Monday, October 14, 2013

Scheduling a Bye Before USC Makes Sense On Paper, But.............

Notre Dame and USC is arguably the best rivalry in college football. It is not about conference titles or state bragging rights. It is just about natural hatred. The unique thing about this game is that it alternates when it is played. It is the last game of the year when it is at USC but in the middle of the year when played at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have made it a habit of scheduling a bye before USC on years they play in South Bend. That does make sense on paper. They are the rival and Notre Dame wants to take two weeks to prepare. There is only one problem with this strategy. It hasn't worked.

The Trojans have won five straight in South Bend. The last time Notre Dame beat USC at home was 2001. So while the bye does make sense, the results haven't been good. They game close in the famous Bush Push game in 2005 and Jimmy Clausen fell just short of the endzone in 2009.

That does have to make anyone question if it is a good strategy. While two weeks of preparation is good, it can create rust. That makes me think about how USC has scheduled it in recent years. They actually take a bye one opponent before Notre Dame and then play a softer conference game on a Thursday night. That is good because it does give them extra time to prepare without causing too much rust. I do like that strategy better I think.

Having said all that, the main factor probably is that USC has just had better teams in those years. They were an annual contender when Pete Carroll was there before the program was hit with all the sanctions. But now the pendulum does seem to be tilting back to Notre Dame as they have won two of the last three. However, they still have not won a home game against the Trojans in over a decade. That is long enough. It is time to reclaim our home field against these guys. On paper the Fighting Irish are the better team. They have had one common opponent in Arizona State and we all know the results for both games. USC also doesn't have the depth on defense because of all the scholarship reductions. We just have to hope they are prepared better this time for the game rust.

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