Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

The Back Corner Fade

November 6, 2019

Note:  Mike Kane is an ISD customer writing a weekly column from the fan’s perspective.  

I have a 13-year-old son that has been blessed with enough athletic ability to have turned himself into a pretty good baseball player. He plays on a very talented summer travel team that play against other very good programs, and this past summer was the first time that he ever went through a bit of a rough patch were he took three 0-fers in a row (mind you, better to learn it now. Baseball is a very humbling game.) One of those games was a disaster. He went 0-for-4, struck out twice, and misplayed 2 balls in the field. The good news was that his team won in dramatic fashion so it softened the blow a bit. We got back in the car, I just looked at him and he said something pretty mature for his age: “We won and that’s ultimately what matters. Other than that, I want to forget this game ever happened.” I felt the same way after ND’s “thrilling” one point win over Virginia Tech.

They won, and that’s, as my son said, “what ultimately matters,” and the last drive truly was a great one (thanks Bud Foster for rushing three against two back-up lineman.) Other than that, is there really much else that can even be said. This was just ugly football against as bad a Virginia Tech team as they’ve had since before Frank Beamer got it rolling in the 90’s. Play like that over the next four weeks and we’re staring at 8-4 or worse. This team is simply too talented to need 4th quarter game winning drives against a middle of the road team in a crummy conference. 

What went down this past week?

Has anyone noticed that Wake Forest has a pretty damn good football team? This past weekend they cranked up 44 points and took NC State (refs fault, Dave, or is it that you stink?) and have run their record to 7-1. They have Virginia Tech this week and then a showdown with Clemson the following week. Can they beat Clemson? Probably not, as the game is in Death Valley, but it has the chance to be entertaining. I’m a huge fan of Dave Clawson and he simply doesn’t get the respect he really deserves.

USC has a new AD and the football team is fresh off a 32-point home beating to Oregon. I’m sure Clay Helton has had better weeks. I still think he could go to a Mountain West or C-USA school and have success down the road. He’s not a bad football coach. He’s just bad for USC.

Georgia is still in the playoff chase with a not-as-close-as-the score indicated win over Florida. 11-for-15 on 3rd downs is going to win you a few ball games here and there, and Georgia appeared to rule both lines of scrimmage. A date at Auburn in two weeks is the only thing in front of the Bulldogs and the SEC Title Game against the Alabama-LSU winner this weekend. I still think when Georgia keeps it simple and sticks to the running game with play-action sprinkled in, they can beat anyone. 

Willie Taggert is now a very rich man with a whole bunch of time on his hands. I give FSU credit, they didn’t wait, that was a flat out mercy killing. It really is amazing how the mighty have fallen and fallen so fast. I never thought he was a “home run hire” from his days at WKU, and his cup of coffee at Oregon, but did anyone think he wasn’t even going to make it through two seasons? From the sounds of it, Big Game Bob Stoops might be the man for the job. I guess working for Vince McMahon in the new XFL just wasn’t that much fun.

Anyone notice Indiana is 7-2 and that Northwestern is 1-7 (or does anyone care?) It’s been many years since the Hoosiers have had anything to get excited about and just might be playing the best football of any team in the state of Indiana right now. As for Northwestern, wow, they are simply a bad football team. Could Fitz be on the hot seat? No, I’m just kidding, He’ll be there for another 25 years at least no matter what he does.

Here’s what to look forward to this week:

Minnesota plays host to Penn State in arguably the biggest game in the last 50 years for the Gophers. Sure, they’ve had the chance to knock off some big time programs in the past, but never while ranked 12th in the country. As much as I’d love to see P.J.’s band of maroon-clad boat rowers win this one, they won’t. In watching them play a few times this season, they have a decent team, but it’s not in the same league with the tops of the Big 10. I expect them to come out and play hard, I also think that the chariot is about to turn back into a pumpkin. PSU 31-16.

Someone on the ISD Board stole my thunder about Texas, but it does bare repeating: weren’t they suppose to be “back.” If three loses to the three best teams you play constitute being back, they’re back with a vengeance. We spoke about Kansas St last week, and I think they have all the tools needed to go into DKR and pull out the mild upset. I don’t want to call Tom Herman a flash in the pan, but has he done anything since arriving three seasons ago? Texas had two weeks to get ready and in the end I think that’ll be the difference in the game. Texas 28-23.

Oh I guess there’s a big game going in Tuscaloosa that we just touch on. 3:30 on CBS is the place to be as LSU heads to town to take on the Crimson Tide. These two teams have had some hyped up games in the past but the Tigers never had the offense to beat Alabama. That’s not the case this year. If you haven’t watched LSU this year, they’re simple a machine running the ball as well as throwing it. Is this the season they get over the hump? If they were playing this one in Death Valley I’d say yes. I just have a funny feeling that Saban, to the sheer glee of Gary Danielson who’ll be calling the game, will find a way, at home to get this one done….again. Alabama 24-21.

And finally we get to watch our 15th ranked Irish head to Durham for a date with Duke. Wow, another night road game and another game against an ACC team that’s had two weeks to get ready for us. This one scares me for those reasons, but in the end, does anyone really think that Duke has the talent to beat Notre Dame? The answer to that is no. I have the utmost respect for David Cutcliff and the job he’s done at Duke. It can’t be easy to recruit there and have to play second fiddle to Coach K at a “basketball school.” 

Like last week, I really don’t know how this one’s going to shake out. The Irish did come out motivated last week, but they just didn’t look like a very good football team. They play offense like they did against VT, we’re in for another “Rolaids Classic” going down to the wire. Coach Cut will find a way to put points on the board against our defense, our offense better be prepared to do the same. Having Tony Jones back will help, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the last drive against Tech will really help Ian Book get back some of the juice he had last season and play with confidence. One can hope can’t he? ND 34-27.

Beat Duke.

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