Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

The Back Corner Fade

December 26, 2019

Ah yes, it’s that time of year. We get in the 4WD sleigh and head to the mall to……wait that was the 1999 version, let’s try this again: we hit “confirm” on our Amazon accounts to hopefully buy that perfect gift, we get to see relatives that we haven’t seen since last Christmas and there’s a reason for that, we endure paper cuts trying to wrap presents, we shuffle off to the company Christmas party to see who can sufficiently lube up enough to make a fool of themselves, and of course we settle in to watch early season bowl games pitting teams you’d never watch duking it out in half-full stadiums.

Admit it: you love it….

My sincerest hopes that you’re off to a good holiday season and that will continue on as we head into the New Year. Let’s take a brief look at some bowl games that might have some interest:

Miami and Louisiana Tech get together in the state of Louisiana for the Independence Bowl and it’d be lovely to see a Holtz get over Miami again. Manny Diaz had a awful first season and I’m sure his boys will with all play sorts of fire. Not really. Tech by 3

Iowa and USC get together in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego in a classic contrast in styles game. SC wants to chuck it all over the yard, Iowa wants to win in the always sexy, 20-17 manner. I think this one lands somewhere in the middle and Clay Helton has something to show off to his killer recruiting class. SC gets by 28-21.

Penn St and Memphis head to Jerry World for the Cotton Bowl in what I think could be a fun, high scoring affair. In all due respect to the AAC and the strides that it’s made over the past few seasons, I don’t think it’s on par with the big boy conferences even if Memphis is playing a Big 10 school. Too much depth will be the difference. Nitts 41-31.

The Orange Bowl. If think the Board has had a few thoughts on this one over the last month. Yes, the ACC has contractional obligations to send their highest available, yada yada. While Florida sure as heck isn’t Clemson, they also aren’t Florida State. Look for the Gators to crock pot the Cavs in a slow death game. Florida 31-13.

Probably not high on everyone’s list, but I’m looking forward to the Kansas St/Navy Liberty Bowl match-up. Two teams that (obviously) love to run the football in what should be a throwback, punch you in the mouth type game. Malcolm Perry has one more shot to drive defenses crazy and I think he cashes in and walks off after a tremendous career a winner. Navy 24-21.

Georgia St vs Wyoming…..I got nothing.

Alabama and Michigan get together in the Citrus Bowl in a true meteor classic game. Really, the main concern is what Alabama team shows up. If it’s a motivated Tide squad, they’ll smoke Michigan. If it’s a “we have nothing to play for and I could hurt my draft status” attitude, Michigan could make this interesting….and still lose. I think Alabama crock pots them like Florida will do to Virginia. Bama 38-17.

The Outback Bowl features Auburn and Minnesota on New Year’s Day and will be another opportunity that the Big 10 can play with the big, bad, SEC. Quietly, Auburn had a very good season and probably played as well as anyone in the country the second half of the year. Minnesota had a season they make DVD’s about. Who will ever forget that 2-loss Gopher team back in ’19?!? I think Auburn is going to be a force next season and this is their greeting card. Auburn 45-13.

Speaking of teams with a history of taking “inferior” bowl games off, Georgia gets “relegated” to the Sugar Bowl to take on the Baylor Bears. On paper, this should be a beat down. UGA is vastly superior in terms of skill and talent and all things being equal this should be a 21 point snoozer. The wild card is coaching. “Vinnie the Chin”>Kirby Smart. Matt Ruhle will have his boys ready to go and if Georgia doesn’t show up, they’re gonna lose. All they need to do is look what Texas did to them last year and nobody will ever confuse Tom Herman for Matt Ruhle. Georgia 28-23.

LSU and OU get together in semi-final game number one and I smell a beating afoot. OU is without some guys for “a violation of team rules” which being Oklahoma and seeing as big a game as this is, it must have been a real beauty for these boys to be cheering from the sidelines. Joe Burrow, fresh off his Heisman win, meeting actual LSU students and that high powered Tiger offense are going to be way too much for just an average OU defense. I expect the Sooners to score some points, but they simply don’t have the horses to win a race against this team. LSU 45-28.

Clemson and Ohio State make up the other playoff game and I really believe this has all the potential to be won in the 59th minute. Both teams are exceptional across the board in all phases and for the life of me, I can’t see where either team has a clear advantage. My only question for Clemson is how they’ll react to finally playing a good team. They’re marquee win was a September win against a 7-5 Texas A&M team. OSU has beat Wisconsin (twice,) Penn State, and Michigan. Not murders row, but better than Clemson has seen so far in the season. Ryan Day has never coached in anything remotely as close to this while this is becoming old hat for Dabo Swinney. I think the advantage of being in these high stakes games three years in a row and maybe just a bit better defense will get Clemson over. This one is going to be a lot of fun. Clemson 27-24.

For the last time in the 2019 season, we get to see the Irish get after it as they head to Orlando to take on the Iowa State Cyclones who are currently “the best 7-5 team in the country.” Matt Campbell’s boys will be sky high for this one, are well coached on both sides of the ball and trigger man Brock Purdy is one of the better QB’s in the country that nobody really talks much about. Yes, this is a formidable opponent to be sure, but also one that Notre Dame shouldn’t lose to.

One issue that I really hope doesn’t happen again is for the Irish to come out flat like they did against BC and Stanford to end the year. They were able to get away with that against those two teams. They do that against Iowa State, they could have a real situation on their hands. I think we all want to see the ND that took Navy out by the end of the first quarter. The fire that they played with early in that game was awesome. No, I’m not saying the game will be over like that one was, I just want to see matched intensity. If they do that for four quarters, I’d like to believe ND will win this fairly comfortably. 

I really believe that this one is going be a grind them down and grind them out type of affair. Purdy and the Cyclone offense will make some plays, but I just have a hard time believing that they can consistently beat the Irish defense. Same holds true of their defense. While we’ll see some mind-numbing three and outs, I think we’ll also see some big plays…..and more than Iowa State can make up for. This one isn’t going to be pretty, but it’ll be a nice way to finish off a good 2019 season. ND 31-21.

Merry Christmas to you and your dear families!

Beat Iowa St.

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