Dan: Notre Dame
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Sullivan family. RIP Declan, fellow Green Wave.
Notre Dame 27 Tulsa 23
Jeremy: Notre Dame
I’m having a tough time ignoring that voice in the back of my head telling me that, with everything swirling around the program right now, the Irish will be too distracted to give their best effort, and will simply fold up their tents and lose out. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit. Tulsa scores points in bunches, Utah is a Top 10 team, Army runs the option/veer that gave the Irish so much trouble last week, and USC looks like they’ve found their stride.
Of course, the alternative is that the Irish dig deep and play inspired football the rest of the way, shrugging off the (likely season-ending) injuries to Riddick and Ian Williams, and the tragedy on the practice field this week to win the games they should, and perhaps even steal one from Utah/SC.
My guess is that the most likely scenario is somewhere in the middle, and ND continues its inconsistent ways. But I do think they’ll be able to do enough to at least get past a Tulsa team that hasn’t beaten a BCS regular for quite some time. Their pass defense is brutal, and Dayne Crist should be able to take advantage of a recovering Michael Floyd and an emerging TJ Jones to move the ball through the air.
On defense, the loss of the big ma in the middle could allow Tulsa to gash ND a bit on the ground, but look for Manti Te’o to have his biggest game in an Irish uniform this week. I’m thinking something along the lines of 25 tackles or so. Sounds like Carlo Calabrese might not play, and so we’ll learn quickly whether Dan Fox and others will be able to provide quality depth at the ILB position. If Tulsa has to air it out, I don’t think they’ll have much success, and hopefully the pass rush can make things uncomfortable.
I don’t expect a blowout, but I do expect a comfortable win, with some garbage time opportunities for either Montana or Rees, who impressed in his limited duty last week, leading the Irish on their most successful drive of the day.
ND 38 Tulsa 24
Jimmy: Notre Dame
A tragic and tumultuous week for the school and team. Focus has shifted from the game at hand, certainly affecting concentration and game preparation. The players will be motivated to win for bigger reasons than team pride after last week’s embarrassment. Statistically speaking, Tulsa beckons teams to use their defense like a welcome mat. Crist should leave tread marks all over their secondary, but whether that actually happens remains to be seen. Needless to say, expectations are tempered until the offense executes with consistency and picks up a few 3rd or 4th and shorts. I don't want to imagine another terrible loss.
Notre Dame 36 Tulsa 31
It’s come to this. A week after getting depantsed by the Naval Academy, the Irish prepare for the mighty Tulsa Golden Hurricanes to descend on South Bend with a high powered offense looking to pull off the “upset.” And here I thought the big series with the team from Oklahoma started in 2012. Looks like I was off by two years.
Cynicism, sarcasm and snarkiness aside, I really don’t think that Notre Dame will win this football game. Why should I? The defense was a sieve against Navy, and don’t look now but here comes one of the most prolific offenses in the country, averaging 500 yards a game. Sure they got blown out against their only real legit team in Oklahoma State, giving up 65 points, but anyone who thinks that Notre Dame is even close to the same level as OSU offensively is delirious. This is a bad Notre Dame offense with no explosiveness in the running game, a QB who is regressing (I was going to say appears to be regressing, but no, there is no appearing to regress. Crist IS regressing. It’s a fact.), and a receiving corps that is decimated by injuries. (Yo Longo, figure out how to stretch out a hamstring. Ridiculous.)
No one’s ever heard of anyone on Tulsa, but then again Navy’s backup fullback Alexander Teich wasn’t exactly a household name a week ago either. G.J. Kinne (Reggie Cleveland All-Star – he’s white) has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 15 TD’s already, and their running game features guys averaging 5.4 and 10.8 YPC. (Armando Allen: 4.8) Kinne actually was a Rivals 3 star and transferred from Texas, so don’t be surprised when you look up in the 4th quarter and he’s thrown for 300 yards and 4 TD’s. It shouldn’t come as a shocker.
And for those who don’t think Tulsa belongs on the same field as Notre Dame, I did a little research. According to Rivals, Tulsa had the 8th ranked recruiting class in 2007……..in Conference USA (avg star – 1.87). In 2008, they were the 4th best in conference (2.19), in 2009 2nd (2.64), and in 2010 6th (2.68). So don’t be surprised when these elite recruits are dominating the Irish on Saturday. I’m sure it’s merely an oversight that none of them have appeared yet on Mel Kiper’s Big Board.
I tried to get through this preview without all the negativity, but honestly, after last week and the way this season has gone in general, I am fast losing hope that Notre Dame will ever become a truly relevant program again. To me, this home game against Tulsa, a middle of the pack Conference USA team, is a legitimate toss-up. Nothing that the Irish do on the field on Saturday will change my mind; after all Tulsa lost by 40 to Oklahoma State. Should I just hope that one day Notre Dame can be an Oklahoma State or Clemson type program? Would joining Conference USA or the Big East give the program more relevance in that there is a conference championship to play for? Big picture items to be debated another day, but on Saturday I think the Brian Kelly (and Bob Diaco) era takes another embarrassing step in the wrong direction.
Tulsa 41 ND 34
Sigh. Last week’s embarrassing performance at Navy was a sobering reminder to ND fans of how far this program has falling under the negligent eye of an administration that simply does not care about football greatness. I haven’t watched any Tulsa games, of course, so I really don’t care to give an analysis. I also don’t intend to watch this game, but I’m sure it will be a real hoot.
Tulsa 41 Notre Dame 31