Sep 15, 2010
IBG: Welcome to Spartyville
1) Status check: How deflating was the loss to Michigan? I could argue that Crist's injury makes this loss both easier to swallow and even more maddening for Irish fans.
TheNDleprechaun: Suffering last-minute heartbreak at the hands of the skunkbears for the second straight season was not easy to swallow. I personally found the loss to be excruciatingly deflating due to the way it all went down. We had a chance to win despite losing Crist for the majority of the first half, yet it slipped through our fingers in oh-so-familiar fashion. After wallowing in sorrow for a few days, however, I have managed to pick myself up and look at the opportunities that lie ahead. I just need to keep reminding myself that we nearly beat a formidable foe despite being severely debilitated for much of the game. That realization has started to ease the pain a bit, and I should be back to 100% after a brutal beatdown of that other team inhabiting the wastelands to our north.
2) How critical is this Saturday's game? Walk away 2-1 and the Irish can feel good about taking on a very able Stanford squad at home next weekend. Walk out of East Lansing with a loss..?
tendomer: The prospect of a new coach falling below .500, even after three games, means this game is about as critical as it gets for two unranked opponents. Couple that with the three following games, and it’s a must win. Going into Purdue week, Kelly said he wouldn’t lose the team with a loss. Hopefully he won’t have to find out how he the team would react after two in a row.
3) Why does the rivalry with Michigan State seem to get so little respect?
TheNDleprechaun: Notre Dame v Michigan State could be a highly respected rivalry, but for the childish behavior exhibited by the less-than-classy spartys as of late. Need I even mention the planting of an unworthy flag into our sacred turf, or the jealous taunts of a foam-filled mascot seeking to belittle his counterpart who happens to look much better in green? In all honesty, it doesn’t have to be this way. If the spartys could sit in their big-boy chair for once and handle themselves professionally, this could be a great matchup that Notre Dame fans actually look forward to. Our shared history includes the 1966 “Game of the Century” that saw #1 face off against #2 in one of the most hyped and controversial games of all time. The fact that it ended in a tie left many from both sides wanting more, thus fuelling the heated rivalry even further for many years to come. For those of a more recent generation, the rivalry is defined by the 40th Anniversary of the Game of the Century in 2006. During that game, Notre Dame first refused to wear throwbacks, then refused to submit to a 19 point deficit in the fourth quarter. Terrell Lambert and Brady Quinn became heroes as the rain came down sideways and the Fighting Irish scored 22 straight points to win in triumphant fashion. Celebrations in “Stonehenge Fountain” back on campus lasted deep into the night. Such games could make for a great rivalry, but nevertheless we must maintain the higher road as the spartys continue their recent tradition of poor sportsmanship and we continue to remind them why we are Notre Dame and they aren’t.
4) It's hard to draw too many conclusions from victories over Western Michigan and Florida Atlantic, but what do you expect this Saturday night in Spartan Stadium?
tendomer: I’m expecting Dantonio to call power runs, eat clock, and force the ND offense to make the most of limited possessions. MSU can afford to stay committed to the run game even if ND has a lead, but I expect a healthy Crist to put up enough points for a win.
5) Best case, worst case, most likely: The Irish's record after the first six games.
FightinIrish1313: Best case – obviously 5-1. It would be a great recovery from Saturday’s last minute loss and a sure sign that this is a different team than years past. To quote John Goodman, “We’re in it ta win it. Aint no heads down yo.” Regardless of what the talking heads are saying this is still a BCS caliber team and BK will make damn sure they play like it for the rest of the season.
Worst case – obviously 1-5. The team pulls a Charlie Weis and gives up on themselves, hangs their heads, and don’t play to their talent potential. Brian Kelly quits coaching football as for the first time in his life he can’t diagnose what is wrong with his team. Notre Dame is diseased and never returns to glory. There is a 0% chance of this happening.
Most likely scenario – The Irish will be 4-2 as they cross the halfway point of the season and reach the lighter part of their schedule. A tough loss will come either on the road at Backup College or at home against Stanford or Pitt. All games will be close but the Irish will come out on top all but once as the coaching staff proves that they can make positive halftime adjustments and the team stays conditioned throughout all four quarters.
6) Let's leave Michael Floyd out of this for a second. What Irish player needs to step up and play better football?
FightinIrish1313: I think that Theo Riddick needs to step up the most. While Tai-ler Jones and Kyle Rudolph have been spectacular, Michael Floyd and Theo haven’t made much of an impact yet this season. While still learning his new position, he was switched from running back because Brian Kelly knows he is a play maker and wants him on the field at all times. Theo needs to get open and make some open field moves to really make the Irish attack one of the most dangerous in college football and to allow for even more mis-matched one on ones as the secondary won’t know which offensive weapon to cover the closest.