Monday, December 31, 2012

USC Can Get Some Redemption in Sun Bowl

For Notre Dame fans, nothing is sweeter than being able to play for a championship but first for icing an appetizer, USC will be playing later today in the Sun Bowl against a 6-7 team in Georgia Tech. For a team that was ranked the preseason #1, this just might be the biggest disappointment ever. Irish fans are loving this icing on the cake.

How the Trojans will perform in this game will be interesting to see. Of course they are disappointed for being there and even more so that Matt Barkley is still hurt and can't play. They just might lose to an average ACC team. That would be beyond pathetic. While Irish fans would love to see that happen, if USC performs like they are capable of it will be a long day in El Paso for the Yellow Jackets.

To be honest, it might actually be a good thing for USC that Barkley isn't playing. Regardless of how he would have performed, he is gone. By playing a redshirt freshman, it actually provides the Trojans a point in playing this game. He will be the quarterback next year and a strong performance in a bowl game will give him confidence and the team will have confidence in him.

While Irish fans would love to see the Trojans have yet another disappointing loss, the reality is that it is still a great offense that Georgia Tech will have a hard time defending. It will probably be a small redemption for USC, but it still will be considered a disaster of a season. The only bad thing is that that could make them dangerous next year. That is why a strong performance for them is so important.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Former Notre Dame Receiver On Display in Holiday Bowl

About four years ago, Shaquille Evans came to South Bend from Los Angelos. He came in as a freshman to a team that was already stacked at wide receiver with Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. Therefore, as a freshman he did not play very much but there was always something about him that made me think he could be a great receiver.

But unfortunately, if he were to have stayed at Notre Dame he would have had to wait for Tate and Floyd to be gone. I am sure that was a factor is his decision to transfer to his hometown school UCLA. Although I was sad to see him leave South Bend, I am happy to see him become a star in his junior season.

He is the Bruins leading receiver with 53 catches for 795 yards. He is one player who will be on display Thursday night in the Holiday Bowl against Baylor. We wish him good luck and hope that it is a springboard for a great senior season at UCLA.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How a Blocked Punt Helped Brian Kelly Win AP Coach Of the Year

Earlier this week, it came as no surprise that Brian Kelly was named AP Coach of the Year. Thinking about the great season he had this year with Notre Dame, you can't help but think about some of the growing pains his first two years.

The first season got off to a disastrous 1-3 start including heartbreaking losses to both Michigan rivals. It was due to the fact that players who were recruited by Charlie Weis were adjusting to the new system. The primary adjustment had to come from Dayne Crist who was more of a prototypical fit for a pro style offense that Weis had.

Crist struggled early but was able to lead the team to a 3 game win streak before getting embarrassed at Navy. He was lost the following week for the year in a loss against Tulsa.

With the team now at 4-5 and having to turn to unproven freshman Tommy Rees, things were looking bleak for Irish fans. A 4-8 season was looking like a reality and there was questions as to whether the stage at Notre Dame was too big for Kelly being that his prior success was at smaller schools (Grand Valley State, Central Michigan, and Cincinnati). He also was blamed by some for the death of student camera man Declan  Sullivan.

It was a long two week bye before have to face a Utah team that was ranked in the top 15. The Irish hadn't beaten a ranked team in years. When the game started it looked as though the Utes would dominate in the first quarter and the stadium was very quiet.

That was until there was one play that changed Notre Dame's season and the perception of where the program was headed. Junior corner back Robert Blanton blocked a punt and took it in for a touchdown.

From that point on, the environment became much more alive. It was that play that sparked the team to a 28-3 victory. The momentum carried on for the rest of the season as the team won it's remaining games with young Rees. That included wins against USC and Miami in the Sun Bowl.

The future now looked bright for Notre Dame as they went into the off season with a renewed confidence. Year two under Coach Kelly looked to be promising. He just had to decide between Crist and Rees. Although Crist was his choice, he was pulled after one half of ineffectiveness. Ress came in and rallied the team to a near come back, but too many turnovers could not be overcome. The next week was more of the same against Michigan.

So there were the Irish who dominated two opponents but still were 0-2 because of turnovers. The team was still confident though and turned that around with an impressive four game winning streak. Then arch rival USC came into South Bend and dominated. Once again, questions about Kelly surfaced and he made a mistake that no coach should ever make.

He made a statement about how the players he recruited were still young. That offended some of the older players including Manti Te'o. The team did meet and work it out. They went on another four game winning streak before running into a Stanford team that outmatched them. More turnovers haunted them against Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.

After two 8-5 seasons, critics were questioning how much progress was being made but those who watched could see it despite the same record.

Next came an off season we would all like to forget. An arrest involving Rees was the lowlight and Cierre Wood was also suspended for off the field conduct. The suspension Rees got cost him a starting job.

That makes the job Kelly did even more impressive. To me, it all goes back to that blocked punt. That is really what got the players believing in the new system and gave them confidence. They kept that confidence through all the turmoil of turnovers, Kelly's slip of the tongue, and the off season discipline issues.

Congratulations to Coach Kelly and thanks to Robert Blanton for that fateful play. Blanton is now a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings. We wish him well there.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Special Teams Need To Be Addressed For Title Game and Beyond

With the Title game getting closer and closer with every day, Irish fans think about the match up every day. Of course, a lot of the focus is the Notre Dame front against the Alabama line and running attack. The Irish offense led by Everett Golson also is focused on. One are that has really gone ignored is the Irish special teams.

Anybody who follows football regularly knows that in a big game, it is often a big play on special teams that makes the difference between winning and losing. Unfortunately, this is really the one area for Notre Dame that is cause for concern not only for the title game, but next season as well.

Let's start with sophomore kicker Kyle Brindza. Although his leg is powerful, his inconsistency has been a problem all year. The last game against USC was a career night for him as he went 5 for 6 including a 52 yarder to end the first half. He also nailed a 47 yarder against Michigan and a 46 yarder against Oklahoma. So why then is he a concern when he made all these big kicks?

It is because he is 23 for 31 on the year meaning that he missed eight kicks. What concerns me about the misses is that four of them came from inside 40 yards. He even missed an extra point against Pittsburgh which would have cost them the game had Golson not been able to convert a two point conversion on the next touchdown.

Here he have a kicker making the long kicks and missing the shorter ones. That is a concern. To his credit, he has made all of his kicks in overtime and with the game on the line. But still, I would rather have a guy who makes the shorter kicks and misses the longer ones any day. At least we know what to expect then. Hopefully, Brindza can fix this accuracy and consistency problem.

Another area of special teams that has been a concern has been the return game. As a freshman George Atkinson returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, but he had none his sophomore season. To be fair, when you have a defense as dominant as Notre Dame's you won't get too many opportunities to return kicks. Therefore, I am not all concerned about kickoff returns but punt returns have been a disaster.

Freshman Davonte' Neal has done absolutely nothing returning punts. His total yards for the year was 50 and his longest return was 11 yards against Navy. This is clearly an issue as the punt return can make a huge difference in field position. I am not sure if the problem is Neal or those who create the wall, but this has to be addressed not only for the big game but for the future as well.

The area of special teams that has been solid is the kick off and punt coverage. They have not allowed any big returns or any touchdowns all year. Ben Turk has done a nice job punting all year with a 40.6 average. However, he has not placed one inside the 20.

The bottom line is that special teams can be the difference in winning or losing. Historically, that has been especially true in games that have been between tow powerhouses. While neither the offense nor the defense are causes for concern, this is a huge concern for Notre Dame's National Championship chances.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Notre Dame's Offense is Key vs Alabama

So much national attention has gone to Notre Dame's defense. It is funny how when the season began, the perception of Notre Dame was that they had a great defensive front but nobody was sure of the rest of the team. Then when they opened by giving up 192 yards to Navy, the critics said that the secondary is a weakness to the defense. They ignored the fact that when you face Navy, you gear to stop the option. As the weeks passed and one opponent after another failed to capitalize on the supposed weak secondary, the perception changed.

Now it was that they were a great defense but the offense was not good enough. That was honestly a fair criticism as the offense did struggle early under the leadership of Freshman Everett Golson. Then when Tommy Rees would consistently come in and save the day, it only added to the doubters fuel.

The solid running game was often overlooked. Most college football fans probably don't even know that the Fighting Irish had two runners over 700 yards in Theo Riddick (880) and Cierre Wood (740). Golson also pitched in with 305 yards and George Atkinson had 365 yards. The team had 22 rushing touchdowns altogether.

As the year progressed, so did Golson and his confidence. He finished with 2135 yards and 11 touchdowns his first year as a starter. While those numbers don't blow you away, his game by game stats show clear improvement as the year went on.

Golson's low point was his game against Michigan when he threw for just 38 yards and 2 interceptions before being replaced by Rees. Then a couple games later he was knocked out of the game against Stanford. At that point, Golson only had 968 yards passing for a very mediocre average of 161 per game. He also only had 4 touchdown passes at that point.

Golson missed the BYU game with a concussion only to hear fans talk about how Rees was better until Rees had a mediocre game with less than 200 yards passing and only 1 touchdown.

From that point starting at Oklahoma through USC, Golson threw for 1167 yards with an average of 233 and 7 touchdowns in those games. Watching the week to week growth of Golson was one of the more enjoyable aspects of the season.

Golson's primary weapon was record breaking tight end Tyler Eifert with 44 catches for 624 yards and 4 touchdowns. Junior receiver TJ Jones also emerged as a primary weapon finishing with 43 catches and 559 yards with 4 touchdowns. Veterans John Goodman and Robbie Toma may not have put up big numbers but it seemed as though all of their catches were in big spots.

The Fighting Irish went from being a great front to a great defense to a great team to #1.

While all the focus is on Notre Dame's defense, how well this offense plays is what really could make the difference.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What's Next For Tommy Rees?

Tommy Rees' career at Notre Dame has been one that has really been up and down. He never really been fully appreciated by the fans for his contributions, but the players and coaches know his value.
Here is a guy who started the last four games his freshman year and he won them. The team started 4-5 that year, but when Rees took over the team really turned it around. The defense and running game were huge factors and Rees did rely heavily on Michael Floyd. But still, he was good enough to win.
Then as a sophomore, he was in the battle with Dayne Crist for the starting job. Rees did lose it initially, but Brian Kelly realized at halftime of the first game that he made the wrong choice. In spite, of leading the team to a 12-4 record as a starter, Irish fans would never embrace Rees. They were quick to point out his turnovers and lack of speed and arm strength.
Then when Rees made the terrible mistake in the off season that got him and Carlo Calabrese arrested, fans were ready to hang Rees. They had been calling for Everett Golson to start for a long time and they would finally see him play.
It was the right time to go with Golson who has a much better skill set, especially for Kelly's system than Rees does. However, Kelly knew the value of having Rees with Golson being so young. He knew that he could turn to Rees if Golson would falter in a game.
The first time we saw Rees in his new role was against Purdue where he was welcomed with nothing but boos. That didn't stop Rees from moving the team down the field for the winning field goal.
A couple weeks later Golson was really struggling against Michigan and Rees replaced him in the second quarter. Rees was able to lead the offense to two field goals and a touchdown which was enough for a 13-6 victory.
Rees was needed again late in the Stanford game when Golson went down with a concussion. He came off the bench and was 4 for 4 leading the team to a game tying field goal and ultimately hitting TJ Jones in the end zone.
Rees started the next game against BYU because of Golson's injury. The funny thing was that some fans were starting to appreciate Rees and calling for him to start. Unfortunately, for Rees he was mediocre that day completing only 7 of 16 for 117 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. That brought the Rees haters back out calling him a joke. They completely ignored the fact the Irish did win the game and his earlier contributions.
After that game, Golson really started to develop as a starter. Therefore, Rees was needed a lot less regularly. However, that doesn't mean he didn't still contibute in a big way. I thought the most impressive thing he did all year was to come in against Oklahoma on a third and long and hit Tyler Eifert for a first down. He may have only played one play, but it was a big play as it led to a field goal that gave the team a 10 point lead.
A similar situation happened a couple weeks later at Boston College when Golson was having equipment problems.
Although to be a back up, Rees showed how important the role is as he was called on in many different circumstances this season. His playing time may not have been much but his contribution was.
It will be interesting to see what Rees decides to do after the BCS title game with one year of eligibility left. Will he return to South Bend and continue to back up Golson? Or might he consider going to an FCS team where he won't have to sit out a year? Of course, we would love to have him back but I will root for him no matter where he is.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Congratulations to Johnny Manziel, But Manti Te'o Is Still The Man

Manti Te'o has followed his remarkable season with a remarkable postseason winning five awards(Butkus, Lombardi, Nagurski, Bednarik, and Maxwell). Te'o was also a finalist for the Heisman which is an award that usually goes to a quarterback and has never gone to a defense only player. Charles Woodson did win but he played offense and special teams as well for Michigan.

Although Te'o did come up short in winning the Heisman to Johnny Manziel of Texas A + M, he did make history with the award. He got the most first place votes (321) and most points (1,706) ever by a defense only player.

Manziel also made history as well being the first freshman to win the award. Te'o was the guy we wanted to win, but Manziel did have stats that were just too good to ignore. He threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns. Those numbers are better than Cam Newton's and Tim Tebow's and to do that as a freshman was just flat out too impressive to ignore.

Not only that, but also his victory over Alabama pretty much made him the frontrunner.

Te'o did make it close and although Collin Klein of Kansas State was invited to the party, the contest was really only between two players.

All three players deserve to be congratulated, Good Luck to Klein in the Fiesta Bowl and to Manziel in the Cotton Bowl. Te'o will be busy in Miami fighting for the title that matters most.

Army-Navy Set To Officially End the College Football Regular Season

Notre Dame has always been known for it's association with the Service Academies. Army and Navy both have a storied history with Notre Dame. Army and Notre Dame used to be a big game that was played at Yankee Stadium. It was fun to bring that back a couple years ago in the Shamrock Series.

We all know about how Navy helped Notre Dame survive financially during World War II by creating a training center on campus. To celebrate that, they play each other every year. That has gone uninterruputed unlike other Notre Dame rivals. This season, it was fun to kick off the college football season in Ireland with this rivalry. I hope that can become more regular.

That is one reason I like watching this game. Both schools are connected to Notre Dame. The other is out of respect for the troops. Those guys risk their lives every day so I can write a blog and others can argue with me about it.

Often times it is argued what is the greatest college football rivalry. Is it Alabama-Auburn, Notre Dame-USC, Michigan-USC, Florida-Florida State, etc. Make no mistake of it, Army-Navy is as big of rivaly as any of those. It may not get the national attention, but it means just as much to these players.

Navy has dominated this game for a decade as Army has not won since 2002. But a good rivalry does not die because of being one sided. Notre Dame and USC has gone through one sidedness for both teams, but the rivalry stays strong.

This year the game features a 7-4 Navy team against a 2-9 Army team. Therefore, you would think that Navy will continue the dominance. However like so many other rivals, throw the records away when these two teams play.

Could Butch Jones Going to Tennessee Open the Door for Bob Diaco at Cincinnati?

Ordinarily, a coaching move involving Cincinnati and Tennessee would be of little or no interest to Notre Dame. But given the history of Brian Kelly and Butch Jones, this could ultimately cost the Fighting Irish the best assistant coach in the country in Bob Diaco. I know Irish fans don't want to lose Diaco and I don't either. But the reality is that he is gone. You don't have the kind of year he had and not get a head coaching job.

Whether he is ready to be a head coach or not is irrelevant. His stock is high now. Therefore, all we can do is hope he lands the job that is right for him. Now that the Cincinnati job is open, that looks like the perfect job for him. Diaco was with Kelly at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati.

Ironically, it was Jones who followed Kelly at both of those schools. Jones is a coach that runs a similar style to that of Kelly. I am not sure if they ever coached on the same staff, but they are definitely from the same "football school."

Diaco is from that school as well. Being that he has a history at Cincinnati, it would only be logical to think that he would be on their short list. The Bearcats have hired two straight established head coaches who used the school as a stepping stone for better opportunities. While you can't fault Kelly or Jones for doing that, Cincinnati might want a guy that will be there longer and a first time head coach would likely do that.

For those reasons and as much as it hurts to lose him, Bob Diaco to Cincinnati just flat out makes sense.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Big Night For Notre Dame at the Home Depot Awards.

If a 12-0 season wasn't enough already, Notre Dame continued it's memorable season by winning five awards and having Ara Parseghian honored. Three awards went to Manti Te'o who as David Pollack said, "seems to win everything." Adding to his collection, on Thursday Te'o won the Maxwell, Bednarik, and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards. That is on top of already winning the Butkus award earlier in the week. He will likely also win the Lott award and possibly the big one in the Heisman.

Te'o was not alone though. Tyler Eifert won the John Mackey award for best Tight End. Brian Kelly won the coach of the year. This was is his first time with Notre Dame but he won it three years ago with Cincinnati. It should also be mentioned that Mike Golic was named to the Allstate Good works team and earlier in the week Bob Diaco won an award for being the nations top assistant coach.

Hopefully on Saturday, the awards keep coming for Notre Dame.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Why Manti Te'o Deserves the Heisman Over Johnny Manziel and Collin Klien

While the primary concern for Notre Dame is winning the National Championship on January 7, there is still hope that Manti Te'o wins the Heisman on Saturday. There is no doubt the impact he has had on the team this season. He has proven to be a threat against both the run and the pass as he has 103 tackles and 7 interceptions. But aside from those amazing stats, his greatest asset to this team is his leadership. Looking at how dominant this defense was, there is no doubt who the leader of it was.

The defense really had to carry the load the first few weeks of the season while the offense was finding itself under the direction of red shirt freshman Everett Golson. Te'o was more than just a great player for the Irish. He was in every way, "The Man."

Te'o does have two primary competitors in this contest. The first one is red shirt freshman quarterback from Texas A + M, Johnny Manziel aka Johnny Football.

There is no doubt that Johnny Football put up amazing stats both in the air on on the ground. He completed 273 of 400 passes for 3419 yards with 24 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions. He ran for 1181 yards and 19 touchdowns. Those numbers are just scary and as a freshman he led his team to the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma their first year in the SEC. With stats like these, how can we vote for anybody but him?

My argument would be that most of his success has come against weak competition. To his credit, he was a solid 24 of 31 for 253 yards and two touchdowns against Alabama and he added 92 on the ground. However, against Florida and LSU he had a combined total of 449 yards passing with no touchdowns and three interceptions. On the ground, he had just 87 yards and only 1 touchdown in those two games.

Now here is where a good chunk of his success came from. Although it is the Aggies first year in the SEC, they wasted no time in adopting a common SEC practice in scheduling a pathetically weak non-conference schedule featuring two FCS teams and two teams from non-BCS confernces (SMU, South Carolina State, Louisiana Tech, and Sam Houston State). In those four games, he threw for 1130 yards and 13 touchdowns and he rushed for 483 yards and 9 touchdowns.

Another good chunk of his success came against three of the worst SEC teams in Auburn, Arkansas, and Missouri. In those games, he threw for 1085 yards and 8 touchdowns and ran for 261 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Therefore, it is safe to say that he dominated against inferior competition but was very mediocre against the tough competition. Te'o on the other hand, was great against everybody.

The other part that really makes me scratch my head on Johnny Football is that so much of how a quarterback is judged, right or wrong, is determined by how far he takes his team. Taking your team to the Cotton Bowl as a freshman is impressive. However, Golson has his team in the BCS Championship. Not only that but Kevin Hogan at Stanford has his team in the Rose Bowl and Marcus Mariota of Oregon has his team in the Fiesta Bowl. Even Brett Hundley of UCLA took his team to a conference championship.  Right there are four other freshmen quarterbacks who took their teams farther than Mr. Football. That alone should make voters think twice before giving him the Heisman.

The third candidate is senior quarterback from Kansas State Collin Klein.

Klein is another duel threat quarterback. He threw for 2490 yards with 15 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. On the ground, he gained 890 yards with 22 touchdowns. While those are also impressive numbers, they are not as good as Manziel's. So how can this guy really even be considered? To his credit, he did lead his team to the Big 12 Championship and a birth in the Fiesta Bowl. However, with numbers that aren't as good as Manziel's it will be hard to justify him winning and since I already dissected his numbers and explained why Te'o deserves it more, the choice should be easy.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alabama Fans Are Wrong About Who Had The Tougher Schedule

The match up we all predicted ever since Notre Dame took over the #1 ranking is officially set. Also, as we predicted Alabama/SEC fans are already talking their junk about how Notre Dame's schedule can't compare to Alabama's. They say that Notre Dame could never play an SEC schedule and win consistently.

I won't argue that the SEC is an outstanding conference. They have won six straight BCS National Championships and there is something to say for that. They are also in position for another one.

Having said that, I am tired of them acting like they are the only conference in the nation and that they play such a tough schedule. So I decided to breakdown the schedules for the two teams to see just how much tougher the see the Crimson Tide's schedule is than the Fighting Irish's. The results are not what Alabama and the rest of the SEC want to see.

First let's look at opponents records. Assuming Navy beats Army as expected, the combined record for Notre Dame's opponents is 82-62. That is 20 games over .500. Alabama's opponents on the other hand, have a combined record of 81-75. That is only six games over .500. Also, that is misleading because I counted Georgia which was not a regular season opponent and that accounted for 11 wins. So without the Georgia game, the record is 70-73.

Only two of Notre Dame's opponents (Boston College and Wake Forest) have losing records. That means that 10 of Notre Dame's opponents qualified for bowl games. Miami chose to self suspend themselves but they were eligible nonetheless. The Fighting Irish also played against that are from the Big Ten, PAC 12, Big 12, ACC, and Big East. In fact, all of their opponents except Navy and BYU, who are also independents are from major conferences. That means that they didn't play any FCS teams or teams from non-BCS conferences.

Notre Dame also defeated PAC 12 champ Stanford currently ranked #6 and #11 Oklahoma who got robbed out of a BCS bowl and could arguably be ranked ahead of a couple of those SEC teams in front of them.

Now looking at Alabama's quality of opponents, I will give them credit for opening impressively against Michigan, but after that it is not that impressive. Yes they do play in the SEC, but let's take a look at who they played outside the conference besides Michigan. They played Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt Conference which is slightly above an FCS level team. Not only that, FAU is a bad Sun Belt team and WKU is barely above .500. They also played Western Carolina in November which is not only an FCS team but a bad one who only won one game.

Oh but wait, the SEC has all the good teams so their conference schedule makes up for their weak non-conference schedule. Right? Well, the SEC does have six teams in the top 10. However, we can't forget that the conference is two divisions meaning that the Tide doesn't even play half of them. They did not play Florida or South Carolina. In the regular season, they only played two teams in the top ten (LSU and Texas A + M) and they lost to one of them. They did escape against Georgia.

While the SEC is a tough conference, that doesn't mean that their aren't really bad teams such as Arkansas, Missippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Auburn. All of which were on Alabama's schedule and their combined record is 23-37. Five of Alabama's opponents did not qualify for postseason play. 8 did reach bowls but I want to look at one team in particular and that is Ole Miss. They will play in the Compass bowl with a 6-6 record. Here is the sad part. three of those wins are against FCS or non-BCS conference teams. One win is against Auburn and one against Arkansas. So only one of their wins is legit.

Looking at the SEC as a whole, here is the thing that really grinds at my guts. While they have won six straight titles they seem to have a formula of least resistance that makes them look better than they really are. By making divisions, they already bypass having to play some of the tough teams in the conference. The second part of the formula is to schedule only one team from another major conference and try to make it so it is a mediocre opponent. Then they also schedule two teams from conferences such as the Sun Belt, MAC, Conference USA, WAC, etc.

Before you roll your eyes, look at the numbers. This season the SEC played 15 FCS teams and 26 teams from those non-BCS conferences. The part that makes me really scratch my head is that if the SEC is so much better than all the other conferences, why do they avoid playing the tough teams from other conferences. Better yet, why do none of them want to schedule Notre Dame?

For the next month Alabama fans will walk around with this delusion in their head that they will roll over Notre Dame with ease because Notre Dame hasn't played a schedule that compares to theirs. The reality is that the whole country has underestimated the Fighting Irish all season and that Alabama hasn't played a schedule that compares to Notre Dame's.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Notre Dame-Alabama: It is Set

Congratulations to the Alabama Crimson Tide for an amazing victory in an amazing game over Georgia. The win gave them the SEC title and earned them a second straight trip to the BCS title game. They of course will play Notre Dame in a game that will feature strength vs. strength. Notre Dame has on of the fiercest fronts in college football while Alabama has relied on the power running game behind that offensive line.

Those of us Notre Dame fans know all too well that haters are going to hate and it will be really bad the next 37 days. Nobody will give the Irish a chance, but that wouldn't be the first time. Looking at this game, I am not saying Notre Dame will win but I like the position they are in.

For them, this has already been a great season and they already accomplished way more than most haters and even fans thought they could this year. Meanwhile the pressure is on Alabama to not only repeat but also to keep the streak going for the SEC. Currently that conference has won six straight.

The other thing I like is I think there are some things that Notre Dame can exploit. First of all, the Crimson Tide will not be able to rush for 350 yards against that Irish front.

I also noticed that their defense relies on an intimidating pass rush. However, Everett Golson has shown that he has great escapeablity and the pressure doesn't seem to bother him. In fact, I was thinking about this watching the SEC game and I don't remember the last time I saw him get sacked.

This will be a great match up and a great experience for Notre Dame, win or lose. I only wish we didn't have to wait 37 days.