Friday, September 18, 2009

IBG: Redemption Begins With A 'W' Edition

This week's IBG comes to us courtesy of the always delightful Sarah over at Bad Trade.
1. Still trying to get the taste of last weekend's game out of my mouth, so let's start with something fun. With Sparty on its way into South Bend, give me your favorite memory of the ND-MSU series. I don't care what it is: John L. Smith losing it, the image of MSU guarding against nothing, an actual game memory, whatever.

Well, since I posted a bunch of videos yesterday showing some of my favorite games in the series, I am going with a non-game moment - Detroit talk show host Mike Valenti's meltdown after Notre Dame's come-from-behind win in 2006. For those of you who've not heard this gem, it is a classic study in delicious, delicious schadenfreude, complete with references to "choking on applesauce", Hurricane Katrina and, everyone's favorite, Teddy Ruxpin. Enjoy:

2. Since 1997, Michigan State has won 9 of 12 games against the Irish. I view this as a classic case of Sparty having ND's number. What worries you most about Michigan State this weekend?

One of the theories that has floated around as to why Notre Dame has done so poorly against Michigan State over the last decade, is that the game against the Spartans tends to follow a tough, emotional, high profile game against Michigan and the Irish come out flat. If this is true, than this week is likely to be brutal for Notre Dame. True, both teams lost heartbreakers last week but, for Michigan State, getting fired up for ND after facing Montana State and Central Michigan should be no problem. Can the Irish be similarly motivated and emotionally grounded after back-to-back games against Nevada and Michigan? Those are going to be the questions that determine the outcome - which team can bounce back better from a tough loss and which team is more fired up, generally. If history is any guide, I am concerned about Irish chances.

3. Between my lingering bad feelings from last weekend and the history of this series in the last decade plus, give me a good reason or two or three to feel optimistic about a change in fortune for the Irish, because right now, I could use some optimism.

Well, Michigan State did just lose at home to Central Michigan. Whatever you think about Notre Dame's loss to the Wolverines, it's better than that. More importantly, though, this seems to be a very mature Irish team that understands the gravity of the situation in which they find themselves. They know that their credibility, their coach's job and the program's prominence is in their hands. As a result, I have no doubt that this team will have put the Ann Arbor debacle behind them by Saturday afternoon. So long as they do, they should certainly win this game. They are more talented and more experienced than Michigan State and they're playing at home. Combine all these factors and I think you'll see a fairly comfortable Irish win (somewhere around the 10 points they're favored by).

4. As it is my week, I get to address my current ND obsession. Have the last two games changed your opinion/reinforced your opinion re: Charlie in the box versus Charlie on the field?

First off, if Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has taught us nothing else, it's that nobody wants a Charlie-In-The-Box. Beyond that, though, I'm not sure it matters. Yes, Charlie called a great game against Hawaii while in the box but, I think anyone would be hard-pressed to say that the performance of the offense in the first two games suffered because of Charlie being on the field.

5. If nothing else, I can count on one thing to look forward to on Saturday - tailgating. Anyone have a good recipe for me to try? I make no limitations on what it can be - a drink recipe, dessert, appetizer. So long as it can be made on a grill, camp stove, or ahead of time, I am happy to listen. The better the suggestion, the more likely you are to get invited to my own tailgate.
An easy, tasty and potentially lethal rum punch combo that I stumbled upon this summer goes as follows:

- Light rum
- Coconut rum
- Pineapple juice
- Grenadine

Yes, men will have to drink this with a pinky extended, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable cocktail. While I'm sure this mixture already has a name, for IBG purposes I am going to name it after the one Irish player who hails from a tropical locale...I call it, "The Manti."

6. Finally, any predictions for the game? I encourage your predictions to involve something other than a final score, but otherwise, I make no suggestions.

I predict that Notre Dame will score seven touchdowns but, because it is yet another Big 10 officiating crew, will only be awarded four points for each. Michigan State, conversely, will have three touchdowns, but will be given nine points per. After extra points, ND sneaks out a 35-30 win over the Spartans in spite of having to play the last two-and-a-half quarters with six men on the field thanks to an official's questionable interpretation of the penalty that applies to offsides.

No comments: