POSTED ON OCTOBER 27, 2010:
South Bend and Down
Everything on the line for Golden Hurricane against Irish
Time To Measure Up. Remember the scene in Hoosiers when Coach Norman Dale escorts his squad to the court and breaks out the tape measure? Granted, the tape measure would be enormous but a similar tactic could work.
Ouch! Look at the bright side. The Golden Hurricane did not lose. Or did they?
We'll tackle TU's game of the decade in a moment. However, we must discuss OU and OSU bumbling and stumbling in the limelight.
The University of Oklahoma entered their showdown with Missouri ranked No. 1 in the BCS poll. The Sooners suffered the same fate as the two previous top ranked teams.
The Mizzou Tigers were due. OU pounded seven straight victories out of the Tigers dating back to 1998.
Using the same logic, you could say OSU was due against one of the big three in the Big 12. Oklahoma State seized the spotlight with everything on the line.
In familiar Poke fashion, instead of making a statement, they seized up under pressure. They entered the weekend as the lowest ranked undefeated team in the nation. This indicates a lack of respect across the board, kind of like the TU of the BCS.
Kendall Hunter and Justin Blackmon improved their standings while the rest of the team flopped.
The Nebraska quarterback suddenly looked like Fran Tarkenton against the bend-and-break Cowboys defense.
Here is a bit of a confession which many already know. Me personally, I'm not a fan of OU or OSU. Just a huge sports fan, including college football. I feel it makes me an unbiased media member unlike many of my cohorts.
Why come clean? Because each fan base assumes if you do not fly their colors and spew their coaches rhetoric then you must love the other school.
I recently completed my favorite column of all time. An OU versus OSU clash of undefeated teams. Flush!
What would be easier than waxing poetic about the two best teams in the nation? Now I search for supplementary terminology to say the following.
Oklahoma has the talent, but continues to come up short since their miraculous 2000 season. "Medium Game Bob" it is.
Oklahoma State loves mediocrity. They are afraid of Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. They fear greatness. They shrivel in the spotlight. Their spines go squishy in big games.
None of that is fun to write. Trust me. But can you argue with either assessment?
Battle of the Goldens
How can a team lose while on bye? When Navy ran over, around and through Notre Dame, TU lost.
Now the Fighting Irish team is pissed. A win over the Midshipmen and perhaps the Golden Hurricane sneak in and catch Notre Dame off guard.
Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly will have his troops fired up for Coach Todd Graham's squad.
Navy ran roughshod over Notre Dame to the tune of 367 yards. When you rack up rushing yards even though your opponent knows your game plan, that's impressive.
Can TU's coaches exploit this weakness in a week's time? The Hurricane ground game is dissimilar to Navy's option. TU prefers a mixed attack with a more traditional running back. It would behoove the coaching staff to adjust on the fly in this case.
The Notre Dame loss knocks a little luster off the game. But not much. This will still be the game of the decade for TU. It will also serve as the biggest stage any of our players will ever strap up for.
Here is what to watch for when TU takes the field this Saturday against Notre Dame on NBC at 1:30pm.
Can Coach Graham settle the nerves in the early going? As cheesy as it sounds, maybe he should pull out a movie gimmick for this one.
Remember the scene in Hoosiers when Coach Norman Dale escorts his squad to the court and breaks out the tape measure? Granted, the tape measure would be enormous but a similar tactic could work.
Can TU establish a running presence? Heading into this season, the question mark was the offensive line. Seven games into the season and you can give the MVP award to the front five. They have been brilliant.
The Hurricane rushing attack ranks No. 13 in the nation averaging 221 yards per game. The squad must hit the 200-yard mark to have a chance against the more physical Fighting Irish.
Will special teams be special? Forget missed field goals for a second. Field position will play a big role. Punt coverage and kickoff coverage must play at a high level.
Also, a special teams' touchdown would boost TU's chances for victory. At the very least, do not regurgitate the pigskin.
What will Mike Mayock say about TU's squad? Mayock, for non-NFL Network viewers, is their draft guru. Imagine Mel Kiper Jr. sans the hairdo and corruption.
Mayock is in his first season as Notre Dame's play-by-play guy. He's an encyclopedia of college and pro football knowledge.
TU players need to focus on the task at hand. However, an elite game by Damaris Johnson, Charles Clay or another Hurricane could vault their draft status.
This brings up another interesting question. Fans tend to think their players are highly regarded in football circles. For years we have talked ourselves into Charles Clay, among others, as NFL ready. Are they?
Mayock does a tremendous job in his role. He does not turn the broadcast into a player profile. He does not breakdown film mid-game. Do not expect a pros/cons graphic for players.
However, astute listeners are likely to pick up on keywords.
Would you bet on this game? Pretend gambling was legal or you took a weekend trip to Vegas. Notre Dame opened as a 10-point favorite. Would you feel comfortable betting this line either way? Is this a prototypical stay away game? I thought so.
What is at stake?
Everything. But not just a victory. A competitive game with a chance to win is required.
If "we" are outclassed on the field, it will set "us" back 10 years or more.
No pressure guys.
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