Injuries are starting to compound some difficulties, particularly for the Irish defense. However, Maryland has been pretty terrible of late. They have lost their last 5 games, and went 1-4 against the spread. They are 1-7 against the spread since the opening fireworks against Miami. If you throw out that head scratcher against Clemson, they have averaged less than 14 points a game in their last 6 against D-1 opponents. Moral of the story – they suck.
Notre Dame 38 Maryland 17
Jeremy: Notre Dame
Once again, the big story in the Irish Nation this week has little to do with anything that happened in the Dash last Saturday. It never ceases to amaze how the ND faithful can work themselves into a tizzy over the most trivial of matters. Of course the helmets for this weekend's "Shamrock Series" (sponsored by Sprint!!) are hideous. But as long as this is, at most, a once-a-year type thing (and if you believe Swarbrick, it will be), I don't see the problem with doing something fun that the younger portions of the fanbase, and the team itself, can have fun with.
Although the injuries are really starting to take their toll, the Irish can afford to lick their wounds a bit the next two weeks. Maryland is pretty lousy and the Terps should have a tough time stopping the Irish. Would like to see Andrew Hendrix get some more reps this week, and see Tommy bounce back from his subpar effort against Wake. Irish win big here as they try to keep getting better in advance of the big showdown over Thanksgiving weekend.
ND 41 Maryland 24
The traveling circus that is Notre Dame football barnstorms its way to a Baltimore tour stop for the 2nd edition of the Shamrock Series. TANGENT ALERT! TANGENT ALERT!
Apparently this is now a tradition. While on the surface it seems to be a lame marketing excuse to peddle Adidas’ latest jersey/helmet/glove du jour, the concept isn’t bad in theory. I’m all for mixing up the jerseys and trying different color combinations and unveiling different helmets. (For a good laugh, here's EDSBS' take on the helmet series). Nike’s experimental fashion shows with Oregon have helped the Ducks’ program immensely. There's a ton of buzz each fall to see what the new designs will be. Under Armour is hoping for similar success and exposure with Maryland. I don’t need to be convinced that there’s opportunities for Adidas and ND to capitalize on. It's the reality of the sports marketing world we live in - there's programs ahead of the curve, programs piggybacking on this lead, and programs stubbornly digging their heels in the traditional past. While a good majority of ND Nation wants the latter, being ahead of the curve offers the greatest opportunity for the program, both in dollars and recruiting today's best athletes. Unfortunately, right now, many of the marketing efforts fall into the piggyback category -- I'm looking at you in-game stadium music director. The Shamrock Series is a step in the direction of getting ahead of the curve. While this installment seemed to take everyone by surprise and some of the design features may turn off fans, it's a process that I'm willing to see tweaks and more of in the future. The fact that it's only planned for one game a year may help appease the traditionalists fuddy-duddy ways. We've got some wise words coming in the next week or so from our very own Doug on the 3-year barnstorming experiment: what works, what doesn't, and what's best for the future. The topic of marketing and branding ND football isn't going away anytime soon.
Oh right, there’s a game at the center of this marketing /barnstorming concoction. In their 1st season under new coach Randy Edsall, Maryland has been dirty diaper stinky. If you recall, Charlie Weis’ last home game provided Edsall with his defining career moment. A sequel is not in the works, though the game will nonetheless have some intrigue. Does Mike Golic, Jr seamlessly replace Braxton Cave at center and maintain the line’s dominance? Does Jonas Gray's meteoric rise up NFL scouts lists continue? Does Tommy Rees quell some doubts and put a complete performance together against an undermanned Terrapin secondary? Does someone, anyone, return a punt for an above average 0.4 yards?
ND 36 Maryland 13
Mike: Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s barnstorming tour of the Mid-Atlantic continues this week with a trip to Landover to play a Maryland team that is in complete freefall. Following a promising opening victory over Miami for Randy Edsall, the Terps have been putrid ever since (in both play and attire, though Notre Dame appears poised to out-ugly the Terps in the latter category this week).
On offense, Maryland has received solid but unspectacular play from Davin Meggett, but their passing game has been awful. Incumbent starter Danny O’Brien has regressed badly in his sophomore campaign, while backup C.J. Brown, though mobile, has not shown any consistent ability as a passer. Defensively, Maryland is a complete sieve, especially against the run. In light of Maryland’s inability to slow the run, it would be complete folly for the Irish not to rely overwhelmingly on Cierre Wood and Jonas Gray. Then again, with Brian Kelly calling the plays, it would almost be surprising not to see a foolish and reckless dependence on the turnover prone Tommy Rees.
Obviously, there is no reason why the Irish shouldn’t win this game handily against a severely overmatched foe that has struggled in all three phases of the game. Of course, if past performance is any indication, one can expect Kelly to revert to his old stubborn habit of forsaking a dominant ground game in favor of a shaky quarterback. Rees will toss his picks and the running backs will bail out the offense the game. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Notre Dame 31 Maryland 21
The battle of the ugly uniforms! This is essentially a home game for the Terrapins in this next installment of several "destination" games for the Irish. Please allow me to voice my opinion on these games -
I love the idea of broadening your horizons and taking games to places we would otherwise not go. But why on earth would we choose locations like NYC, DC, and Ireland for crying out loud. We need to play these games in areas where there are more stud high school football prospects - like Houston, ATL, Miami, New Orleans, etc. If we are gonna spend money and travel, go to where the goods are. That is all.
As far as the game goes, similar to last week. We should win and we should win handily. However, this Irish squad, as with many in years past, plays at the level of the competition and Randy Edsall has bested us with an inspired performance in the past. But then again, it is about the time we go on a run, and build up hope for next year....
Irish 34 Maryland 24