We're halfway through another Notre Dame football season. Kinda sad really. Think back to how you felt in July and August when you were starving for anything and everything related to football. It felt like the offseason would never end. Amazing how quickly these football seasons go by.
My advice would be to watch as much football as you possibly can between now and the end of the season. Soon enough, it will be January, and the season will be over.
Anyway, enjoy the weekend, and go Irish. Bring home a victory over the BC Eagles.
Here are the picks.
Texas -14 at Missouri (ABC Sports 8pm)
Jeremy: Texas (-14)
This line seems high, but I don’t think much of Mizzou at all. Or really anybody in the Big 12 for that matter. Now that the Horns have gotten past the Red River Shootout, doesn’t seem like there’s much standing between them – that game in Stillwater could provide some nervous moments but Texas certainly seems head and shoulders above everyone else in the conference. A big part of me hopes that Texas stumbles somewhere along the way so we don’t have to witness the bloodbath that would be a Texas-Bama, or Texas-Florida title game.
Texas 34 Missouri 17
Dan: Texas -14
This game makes me a little nervous. Texas is coming off an emotionally draining game and Colt McCoy is banged up. Additionally, it is their first road game against a BCS school this season. However, the Tigers are not very good. They’ve lost their last two by an average of 15 points and are consistently making mistakes. I expect the game to remain close for a while, with Texas barely covering late in the 4th to pull away.
Texas 28 Missouri 13
Matt: Missouri +14
This is just a lot of points to be getting at home against a Texas team that doesn’t really seem to have another gear like they did last year. I watched most of that game against OU and Colt McCoy is just not the same player from a year ago. His Heisman candidacy is a farce right now, and anyone who thinks that he would make a better pro than Jimmy Clausen is fooling themselves.
Random sight of that game was Peyton Manning in the building. Great to see. I guess he has struck up a friendship with McCoy and Bradshaw, which is cool enough, but to see Peyton traveling to Texas on his bye week for a huge college football matchup on his bye week is pretty cool. That guy sleeps, eats and breathes football. You think Tom and Gisele would ever consider hopping on a flight to go watch a random college football game?
Texas 31 Missouri 21
Mike: Missouri +14
Texas escaped with a gutsy win in the Red River Shootout (not “Rivalry”), but they will not keep surviving unless they can develop a running game to take the pressure off Colt McCoy. While the Longhorns put forth a more credible rushing attack last week behind Fozzy Whitaker, the jury is still out on their ability to achieve offensive balance. Likewise, the host Tigers have experienced similar difficulties on the ground and they will be tested severely by an athletic Texas defense that completely stifled Oklahoma’s running game. I expect Blaine Gabbert to deliver an improved effort at home, however, thereby allowing Missouri to keep this game somewhat close.
Texas 31 Missouri 21
Doug: Missouri +14
What does it say about the national college football scene this year that Missouri-Texas is the primetime ABC game this week?? Let's be honest, Texas is a great program, but they have regional appeal in the southwest. There is zero appeal in the Midwest and Northeast to watch a bunch Texas games unless they are playing a bowl game or a big nonconference game. Of all the college football diehards I know, I would say very few of them know the first thing about Texas football or has really bothered to watch much of them this year. There's just something about Big 12 football that doesn't resonate with me in the Midwest.
And yet, I can understand why ABC has to keep putting Texas on primetime national tv games. Who else are they going to put on given the choices they have?? Not a lot of quality choices out there. The Herbstreit-Musberger duo has done three Texas games already and probably will do 2-3 more.
This is where ABC is sort of pigeonholed. The top SEC games go to CBS (day) and ESPN (night), ND is on NBC, the Big Ten has too many down programs, and one of the top ACC programs (Florida State) is unwatchable. ABC keeps coming back to these Big 12 games because they have no other choice.
ABC's lack of quality games so far reflects on the state of college football this year. Even though the power programs in college football are in the south and west, the ratings still come from the big schools in the East and the Midwest. No one in Ohio or New York or Pennsylvania is going to watch Texas-Missouri at night after they've watched football all day. But if Michigan and Penn State were legitimately good this year, everyone in the nation would be watching that game, including in Big 12 country. College football desperately needs a few of the following schools to get it together and become consistently great:
For example, Florida State is playing North Carolina this week. If this was 1996 and FSU was playing a decent ACC team on the road, that game would be a big game nationally. FSU in the 90s was must-see tv along with Miami (FL). There was just something about those schools that made them exciting to watch, even though most people (including me) hated them.
Same goes for Penn State and Michigan and ND. Between those three schools and Ohio State, ABC should always have someone to show in primetime. The problem is that Michigan and Notre Dame are never in the top 10 enough to even be considered for a primetime showing , and Penn State plays a laughable schedule and doesn't have enough games to show on primetime. Imagine for a second if ND was a top 10 type team this year. You could show that ND-Pitt game in November on ABC at 8pm, and it would draw huge ratings from ND fans and from people wanting to see a top 10 ND team play. But I would guess it ends up at 3:30pm because ABC has a hard time justifying a national game at 8pm for an ND team that might not even be ranked by game time.
Interestingly, USC-Oregon State is the other game for ABC and probably will only be shown on the west coast, and yet I find that game to be much more compelling than Texas-Missouri. Whether you like them or hate them, USC is a glamour program and one of the few "must see" teams out there. I would watch USC play anyone just because they're interesting. Part of it has to do with their talent, but part of it is that they are so ambitious with their scheduling. They scheduled road games with Ohio State and Notre Dame out of conference this year. That is amazing. And it pays off with their brand because everyone gets to see USC 4-5 times a year in these huge OOC games. We all know a lot about USC because they have made themselves into a national program.
By the way, someone emailed the blog the other day and suggested that we are all a bunch of USC homers and that we should "stop blowing sunshine up Pete Carroll's [behind]." Ehh, I don't think that's the case at all. Not one of us "likes" USC (well, maybe one....ok, fine two....well....never mind). Personally, I root against them in every game they play in, but that doesn't mean I have to put on blinders and ignore what I'm seeing out there on the field. USC is as talented as any team in the nation. I can't recall one time since they started this great run where USC has been blown out by anyone, and all they do is win big game after big game. I don't think I'm a USC homer because I think they can beat anyone in the nation. I've thought that about USC for 7-8 years in a row, and yet they keep getting jobbed out of playing in the title game. Even though I don't like USC, I am in awe of the stature of their program. Not only do they win big, they do it against some of the toughest schedules in the nation year in and year out.
Back to the game though. I guess I should pick Texas to cover since Missouri hasn't impressed me at all, but I'll take the points.
Texas 31 Missouri 20
TCU -1 at BYU (Versus 7:30pm)
Jeremy: TCU (-1)
Big opportunity for the Horned Frogs to make a statement in the eyes of the voters and the computers. TCU premiered at No. 8 in the BCS standings and a win in Provo could go a long way to earning Gary Patterson a coveted berth. I’m usually not one to toot the horn for the mid-majors of the college football world, but if TCU runs the table with wins on the road against Clemson, Air Force and BYU, and a home win against the Utes they would sport a pretty impressive resume. I’m surprised to find myself so easily going against the Cougs in this game – I think that performance at home against FSU is still leaving a bad taste in my mouth.
TCU 23 BYU 20
Dan: TCU -1
Gameday should just go in studio. I’m not interested. Are you? Florida State manhandled BYU and I expect TCU’s defense to equally hold BYU in check. Look for TCU to grind out a low scoring win on the back of their defense.
TCU 17 BYU 13
Matt: TCU -1 -- LOCK OF THE WEEK
I don’t know much about either of these teams, so for me this pick was pretty simple
TCU beat Clemson
Clemson beat BC
BC beat Florida State
Florida State beat BYU
TCU > BYU
TCU 17 BYU 14
Mike: BYU (+1)
This pick is purely a product for my disdain for the minor conferences and my corresponding desire to avoid having to hear any debates regarding whether TCU (or Boise, for that matter), if undefeated, is worthy of inclusion in the BCS championship.
BYU 24 TCU 21
Doug: TCU -1
For all the attention on Boise State this year, how about TCU?? They've gone on the road and won at Virginia and Clemson. Is there any reason to think that they couldn't be right in the mix in the ACC this year?? If they run the table with wins against BYU and Utah coming up, how would they not be as deserving as Boise State for the non-BCS school automatic bid?? Boise is obviously a pretty darn good team, but the WAC is awful. Who is the second best team in the WAC?? Nevada?? They lost to Colorado State, who is currently 0-3 in the MWC. Fresno?? I guess, but they aren't anything remarkable either. Why does Boise get the auto bid with no consideration for a possible 12 win TCU team?
College Gameday will be in the house, and the Versus Network gets their game of the year!! There wasn't an Ottawa Senators-Vancouver Canucks game they could have shown instead?? I could see Versus getting a decent rating for this game on Saturday night.
TCU has already won at Clemson and at Virginia. I don't see any reason why they'll be intimidated by BYU. I think they'll go to Provo and straight up win this game.
One final note. Put me down in the "NO" column on Gary Patterson as a possible head coaching candidate at ND someday. How many times have we seen these guys leave the "power" programs of the WAC and Mountain West for other jobs and then get exposed?? If you are the head coach at Boise, you are working for the best program in the WAC. Boise has an institutional commitment that goes beyond the head coach. Boise has the most money and best facilities in the WAC, and there is a statewide commitment to the Broncos. I'm not saying anyone could win there, but it's not necessarily a program that is dependent on a head coach to win. If you leave that bubble and go to a place like Colorado, suddenly it's all on you to recruit and win against programs that have better pieces in place than you do.
Same goes for TCU. They have Texas high school talent going up against less talented teams. It's not like Gary Patterson built New Mexico into a power or something. He has the best talent in the conference besides maybe Utah or BYU. I'm not saying he's a bad coach or a guaranteed failure, but we've never seen him coach at a school that doesn't have the best talent in the league. This isn't an Urban Meyer situation. Urban Meyer took over at Bowling Green and won the MAC within a couple years. Bowling Green is one of the weaker programs in the MAC. Then he went to Utah and DOMINATED. Different situation for Patterson. TCU is the only school he's ever coached, and he took it over in a good situation from Dennis Franchione.
Speaking of Franchione, isn't he the perfect example of a guy who got in over his head based on what he did at a midmajor powerhouse?? He went from TCU to Alabama!! Unreal! The guy parlayed a couple good years at TCU into one of the most coveted jobs in all of football.
Anyway, that's why I'd put out the extreme caution flag on a guy like Gary Patterson. Honestly, I would not touch him unless he ends up at a place like Texas A&M and wins there first. Or even a place like Colorado.
TCU 21 BYU 17
Penn State - 4 at Michigan (ABC Sports 3:30 pm)
Jeremy: Penn St. (-4)
Interesting line here. PSU hasn’t done anything of merit so far this year, so I’m not surprised that they aren’t getting more respect. But Michigan is coming off two straight conference losses (that farce against Delaware St. shouldn’t even count as half a game) and nursing some injuries. Molk is supposedly back to anchor the offensive line, and Forcier apparently is feeling no ill effects from the shoulder injury/concussion. I expect Penn St. to bring some significant pressure against the freshmen and make him very uncomfortable in the pocket. Brandon Graham does his darnedest, but can’t keep the Wolverines from dropping their first home game of the year.
PSU 27 Michigan 20
Dan: Penn State -4 – LOCK OF THE WEEK
Penn State should easily notch its first win in the Big house since the mid 90s this weekend. The gaping holes in Michigan’s defense should provide plenty of opportunities for Evan Royster to pile up yards. That should relieve the pressure off Daryl Clark giving him the time he needs to be able to make is reads when necessary. Meanwhile, there are rumbles that Rich Rod may start Denard Robinson at quarterback. Glad to see another guy Notre Dame’s defense made look like a Heisman Trophy candidate has once again revealed himself to be overblown (See: Tashard Choice). Either way, Forcier has just been the same since getting banged up and Robinson, well, sucks. PSU should blow Michigan out.
Penn State 38 Michigan 17
Matt: Michigan +4
Penn State’s best win is probably Temple. Temple! The Owls. And we are halfway through the season. (Al Golden, Temple’s coach, should be on somebody’s radar as a head coach. He took over THE WORST program in college football that had just gotten kicked out of the Big East and now has them in first place in the MAC. ) Although it seems like a lot of the luster has worn off of the early season magic from the Wolverines, I’ll take them at home against a severely overrated Penn State team.
Michigan 27 Penn State 24
Mike: Penn State (-4) – LOCK OF THE WEEK
Penn State seems to be rounding nicely into form after its early season stumble against an Iowa team that, despite looking unimpressive at times, is nonetheless undefeated. Michigan, conversely, continues to have its flaws exposed as the season progresses, notwithstanding last week’s lambasting of Delaware State. The Nittany Lions should be able to force turnovers from the mistake prone Michigan QBs and, on offense, Darryl Clark and company should move the ball effectively against Michigan’s porous defense.
Penn State 35 Michigan 13
Doug: Michigan +4 -- LOCK OF THE WEEK
Think about this for a second. College Gameday is going to Provo, Utah on the same weekend that Michigan and Penn State are playing each other. Two of the top 10 programs of all time playing in relative anonymity. Ten years ago, this would have been one of the 2-3 biggest games of the year in college football. Very little buzz for UM-PSU this week, but that's what happens when Michigan goes 3-9 and Penn State has played one of the worst schedules in the country.
Amazing how quiet the Michigan chatter got in the last couple weeks. They went from being the story of the 2009 football season to a complete afterthought. I actually was impressed by their effort at Iowa a couple weeks ago. They really could have won that game. Michigan could easily be 7-0 or 6-1 right now.
This is a big game for Michigan. If they beat Penn State, they're suddenly in position to start talking about 9 or even 10 wins and maybe even sneak into the Rose Bowl conversation. If they lose, it might be a safer bet to start talking about 7-8 wins. It'll be interesting to see how Forcier looks against Penn State's defense. Michigan actually gave Penn State a game last year even with all of their problems.
As for Penn State, they have been cruising lately, but who have they played?? A pupu platter of Illinois, Eastern Illinois, and Minnesota in the last three weeks. I don't think anyone in the nation has six less impressive wins than Penn State. They haven't beaten anyone with a pulse.
I'll be honest, I really haven't watched any of Penn State this year, so this one is a shot in the dark. But I think Michigan gets their revival tour back on track this week and finds a way to win this game.
Michigan 31 Penn State 28
South Florida +6.5 at Pitt (ESPN Game Plan 12pm)
Jeremy: Pitt (-6.5)
I feel so boring taking all these favorites, but none of these underdogs are frisky at all. If South Florida follows recent history and begins their October freefall this week at Heinz Field, this game could get real ugly real fast. Wannstedt has very quietly put together a competent offense this year – Stull is in the Top 10 in passing efficiency in CFB, while Dion Lewis is averaging over 130 rushing yards/game. The Panthers haven’t been overly impressive in their wins thus far this year, but I think they make a statement this week, throttling USF and taking a big jump in the rankings. I really hope Michael Floyd is going to be available for that Nov. 14 showdown…
Pitt 31 USF 17
Dan: South Florida +6.5
To be honest, I have not watched or read much about Pitt this year, even though they are on our schedule. But I know that Pitt is not Cincinnati, so that should provide USF some bounce back opportunity. Let’s not forget, prior to that Cincy game, USF was 5 – 0 and getting a little pub too behind the strength of their defense. Let’s also not forget that Dave Wannstedt is still the Pitt head coach. He’s overdue for a head scratcher and the timing is just about ripe as Pitt has started to generate a little minor buzz as a potential BCS candidate in the Big East. Look for the upset outright if USF can keep the game close into the 4th via a low scoring affair.
USF 13 Pitt 10
Matt: Pitt -6.5
Dion Lewis is the truth. If they hadn’t served up a Wannstedt special in Raleigh against a terrible NC State team, Pitt would be undefeated and sitting in the Top 10. That’s crazy. Meanwhile, USF had a huge letdown at home last week and now has to go face a Pitt team that is pretty good. USF reminds me of a mini-version of the old Miami teams or the current USC team. Just undisciplined athletes all over the field. They have more talent than everyone they play this year, except for maybe the U, but just commit too many stupid penalties and make too many mental mistakes.
Remember this name though football fans. Jason Pierre-Paul. The guy is a beast on the defensive line. I know that George Selvie gets all of the attention, and he is pretty good too, kind of like a Dwight Freeney type, but Pierre Paul was all over the field against Cincinnati. I think he is a top 10 pick, and he is only a junior. BJ Daniel has only played a few games and he might already be the most exciting QB in America. Jim Leavitt has no shortage of material to work with down there in Tampa.
Pitt 30 USF 21
Mike: South Florida +6.5
I confess that I am impressed, surprised and slightly jealous of Pitt’s ability to run the ball effectively following the departure of Shady McCoy. USF’s strong front line, however, should be able to slow Pitt’s outstanding freshman running back, Dion Lewis, which will force the Panthers to rely on the erratic Bill Stull. The Bulls are nothing special on offense either, so this game figures to be a defensive struggle. Consequently, I am inclined to take the points.
Pitt 19 USF 16
Doug: South Florida +6.5
Pretty intriguing game. South Florida...what a strange team. They have a ton of talent, but the Bulls are the most undisciplined team in the country. They have to lead the nation in dumb penalties and missed assignments. Is it even the slightest surprise though?? Look at their roster!! Half those guys look like they came straight from the county jail. I've seen classier looking dudes stumbling through Franklin County Municipal Court every morning to handle their traffic tickets. USF leads the nation in tattoos, corn rows, and gold chains.
But when you watch USF, it's hard not to think to yourself "man, if these guys would ever settle down and stop playing like a bunch of thugs, they'd be a top 15 team." They do at least play hard.
And I'll tell you what (channeling Bob Davie). He needs some work, but BJ Daniels is a spectacular talent, especially for a freshman. He's like Mike Vick in the open field. Fun to watch. If anything, I would run him more because he's impossible to tackle in the open field. I like that he's willing to stay in the pocket, but sometimes you just need to pick up a first down and keep the chains moving. It's not like he can't throw either. He's actually a really good passer, but he needs to get more comfortable making a read and getting rid of the ball.
I've only watched him one time, but BJ Daniels can be an NFL quarterback from what I saw. I thought he looked like a young Donovan McNabb out there. He just needs to work on harnessing his talents within the structure of an offense and work more on running the designed play instead of just waiting for things to break down before he tries to make something happen. If I was Jim Leavitt, I'd give him a lot of controlled stuff that he can complete and then use that to set up big plays and stuff down the field.
I'm already enjoying the BJ Daniels era. Probably looking at another 3 years of watching him on Thursday night games and saying "BJ Daniels is still at USF??"
As for Pitt, I am curious to see how they play in this game as well. Pitt is probably going to be ND's toughest game in the second half of the year. Good running game, good defense, mediocre quarterback play. Pitt has sort of become like the Wisconsin of the Big East. They aren't the prettiest team, but it's a good formula to win. For all the criticism Dave Wannstedt takes, what else do people want from the guy?? He's got them at 6-1 with a very good chance at 9 wins. That's bad?? At Pitt?? They should be building statues of Dave Wannstedt for what he has done. Maybe they have some close calls, but it's not like Pitt is some juggernaut that should be winning every game 31-10.
Heinz Field is not the biggest home field advantage in the league though, and I do think USF is one of those teams that could easily put it together against a less talented Pitt team. I'll say that USF keeps this game close and maybe even pulls off the straight up win. In fact, that's my prediction. Go Bulls.
USF 21 Pitt 20
Boston College +9.5 at Notre Dame (NBC Sports 3:30pm)
Jeremy: Notre Dame
BC has been doing the Jekyll and Hyde thing this year – impressive wins and great offensive output at home, and abominable performances on the road. The stats from their losses @ Clemson and Va Tech are laughably bad. But, they do sport an impressive RB in Montel Harris, and you can be sure that the Eagles will be amped as they always are to play this game.
On the other side, the Irish are coming off a tough loss against archrival SC, including a furious 4th quarter comeback that came up a bit short. I didn’t have time earlier this week to get to a recap of that game, but in short, I felt that the score of the game did not at all reflect the talent levels of the two programs, or the performances of the respective teams. Barkley put up some great stats, but really didn’t have to make many difficult throws. Once again, the Irish failed to bring significant pressure, and WRs and TEs ran free and unmolested through the secondary. SC also ripped off some long runs, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why they stopped running the ball, particularly in the 4th quarter. The ND front 4 played admirably, but I’m not sure what Carroll was thinking allowing a freshman QB to continue to throw late in the 4th quarter when he could have simply lined up and ran the ball down ND’s throat.
Clausen was a warrior of course, and Golden Tate once again nearly saved the day, but the defense is just pitifully bad. The CBs walk around the field with no confidence or swagger and Harrison Smith looks lost on the football field. Really an amazing turn of events. I wonder if we’ll ever get the straight dish on what happened with the secondary this year. Should make for some interesting offseason fodder.
Anyway, getting back to this game, if the secondary continues to struggle, this game is going to come down to the wire (again!) and the Irish will likely once again need some heroics from the offense to pull out a W. I imagine we’ll see a similar game plan as last week – the Irish will sell out to stop Harris and the running game, forcing an inexperienced QB to move the ball through the air. Unless something changes drastically in practice, this probably bodes well for BC.
It will be interesting to see how Clausen and Weis attack the BC defense this year. In last year’s meeting, BC sat back in that Cover 2 and made Jimmy look like a freshman again. Spaziani knows his stuff and I’m sure he’ll have some wrinkles up his sleeve to challenge the ND offense.
Ultimately, I believe the Irish are just too good on offense, although I’m afraid it might take another big 4th quarter drive to seal the victory. If we were picking based on the line, I’d probably take BC to cover, but I think the Irish bounce back from the tough loss and begin the trek towards winning out and hoping for a BCS berth.
ND 31 BC 27
Dan: Boston College
This game has let down written all over it. It’s perfect example of the multitude of other BC games we’ve played over the past 10 years. Huge emotional game (win or loss) followed the next week by a game against less talented Boston College team. Notre Dame comes out flat and ends up scrambling and falling apart. Plus, this game feels like last year’s Pittsburgh game. Start of a late season push against weak opponents, after a heart breaking loss in mid – October (Washington game last year does not exist as it practically wasn’t even a game). I just do not have confidence in this team to win this game. I do think we can avoid the complete falling apart like last year’s team, as the return of Floyd will be enough to boost the team to victories in November. In the mean time, color me nervous about Saturday.
Matt: Notre Dame
It is with great hesitation that I make this pick. I already gave my thoughts on the USC game and the state of the program earlier in the week in the comments to Doug’s post, so I’m just going to focus on the importance of this game. To me, this is a much bigger test of Charlie’s coaching ability than USC was. It is easy for the players to get up for USC. It’s not easy to get up after a deflating loss. That is where Charlie the motivator needs to come in. This team seems to have strong leadership, so I hope it’s not a problem. But ND just played their Super Bowl last week and lost, while BC is playing theirs at 3:30 on Saturday.
The only think that gives me comfort is that BC is a terrible road team, and JC should be able to throw at will on them. I think the gameplan on defense should be similar to USC where we sell out to stop the run and make another freshman (albeit 25 years old) QB beat us.
And for Pete’s sakes Weis and Tenuta, enough with the Harrison Smith experiment at safety. I hate to say it because I’m sure he is a great guy, but he is an awful safety. Just kills the defense. I saw that Jamoris Slaughter has been switched to safety, but have to think he can’t learn it in one week. I would put Sergio Brown back there – if nothing else it is another athlete on the field. Or Ray Herring. Anyone really.
Finally, I just want to recap why I think that making a move at head coach would be foolish – a position I have taken a complete 180 on after watching the USC game. We all saw it – the talent differential on both lines was breathtaking. What was Weis supposed to do? The fact that ND had a chance to win a game against an obviously superior team is good enough for me. My expectations have effectively been lowered.
But to any neutral observer, it is obvious that progress is being made - that the talent has been DRAMATICALLY updated from the Willingham days, and that recruits are still coming. Remember when Weis was hired and Pat Forde and Mark May shouted from their pulpits that ND could never compete again because they can’t get any speed. Well, that one has been put to rest by Weis. The skill positions are not a problem anymore. Now I think that Charlie realizes that the front seven on defense is where he needs to go next, and Manti Te’o is a huge step, but one of many, that will help solve it. Firing Weis will stall all momentum and basically we will be starting over again. Plus it’s not like Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops or Nick Saban are banging down the door to come here. With the state of the athletic department I would rather have Charlie Weis than some half-assed coaching search that lands us some B-lister.
I say stay the course and let’s see what Charlie can do in the next year or two. I don’t have any doubts that he will get Dayne Crist playing at an extremely high level someday, even if (when?) Jimmy goes pro after this year. That’s one thing that Charlie does well is coach up QB’s. Isn’t that what we need going into the post-Clausen era in the next year or two? (Ask me after we lost to BC and I’ll probably be singing a different song while writing a 10,000 word letter to Swarbrick on why Weis should be fired.)
ND 38 BC 34
Mike: Notre Dame
Simply put, if Notre Dame loses to BC, Weis should be fired immediately. Obviously, there is the potential for an emotional letdown and BC is always fired up to play us, but it should not matter. BC will never be anything more than a second-tier program with a bunch of low rent fans, alums and players who possess a Grand Canyon sized inferiority complex toward ND. It is high time that we reassert our dominance over them, starting Saturday. This game better not be close.
Notre Dame 35 BC 17
Doug: Notre Dame
I'm going to be at a wedding for most of the day Saturday, and am not sure how much of this game I'm going to get to watch. If I get to a tv some time on Saturday and see something like "BC 24 ND 17 -- 3rd quarter," I might just walk away and avoid the game entirely. BC always makes me nervous even though there's no reason on paper that we shouldn't win this game.
When I looked at the schedule before the season, I sort of cringed when I saw the following stretch of games:
10/24/2009 BOSTON COLLEGE
How does BC always somehow end up on the schedule RIGHT AFTER our most emotional game of the year?? In 2008, they caught us right after that triple overtime heartbreaking loss to Pitt. In 2002, they caught us right after going down to Florida State and beating the Noles. And in 1993, well, you know.........
Point is, BC sneaks up on us every time we play them, and now they are in position to do it again this year. This game is like the Super Bowl for BC. I don't necessarily think it defines their program like it once did, but they look at it like we look at the USC game. It's the game that the BC players and their fans really get up for.
Meanwhile, ND always seems to be sleepwalking against Boston College. How many times have we been flat for this game?? The only time I can ever remember us even being "up" for BC in recent years was in 2007 when we were completely awful and BC was undefeated and actually pretty good. Of all the years to get up for BC, we pick the one year where we are awful beyond all repair.
This is the year to turn that tide. The second half of the season starts on Saturday, and there's a lot to play for. A 10 win season, a BCS bid, a possible Heisman run for Jimmy Clausen, and maybe the head coach's future employment. It all starts with Boston College. I'm tired of losing to these guys. I can't imagine how tired Charlie and the fellas are of losing to them as well.
We can sit here and deny it all we want, but BC is a rivalry game. Other than Michigan and USC, I think of BC as our biggest rival. ND has more tradition and talent of course, but there are similar cultures in the programs. Middle class, lots of white guys, lots of kids from Catholic schools in the Midwest and Northeast. Heck, a lot of these guys grew up playing together.
Perfect example. Great story out of the Chicago Tribune this week about Charlie Weis keeping in touch with BC linebacker Mark Herzlich as he tries to recover from cancer.
Really heartwarming stuff, and one of the coolest things I've read about Charlie Weis in a long time. For all of his bluster, it seems like Weis is the kind of guy who would do stuff like that. An incredibly classy thing for an opposing coach to do. Stories like this make me want to take back every bad thing I've ever said about Charlie Weis.
The article also mentions that Golden Tate and Mark Herzlich text each other on occasion. Really doesn't surprise me. These kids are all good athletes who share the bond of playing football at a good academic school. There are always a lot of ties between the Notre Dame and Boston College families. Heck, in my own extended family, the ND-BC thing is a fun give and take.
I have great respect for the BC program and what they have been able to accomplish. They have a good system of developing four and five year players, they overcome talent deficiencies with smart, tough football, and they usually have a bunch of kids from the Cincy/Ohio Catholic schools.
I actually really enjoy the ND-BC rivalry (although I certainly would enjoy winning the game more often). If I was the ND athletic director, BC would be a school that I would play every year along with Michigan, USC, and Navy. That would be my four "must play" games of the year. BC is certainly a more interesting opponent for me than Purdue or Stanford. Plus, when we play at BC, we get to spend a weekend in a world class city like Boston. One of my favorite cities.
So yes, I do consider it a rivalry, and I wish our fans treated it as one as well. If we got up for this game like BC does, we'd perform a lot better on the field against them.
Is ND going to be up for this game?? I would like to think so. We've lost six straight times to BC, and we really cannot afford to lose this game.
I'll be honest, I'm worried about where our heads are at though. I'm worried about the game starting and we'r flat, BC is sky high, and we put the ball on the ground a couple times to hand BC a lead. Just feels like we do that every year against Boston College.
Meanwhile, BC seems to be playing their best football of the year, and you know they are going to be jazzed up to play at ND. BC is a little bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team with strong performances at home and shaky performances on the road, but I expect them to bring their best on Saturday.
I don't think there are really any keys to victory or anything for the Irish. We just have to do what we've been doing all year. Give Clausen time, no dumb turnovers, get the ball to Golden Tate and Kyle Rudolph in space, push the tempo on offense, hit our field goal attempts, and make a few big plays on defense. As long as we don't turn it over, we'll be fine. I cannot see Tate and Clausen letting us lose to Boston College at home.
I'd like to see ND go one step further and really step it up defensively. BC is starting a freshman quarterback, and they have been inept on offense in their last two road games. They have a good running back in Montel Harris with this new Wildcat formation, but it will be disappointing if BC is able to move the football up and down the field against our defense. BC is pretty lousy offensively, and we need to find ways to get to their quarterback and force a couple turnovers. A big time performance from the defense is long overdue.
Sounds like Jamoris Slaughter is going to see some time on Saturday at safety. Good to see. He should start as far as I'm concerned. I thought he looked great in the spring game.
Anyway, that's all I got for this game. I think ND is the better team and should win if we show up ready to play. If not, it will be a long afternoon. I expect this game to be close, but I think ND will find a way to get it done.
ND 27 BC 21
Duke -5.5 over Maryland: These two teams are moving in opposite directions. Something tells me that Maryland fans are not particularly excited about the prospects of the upcoming James Franklin era.
Purdue -10.5 over Illinois: The gambling community still seems to underestimate Illinois’ futility for some reason.
Baylor +10.5 over Oklahoma State: Time for the Pokes to fall back to their comfortable spot in the middle of the pack in the Big 12.
Washington State +36 over California: I’ve actually had some success this year with Wazzu and this is just too many points to turn down.
Mississippi State +22 over Florida: Again, too many points for Florida to be receiving on the road, even against Mississippi State.
Arkansas +5 over Mississippi: Forget preseason expectations: Ole Miss just isn’t that good.
Chicago Bears +1 at Cincinnati Bengals -- Bengals! Bears! 4:15 on Fox! Wow, I don't think the Bengals have ever had the marquee 4pm Fox game before. Are we sure Aikman and Buck know how to get to Cincinnati?? Can someone pick them up at the airport and show them where downtown is??
The wheels are falling off a little bit in Cincy. Antwan Odom is out for the year (players on HGH get hurt a lot?? You don't say!), and now an angry and desperate Bears team is coming into town. The Bengals front seven took a major step backward on Sunday. That was an 05-06 Bengals type performance with no pass rush and too many easy opportunities to throw the ball down the field.
This is a huge game for the Bengals. They really cannot afford to lose back to back home games heading into the bye week. It really comes down to winning the battles at the line of scrimmage. If they do that, they'll win. If they don't, they'll lose. I think we all got ahead of ourselves as Bengals fans, and I feel an excruciating loss coming on Sunday. Still, 4-3 at the break is tolerable. 5-2 would be great though. Carson Palmer needs to be ready to bail this team out if the defense is not up to par.
UConn +7 at West Virginia -- UConn has been a pretty frisky dog this year. Horrific story about the starting cornerback who was murdered at a campus party. Very sad and scary stuff. Over/under on the number of times Tom Hammond discusses that during the ND-UConn telecast: 50
Arkansas +5.5 at Ole Miss -- The Razorbacks are dangerous. I think they'll win this game straight up. Ryan Mallett made the best decision of his life going to play for Bobby Petrino. He'll be a top 10 pick in 2010.
Georgia Tech -4 at UVA -- Grohtober continues. The man somehow finds a way to save his job every year. I think GT will put him further onto the hot seat though.
Washington +7.5 against Oregon -- Huge game for Washington. I think they have a shot to pull the upset. Oregon could be looking ahead to that big USC game next week.
Tennessee +16.5 at Bama -- Bama has to have a close call one of these games right?? Aren't we destined for one of those classic Verne Lundquist finishes?? I could see Tennessee hanging around and making this game interesting.
Louisville +17 at Cincy -- The Bearcats are getting a little too much love at home without Tony Pike. Gotta get him back on the field soon. I don't trust that Carralas guy or whatever his name is. No quarterback fits the white trash westside Cincy persona better than Tony Pike. He's like the posterchild for that part of the city.
Iowa -2 at Michigan State -- YUUUUUUUUUGE game for both teams. Sparty could quietly sneak right back into the Big Ten title race if they win this game. Iowa could be 10-0 heading into Columbus if they can win in East Lansing.
Mississippi State +22 against Florida -- Lots of people speculating that Florida's offense is not the same without Dan Mullen running the show. What's the story here?? Is it Mullen or Percy Harvin or something else?? Whatever it is, Florida has not been as explosive this year offensively for whatever reason. They were downright lucky to beat Arkansas. Not sure what the story is in Gainesville, but they certainly haven't looked like the #2 team in the country lately. I expect MSU to cover the 22 at home.
Auburn +8 at LSU -- LSU doesn't seem like they are capable of scoring enough points to cover the 8. Auburn is shaky though. Two teams that looked really promising about three weeks ago, and now I'm really not excited about either one.
Oregon State +21 at USC -- Would it surprise anyone if this game was "Oregon State 13 USC 10" late in the 3rd quarter?? USC is just flaky enough that I could see them not showing up to play against Oregon State and blowing it, especially now that everyone thinks they are the clear frontrunner among all 1 loss teams (or potential 1 loss teams) for the BCS title game. USC wins out, and I think they'll find their way in. But first they have to take care of business, and that starts with Oregon State.
Now that I've watched USC up close, I pretty much know what they are all about. They can beat anyone, but their whole persona is easily conducive to upset losses. Any team that hot dogs as much as USC and commits dumb penalties is always susceptible to upsets. Teams that try to beat themselves usually end up doing so.
USC will most likely beat Oregon State at home, but they are going to be on upset alert multiple times from here on out.
Arizona State +7 at Stanford -- The Stanford bandwagon has never been lighter. You are what you are. A 4-3 football team that gives up 250 passing yards a game. There is no reason for ND to lose to Stanford this year, especially with a crowd that will likely be 50% ND fans. Then again, I looked up the Irish, and we're giving up 283 passing yards a game. Egads!
Lock of the Week: