With Notre Dame stepping into primetime to play the Cougars of Washington State, One Foot Down steps up with this week's questions:
1. The 7-4-1 scheduling model has been the subject of much heated debate amongst Irish fans since it was first announced back in 2006. This week the Fighting Irish will play the first neutral site “barnstorming game” in said model so now is as good of a time as any to weigh in on the controversial subject. What do you think about a) 7-4-1 as a whole, b) the neutral site/ barnstorming game in general and c) specifically playing Washington State in San Antonio.
A) I know this is a minority opinion among Irish fans, but I'm fine with it. The primary argument against the 7-4-1, as best I can tell, is that it makes it makes it difficult to schedule games against better competition. Well, boo-fucking-hoo. First of all, Notre Dame will continue to play games against programs like Michigan, Michigan State and Southern Cal every year. Second, and here's the important part, since when is a brutal schedule the key to a national championship? I grew up watching the Notre Dame teams of the late '80's and early '90's. They were immensely talented, yet only won one national championship while getting screwed out of two others. The Irish took great pride in consistently playing either the toughest or, at the very least, one of the toughest schedules in the country every year. In the meantime, the teams that were winning national championships were mostly feasting on cupcakes (take a look at Florida State and Miami's schedules from those eras). Even now, the top teams don't exactly kill themselves. This season, Florida has Charleston Southern, Troy and Florida International on their non-conference schedule. For their part, Texas will be playing Louisiana-Monroe, UTEP and UCF this year. Tell me again why Notre Dame must be different? If you take the position that the Irish need to play an exceptionally difficult schedule every year, that's fine, but don't complain when a battered and weary Irish team drops a game it shouldn't or when some team that's played no one is hoisting the crystal football in January because they have a better record than ND.
B) I like the neutral site game. The Irish recruit nationally and, as such, it's great to actually be able to take the field in as much of the country as possible. Plus, since the NCAA allows programs to provide tickets to recruits for these games, it's a nice way to further reach out to blue chippers.
C) It's fine. It's good to have a game in Texas and, if the Irish can light up an inferior team in the process, all the better.
2. I have personally had this game circled on the schedule for quite some time as the one “sure thing.” After the last few games I have really been looking forward to a drama free victory. As luck would have it I started looking at the Cougars more closely this morning and it appears that freshman quarterback Jeff Tuel went 28 of 42 for 354 yards and 2 TD’s in a losing effort against Cal over the weekend. With the Irish secondary still struggling to get it together what are the chances that yet another freshman signal caller makes this one way more interesting than it should be on Saturday night in San Antonio?
I think there's a pretty good chance this game ends up being more interesting than it should, but that's only because it probably should be a 63-3 drubbing. Tuel will definitely get his yards (everybody does against the Irish secondary), but that doesn't mean this game will actually be in doubt. I see Notre Dame winning in a manner reminiscent of last year's game against the Washington Huskies in Seattle...one where, in the end, the Irish win by a much smaller margin than they could have done.
3. Assuming that the Fighting Irish are able to take care of business and put this one away early what non-starters would you most like to see get some reps this week? Why?
1) Dayne Crist: Because, frankly I'm not sure Jimmy will be here in 2010 and, even if he is, it's always good to get your back-up QB some reps.
2) Any Reserve Offensive Linemen: While there is, of course, concern over the prospect of Clausen leaving early for the NFL, I think the bigger issue for 2010 is the offensive line. Assuming Chris Stewart doesn't return for a fifth-year, the Irish will need to replace four starters. The possibility of Dan Wenger coming back for a fifth helps, but as ND fans have learned in recent years, experience in the trenches is too important to take lightly.
4. With the game being played on Halloween Night chances are that if you are not traveling to San Antonio you most likely have a scheduling conflict. Whether you are supposed to be at a party dressed as Fat Elvis, taking your kids trick-or-treating or just dealing with your doorbell ringing nonstop how do you plan to watch the game? If you are going what are you most looking forward to?
We will be heading out in Boston with my wife's family so, unfortunately, I'll be watching in snippets as we head into bars or getting updates on my Blackberry when I can. Not a great way to catch a game, but I'll be DVRing it to watch later. Because of all this, ND/WSU will likely end up being "The Game of the Century" and my DVR will choose Saturday night to die.
5. Trick or Treat? Predictions please.
Treat. I predict that, by the end of Saturday night, I'll have had waaaaaay too much to drink, offended hordes of innocent bystanders and be quite contented with a tidy and comfortable Irish victory: ND, 38 - WSU, 13.