Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dear Diary...Notre Dame-Washington State

This week’s diary comes to you live from McLean, VA. This should be a relatively peaceful and enjoyable game compared to the borderline apocalyptic ordeals of the past month and a half.

7:33 Wow, is that really the stadium? The Alamo Dome is pretty hideous from the outside; it almost looks as bad as Beaver Stadium. Who am I kidding, nothing looks as terrible as Beaver.

7:34 There is a pretty good number of empty seats in the upper decks but it sounds like an enthusiastic crowd. It almost sounds louder than a normal home game on television because of it being indoors. I don’t know, I thought the neutral site home game was kind of dumb but now that it’s here it’s actually kind of cool. I could see C-Loss’s eyes roll as I typed that.

7:35 While Tom “the HD Gremlin” Hammond introduces himself and Pat Haden let's recap the goals for the game that we talked about in the preview.

1. Get off to a fast start
2. Finish in the red zone
3. Pad Jimmy’s Heisman stats early
4. Make Jeff Tuel look like a freshman quarterback
5. Lots of reps for the second stringers—namely Dayne

7:38 Alex Flanagan is yapping as they show a map of where Notre Dame players are originally from. That graphic is pretty nuts if you think about it. Do you think any other school attracts recruits from so many states? It really is crazy how we have so many people from all over the country. The national appeal is definitely an advantage but at the same time it makes recruiting much more work. We don’t have a batch of high quality kids in our backyard like a lot of major school (USC, Texas, Florida, etc.) so our staff really needs to bust their butt to go out there and get guys. Tip of the cap to Charlie and company.

7:39 There are 38 recruits on hand to watch this game, including our latest commit Toney Hurd. If having a game in Texas every year helps us tap into the Texas recruiting pipeline then I will always support it.

7:42 Steve Filer makes the stick on the opening kickoff. He’s becoming a special teams monster. He’s so raw but if Bryant Young and Randy Hart can get him totally comfortable with the scheme and playing without thinking so much he’ll be a monster. The thought of Darius Fleming and him rushing the passer from opposite sides makes me drool.

7:44 After a holding on second down pushes the Cougars back to 2nd and 20 they had a wide open man for about 20 yards but he was underthrown. Robert Blanton had fallen down. Come on boys, none of this crap today.

7:45 Irish get pressure and force the Cougars to punt. They unload an Eric Maust special (34 yards) and the Irish take over in good field position at their own 44.

7:46 Jimmy completes a pass to Rudolph on a bootleg and the big tight end rumbles for a 15 yard gain. Good to see him getting involved early…and it’s coming back. Personal foul after the play on Eric Olsen. Facepalm.

7:47 Hughes busts up the middle for 15 yards. The line absolutely manhandled the Cougars there.

7:48 Two straight passes, two straight first downs to Golden and Rudolph. We are just moving the ball at will.

7:48 Pat Haden utters analysis that seemingly makes time stand still: “Kyle Rudolph has hands the size of small dogs.” Have you been living under powerlines the past week Pat? Small dogs? Do his hands have legs? Do they pant? Even HD Gremlin had to have given him a “what the hell was that” look.

7:49 It’s staggering how overmatched Washington State is. Panzer sums it up well with his text: “This is like playing a girl in a video game.”

7:49 Hughes runs for another four yards but tried to spin out of a tackle instead of driving the guy backwards. Stop trying to be a ballerina Robert and run some people over. That’s how you won your job back.

7:50 SMALL DOGS?!?!

7:50 Toma inside the ten. First and goal. We need to finish this with six. I don’t want to settle for three points until the second half. This was one of the goals.

7:51 Hughes hit in the backfield and fumbles but recovers. I was going to blame that on Sam Young but that there were two tight ends to the right of him and it was total miscommunication on their part. Hughes didn’t have a chance.

7:51 Incomplete on 3rd down to Duval Kamara, who was falling down as he tried to get the ball in the endzone. Imagine that. To be fair it wasn’t a great pass, but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that he just falls down all on his own way too much.

7:52 Nick Tausch field goal is good. 3-0 Irish. I don’t think there’s one person who is happy with that result. We’re already behind on achieving Goal #2.

7:57 Fleming busts through the line to stop Wazzou on second down for a loss. He should have a field day. This is followed by another incomplete pass and another punt. These guys are really terrible. First down Irish. That literally all took ninety seconds in real time to happen.

8:02 Robert Hughes goes up the middle for a gain of four but Trevor Robinson is hurt. Really hurt. They show the replay and it was a defender rolling up his leg. That doesn’t look good at all.

8:04 Hughes picks up a first down on 3rd and 1 thanks to a really good block by Mike Ragone to spring him off left tackle.

8:06 After a sack and a short run by Hughes, Clausen’s third and three pass falls incomplete. Irish are forced to punt. Ben Turk promptly bobbles the snap and then shanks one off the side of his foot for a nine yard bomb. I guarantee his average wouldn’t rank in the top five of interhall football at ND.

8:09 On first down Ethan Johnson comes BUSTING through the line for a sack. Brutal hit, quarterback didn’t even have a chance. This is what I’m talking about; bully the crap out of them. No mercy.

8:11 Tuel completes one but short of the first down. The whole “why run a seven yard route when you need nine” rant by commentators is one of the most annoying things in sports. Commentators pointing out that they caught a ball and should’ve gotten a first down but didn’t adds absolutely nothing to my viewing experience.

8:14 Notre Dame’s drive starts with a pass interference on the Cougars. I want seven more points by the end of the quarter. We have a shade under four minutes left to do it.

8:16 Golden runs for ten yards out of the Wildcat, then rips up the middle for a 33-yard gain out of the Wildcat. Really good blocking but also a great job by Golden to get through an ankle tackle, something Armando has yet to learn how to do. I really like Armando but he has to figure out how to do that—it turns eight yard gains into 33 yard ones.

8:17 Hughes rumbles for another eleven out of the Wildcat. Offensive line is flattening the d-line. Another four yards out of the Wildcat for Hughes. The entire drive has been the Wildcat, kudos to the offensive line for dominating.

8:18 They flash a graphic showing the average weight of each of the lines. Notre Dame defensive line averages 315lbs. Washington State defensive line averages 266lbs. Well that partially explains why it look like we’re playing a high school team. Take note of this for the Navy game—their line is probably even smaller.

8:20 TOUCHDOWN IRISH. Duval Kamara puts one foot in front of the other, stops without losing his balance, and reels in the touchdown. Good drive by the Irish, great running, great blocking.

8:21 The extra point is blocked and returned ninety yards only to have Mike Ragone chase him down at the five yard line. Unbelievable hustle by Ragone saves two points. Whoever was the person directly left of the center was just shoved to the side allowing a defensive lineman to get right up the middle to block it. Pretty terrible blocking, just another example of being sloppy on the little things.

8:22 Dip texts, “I know one person who is going to get a pass on wind sprints at practice this week.” Truth. Thumbs up Mike Ragone.

8:24 Quarterback keeper on first down by Tuel gets Wazzou 14 yards to end the quarter.

8:25 First quarter grade for the Irish: C-. That last drive was somewhat redeeming and the defense was good, but we had a blocked extra point and couldn’t punch it in the endzone on the first drive. Not particularly pleased.

8:27 Kerry Neal gets to Tuel on first down for a loss of eleven. There were four different people who could’ve come up with that sack, Neal beat the others by half a second.

8:28 Tuel gets ROCKED as he throws a pass on third down that Kyle McCarthy breaks up down the middle of the field. Here comes another punt. Tate fumbles the punt after a moronic attempt to field it on a short hop but Jamoris Slaughter comes up with it so no harm is done. Come on Golden, quit screwing around.

8:30 A pair of runs by Theo Riddick gets us another first down. The guy is faaaaaaast. He came in with little to no fanfare—in fact he was one of the lower rated prospects we brought in this past year too—but you can already tell he’s going to be an impact player.

8:33 Kamara makes a catch on a laser to the sideline by Clausen…then turns upfield and falls down before anyone hits him. I mean good catch and way to settle in the coverage for Jimmy to find him, but his lack of balance is borderline comical.

8:34 TOUCHDOWN GOLDEN TATE OUT OF THE WILDCAT. It looked like it was just going to be a two or three yard gain but he spun out of two tackles, bounced outside, turned on the jets, and turned the corner. Fantastic run. I have no idea what the hell he was doing with his celebration but I laughed out loud at it. Jumping jacks? Heckling the WSU fans? I don’t know. 16-0 Irish.

8:40 Am I the only one who finds that Under Armour commercial with the jacked, eleven year old black kid on the bus a little weird? I know it’s been on forever but every time I see it I think “shouldn’t that be followed by the old anti-steroid commercial with the deflating balls?”

8:43 Harrison Smith breaks up a pass. He’s been on the field but off the radar today. This is a step in the right direction.

8:44 Another incomplete pass leads to another punt. Wazzou is just overwhelmed by the blitz. This is when a Tenuta defense is most deadly—when his players have more talent than the opposition. I suppose being more talented makes every defensive scheme deadly, but it’s really highlighted when you’re constantly blitzing and pressing.

8:47 Irish are rolling with 1st down inside the 30 as Washington State calls a timeout.

8:52 Pat Haden breaks down a replay and says “there are four people over here to the left of the center”…only there are clearly only three players lined up to the left. He labels them 1-2-3 and then just puts the 4 on the grass and says “you can’t see the fourth one.” Put down the paint chips Pat.

8:52 The Irish are down to the one yard line. Third and goal. JAM IT DOWN THEIR THROAT.

8:53 TOUCHDOWN IRISH, ROBERT HUGHES JUMPS OVER THE PILE FOR SIX. We shouldn’t celebrate running over Washington State, but I am pleased to see us step on the gas and finish. 23-0 Irish.

8:56 Irish have held Washington State to 37 yards and two first downs so far. Very pleased by the defense’s performance.

8:57 Pat, don’t turn to the side. We went however many years without me realizing you had a brutal comb over. Am I the only one who just totally missed that all this time? Maybe it usually works out perfectly with how the headset normally sits on his head but man, he’s a first ballot inductee into the Gene Keady Hall of Combovers.

8:58 Cougars take over and immediately they start moving the ball. Two plays, back to back rushes, back to back first downs. They literally just doubled their entire offense for the half on those two plays. Come on, there are only three minutes left in the half, let’s keep them off the board boys.

9:01 Wazzou converts a third and six with a wheel route in front of Gary Gray, first down inside the 15.

9:02 Touchdown Washington State, right over Robert Blanton. Really disappointing to give up a solid drive like that at the end of the half when we’d totally shut them down all game. 7 plays, 76 yards. 23-7 Irish. I want a response before the end of the half. We’ll have a little more than a minute to do it.

9:04 Irish ball at the 25 yard line with 1:10 left. Come on Jimmy, lets pad those stats.

9:05 First down pass is complete for nine yards to Chihuahua Hands, clock still running.

9:05 Second down is another laser to Rudolph where he carries SIX defenders for an extra five yards over midfield. Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd it’s coming back for an illegal formation penalty on Matt Romine. Gun. Foot. FIRE.

9:07 After a first down throw to Theo Riddick Eric Olsen is called for another idiot penalty after the play. Charlie calls him over to the sideline so he can ream him out face-to-face, then sends him back to the huddle with his tail between his legs. They just replayed the penalty. YOU ARE A MORON ERIC. Only 29 seconds left now and we’re back at the 20.

9:09 A short throw to Riddick is followed by a seed from Clausen to Kamara on the sideline. We’re up to our own 38 with 16 seconds left.

9:10 Theo Riddick takes a dump off pass just over midfield and the Irish burn their final timeout with seven seconds left.


9:14 Walking into the locker room Weis says he’s going to keep the pedal on the metal in the second half. I like it. Destroy them.

9:15 Let’s do a little checkup on the goals.

1. We wanted a fast start…it wasn’t a sprint out of the gate, but 30-7 at halftime is pretty good. I give them an A-.
2. We wanted to finish in the red zone…not completely satisfied after botching the first drive, but we finished another two. I’ll give them a B- on that goal.
3. We wanted 300+ yards and 3-4 TD’s for Jimmy midway through the third quarter to pad his Heisman campaign…so far so good. He’s 18 of 21 for 239 yards and 2TD’s. He owes Golden a beer for making that stat line look infinitely better with one jump ball. A+ on that goal.
4. We wanted to make Tuel look like a freshman. I’d have to chalk that up as a success. He hasn’t done squat really except two good throws on the last drive. A- for that goal.
5. Get the subs reps. This one is incomplete, we’ll have to see in the second half.

9:41 The opening drive stalls and the Irish have to punt. Well that’s certainly disappointing. Come on Irish, step on the gas, get two quick touchdowns, and then turn the keys over to Dayne so he can run the show for a quarter, maybe a quarter and a half.

9:42 Ben Turk with 52-yard great punt to the two yard line! I’m speechless—I’m without speech.

9:45 Wazzou starts their drive in the shadow of their own goal post. On first down Blanton breaks up a long pass down the left side. He should’ve picked that off but a broken up pass beats a completed pass any day.

9:47 McCarthy comes from clear across the field to sniff out a third down run and knock the runner out of bounds. The Cougs are forced to punt. Irish get the ball with good field position again, this time at the Wazzou 45.

9:52 A good run by Hughes up the middle and a checkdown by Jimmy to Hughes on second down gives us a first down at the 28.

9:53 Timeout Notre Dame. It seems like we always burn one timeout at the beginning of a half because we don’t have the right play in or it comes in too late. I know it doesn’t matter in this game and I know that it hasn’t come back to bite us this season—Charlie actually is VERY good at managing his timeouts at the end of a game—but at the very least it’s frustrating to watch.

9:57 Theo Riddick converts a 3rd and 2 and he almost took it to the house—an ankle tackle by the last defender brought him down.

9:58 First down Irish inside the three yard line after a swing pass to Goodman and a rush up the middle by Theo. Let’s either pound it down their throats or lob it to Golden to beef up both Jimmy and his stats.

9:59 Stoned on first down.

10:00 Jimmy trips over his own feet trying to escape the rush for a big loss. He also tweaked his toe injury on the play so he may be done for the day. Dammit to hell, why couldn’t we just jam it in and get him out of the game. Irish timeout.

10:01 Crist is in the game for third down. Alright Dayne, let’s see what you’ve got.

10:02 A screen to Kyle Rudolph is stopped at the five yard line because Eric Olsen whiffed on a blocked. That was set up beautifully but all it takes is one man missing an assignment and it’s all for naught. Not a red letter day for #55. Tausch kicks a field goal and it’s 33-7. We’re definitely failing at the goal of finishing in the red zone.

10:05 Nick Tausch kicks it out of bounds so the Cougars take over at the 40. These stupid little mistakes just never seem to disappear.

10:07 INTERCEPTION ROBERT BLANTON. Great one-handed catch over his shoulder when Tuel tried to throw it away. That’s big for him. I really think he just needs one or two plays like that and the swagger that made him so good last year will return. He has the ability to be a big-time difference maker in the secondary; he just needs to start playing with confidence again.

10:08 HUUUUUUUUUUUGHES rumbles for 19 yards to go over the 100 yard mark. Haden makes the observation that they’ve all come up the middle but they haven’t necessarily been tough yards. Very true, there have been plenty of runs where Hughes hasn’t seen anybody until he’s already run six yards. This is a dominating performance by the offensive line.

10:09 Hughes runs over a few defenders in the secondary after another 15 yard runs, but it’s coming back because Kyle Rudolph clamped his cocker spaniels on a defender illegally and held him…and tack on another 15 due to unnecessary roughness on Chris Stewart. That’s about a 35 yard swing. Did you ever think you could be so upset when you’re up 33-7? Stupid penalties will be the end of us. It’s not necessarily coaching, it’s just stupidity on the players’ parts.

10:11 Dayne short hops a pass to Golden and Tate shows his displeasure. Be supportive Golden, no need for the attitude in this situation. Dayne is just as ticked off as you about the pass.

10:12 The Irish are forced to punt. This is yet another instance of stupidity sabotaging a promising drive. Instead of having 1st down over midfield we had to deal with 2nd and 24 at our own 35 because of penalties. It’s really tough to be totally pleased when things like that still happen with such a high frequency.

10:15 The quarter comes to a close when Ian Williams stuffs a quarterback draw. One more quarter to go. Let’s see some subs in there and let’s see Dayne do some damage.

10:18 Irish force a punt as Pat Haden continues to harp on the fact that Golden Tate should be out of the game. We get it Pat, give it a rest.

10:20 Theo Riddick takes a draw up the middle for ten yards, then runs another one for five yards. He looks good—he runs really hard, he’s shiftier than Armando, and he’s fast as hell. As he learns how to pick up blitzes effectively he’ll get more and more reps.

10:22 Two incompletes by Crist leads to a punt. He doesn’t look particularly good. This is followed by ANOTHER terrible punt by Ben Turk. Goodness gracious.

10:24 We come back from commercial to Charlie Weis berating the offense on the sideline. I like to see that, this is not an acceptable performance in the second half.

10:26 KLM takes the running back down for a loss…which is followed by Darius Fleming just absolutely blowing by the left tackle for a sack…which is followed by Steve Filer DESTROYING Tuel on a sack from the blindside. Good Lord, Tuel is going to be wearing a full body cast tomorrow morning. Filer looked like a missile on that one.

10:29 Theo Riddick breaks off a great run down the right side for about 30 yards after juking a cornerback out of his jock strap…ANNNNNNND IT’S COMING BACK. Dammit to hell, this is like a broken record.

10:30 TOUCHDOWN IRISH, DAYNE CRIST THROWS A LASER ON A POST ROUTE TO JOHN GOODMAN IN STRIDE. BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL THROW BY CRIST. That’s the five-star quarterback we know—it’s exactly why we need to get him plenty of reps when we get the chance. Once that confidence grows he’s going to be a great one. 40-7 IRISH.

10:35 INTERCEPTION IAN WILLIAMS! What a great, athletic play to tip it to himself and come down with the catch on Washington State’s first play from scrimmage.

10:36 Jonas Gray drops a pitch and has to fall on it for an eight yard loss. If you ever want to see the field again you’ll never let go of the ball again Jonas. With such a talented stable of running backs you just can’t afford to put the ball on the turf. Go check how many carries Terrence Howard got after he fumbled on the first play of the 2001 Nebraska game.

10:37 Dayne scrambles and goes down awkwardly, fumbling in the process. My heart just dropped through the floor. Wazzou comes up with the ball but I couldn’t care less. They show the replay and he rolled his ankle and then turned it a second time when he stumbled. The pain was so much that he just let go of the ball.

10:40 Wazzou is driving thanks to some pretty crappy tackling by the second team defense.

10:41 They show Dayne walking. The last thing we need is for him to have an injury that keeps him out for six-to-nine months.

10:42 Touchdown Cougars. That was very easy. Kind of disappointing that the second team defense looks so bad, there’s still a ton of talent out there and there isn’t an excuse to let Wazzou slice through us like that.

10:46 Wazzou kicks off to Robby Toma who gets WRECKED with a helmet-to-helmet hit. Jeez, that was pretty dirty and unnecessary; he was already headed out of bounds. Tack on 15 yards.

10:48 Jonas runs for 14 on 3rd and 5 for a first down. Good run, really good blocking by the second team offensive line. Like clockwork they commit a false start the play after I compliment them.

10:49 They report that Dayne Crist is being taken in for a closer look at his knee. I want to throw up. Jimmy, I’ll personally insure you for an extra million dollars if you come back next year. Please for the love of God come back, win a national championship, a Heisman, and write one of the greatest chapters in Notre Dame lore. Please. PLEASE. Golden, you too.

10:58 Pretty uneventful end of the game. ND punted, Washington State is put together a decent little drive, but Paddy Mullen got a sack as time ran out.

Five Snap Judgments
1. Washington State is definitely one of the worst hapless teams we’ve played this decade, if not the worst.
2. Dominating performance by the offensive line. The stupid penalties were disappointing, but play-to-play they flattened Wazzou. I don’t remember the last time we did that. Pitt in 2003 maybe?
3. Golden Tate is ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. It makes my head spin thinking about what an offense of Jimmy, Golden, Floyd, and Rudolph can do. I know we had that the first two games, but I think everyone can agree that Golden has taken “the leap” since the Michigan State game. Seriously, what do you do against those two on the outside now? One of them is one of the most dangerous people in college football with the ball in his hands; the other is 6-3 220lbs and is averaging 27.5 ypc and 2+ touchdowns per game.
4. There is a definite pall cast on this game due to injuries. First of all there’s Trevor Robinson (I almost forgot about it because it was so early in the game and my focus shifted to the other noteworthy injury). He’s been great this year and is a huge reason we’ve been able to run the ball so effectively. To lose him for an extended period of time would be a big blow. Then of course there is Dayne Crist’s injury. I’d rather him broken an ankle than tweaked a ligament. One of the things that made him such an exciting prospect was his mobility. If he tore something and is out for the spring that’d be devastating if Jimmy indeed does go pro.
5. Charlie really lighting into the team on the sideline of a 33-7 game sticks out to me. I like the sense of urgency and the attempt to squash any sort of complacency or self-satisfaction. We won handily and that’s great, but this was far from an A+ performance across the board. Come Monday they better be ready to hit the ground running and keep working to improve.

In the end we got what we wanted: a nice relaxing victory. Let’s hope that Dayne and Trevor are alright and Floyd is ready to go for Navy.


Friday, October 30, 2009


After six weeks of high stress games that pushed every Notre Dame fan to the brink in so many ways it appears we finally will have a nice, relaxing game to enjoy. One part of me says I’ll believe it when I see it. The other part looks at the statistics and says if this isn’t a nice relaxing game we have far more issues than anyone ever imagined/feared.

Let’s look at Washington State’s offensive stats to date.

Total Yards: 293.0 ypg…111th
Passing Yards: 221.1 ypg…56th
Rushing Yards: 72.4 ypg…116th
Points Scored: 15.1…106th

That’s pretty hapless. Now Washington State’s quarterback Jeff Tuel just threw for 354 yards against Cal last week so there are signs of life at least in the passing game…but we really, REALLY shouldn’t have a problem with stopping them. With Tenuta’s blitzing defense this should be the equivalent of a high school varsity basketball team full-court pressing the freshman team for the entire game. There is a colossal talent gap in play here. Tenuta’s aggressiveness should bully the Cougars into a lot of mistakes. I want turnover galore.

Now I know the offensive stats are brutal, but just look at the other side of the ball.

Total Yards Allowed: 499.3 ypg…119th
Passing Yards Allowed: 282.4 ypg…118th
Rushing Yards Allowed: 216.9 ypg…114th
Points Allowed per Game: 37.0…115th


Look at those four lines. Look at the numbers and the attached rankings. It has to be one of the worst lineups of defensive stats in history. Every single skill player on our offense should be licking their chops.

Here are the five goals for today:

1. Washington State has been outscored 112-3 in the first quarter. We need to make that last stat look much worse after the game. I’d like at least 17-21 points in the first quarter
2. Finish in the red zone. It’s time to develop that killer instinct when we’re marching toward the goal line. We’ve moved at will between the 20’s almost every game but too often we stall—many times due to penalties.
3. Pad the Jimmy’s Heisman campaign. 300+ yards and 3-4TD’s midway through the third quarter will do.
4. Make Jeff Tuel look like a freshman quarterback from the first snap until the last one. I’m sick of making freshman quarterbacks look like All-Americans.
5. A lot of reps for the subs starting in the second half. Specifically, I want to see Dayne Crist air it out a bit, Matt Romine block, and then see how three young guys perform in the secondary—Zeke Motta, Jamoris Slaughter, and Danny McCarthy.

Say the mantra with me: Nice…Relaxing…Victory...Nice…Relaxing…Victory…Nice…

Notre Dame 41
Washington State 17

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Dudes, One Post

We’re going to try a new column every week that touches not just on the Irish and the Nittanys, but other relevant topics from around the college football world. Five questions a week, followed by a rapid fire Q&A between Bill and I that touches on any and all things where each person has 140 characters to respond to the given question. Without further ado, the first edition of Two Dudes, One Post.

You've both seen Michigan this year and last year. Are they headed in the right direction under Rich Rodriguez?

Mattare: Well there was nowhere to go but up after last year so yes, they’re going in the right direction. I think the jury is still out on whether this regime will ultimately be a success though and it has everything to do with things going on off the field. They’ve made significant strides on the field this season and Rich Rod has done well infusing athletes into the program that fit his scheme in the short time he’s been there so the groundwork is there for a good successful run…but it seems like there’s a lot of smoke lingering around the program. Before the season it seemed like things were about to unravel but the early success put out that fire. These NCAA violations are a giant elephant in the room and remember that Rodriguez was rubbing so many people within the program the wrong way that some thought it was possible he’d be fired.

He’s a really good coach; I just don’t know how great a fit he is at Michigan. That being said, if these allegations are cleared up with minimal damage and Rich Rod finds a way to stay out of big trouble I think he’ll be a big success in the Big Ten.

Bill: I would have to say yes. This is a program still very much in flux, and to have an effective offense with only two years worth of his own players is a faster turnaround than people expected. Now they're still 1-3 in the conference at this point, but they lead the Big Ten in scoring. And they beat Notre Dame. I expect them to finish 4-4 in the conference this year and to contend for the Big Ten championship next year. His offense is going to shake things up in the Big Ten, but the one second guess I have for Dick Rod is immediately firing Ron English upon his arrival. Michigan has always had a great defense and English was a respected coordinator. In their first season without English, the Wolverines gave up more than 300 points in a season for the first time this decade.

Do you think the formation of a political action committee to get a playoff in college football is good or stupid?

Mattare: Absolutely stupid. I agree the BCS stinks but not for the reasons most people think. I don’t want a playoff, I love how important every game of the season is and with each week the pressure builds more and more. It’s the best regular season in sports and I don’t think it should be sacrificed.

I wish we could go back to the way the bowl system was before the BCS with the exception of how the Rose Bowl was. The main reason the BCS was formed was the fact that two years out of four the two best teams couldn’t be matched up in a bowl game because one was tied into the Rose Bowl (Penn State in ’94 and Michigan in ’97). I hate the inflexibility of the current system that leaves us with at least one terrible BCS game every year. I realize that’s unrealistic with all the tie-in’s that are involved with every game, but it’s probably more realistic than people crying for a playoff.

Bill: I think mixing non important things like politics with important things like football is stupid.

I like an eight team playoff. One team from each BCS conference and two at large bids. A playoff doesn’t make the regular season less important. There are 119 FBS teams, giving eight a chance to play for it all doesn’t mean you can drop a few games in the regular season and make it up later. Most of the teams in the bracket would be undefeated or have only one loss. The one issue here is that you would have a couple teams playing 16 games in a season (counting conference championships and three BCS playoff games). That is a lot, it would make football the only major collegiate sport where teams play close to as many games as the pros, which isn’t in the spirit of the student athlete. Maybe shorten the regular season to 11 games.

The athletic director at Illinois announced Ron Zook will be back next year: Bad move or Terrible move?

Mattare: Terrible. He’s a great recruiter and a terrible coach. They need to cut the cord now because the cupboard is relatively full (very full by normal Illinois standards) and a good coach could step in and have instant success. Bringing Zook back when it’s so obvious he’s a lame duck means recruiting will not be as good as it has been. It essentially makes the inevitable step backward a large one when it could be a small one.

Bill: Terrible, he was a failure at Florida and he's a failure at Illinois. I don't know how they've actually gotten worse with the same QB in the same system for 4 years, especially considering the significant upgrade of incoming players they've seen since the beginning of his tenure. The confusing thing about this to me is that I don’t think Illinois has the reputation as a bottom tier team in the Big Ten, yet. They are the only team along with Penn State and Michigan to reach the Rose Bowl in the last 5 seasons, and they do have some history (2nd Linebacker U??). However Ron Zook is doing his best to put this program in the basement. A program that respects itself wouldn’t put up with a loser like Zook this long. It’s like a hot chick dating that Phish worshipping pothead in high school, except Zook’s coaching might actually improve if he put down the headsets and picked up a bong between quarters.

Let's turn to recruiting: who is the biggest current commit on your team and why?

Mattare: Without a doubt it’s five star defensive end Chris Martin. The Irish have made big strides on the defensive line in terms of run stopping but we are still incapable of getting pressure on the quarterback without sending extra men. Martin is the type of difference maker who can provide that pass rush. He’s a HUGE get.

Bill: Silas Redd because he has breakaway athletic ability and because he’s putting together a ridiculous senior season up in Connecticut, each game he seems to have multiple 40+ yard TD runs. I don’t think we have a realistic shot at Marcus Lattimore so I think Redd remains our only back after signing day, and I’m slightly more excited about him than Brandon Beachum next year. I would name one of our six stud D line recruits, but there’s six and I feel that’s unfair.

Who is the single most important recruit left on the board for your team?

Mattare: To me there are three huge ones out there. The first is the number one recruit in the country, offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson. He’d come in and lock down the left tackle position for four years starting the moment he stepped on campus. The second is five star wide receiver Kyle Prater. We’re pretty loaded at receiver but our offense is borderline unstoppable when we’ve got horses like Prater on the outside (see: Floyd, Michael and Tate, Golden). Last one is four star defensive tackle Louis Nix. He’s not the prospect the other two are but we need a big guy in the middle of our defense in the worst way. Twist my arm and make me choose one and I’ll take Henderson. He’d lock down one of the most important positions on the team for four years and create a wave of momentum and enthusiasm similar to the Te’o signing from last year.

Bill: Our class is done for the most part, but If I have to pick I’ll say Sean Parker out of California. He’s a bit of a long shot, but he is a natural safety and you’ve heard my gripes this season. We signed five defensive backs last year and only one was a natural safety, so there is definitely room for Parker. God it would be great to actually recruit a kid who plays the position rather than convert some 5th year wideout fail to starting free safety.

LET'S GO TO THE RAPID FIRE FINISH...140 characters to respond.

Mattare: The Catholic Church is talking about making Tim Tebow the first living person to be canonized as a saint in spite of the fact he's not Catholic. Thoughts?

Bill: Tim Tebow is going down, that concussion was foreshadowing, like when Dumbledore had a burnt hand at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

Bill: If you could dress up as one college football player for Halloween, who would it be and how would you pull it off?

Mattare: Daryl Clark. I’d wear a #17 Penn State jersey covered in sequins, skin-tight leather pants, and slap every guy’s ass I saw.

Mattare: You saw the idiot from BC who got an extremely misguided tattoo that he will no doubt regret over the next three years. Name a tattoo you'd get and not regret three years from now.

Bill: "WILD THING" across my chest.

Bill: What’s the play you'd most like to erase from the ND playbook?

Mattare: Nothing. Our play book is perfect. Like the Michaelangelo's David. Or The Godfather. Or tailgating in Radio Tower Lot. Or a Yocco's Hot Dog.

Mattare: As people who read this blog may or may not know, Billy was a CYO basketball all-star back in high school with a single weakness...Bill, what's higher: Daryll Clark's completion percentage (62.1%) or your successful layup percentage from senior year?

Bill: Too close to call, but your broken ankle percentage was 100 whenever you tried to guard me.

Bill: Last one--on the topic of high school, would you rather be in a steel cage match versus Mr. Hudak or be forced to take Mrs. Listwa to second base, not passing over first base of course.

Mattare: Mr. Hudak. In both instances I'd sustain substantial injuries but with Hudak it would be limited to physical pain.


So Week 7 was another failure, just a slightly smaller failure. I still didn't pick up any ground and I kept my staggering streak of weeks with at least one push going, but for the first time since week one we were both .500 or better with our picks. So we've got that going for us. Which is nice.

Did it make up for the fact that both of us went and saw our NFL teams get wrecked in person last weekend? No. We'd like to send special thanks to the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears for taking the gas.

Mattare's Lock of the Week: Georgia Tech -12 over Vanderbilt

Vandy really isn't good and their 87th ranked run defense is toast against a team that averages 291 yards per game on the ground. Ramblin Wreck in a bloodbath.

Ole Miss -4...There's a serious freefall going on at Auburn right now. Houston Nutt teams play well with no expectations, terribly when the spotlight is on them. I don't see a spotlight anywhere.

Air Force -5...What makes Vegas think Colorado State can run with a team that took TCU and Utah to the brink?

South Carolina +5.5...Lane, meet the ol' Ball Coach. He's been known to be a pain in Rocky Top's ass.

Oklahoma State +8.5...The 'Pokes always play Texas tough. I'll take the points at home.

Kansas State +28...Not saying that K-State has a chance to pull the upset, but this is a lot of points to be giving a well-coached team.

Central Michigan +6...I've got a LeFevour...and the only a Central Michigan cover

UCLA +10...This has letdown game written all over it for the Beavs.

Penn State -13.5...The Nittanys roll this week, setting up a showdown with the Buckeyes to figure out who's the second best team in America's worst major conference.

Miami -7...Wake is not a good defensive team...and they're not a good offensive team. Riley Skinner may be really accurate but you don't get points for a high completion percentage. The U in a route.

Mikey's Lock of the Week: USC (-3.5) over Oregon

The Trojans usually love a challenge and this will definitely be one against the Ducks. Their D rises up big and they smoke Oregon out of BCS title contention.

Wisconsin (-6.5)- It's getting really hard to keep watching Big 10 games every week, making picks isn't even helping anymore. How the hell did this conference get its own network??

Indiana (+17.5)- I've been all over Iowa all year but I think they'll take it easy this week against the Hoosiers. No need to waste energy on a team that blew a 20 point lead to Northwestern.

Auburn (+4.5)- Jevan Snead sucksssss. I won't be surprised when the Bears draft him.

Southern Miss (+7)- The Eagles don't get many chances to prove themselves with the schedule they play so they'll be juiced to play at Houston, maybe even take home a W.

Tulsa (-16.5)- There's about 3 games a year where Tulsa will just throw the ball 60 times and put up 80 points. I think this week we'll get one of those games at the expense of SMU.

Kansas (+7.5)- This game's going to go back and forth all day. It should be a high scoring affair and Tech will probably pull it out but Reesing to Briscoe will keep it close.

Penn St. (-13.5)- The Lions are 3-0 against the spread since I started picking them every other week. Don't stop believin.

Kentucky (-3)- UK's on a pretty good run right now and last week took all the energy and heart Miss St. had against Florida. They'll be wiped out and the Cats will run all over them.

South Carolina (+5.5)- Just hate Lane Kiffin, call this a spite pick.

Mattare: 34 points...(5-4-1 last week, 1-0 lock...30-35-5 overall, 4-2-1 lock)
Mikey: 42 points...(5-5 last week, 1-0 lock...37-32 overall, 5-2 lock)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One Last BC Parting Shot


"Josh Haden has decided Boston College is not for him. The running back from Maryland announced that he will be transfering after this season. Haden, who was recruiting by the likes of Florida, Ohio State and Tennessee, only officially visited BC according to Rivals.
Looks like he is regretting that decision. That regret pales in comparison to the regret stemming from the tattoo he got on his chest. Haden also has a cross on his upper left arm and text on his right. The BC tat will forever be a reminder of those two years in Chestnut Hill when he ultimately lost the starting job to Freshman Montel Harris whose only other scholarship offers came from football powerhouses Ball State and Duke. Whoopsies!"

Movin' on Up

Another streak bites the dust. It wasn't pretty, but if you said before the season that we'd break the MSU and BC streaks I would've signed up for it in a second. Of course I'd rather bury BC in the ground, but a small step in the right direction is better than the alternative. Let's hit ten things today.

10. Darius Fleming

During one of the many preseason discussions I had with my buddy Pat we came upon the topic of what number Notre Dame jersey we would buy if we got one before this season. I don’t remember who he decided on (though I’m sure now it would be Bobby Burger’s #86), but I wanted Fleming’s #45 jersey. I just thought he was a freak athlete with tremendous size, strength, speed, and an ability to get to the quarterback we hadn’t seen since Justin Tuck left after the 2004 campaign. Ethan Johnson got a little more publicity as a freshman last year so I figured #45 would be under the radar a bit before exploding onto the scene.

Then Tate Forcier’s ankle-breaking happened the second week of the season and I was convinced my opinion of him had changed forever. Since that day he’s done everything to win me back. Did anyone realize he already has 9.5 tackles for loss? Going into last week’s game he was top 20 in the nation for that statistic.

Perhaps an even bigger and no doubt overlooked contribution is the fact that his pressure caused two interceptions that iced games. The first was on the final defensive play of the Michigan State game where he blew by the tackle and forced Kirk Cousins to throw a duck which Kyle McCarthy snatched to seal the game. The second came this past weekend when his pass rush led to Dave Shinskie terrible decision to gift-wrap a turnover to Brian Smith. When he puts his hand on the ground and is told to go get the quarterback he’s deadly.

9. Dink and Dunk

In the week leading up to the game Weis essentially said the Irish were going to “dink and dunk” Boston College instead of taking a lot of shots down the field. I understand what he was thinking in terms of taking what the defense gives you and guarding against the disaster that occurred in Chestnut Hill last year, but this is an example of a time where I think Charlie outsmarts himself just a little.

(I preface my few couple sentences by saying that ultimately his strategy worked and it was effective—this is just a commentary on the attitude he took.)

We’re a more talented team than Boston College. We have the best quarterback in the country, a big offensive line that has been good in pass protection this year, one of the most explosive players in the nation split out wide, and one of the best tight ends in the country. Why wouldn’t we impose our will on the weaker team? This reminds me of when Avery Johnson switched up the starting lineup he’d used all year for the #1 seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2007 NBA playoffs to adjust to the fact that the #8 seeded Golden State Warriors were going small. Why play into an inferior team’s hand by adjusting to what they do?

The counter-argument in defense of Charlie would be look at how BC played us and look at how perfectly our scheme picked it apart. They sagged off 8-10 yards every play (look at the last Tate touchdown—Haden brought up a graphic that pointed out the exact distance) and we ran successful stop routes with Kamara all day long for almost automatic nine yard gains. Jimmy did a great job of staying patient and sticking with the plan (showing another facet of his game that has really developed).

Sometimes coaches over think things and outsmart themselves. Sometimes you have to just go out there and flatten an inferior opponent regardless of what scheme they are executing. Upon further review that wasn’t exactly what happened here (although we did only put up 20 points), but I really do think it’s something Charlie needs to be careful of. If we’re going to be an upper-echelon team it’s time to start carrying ourselves like one.

8. Slam the Door

Last month I talked about our inability to slam the door shut when our offense had the chance to essentially end a game. Let’s look at the two BC drives after we took the lead in the fourth quarter and how our season totals stand at this point.

Drive #1: We took over with seven minutes to go. First play was a run with Armando that was stuffed for no gain. He was hurt on the play—which was a vivid and terrible replay in my mind of the Michigan/Michigan State games—meaning that Jonas Gray had to come in on second down. Jonas actually tore off a good six yard run on second down. On third down Jimmy couldn’t connect with Rudolph and we had to punt.
Drive Summary: 3 Plays (2 rush, 1 pass), 6 yards, 0:56

Drive #2: We took over with 4:23 left on the clock and Boston College had two timeouts remaining. Armando was stopped in the backfield for a three yard loss on first down. On second down Armando ran for five yards making it 3rd and 8. BC was forced to burn a timeout. On third down Jimmy threw an incomplete pass that was initially ruled an interception but overturned.
Drive Summary: 3 Plays (2 rush, 1 pass), 2 yards, 1:01

Add those drives in with our previous potential “Slam the Door” drives and our season averages come to:

3.6 plays…7.4 yards…1:16 run off the clock

That’s pretty terrible and shows that in spite of the fact that we have a pretty octane and clutch offense there is plenty of room to grow. That being said, if I had to choose I’d much rather have a team that fights back and performs under pressure but doesn’t know how to step on a bad team’s throat than a team that blows out the teams it should but doesn’t know how to come back and win a tight game. There’s no reason they should be mutually exclusive—and if we want to be elite they can’t be—but that would be my glass half-full view.

7. Punting Woes

I sat here the first month of the season and harped on how we needed to bench Eric Maust because there was no way freshman Ben Turk could be worse. I was wrong. He was abhorrently terrible against BC and made a huge contribution to the substantial field position advantage the Eagles enjoyed all day. It is beyond me how we cannot find a person who can consistently punt the ball over 40 yards.

We’re giving you a scholarship to kick a ball a couple times a game. You should be out in McGlinn Field punting balls at the bookstore until either: A. you learn how to kick it 43 yards every time or B. your leg falls off in an attempt to do so.

I understand we aren’t always going to have someone capable of booming 60 yard kicks every time he walks on the field, but to have punter be such a glaring weakness (to the point where it affects other aspects of the game) is unacceptable. Often times it is looked upon as an insignificant position that teams almost don’t want to waste a scholarship filling, but all you have to do is look at the this year to see the subtle effects it has on games. When a punter goes out there and unleashes a long punt to swing field position it takes a little wind out of the sails of the opponent getting the ball. When he goes out and lays a 30 yard egg it galvanizes the opposing team. We’ve had far too much of the latter this year.

I have no idea what the answer is on how to fix it but it needs to be done. If that means letting Golden Tate punt so be it.

6. Golden Tate

There needs to start being some legitimate talk about Heisman consideration. He’s averaging 121ypg, over one touchdown per game, and over six yards per carry when he gets the ball in the backfield. He has the highlight reel catches (that first touchdown against Southern Cal could win an ESPY), he has the important plays in big moments (first down catch over his head on the final USC drive, game-winning catch against BC), and he has one of the best and most recognizable names in sports.

Jimmy has been amazing and in reality there is no chance of Golden because he’s not even the most deserving on his team. The only plausible scenario would be if Jimmy gets hurt and Golden keeps going like this which is (KNOCK ON WOOD—please God take note of this parenthetical sentence) highly unlikely. Still, his play over the course of the year absolutely deserves attention and acclaim at the national level. If any writer out there puts together an All-American team at the midway point and leaves him off it’s a travesty.

5. Defensive Line

Another fantastic performance for the defensive line against the run this week. I—like many fans—was very concerned about how we’d be able to handle Montel Harris, but they bottled him up (38 yards on 22 carries). A big part of the progress since the bye week is due to the fact that tackling up front has improved leaps and bounds. I was ready to pull my hair out during the Washington game when it looked like Polk was covered in grease as we tried to take him down in the backfield.

I was especially impressed with how we handled their Wildcat formation. Harris ripped off a 14 yard run out of it in the second half, but other than that we stymied it the few times they chose to run it. I was surprised BC didn’t utilize it more against such a young line and after finding such success with it against a great rush defense the week before (NC State was ranked #15 in the country), though I’m certainly not complaining. Instead they did what most other teams have done—unleashed a young and experienced quarterback on our Swiss Cheese secondary.

The great news about the maturation of the defensive line (and the front seven in general) is the fact that every single person is back next year—and all but Ian Williams and Brian Smith will be back the year after that. Our front seven could be absolutely RIDICULOUS if a few chips fall the right way in recruiting and the young studs like Fleming, Te’o, and KLM continue improving at the rate they are right now. RIDICULOOOOOUS.

4. Quote of the Week

“I don’t know how else to say it, but I always used to like linebackers that would run through somebody’s face. That's what Manti does.” –Charlie Weis on Manti Te’o

Can anyone remember someone who lived up to such enormous hype so quickly? The guy is an absolute monster and is already our biggest, fastest, and most explosive linebacker.

3. Stat of the Week

Notre Dame has scored ONE TOUCHDOWN when leading since the Nevada game (and that came in the first half of the Purdue game). That is a mind-blowing stat. Before the season if you would have told me that was the case through seven games I would’ve thought we’d be in full-throttle crisis mode.

2. Around the Country

That was an incredibly classy thing West Virginia fans did for UConn. I can honestly say I never thought I’d use the words “classy” and “West Virginia fans” in the same sentence. Kudos to them.

Speaking of classy fans…Michigan State got a nice kick in the groin with no time left from the Iowa Hawkeyes. Is Iowa for real? It depends on your definition of real I suppose. I think Iowa will slip up before the end of the regular season, probably against Ohio State. They deserve all the credit in the world for what they’ve done this year and they’ve certainly earned their ranking, but I think once they’re matched up against one of the other top teams from the SEC or Big 12 they’ll get their doors blown off much like the last time they were in the BCS (a 38-17 shellacking at the hands of USC).

Michigan, you better be ready to weather a serious storm down the stretch.

Terrelle Pryor—you should have just switched to wide receiver. You stink as a pro-style quarterback. I know that’s tough to hear since I’m sure your ego is bigger than Brutus Buckeye’s head, but it needs to be said over and over again until it gets through your thick skull.

Tim Tebow has not been one of the top ten quarterbacks in the country this year yet he’s still the front-runner for the Heisman in most polls. What a joke.

That Mark Ingram bandwagon filled reeeeeeeeally quickly. Can you believe ‘Bama’s never had a Heisman winner? He’s been great thus far but I’m going to venture a guess that Mr. Ingram won’t change that statistic this year. He’s being looked at just because no one else has really emerged and he’s played very well. Someone over the next month will have a game that vaults him to the top. Maybe it will be Jimmy on November 14th…

Being able to place money on a fast and athletic team to defeat BYU is the equivalent of being able to place money on how Stephen Hawking would do on a first grade addition test.

1. Boston College

When I make a list of the teams in college football that I really hate I always seem to forget Boston College; every time we play them though I’m reminded why they belong at the top of the list. First and foremost is the fact that they’ve beaten us in some huge games over the past two decades (namely ’93 when we were ranked #1 and ’02 when we were ranked #4). It’s so much more than that though.

They’re the only school that has students that come Friday night to disrupt the Notre Dame pep rallies. They have far and away the most obnoxious fans (this is judged not just by the actions I’ve witnessed, but the fact that more BC students are kicked out of Notre Dame Stadium than any other school’s students). They talk an inordinate amount of trash about how they’re actually the better team and school, yet get indignant whenever Notre Dame fans respond with their own barbs (which are many times rooted in truth). Their team trashed the Notre Dame visitor’s locker room and tore up pieces of turf, parading them around as trophies to mock the ND players and fans after a victory. One doesn’t have to look much farther than this paragraph to understand why Notre Dame fans assign a special place in their hearts for BC.

The thing that gets me the most though is the fact that every single year we field a team that is more talented and better than Boston College…yet somehow they more times than not find a way to beat us. Sometimes it’s fluky (’02 Dillingham handoff…I still want to jam a pencil in my eye when I think about that game), sometimes it’s because we shoot ourselves in the foot (’04 missed extra point), sometimes we just never get off the bus and don’t match their enthusiasm (’08 dud). Boston College always gives us their best effort and we never seem to answer it. It seemed that we were headed down the same road this year until the defense closed things out.

Losing to BC leaves a unique feeling of disgust and anger in your gut. It’s like losing a pickup basketball game to a terrible player who won’t stop talking trash in a thick Boston accent. You stare at your hands. You stare at the ball. You stare at the basket. And you stare at that knucklehead. Anger and disgust builds and you can’t explain how the hell he just beat you, but now you’re going to have to hear about it forever even though you’d beat him 99 times out of 100.

Because BC is looked upon by Notre Dame fans as sort of little brother, we almost don’t want to acknowledge that beating them means anything. We’re supposed to every year—we don’t look at the game as the Super Bowl like they do. I’m not going to lie though, this win tasted goooooooooood. Being able to just point to a scoreboard to silence the chatter for the first time 2000 was wonderful. Let’s make a habit of it.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dear Diary...Notre Dame-Boston College

It’s time to fire up yet another diary, this one from my buddy Reno’s house in DC. Today the opponent is the reviled Eagles of Boston College. Notre Dame fans look down at them as our annoying little brother, but as we all know they’ve certainly had our number as of late. Last time we beat them was in 2000, which as we covered in the pre-game hate ranks up there as one of the most embarrassing things we as ND fans have to come to grips with.

Let’s get started.

3:33 They’re showing the walk to the stadium and the players looked pissed. The general feeling around the team this week was that everyone was ticked off, not down in the dumps after their loss. I like to hear that, I want blood.

3:36 Just showed Jimmy’s stats for his two games against BC: 286yds, 0 TD’s, 6 INT’s. Pretty brutal.

3:37 Pat Haden just said that Harris ran for 161 yards out of the Wildcat last week against NC State. I’m legitimately nervous for how we handle it. We’re not quick to make adjustments on defense—look at the Michigan game for all necessary evidence—and we’ve never seen any opposing team run that formation. From the sounds of it (and from reading BC insider previews) they do it for a set number of times in the game early. If it works they pound away with it. If it doesn’t they put it on the shelf. Hopefully we can find a way to nip it in the bud.

3:41 Come back from commercial break with all the BC highlights of the past 16 years…the Gordon kick, the Dillingham handoff, the 2004 chokejob…I want to punch a hole in the wall. I want to win this game 77-0 and I want to score on a fake punt for the 11th touchdown. I forget how much I hate BC until it’s the week of the game.

3:43 Armando breaks a nice 11 yard run on first down and slips up. Great blocking. Armando gets another six on the next play. Offensive line looks like they’re rolling.

3:45 After another first down it’s our first penalty of the game, a hold on Trevor Robinson. When are we going to buck this terrible trend of sucking the life out of good drives with penalties?

3:47 Jimmy Clausen completes a LASER BEAM on 3rd and 13 to Golden Tate as he rolled to his left and threw across his body. Unbelievable throw. Exhibit A for his case for being the best quarterback in the country.

3:49 Jimmy forces a throw in the endzone on 3rd and long and the drive stalls. Nick Tausch trots onto the field and Tom Hammond informs us “he’s made ten straight field goals!” Shutup Tom…I’m treating his hot streak like baseball players treat a pitcher throwing a no-hitter.

3:50 Automatic. 3-0 Irish

3:52 Reno is convinced that Robby Toma was just on the field. I will not believe it if we just burned his shirt. I really think that he’s going to be good, there’s no point at all in burning it now. We have like four other receivers who are eligible that we can play.

3:53 Confirmed, it was Toma. Why? This won’t quite be the Eric Olsen level of terrible redshirt burning, but still. I guess the thinking is that we’re going to have so much talent at the position it’s worth throwing him out there whenever. Still a little disappointed.

3:54 BC goes for a flea flicker on the first play which Sergio Brown breaks up. Great to see him back there and not #22. Reno points out that BC quarterback Dave Shinskie is only a freshman but is actually older than Matt Ryan, who started at BC and graduated two years ago. They have to burn a timeout before a third down.

3:58 BC’s pass sails long and out of bounds. Three and out for the Iggles. Great start, exactly the anemic offense I wanted to see. They have THREE total yards in the first half of their first two road games. I guess the good news is they’ve equaled that already. Good punt pins us back at the 11.

4:00 Armando tears off another good run for a first down on the second play of the drive. He’s running so well this year.

4:01 Holding on Paul Duncan brings back the first down play. Come on, we can’t self-destruct and let them hang around. A second look reveals that was a pretty terrible call. Paul, you get a pass.

4:04 Jimmy backs into his own endzone, throws it away, but doesn’t get the ball back to the line of scrimmage. Safety. You have got to be kidding me. Are we really going to do the dam scoring for them? This is the only way they’ll get points on the board.

4:05 Ben Turk shanks the punt after the safety. Jesus Almighty Irish…They’ve got the ball just short of the 50. We’re so predictably sloppy, it just churns my stomach.

4:09 Two plays, a tackle by Te’o and a pass breakup by Te’o. 3rd and 8. Come on Irish, shut’em down.

4:10 Sergio doesn’t get to the receiver in time and it’s a 23 yard completion for first down. Dammit to hell.

4:11 FUUUUMBBBLLLLLLLLEEE! Recovered by BC…and it’s Harrison Smith with the hit to cause it! I’m really glad to see the adjustment they made and put him back up at linebacker. Any move to get him out of the secondary needed to be made. My question is how does he morph into a good tackler when he’s at LB? He was an atrocious tackler his entire time as a Safety.

4:11 Sergio drops an easy interception. You have gotta be kidding. Drop down and down some pushups Serg.

4:12 Irish hold and BC’s forced to punt. Their offense is pretty terrible, I would load the box and give this QB every chance to beat us, he’s far and away the worst one we’ve seen all year…and it’s not even close. Good punt pins us inside the 10. Let’s move FORWARD Irish.

4:16 First play out of the commercial break is a 14 yard run out of the Wildcat by Armando. Good block by Golden even though he was kind of half-assing it. Second try at the Wildcat is stuffed in the backfield.

4:19 After A BC timeout the Wildcat to Tate is blown up. Wenger blew his assignment on that one, terrible block.

4:20 Robby Toma gets his first career catch but well short of the first down. So-so punt by Turk and it’s BC ball at the 41.

4:21 Great catch on a terrible throw turns into a big game over midfield. That’s followed up by Shinskie bouncing a ball to an open receiver. He’s really terrible.

4:23 Another BC pass fall incomplete and it’s 4th down and time for a punt. The only way BC beats us (other than us totally imploding, which given our history against BC is not impossible) is by pounding the running game. Why are they trying to air it out? Another great punt pins us inside the 10 again.

4:25 Two good throws by Jimmy to Kamara and Goodman has us up to the 29.

4:27 After a three yard run by Armando on first down Jimmy is forced to scramble and throw it away. The pocket just totally collapsed, Duncan has looked pretty bad today. Jimmy is barking at them as the quarter ends. He does come across as a brat sometimes, but he’s right to get in their face right now—o-line needs to get their heads in the game.

4:30 Irish run a draw on 3rd and long and it’s time to punt. That should’ve been a late hit well after the play. Boneheaded decision by the BC linebacker, he got lucky. Another weak punt and it’s BC ball at the 31.

4:34 Big play on 3rd and long puts the Eagles over midfield. Gary Gray just lost track of the ball, not very good there. Our tendency to surrender the big play is alive and well.

4:35 Kyle McCarthy might’ve pulled his groin…or gotten a shot to the balls. Hoping heavily for the latter.

4:35 FUMBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE, IRISH RECOVER! Ethan Johnson jumps on it after a fumbled exchange from the shotgun. ND ball right next to midfield.

4:38 That was Harris’ first career fumble. So glad I could share in the memory.

4:39 Two passes (Kamara and Goodman) and we’re knocking on the door of field goal range.

4:40 Goodman catches an out-route but instead of turning and looking upfield where the defender had fallen down he just goes out of bounds for a seven yard game. Come on John, they aren’t going to hit you that hard, quit being a pansy.

4:44 Tom Hammond talks about the orange towel Herzlich has symbolically been given. Either I’m losing it or he’s color blind. That thing is yellow, it’s like BC/French’s mustard yellow. Check the HD screen Tom.

4:45 Offsides by BC gives us a first down on 3rd and short. Jimmy takes advantage of the 12 yard cushion the cornerbacks are giving our receivers and completes a first down pass to Kamara for another 12.

4:47 Another drives stalls inside the 10 after a pretty poor throw by Jimmy. He doesn’t look too sharp today.


4:50 Field goal Tausch. Fifth game out of the last six that has had a touchdown taken off the board and were forced to kick a field goal. If we don’t have the record we’re certainly approaching it. 6-2 Irish. Gross.

4:54 They show the fake field goal again, beautifully set up. What a shame. First play is a twenty yard gain for the Eagles over the middle and they’re over midfield. Our secondary is like Swiss cheese.

4:55 Te’o BURIES Harris in the backfield and Harris is down. This is Manti’s world Mr. Harris, you’re just living in it.

4:57 Shinskie comes up with a 22 yard completion to the tight end on 3rd and long. If you are a tight end in high school wouldn’t you want to go to a school that had ND on the schedule so you could improve your draft stock tenfold once a year?

4:59 Suddenly Shinskie is gaining confidence and he completes a good pass down the right sideline to get down to the three yard line. It’s only the second quarter and I’m already feeling nauseous.

5:00 After a short gain on first down BC jumps for a false start…2nd and goal from the 7.

5:02 Total coverage breakdown by Harrison Smith leaves a guy wide open in the endzone. Touchdown Eagles. Irish now trailing 9-6. Is it just a given that we do everything to give BC a chance to win, no matter the year or quality of team on the field?

5:03 Five texts immediately roll in ranging from “Harrison Smith sucks” to “It’s time to sacrifice Harrison.” His instincts in coverage are comparable to that of a pine tree.

5:07 Irish are moving again with under four minutes left. Pass to Tate and another one to Toma gets us over our own 40.

5:09 Great scramble by Jimmy and a dangerous stretch of the ball gets us right up next to the marker on 3rd down. They measure and it’s good by about a half yard. Great play by Jimmy.

5:12 Good completion to Kamara followed by a pass over the middle to Armando gets us down to the 35.

5:13 Another laser to Rudolph on the right side for another 10 yards. That was in spite of a hold, which will be declined. First down Irish.

5:15 Another great catch by Tate above his head and then wills his way out of bounds…what a play.

5:16 TOUCHDOWN GOLDEN TATE. Clausen had time, rolled right, and hit him in the front corner of the endzone. Tate’s seventh of the year.

5:20 Ruffer reaches the endzone on his kick and the returner is so taken aback that he almost takes a knee, but then decides to run it out. They take a knee and that’s the end of the first half.

5:21 Alex Flanagan unloads some SAT-level questions for Charlie on his way to the locker room:

“What did Jimmy do to keep the touchdown play alive?”
A. Sat behind the great blocking and rolled slightly right
B. Conducted CPR
C. Wished upon a star

“What did you see on the safety play?”
A. A sailboat
B. I was never good at those I-Spy games
C. The same thing everyone else did you moron

“Are you impressed each week by my football acumen?”
A. If you weren’t a woman I’d slap you
B. Considering you ate so many paint chips pregame, yes
C. You know more than Mark May

5:22 Pretty disappointing first half for the Irish, a lot of missed opportunities and self-inflicted wounds…nothing new. I just hope to God this is the week where we find a way to step on the gas and put this out of reach. I am not even remotely interested in going down to the wire with BC. There’s some sort of terrible karma when it comes to the Eagles and I don’t want to tempt fate down the stretch.

5:42 No one can deny that we have the best commercials of any school. The ACC conference commercials have a Gator look-alike singing an “ACC ROCKS!” song…it’s not nearly as good as The Matchmen's “got a bottle of Jack but I have no Coke.” We ARE the Fighting Irish.

5:43 Irish start the second half with terrible coverage on the kickoff and BC takes over at the 43. Take Gun. Aim for Foot. Fire.

5:45 After forcing a 3rd and 3 Shinskie finds a wide open receiver over the middle. Who’s man was it? HARRISON BLEEPING SMITH. GET OFF THE FIELD.

5:46 Harrison Smith gets to the receiver late and it’s first and goal at the two. My blood pressure is somewhere in the stratosphere. Right down the gut for a touchdown on first and goal. 16-13 BC. Unreal. How can Harrison Smith still be on the field? He’s officially entered the Clifford Jefferson Zone. Congrats Harrison, you’ve achieved something I never thought was possible. Cliff, enjoy your company. Both #15 and #22 should be reserved for people on offense.

5:52 Irish are up to midfield. We’re moving at will, we just aren’t finishing once we get into BC territory.

5:54 Irish are facing a 4th and 2 at the 42 and they’re going for it. I don’t care if we run for it, pass for it, penalty for it…just pick up this dam first down, I don’t want to be trailing anymore.

5:55 Delay of Game. I hope that was planned because my head is throbbing I’m so mad. I may be developing a tumor.

5:56 Good punt by Turk pins them inside the 10. Can I get a Robert Blanton pick six please?

5:58 Right up the middle for a big first down out of the Wildcat.

5:59 Flanagan reports Tate has a neck stinger and Parris is out for the game. Sweet.

6:00 A 19 yard pass on second and long gets BC up to the 38 yard line, Slaughter is the victim this time. Another week of making a crappy quarterback look like a dam All-American. Shinskie is 11 for his last 14. We lucked out in not playing any great quarterbacks this year. Carson Palmer circa 2002 would’ve thrown for 600 yards on us.

6:02 Irish force another 3rd and long…and give up another 30 yard gain. Blanton didn’t have terrible coverage but was off-balanced and had no shot to make a play on the ball.

6:03 Harrison Smith bites on a pump fake and Shinskie runs right passed him for a first down. I hate you Harrison, I absolutely hate you.


6:06 Of course it’s somewhat tainted by Brian Smith’s bonehead delay of game penalty. God we’re stupid for a smart school.

6:07 Brad corrects me: “Incorrect. UUUUUUUGE play.” Touche, that was a UUUGE play in this footbawww game.

6:10 After a deep throw falls incomplete to Tate, Armando runs for five yards. Third and long falls incomplete after a complete breakdown by the offensive line. Jimmy got drilled. Time to punt out of our own endzone. Another terrible punt gives the ball to BC at our 40 yard line. Their average field position at this point in the game has to be no worse than their own 40—and that’s with one drive that started at the 8.

6:15 It appears Jimmy may be really hurt and it’s his shoulder, not his toe. Crap.

6:15 Really good recovery by Blanton to stay with a receiver on 2nd down, bringing up a HUGE 3rd down.

6:16 Back’em up another five yards, false start. COME ON IRISH.

6:17 KYLE MCCARTHY WITH THE INTERCEPTION, HE RUNS IT BACK TO THE 40. I had just been commenting to Reno how he’d been quiet. I love him, he’s the anti-Harrison Smith.

6:18 False Start, Paul Duncan. I’d punt a baby if there were one in the room. We should be known as the Notre Dame Friendly Fire.

6:19 Completion to Duval Kamara bringing up 3rd and 1. Jimmy’s arm looked ok. Armando picks up the first down on the next play, good push by the offensive line.

6:20 The third quarter comes to an end. Saddle up, it’s time for another ridiculously stressful finish. I’m going to go grab some Bayer Aspirin just so I’m ready.

6:23 First down completion to Tate just short of the first down. Tack on another 15 for a late hit…questionable/late call to say the least. I’ll take it though I’m fully prepared for a makeup call.

6:25 Armando busts up the middle on a draw for a 11 yard run, just short of a first down. 3rd and 1.

6:26 First down on a quarterback sneak. 1st and goal. Come on Irish, don’t walk away with three here.

6:27 Incomplete to Tate, then a short pass in the flat to Golden for six.

6:28 Jimmy scrambles and tries to jump over the pile into the right corner of the endzone…he’s not that athletic, he wasn’t even close. Crap. It’s now 4th and a long one to the endzone and we call timeout. COME ON IRISH, FINISH.

6:32 Robert Hughes out of the Wildcat is stoned at the 1 inch line. He has no idea where he is right now, that hit was huge. You have to be kidding me. It might be worth reviewing but it doesn’t look like it’ll be overturned. I am just disgusted. This is a reoccurring nightmare. Eleven minutes left.

6:33 Robert Hughes has a concussion, absolutely no doubt. He might’ve been knocked out cold because when he met contact he almost went limp, his legs totally stopped moving—which is not typical of Hughes.

6:35 Quarterback sneak on first down, run up the middle for four yards on second down. We need a stop here. Come on Irish, step up and make a play.

6:38 Shinskie’s thrown for 239 more yards than his first two road games. Combined. The entire secondary should have their noses rubbed in the statsheet while every Notre Dame fan yells “NO, BAD.”

6:38 Irish hold, time to punt. Golden runs all over the place after a great punt and gets it back over midfield. Notre Dame ball at the 48.

6:42 Armando runs up the middle for nine yards. Another run gets us a first down. We’re now under nine minutes.


6:45 “The 2009 season has been equivalent to a garbage can full of NOS for my heart and we’re only half way…” –Panzer. Amen.

6:47 Ruffer unleashes another crappy kick, BC ball at the 29. They then show the 9.5 yard cushion they gave Golden on that TD catch and run. We’ll chalk that strategy up as a poor decision.

6:48 Te’o busts through the line and hits the running back in the backfield, leading to a four yard loss. Awesome.

6:49 On third and long Shinskie throws a short pass that’s way behind his receiver. His terrible-ness is showing through. Time to punt. Irish take over with seven minutes left. Here is our chance to learn how to SLAM THE DOOR.

6:51 Armando is hurt on the first play. Crap. This is the third time he’s gone down late in a game. Are all our games just replays of previous ones?

6:52 Jonas Gray for five and it’s 3rd down. We need to pick this up, COME ON IRISH.


6:56 Boston College ball with six minutes left and three timeouts.

6:57 Two plays, two first downs for BC. I have that absolutely sickening feeling in my stomach again. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD IRISH, COME ON, HOLD.

6:58 KYLE MCCARTHY WITH THE INTERCEPTION!!!!!!!!!!! I AM NAMING MY FIRST CHILD KYLE. The ball hit Raeshon in the chest and—like every Notre Dame cornerback of the last decade not named Shane Walton—he couldn’t catch it, but McCarthy stepped in and picked it out of the air. UUUUUUUUUUUUGE. SLAM THE GODDAM DOOR NOW IRISH, SLAM ITTTTT!

7:00 Two plays gets it to 3rd and 8. BC is down to one timeout, 3:33 left. Come on Jimmy, find a way to get this.

7:02 Interception Boston College. My heart just went through the floor. I cannot believe it. I cannot believe it. I’m in total shock. What a terrible pass.

7:03 They’re reviewing it, this should be overturned but it’ll still be fourth down.

7:04 It’s overturned, time to punt. Turk puts one out there maybe 40 yards, so not as terrible as before but still not good. BC Ball, 3:22 left at the 32. One timeout left.


7:05 They had an open man and he missed him deep…Jeeeeeeeeez, bullet dodged. 3rd and 17, come on baby.

7:06 Fleming gets into the quarterback’s face, incomplete. FOURTH DOWN, COME ON IRISH.

7:07 First down Boston College right over the middle for 30 yards to Freddie Mitchell...I mean Gunnell. They’re over midfield. I want to vomit.

7:07 Pass interference on Kyle McCarthy, BC at the 31.

7:08 Te’o gets to the quarterback behind the line but the quarterback carries the entire pile for a short gain. They burned their final timeout, 1:48 left. I cannot take this anymore. 2nd and 6.


7:11 “And I step back off the ledge.” –Hot Carl

7:12 Charlie please wipe your nose.

7:13 Wow, Jimmy goes over to congratulate Gunnell from BC and he starts jawing at Jimmy. Clausen shoves him in the chest, walks away, and gives him a dismissive wave. Ladies and Gentlemen, your Boston College Eagles! People wonder why we hate them so much. Bunch of classless punks with chips on their shoulders about being passed over by Notre Dame. Enjoy the flight back jackass.

Another ridiculously stressful game against a clearly inferior opponent. I know we keep talking about stress on the heart but we’re getting to the point where it is less joke and more reality. I am physically ill by the end of every Notre Dame game. Good Lord. Ten quick things.

1. We still haven’t learned how to slam the door…this alarms/upsets me.
2. Kyle McCarthy, you are my hero.
3. I hate Boston College SO much. SO SO MUCH.
4. Harrison Smith needs to be taken off the field forever. FOREVER.
5. Golden Tate’s Heisman campaign should be gaining steam. No joke.
6. Someone please teach one of our players how to punt. Guarantee Dayne Crist can punt it 45 yards.
7. The fact that we have had points taken off the board in FIVE of our games should be something we address immediately. How? I don’t know, make whoever committed the penalty run the steps of Hesburgh Library until they pass out. Then have Manti Te’o blindside them when they wake up.
8. Why do we have coverage breakdowns every game, without fail? The answer may be as simple as “Harrison Smith is on the field every game,” but I’m not sure.
9. Michael Floyd will not solve all our problems…seven games into the season it appears there are still far too many problems.
10. Boston College—Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.



Stories like this puts all things Paterno in perspective. It's his program.


Notre Dame has lost to Boston College six straight times. That's the equivolent of rolling two 6's six straight times in Monopoly, Mark May going six straight minutes without someone in the room wanting to punch him in the face, and ESPN going six straight days without mentioning how Tim Tebow just wants it more than anyone. It ranks right up there with four game losing streaks to Air Force (early 80's) and Northwestern (four years before Ara came to ND...when Ara was the coach at Northwestern) as the most embrassing streaks in program history.

My pure and unadulterated hatred of Boston College the school has been tempered because I had family that went there, but the hate of their football team burns strong. A large part of it is the thorn they've been in our side over the past two decades, but it's also the things off the field that stokes the fire. They have the most obnoxious fans of any opponent we play--which is saying something considering we play Michigan and Michigan State every year. I've been to five or six ND-BC games at Notre Dame Stadium. There was only one time BC students did not interrupt the pep rally. There are message boards on ESPN where BC fans troll around the ND boards and instigate fights, something they seem to enjoy far more than talking about their actual team. They have an unbelievably huge chip on their shoulder when it comes to Notre Dame Football.

Boston College is a good football program. They deserve credit for what they've done over the past two decades. They absolutely have had our number since 2001 and they deserve a tip of the cap for that as well...but any Boston College fan that thinks that they're even remotely near the level of Notre Dame football needs to get their breaks tweaked. The most successful stretch in Boston College history has netted ZERO major bowl APPEARANCES, let alone wins. Arguably the worst stretch in Notre Dame history has netted THREE major bowl apperances. Listen to the BC fan argue his point. Sad...

Real quick let's look at today's contest. Most experts are picking Notre Dame to roll. I'm not convinced. It's going to be a sloppy field and BC's offense--specifically on the ground seems to be rolling. Notre Dame's front seven has definitely been improving, but it's still tough for me to totally trust them. Historically Notre Dame has not played well on the second weekend of fall break. The crowd is usually flat and the team has had a tendency to follow suit (anyone remember the Stanford game in the early 90's?).

Part of me thinks this is going to be a bloodbath where Notre Dame finally puts the little brother of our schedule in its place. The larger part of me thinks this is an ugly game where we once again make it closer than it needs to be. Zero part of me thinks we lose this game.

Notre Dame 31
Boston College 24


This week we take on the much hated Wolverines. Before we pulverized the very green Dick Rod team last year we had not beaten them at the Big House in over 10 years. This year they are looking much better with a 5-2 record and a big win over Notre Dame. But they're still not ready for us. If we are able to shut down the spread rushing attack and put the young'ns at QB in a position where they have to play from behind I think we take this game and shake the Big House jynx.

Penn State 24
Michigan 10

Sorry for the irresponsibly late post this week, but last night it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to be for Halloween. I decided on Batman. Go State!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Midseason Assessment: Part III - Still in the Fog

Before the year we said at the very least this year we’ll have clarity on the direction of the program. We would know for better or worse whether Charlie was the right guy to lead this program and could adjust expectations/attitudes accordingly. So halfway through the year, where do we stand? Still smack dab in the middle of a fog.

The program is headed in the right direction but it certainly isn’t sprinting there. Every single positive thing—and there are plenty—seems to be followed by a “but…”

Charlie has the offense humming…but we still have lost two games.

We’ve come back late in games to win, proving we never give up…but we had to do it against inferior opponents.

We launched a huge comeback against USC and took them to the brink…but we lost.

We have put together four of the highest rated recruiting classes in the country over the last four years…but we still aren’t as talented as Southern Cal.

Charlie clearly has things headed in the right direction…but we still have two losses through six games.

Our defensive line is starting to mature and play better…but our secondary seems to be regressing.

Personally I am pleased with the progress we’ve made but it is somewhat deflating to know that we still aren’t quite there yet after five years. I do believe we’re headed in the right direction. Charlie has proven that he is the offensive whiz that we thought he was when he arrived. He’s been a fantastic recruiter and if things break right over the next few months he could have his most talented and well-rounded class to date on signing day. Remember how people said it was impossible to recruit at Notre Dame anymore just a few short years ago? He’s totally debunked that myth.

He’s also proven he’s willing to make necessary adjustments not just on the field but in terms of coaching personnel—something many head coaches stubbornly refuse to do. We can safely say so far that he’s hit home runs with Verducci and Alford at the very least. The offense is now back to being one of the best in the country—even while missing its most explosive weapon—and is finally equipped with an effective run game, something that we didn’t have an iota of the past two years. The much-maligned defensive line has started to show promise and the installation of Manti Te’o in the starting lineup has added a new dynamic to the front seven. There are a lot of things to like about where we’re headed.

But there are still elephants in the room. Our record is now 0-5 against Southern Cal. Was it a great showing against them this year? Sure, but moral victories don’t—or at least they shouldn’t—exist at Notre Dame. The thing is we don’t have anything in terms of tangible results to cling to so we’re forced to continually seek out the silver linings. Frankly, doing that wears you down after awhile. It’s tough to defend the program from haters when they point to facts and cold hard facts. All we can point to are narrow losses and good prospects.

Are we less than 20 seconds away from being undefeated and ranked in the top 10? Yes.

Are we just as close to being 2-4 and in full-throttle crisis mode? Yes.

Does it appear we’re headed in the right direction and Charlie’s the right guy? Yes.

Are we a loss to BC away from that statement being totally bunk? Yes.

Notre Dame fans continue to live in a fog. The only way to lift it will be for the Irish to win these remaining six games. In order to really be rolling into next year we need to tack a bowl game victory in January. That could springboard us into the preseason top 10 and the number one recruiting class in the country. Can you see us doing that? Yes. Can I see us tripping up once or twice down the stretch, setting us up for another offseason filled with unrest? Yes.

Strap on a helmet and get ready for the next six weeks. At the end of it the fog will probably be lifted one way or the other…then again probably not. But I’m allowed to dream.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Mikey is actually picking well and essentially curb-stomping me. And I have as many pushes as wins. It's ridiculous. I'm speechless.

Mattare's Lock of the Week: Georgia Tech (-5.5) over Virginia

They're giving 5.5 to Virginia. Really? REAAAAALLY? I mean I know this is the annual Al Groh Lazarus Routine, but this is a ridiculous line.

South Florida +6.5...I want Pitt to win this game. Badly. I need them to be ranked in the top 15 when the Irish head to the Ketchup Bottle to play them in three weeks. I have ZERO faith the Wannstache delivers. Zero. Please prove me wrong.

Illinois +10...I just feel like Illinois is going to snatch up and win a game. Purdue is ripe for an emotional letdown. Arrelious Benn, you have 22 catches for 271 yards and zero touchdowns this year. Michael Floyd had more yards and four more the first six quarters of the year. You're a moron.

Penn State -4.5...The streak finally ends. More on this game later this week.

Air Force +9.5...They hung with TCU, they can hang with Utah.

Florida -23...Florida won't take too kindly to losing the #1 spot to 'Bama. Time for a beatdown on both sides of the ball.

TCU -2.5...They absolutely smothered them last year. Get ready for the remix.

Texas Tech -21.5...This spread couldn't be high enough.

Idaho +15...Keep the dream alive Vandals!

UConn +7.5...I feel like this game should be taken off the board. Emotion rules the day--GO HUSKIES

Mikey's Lock of the Week: Syracuse (-10) over Akron

Akron's just a chance for Syracuse to feel good about their football program again, that's why they scheduled them. Does that make you a man Greg Paulus? The answer is no, no it doesn't. Just because your basketball game was modeled like mine (jack 3's with someone in your face) and you sucked at Duke doesn't mean you can make up for it by quarterbacking Syracuse over Akron. You're pathetic, go play volleyball at Colorado next you prick.

Army (+10.5)- Rutgers has been terrible most of the year. They don't have a QB and I don't think they'll be very motivated for this game making me believe that Army can cover the spread.

West Virginia (-6.5)- On the opposite side of you Matthew. I don't think UCONN is going to be focused at all on this game and will get blown out. Really tough week for Huskie nation.

Alabama (-16.5)- Tennessee won't get into Alabama territory in this game let alone attempt to get points. I think the Tide would beat Florida right now and they deserve to be #1 and will show it this week.

Cal (-34)- Cal will score 35 and Washington St. will score less than 0. That sounds like a win to me.

Iowa (-1)- Riding the Hawkeye train until it stops. Going to Michigan St. can't be as tough as going to Wisconsin so I think they'll make it happen again this week and move up the BCS ladder.

Missouri (+14.5)- Texas was very unimpressive last week as Oklahoma played most of the game without Bradford and still should've won. Missouri's a solid club and I think they give Texas a big run for their money and may even win.

Florida St. (+2)- The Noles can beat and lose to anyone in the country depending on how Bobby Bowden's osteoporosis is acting that week. I think he's got it under control this week, lookout Heels.

Kansas St. (-3.5)- Colorado has no chance of putting together back to back wins in football, they're more of a volleyball school. I think Kansas St. knocks off the Buffs in a big way.

Oregon (-7)- Everyone seems to be betting on Washington. That's usually a good sign to pick the other guy.

Mattare: 28 points...(4-5-1 last week, 0-0-1 lock...25-31-4 overall, 3-2-1 lock)
Mikey: 36 points...(5-4-1 last week, 1-0 lock...32-27 overall, 4-2 lock)