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Notre Dame Football

The Back Corner Fade

November 23, 2022

Note:  Mike Kane is an subscriber and Notre Dame fan writing a weekly column from a fan’s perspective on the lighter side of college football.  

Well now, Al Neri took Fredo out to boat early in this one didn’t he? The Irish sent a clear message on the first play of the game with Logan Diggs ripping off a 50+ yard run that they were there to play and never took their foot off the gas, cruising to a 44-0 beat down of Boston College.

The Beagles were going to have a hard time to begin having a patchwork line that was bad even before the injuries, a freshman QB playing against a very good defense, and zero running game to speak off. Al Golden’s front seven had to have been salivating all week at the thought of getting to young Mr. Moorehead, and they didn’t disappoint. Speaking of not disappointing, is Benjamin Morrison any good? My recollection of Irish CB’s only goes back to the early 80’s, but I’ve never seen a freshman play the position like this. Yes, Bobby Taylor was a great CB and played as a freshman, but people forget he played safety to start.

All in all a great day. The seniors get their win, they’re playing at a high level, and are in a great position to close the regular season out with 9 wins after next Saturday. We’ll get to that one here in a few minutes.

What did we learn this past weekend?

Spencer Rattler was out of his ever-loving mind Saturday night going 30-37 for 435 and 6 TD passes leading the Gamecocks to a blowout of Tennessee. Rattler has been basically a flop since coming out of high school, had some good moments at OU before lighting up the tires and heading to Columbia, but this is a night he’ll never forget. For the Vols, after chucking goalposts into the river, they’ve been average and have played themselves into a Citrus Bowl extravaganza against probably Penn State,  who lives for the every other year trip to take the boys to Disney World to win the annual pie-eating contest with Mickey and Minnie cheering them on after huge fun on the “It’s a Small World” ride.

Looks like both Michigan and OSU  both might have been looking ahead to this week’s showdown as both teams sleepwalked their way through ho-hum wins against mediocre teams. You truly have to admire the officiating in the Michigan game as the Big 10 brass did everything in their power to silver platter that one to the Corn and Blow. More on next weekend’s “Asteroid Game” in a few.

Apparently, Lane Kiffin spent too much time this past week posting perceived blown calls in the Alabama game the week before and not enough time getting ready for Arkansas as they were run of the building by a very mediocre Razorback team. This is pretty much par for the course with the Lane Train: will win a big game or two here and there, will develop some NFL talent, but in the end he’s a 9-win ceiling type coach. Fun to play for, he’s gonna say some entertaining stuff, but in the end, his boys are going to be playing their bowl game at the 4PM slot on December 28th more times than not.

Congrats to Clark Lea and his ‘Dores! After losing 20+ SEC games in row, they’re on a different type of streak: a winning one. This latest victim was the Florida Gators and it puts Vandy in a situation that they haven’t been in for a while: one win away from being bowl eligible. That’s the good news. The bad news: they’ll have to beat an angry Tennessee team coming to town to do it. If nothing else, his kids believe in him and he’s slowly building the program into a winner.

It's “Rivalry Week” so instead of going too far in-depth, let’s just take a quick look at more games than usual and make so comments (some might actually be funny)…..

Florida at FSU: The “better team” going in has 8 wins. Times have changed. ‘Noles 28-24.

Georgia Tech at UGA: Win and you go to a bowl game, Jackets! Call me crazy, but I don’t see it happening. Dawgs 49-7.

Kansas at Kansas State: Remember about a month ago when the Jayhawks were the “feel good” story? Yes, they’re going bowling and Bill Self will be back to running his slimy program soon. All is well. Oh, they’re not beating K-State. ‘Cats 38-24.

Michigan at OSU: Win and go to the playoffs. Lose and it’s some serious scoreboard watching and praying. Game is in Columbus and Blake Corum playing is a huge question mark. Buckeyes win and cars will burn on High St. OSU 31-21.

Oregon at Oregon State: Bo Nix has revamped his career taking his talents from the dumpster fire that is Auburn Football and has the Ducks playing great football. The Beavs have quietly won 8 games and will have a rocking environment. The “Turnover Chainsaw” is also awesome. Give me OSU in a small upset. Beavers 27-25.

Washington vs Washington State: the Apple Cup never disappoints and this season shouldn’t be much different. Michael Penix leads the high-flying Huskie offense against a decent defense (well, by Pac-12 standards) in what should be a close game. UDub gets one on the road. Huskies 28-21.

South Carolina vs Clemson: Can Spencer Rattler play like he did last week for a 2nd week in a row? Hell no he can’t, but I do think the Gamecocks put up a heck of a fight in a tough environment. St. Dabo doesn’t lose at home. Clemson 24-21.

Auburn at Alabama: The Iron Bowl won’t be much of a game I’m afraid. Cadillac Williams is coaching his third game vs Nick Saban who is coaching in his fourth decade. This isn’t going to go well. Bama 38-13.

Mississippi State vs Ole Miss: Thanksgiving Day night gives us the Egg Bowl (incidentally, many of these fans might shoot their own turkey.) This really should be a fun game with the Air Raid vs power running game of the Rebels. I pick this game wrong every year, so if you’re looking at my picks to bet (and why in god’s name would you do that?) do the opposite. MSU 34-28.

Yeah, all these games should be fun to watch, but let’s be honest there’s only one game we care about and that’s Notre Dame heading to L.A. to take on USC. This is another great example of styles making fights and these two teams truly are polar opposites. The Irish want to pound you with their two-headed monster of Logan Diggs and Audric Estime (with a little Chris Tyree sprinkled in) where SC with Caleb Williams wants to let it rip and throw it all over yard. 

Al Golden has been his very best this year against the two best teams that the Irish have faced (OSU and Clemson,) so I trust that he’ll have a scheme in place to match wits with Lincoln Riley. It really should be fun to watch those two punch and counter-punch. 

Like the Clemson game, it’s fairly obvious what ND is going to do and that’s control the clock and grind pepper on the ground. Clemson had two weeks to get ready for it with a better defense and failed. SC doesn’t have nearly the dudes that the Tigers have in the front seven and it could make for a very long evening for them if we see the same fire from the ND offense 3 weeks ago. Once again, Drew Pyne is front and center as the “X-Factor.” He doesn’t have to win the game for the Irish, but if he can make the lay-up throws and move the chains in tough situations, that will be huge.

Southern Cal is going to score points, they have all year. I also believe this is the best defense they’ve seen and it’s really not that close. ND doesn’t need to shut them out, and I believe if they can stop them three or four times they’ll be in excellent position to win the game. This team has come a very long way in the last month and a win could be the jump start to the next level for this program. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be a wild one, but in the end ND figures out a way to pull it out. ND 38-34.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Beat SC.



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