 yards with three touchdowns. He also rushed for 71 yards.
Will Fuller had another big day receiving with with 7 catches for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has really established himself as the go to receiver.
But the offensive star of this game was Tarean Folston. Notre Dame hadn't been able to run the ball until today. Folston ran for 98 yards with 2 touchdowns. He was also a factor in the passing game as he caught 5 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. He had the hot legs today among the running backs so Coach Kelly stuck with him rather than rotate. That is the right thing to do and I hope it stays like that.
The defense had it's toughest day in surrendering 36 points. The quick movement by Notrh Carolina made it tough for the defense to get the signals and substitutions in. Also the short field on the turnovers did not help. Multi-threat quarterback Marquise Williams threw for 303 yards with two touchdowns.Williams was their leading runner as well with 132 yards and a touchdown. He even caught a touchdown from 23 yards.
In spite the struggles, Notre Dame got the win and became bowl eligible at 6-0. Although the bigger goals are still out there, becoming bowl is the first step in making the playoffs. Now it is time for the game we have all been waiting for as the Irish prepare to travel to Tallahassee. This one will be hyped all week and ESPN will be at the game for game day.