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Dec 26, 2011

Game Preview: Catholics v Criminoles

With the recent arrests of two FSU football players following unrelated charges of felony-theft, the Champs Sports Bowl has been officially renamed the Catholics vs. Criminoles Classic.

Irish Creed takes a look inside the intriguing matchup that will take place in Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium at 5:30pm ET on December 29:

In response to the news of his players' arrests, FSU head coach Jimbo (Really? He goes by Jimbo?!) Fisher explained away the situation in true Criminole fashion, saying, "Generally, with your team, as you get close to Christmas and the end of a semester and summers, (trouble happens). That's always time when guys get free time and they get antsy and they get going. That's when a lot of times your issues come up a lot of times." After that rambling mess of a soundbyte, he added "...but it should never come up. That's still no excuse for anyone..." Honestly though, I can see where he is coming from because there's nothin' a little ol' Holiday Spirit can't do to turn boredom into felonious intent... at least if you go to FSU...

Game Preview:

ND Offense vs. FSU Defense: Advantage - Criminoles  

We've all seen what the Fighting Irish offense can do, (putting up 31 on MSU, 59 on AF, 56 on Navy, and 49 on Maryland) or not do (scoring only 15 and 16 in wins over Pitt and BC) this season.  The talent is there and the scheme works when the players execute, but consistency was nowhere to be found in 2011.  So what are our chances against an opposing defense that hangs its hat on "speed" and "athleticism" in a way that's reminiscent of the heralded Miami squad that Kelly's offense shredded a year ago in the Sun Bowl? The Criminoles boast a points-against average of 15.2, good enough to rank them 4th in the nation (that stat may be inflated due to a few cupcakes on their schedule, however).  Although they haven't given up over 20 points in a game since October, they've shown signs of weakness against top-level speed and well-planned attacks. Luckily, they lean heavily on pure athleticism as they make no attempt to outwit (no surprise there) opponents with complicated defensive schemes.  I find it hard to believe that, given all the extra time for preparation, Kelly won't find a way to expose every chink in the mighty Criminole armor come December 29.  Look for Floyd to stamp an exclamation point on the end of his already prolific career with over 100 yards and a couple TDs.  If Kelly can use misdirection, screens (Theo out of the backfield?!  Check, please!), and really cool trick plays none of us can even imagine yet to neutralize FSU's speedy defensive ends, he just may be able to leave the Criminoles scratching their heads when all is said and done.  Even so, expect "speed" and "athleticism" to win out on more than just a few occasions throughout the game.

ND Defense vs. FSU Offense: Advantage - Irish

An FSU offense that was highly touted by "experts" prior to the season hasn't come up with much to write home about this year, mustering just enough success to land them at 73rd in the nation.  Look for this battle to be won or lost, as most are, in the trenches.  The finally-almost-healthy Irish defensive line should be able to exploit a banged-up FSU offensive line that may even have to rely on more than one freshman making the first start of his career. According to inside sources, freshman RT Bobby Hart is suffering from lack of sleep due to recurring nightmares of getting blown up play after play after play by fellow frosh and former FSU commit Aaron Lynch.  Oh yeah... and reinforcements?  When it comes to the defensive line, the boys in Blue & Gold are back.  Coach Mike Elston recently described Stephon Tuitt as "starting to get his mojo back, his swag back" and Ethan Johnson as "if not 100 percent, getting there."  Hopefully such welcome additions to a defensive line with plenty of swag already will allow the Irish to get into the backfield early and often, disrupt plays, and force 3rd and long situations. Finally, let's hope Harry Smith going ball-hawk in bowl games against Florida-based teams is a continuing trend...

Special Teams:  Advantage - Criminoles

I'm not sure if it's ever justifiable to describe a punter as a "weapon," but FSU's All-American Shawn Powell is as close as they come.  Despite his unorthodox rugby-style kicks, the senior with NFL dreams leads the nation in both punting average and net yards per punt.  This doesn't bode well for Notre Dame's yawn-inducing punt return unit that consistently takes the overly-safe route by neither attempting to block nor return opponents' punts.  Kelly's painfully conservative approach to this aspect of the game has baffled me all season long, and yet again I expect further frustration as field position swings heavily in FSU's favor.  


This game scares me, which I believe is justified if you look at it on paper.  I already drank the Kelly-Kool-Aid a while back though, and I'd follow the man into any battle if he asked.  Notre Dame Football needs this win in order to quiet the doubters (read: annoying NDNation message board users) during the offseason so Kelly can do his thing on the recruiting trail and Longo can get to work crafting next year's squad.  Call it what you will, brains vs. brawn, "scheming" vs. "athleticism," etc... but I expect this to be an entertaining contest between two extremely different schools with remarkably distinct football programs.  When the dust settles, I'm hoping the well-behaved Catholic schoolboys will have dominated the hardened Criminoles while showing the world that the forces of Good still hold sway over Evil.  

Plus, I will be attending the game and I plan on extending the victory celebration all the way until New Year's Eve. 

In all seriousness, though, the most telling comparison between these two teams goes back to the discussion about recent felonies committed by Criminole players.  When FSU players get "antsy" over the holidays they turn to crime.  When ND players get "antsy" they do things like this... or even this...  Need I say more?  

FSU to unveil this limited edition helmet
for use in the Catholics v Criminoles Classic

Nov 25, 2011

Guest Preview: Notre Dame @ Stanford

In this week's special Thanksgiving Guest Preview, Irish Creed writer IrishGirl10 breaks down the matchup between #6 Stanford and 
#22 Notre Dame:

IrishGirl10's Game Preview:

In the words of quarterback Tommy Rees, last Saturday’s win over the Eagles of Boston College “wasn't pretty, it wasn't at times the most successful offense we have had, obviously, but anytime you can get a win this late in November you'll take it.”  Considering I would like to forget everything that happened after that beautiful 80-yard opening drive, capped off with a 26-yard scoring rush by Jonas Gray, I will wholeheartedly agree with him and move on.  And thus, with the defeat of BC officially in the books, these Irish eyes will turn to the last game of the season and, undoubtedly, the toughest one yet: Stanford.

Going into Saturday, the Cardinal will hold a #6 BCS ranking and a 10-1 record – their only loss at the hands of Oregon.  Notre Dame is sitting at #22 and 8-3.  The Irish have played 3 ranked teams this year.  Though they pulled out a win over Michigan State (#14), they had devastating losses to Michigan (#15) and USC (BCS ineligible, but currently #10 by AP).   Arguably USC is the best team the Irish have faced this season, and they walked away with a loss.  Stanford, on the other hand, brought the Trojans to triple-overtime and managed to scrape out a win.   However, there is more to this upcoming face-off than rankings and records – let’s break it down:


For Stanford, this can be summed up in two words: Andrew Luck.  Back for another season after rumors of a move to the NFL, Luck dominates every field he steps onto – boasting 2,937 yards and 31 touchdowns thus far this year.  Although his Heisman candidacy has recently found itself on unsteady ground, there are many who believe he’s a shoe-in for the award; not to mention he’s already been flagged as the likely first overall pick in the upcoming NFL draft.  Luck may be known for his arm, but Stanford’s rushing attack is equally potent – bolstered by a strong offensive line featuring left tackle Jonathan Martin and right guard David DeCastro.  This all amounts to an offense that has scored at least 30 points in each game this year – topping out at 65.  Notre Dame’s offense, conversely, has struggled to find consistency (apart from its turnovers).  In terms of passing, quarterback Tommy Rees has some phenomenal options: Tyler Eifert, TJ Jones, Theo Riddick (in question due to a hamstring injury), Robby Toma, and, of course, Michael Floyd.  Lots of options, however, have often resulted in lots of interceptions – especially when the ball is forced to Michael Floyd, who is rarely, if ever, found in single coverage.  The running game, initially a victim of turnovers this season, has come to find steady success in the hands of Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood.  Unfortunately for the Irish, Gray is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL last week against Boston College, which effectively halves the rush options and shifts a greater share of the scoring burden onto a rocky pass game.

Advantage: Stanford.


Among the better offensive teams they’ve seen this season, the Stanford defense has given up an average of 40 points (ND’s offense averages 32).  They have also been known to struggle significantly against the pass - ranking #78 overall in yards allowed per game and tallying only 4 interceptions, both of which will come in handy should the Irish find themselves unable to fill the shoes of Jonas Gray.  Their star linebacker Shane Skov (Freshman All-American 2009) is out with an injury, leaving the Cardinal with lineman and 5th year senior Matthew Masifilio as the lone returning starter.  Overall, the Cardinal defense is nowhere near the level of its stellar offense.  In a stark contrast, the effort of the Irish defense has often directly carried its team to a win – especially when the offense has struggled to put points on the board.  They have allowed an average of only 20 points per game this season and in their last four games they’ve managed to keep three of their opponents under this mark.  They are in the top thirty for both scoring defense and total defense and have a total of 7 interceptions for 152 yards.  Led by Manti Te’o and team captain Harrison Smith, the Irish defense is not to be taken lightly.

Advantage: Notre Dame

With a BCS Berth, Pac-12 Championship, and potential Heisman Trophy on the line, Andrew Luck and the Cardinal won’t go down easy.  They are an elite team and on a level above any of the opponents the Irish have faced thus far.  In the past two seasons, however, the Irish have caused Luck to experience his lowest passer rating (119.7), been one of only two teams to force more than 1 interception, and held Luck to under 60% completion.  In sum, Saturday is going to be a battle determined by Cardinal offense and Irish defense.  With an inspired offensive performance and consistent defense, Notre Dame has the potential to squash Cardinal dreams and regain the respect and reputation it deserves as a program.

Fightin' Irish seniors must rise above
 in their last regular season game.

TheNDleprechaun's Score Prediction:  

While Andrew Luck is undoubtedly the best all-around player the Fightin' Irish will have faced thus far, it will take more than one player to beat the Boys in Blue & Gold.  If the beasts along Diaco's defensive front can control the line of scrimmage and shut down the Cardinal running game, then we just may have a chance to throw Luck off his game with a fierce pass rush on 3rd and long situations.  Fittingly, the contest should come down to whether our three leaders (Smith, Te'o, Floyd) can rise above the rest in what will probably be the last regular season game any of them ever play for Notre Dame.  If Smith and Te'o can neutralize Luck, and Floyd can take control of the game every time he steps on the field similar to the way Golden Tate did last time Notre Dame played at Stanford, we just may be able to keep Kelly unbeaten in the month of November.

In the end, Luck's Cardinal falls prey to the Luck of the Irish: 34-30.

Hopefully the Leprechaun can pump out 34 handstand pushups this year.

Nov 20, 2011

Senior Night Pictures

It may not have been pretty, and it may have cost us our plow-horse, but a win is a win.  Especially in November.  Especially on Senior Night.  With the win, Kelly's Irish now hold a 6-0 record in November over his first two campaigns.  Before Kelly?  The old Irish won only 6 times over the previous 4 years, including a 1-8 finish during his predecessor's regime.

Saturday night wasn't about statistics, though.  It was about the seniors on the field and in the stands.  Spirits were high across campus both before and after the game, and the players enjoyed a well-fought contest.  I tried to capture some of that atmosphere through photos I took on the field and in the stands.  Enjoy:

Nov 17, 2011

Senior Night Scrimmage vs. Backup College

The 24th ranked Fightin' Irish will scrimmage their backups on Saturday evening in front of over 80,000 fans.  To the dismay of all those who would rather watch one of the several exciting real games taking place this weekend, the scrimmage will also be broadcast nationally on NBC.

All kidding aside, this rivalry Big Brother vs. Little Brother contest is significant not only because it presents the Fighting Irish with an opportunity to head into their showdown against the mighty Trees of Stanford while riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak, but it will also be the last time several of the boys in Blue in Gold suit up for a game in Notre Dame Stadium.

Due to the lopsided nature of the upcoming matchup, we find it unnecessary to waste your time with needless analysis.  Instead, we ask that all Fightin' Irish fans arrive at the game early enough to stand and cheer for all of the seniors who will be running out of that hallowed tunnel one last time.  We also ask that you remain standing and cheering throughout the game in order to send the seniors off in true Fightin' Irish fashion as they put on a show in what will be their final act within the House that Rock built.

Breaking News:  Unconfirmed rumors coming from @TheNDleprechaun via Twitter: "Could tomorrow really be the last game ever played on real grass in Notre Dame Stadium?!  "

This may never happen again, as Saturday could be the last time Notre Dame
 ever plays on real grass in the house that Rock built

Nov 14, 2011

ND takes DC

Notre Dame took over Washington D.C. both on and off the field during a weekend that featured a pep rally at the National Mall, a marching band concert on Capitol Hill, and a 45-21 win at FedEx Field that landed the Fightin' Irish back in the Top 25.

Prior to the game, Kelly stressed the need to start strong and display the mental edge that his program has been developing through the thick and thin of a season that has been eventful to say the least.  The Boys in Blue and Gold did just that, as Rees showed signs of finally coming into his own by calmly distributing the ball to the arsenal of lethal weapons at his disposal without succumbing to the "self-inflicted wounds" that have plagued much of his season.  

Throughout the game, Kelly's offense showed just how dangerous it can be when run with speed and efficiency.  As the second half wore on, it became more and more evident that Maryland just couldn't keep up.  If we maintain that tempo over the course of our final three games, there isn't a defense in the nation (besides maybe Alabama or LSU) that will be able to shut us down.

After the win, Kelly congratulated his team on the way they converted a tough week of practice into production on the field, adding: "... we're starting to get into that area of winning football games week after week, so the point I'm making to you is this: Don't change what you're doing.  Prepare during the week and make Saturdays easy..."  If Fightin' Irish fans can put impatience aside just long enough to read between the lines of such statements and take a look at where this team and this program is headed, they should be able to discern the light-years that separate our current regime from the last.  Needless to say, I like the charted course we're on, I'm confident in Kelly as our navigator, and I'm excited for the road ahead...

...The next stop on that road brings us back home as the seniors get a chance to go out in style by beating up on our little brother school.  Following that final tune-up game, they hit the westward trail to on a mission to chop down the no-longer-unbeaten trees.  Last stop?  It looks like we'll be popping bottles with Mickey and his gang on New Year's Eve as we celebrate a victory in the Champ Sports Bowl.

Nov 11, 2011

Shamrock Series: Washington D.C.

"You know what the difference is between you and me?  
I make this look good."

The Fightin’ Irish might want to borrow Wil Smith’s classic line from "Men in Black" when they take the field against Maryland in Washington D.C. this Saturday.  Both teams will be wearing alternate versions of their standard uniforms, with Notre Dame rocking the two colors that all Leprechauns love (Green and Gold), and Maryland featuring the look of their unique state flag split down the center in an ensemble that Harvey Two-Face would be proud to call his own. 

These Terps are wearing the same jersey...

Since Maryland lacks any significant sense of football tradition, no one really cares about the ridiculous changes they continue to implement with their uniforms each week. At Notre Dame, on the other hand, so-called “purists” and “traditionalists” of the less-than-enlightened sort tend to exclaim that the end is near every time a single stitch appears contrary to their liking.  What these naysayers fail to understand, however, is that shamrocks and holographic helmets do not equate to the end of all tradition. Rather, these uniforms provide a fresh way to celebrate the highly successful “Home Away From Home” games each year while staying true to the FIghtin’ Irish brand.  Plus, when viewed in their entirety, these Emerald Green and 24K Gold beauties purvey a sense of badass Fightin’ Irish swagger that should prove to be really really ridiculously good-looking under the lights in FedEx Field. If it’s true that the way you look impacts the way you feel, which in turn impacts the way you play, then the FIghtin’ Irish are going to be really really ridiculously good in all respects on Saturday night. 

Putting all bias aside, it's clear to see that Adidas and Notre Dame have outdone UnderArmour and Maryland in this one.  You should expect a similar outcome on the scoreboard at the end of the game as well.  Here's why:

Defensive Analysis:

Maryland’s offense has enjoyed spurts of success this season by catching defenses off-guard as they utilize a dual-quarterback system. They have shown a lack of consistency against well-prepared opponents, however, and I trust the Notre Dame coaching staff has made sure to take the element of surprise out of the equation, especially considering the talented scout team quarterbacks at their disposal during practice. The Fightin' Irish defense may be pretty banged up, but Ethan’s return will provide the veteran leadership that has been lacking along the line. One area of weakness that may be a cause of concern is the lack of depth along a Fightin’ Irish secondary that will be forced to line up against multiple WR sets early and often.  Even so, this should give Jamoris plenty of opportunities to continue his ball-hawk ways from the nickel position.  If I was a betting man, I would put some money on another INT for #26. Finally, Manti will continue to assert his presence as the anchor of Diaco’s defense despite being hobbled by an ankle injury.

Offensive Analysis:

Year one of the Randy Edsall era has been less than smooth for the 2-7 T(w)erps of Maryland. Much of this can be attributed to his defense (or lack thereof). It's more than fair to say that they have done little if anything to stop the run this year, serving up huge helpings of yardage to far less physical offensive lines blocking for far less talented running backs (reference: Backup College). They can’t tackle, they can’t shed blocks, and when they stack the box to stop the run they can’t seem to cover wide receivers (which presents a problem when faced with the likes of Mike). This will be a great game for Mike Golic Jr. to get his feet wet in his first career start by doing what offensive linemen love most: run-blocking all day long. I’ve been itching to see the special edition “Swagger” gloves that allegedly have Golden palms with a shamrock printed across them. Luckily, I shouldn’t have to wait too long for Cierre Wood to flash them into the camera in signature style after his first trip to the endzone. 

Score Prediction:

Fightin’ Irish: 41

Fightin’ Turtles: 13

Offensive Game Ball: 

Cierre Wood – The shiftier of our two prize ponies will make Maryland defenders miss time after time as he gallops his way to well over 100 yards against a team that had trouble making tackles all season.

Defensive Game Ball: 

Jamoris Slaughter – The ball-hawk / X-factor of our nickel defense will see ample playing time against an offense that uses multiple WR sets regularly. Unfortunately for Maryland, this will only present him with more opportunities to make big plays. Pick 6 anyone?

Do you think this Terp wears matching socks to class?

Nov 7, 2011

Irish to Invade Nation's Capitol

The Band of the Fightin' Irish will perform on the U.S. Capitol Lawn and Notre Dame Football will go GREEN on Saturday.

Notre Dame will be rocking an interesting look in what has been dubbed the
"Shamrock Series" against Maryland in Washington D.C. on Saturday

Before the Fightin' Irish took on the Demon Deacons in Winston Salem last Saturday, Coach Kelly delivered a pregame speech that described the season as a "journey" that every player and every coach must go through together in order to reach the level of championship-caliber football that is expected at Notre Dame.  After the hard-fought victory, one that the casual observer would have reason to call "ugly," Kelly congratulated his team on its "gritty, tough performance."  

While most fans would have rather witnessed a blowout victory than a 60 minute grind-fest, winning that type of game will prove to be valuable for our team down the road.  The total domination of Navy brought confidence back to our Boys in Blue and Gold, but thie far-from-sexy win over Wake may have taught them much more valuable lessons about maintaining a consistent approach after falling behind, and finishing strong once in the lead.  

Each time the players took the field against Wake, they rallied around the phrase "Count on me."  With two easy Ws coming up against Maryland and Backup College, we should all be tipping out hats to the Deacs for reminding our players how essential it is that they count on each other no matter how any particular game plays out.  

Speaking of Maryland, the Fightin' Irish will be invading our nation's capital for their third annual "Home away from Home" game, this time against the Terrapins at Fed Ex Field.  Prior to Saturday night's game, the Fightin' Irish Faithful will get a chance to show their support along with guest speakers Joe Theismann and Reggie Brooks as the Pep Rally on Friday night will be held at the National Mall.  On Saturday, Unviersity President Fr. John Jenkins will celebrate mass at 10:00am in St, Matthew's Cathedral, followed by a performance featuring the entire Band of the Fighting Irish on the U.S. Capitol Lawn at 12:00pm.  All of these events are free and open to the public, so go celebrate "God, Country, Notre Dame" if you are in the area.

Finally, the Fightin' Irish will take on the Terrapins in a battle of unconventional uniforms at 7:30pm.  After recently revealing our new Golden disco ball helmets with green face masks and shamrock accents, I wouldn't be surprised if we take the field in some sort of funky take on "throwbacks" that feature much more of my favorite color than usual.  Not to be outdone in terms of ridiculous attire, I'm sure that Maryland will come out with their latest Ninja-Turtle look while also incorporating their state flag in the least fashionable way possible per usual.  Regardless, it will be interesting to see what both sides come up with.  Oh yeah... they're going to play football too...

In all seriousness, this game should provide a nice confidence boost and an overall enjoyable experience for Kelly's banged up squad.  Hopefully it leaves them feeling refreshed prior to their final tune-up game against our little brother school from New England on Senior Night.  All in all, Saturday will bring us one step closer to the West Coast, where we hope to capture some Luck and harvest some timber over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Official Press Release Explaining New Changes to Uniforms:
This marks the first in a series of uniform features that will be utilized for Notre Dame's Shamrock Series contests. After the 2011 game at FedExField, the Shamrock Series in 2012 moves to Soldier Field in Chicago for a game against Miami. In 2013 the Shamrock Series matchup against Arizona State will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Irish will showcase uniform variations in their annual Shamrock Series games but otherwise will wear their standard uniforms the rest of the season. 

(For the record, I am 100% behind such efforts to inject new elements into the Notre Dame Football experience as long as they stay in line with our traditions of excellence, class, and honoring our rich heritage.  I look forward to the continuation of the "Shamrock Series" as well as alternate uniforms used specifically for those games, while keeping the traditional look intact for the remainder of each season).

Nov 5, 2011

Anchors Aweigh for Fightin' Irish

After a short lived panic attack late last week leading up to the game against our historic rival, rumors of mutiny quickly turned out to be nothing that a little smash-mouth football couldn't fix.  In fact, the controversial comments made by Kelly and the even more controversial reactions made by several players may have provided exactly what this team needed to turn the corner.  It presented an opportunity for the players and coaches to sit down and clear the air that has tasted sour to some all season long.  With that behind them, they can cut the proverbial anchor loose and focus on winning football games.

Last Week's Win over Navy may have allowed the Fightin' Irish
 to Finally Cut the Anchor Loose

Speaking of focus, Kelly's teams have accumulated a 6-2 record on the road while playing without all the distractions that accompany football weekends at Notre Dame, compared to a 7-6 record at home.  Take that stat for what you will, but the only two games Kelly has lost away from Notre Dame Stadium were to MSU last year (they ended up with 11 wins) and the Skunkbears this year (in a game we literally gave away).  This bodes well for the remainder of the regular season, which includes games on the road at Wake Forest and Maryland prior to senior night at home against Backup College and the season finale at Stanford.  

While Wake and Maryland have both been dangerous at times this season, we drastically outmatch them.  In true fashion, a horrible BC squad poses no threat.  With a 4 game winning streak at our backs, we will have a real chance to take advantage of our newfound confidence and renewed focus in order to chop down the trees on Thanksgiving weekend.  Not convinced?  Let me remind you that Kelly's teams have not been beaten in the month of November for 3 years.  Luckily for us, Thanksgiving weekend falls in the month of November again this year.

And now to the game at hand, an interesting matchup against a traditionally basketball-centered Baptist school that has recently shown glimmers of potential on the football field.  Wake LB and leader of the Demon Deacon (which is a lame attempt at something as badass as the Fighting Irish, if you ask me) defense Nikita Whitlock had this to say about his first time playing against Notre Dame: "We're little Wake Forest... but don't expect us not to come out and try to punch them in their mouth.  That's what we do."  

There's no way we lose to a school
that such ugly "mascots" call home.

I like the fire of those fightin' words, and I'm expecting a well played game out of Wake.  That still doesn't change the fact that we should be able to dominate if we continue to emphasize our dangerous running attack as we did against Navy.  In his press conference following that steamrolling performance featuring 7 rushing TDs, Kelly admitted that he "put more of an emphasis on the run game in [the red zone], and I think that is the direction we want to keep moving."  I hope he stays true to those words so we can share in the joy of watching a consistently tough team that represents "...a brand of football that [Kelly is] starting to see."

Tonight's Score Prediction:

Fightin' Irish: 38
Demon Deacons: 20

Offensive MVP:  Jonas - The senior back will continue to play like he has something to prove.  Look for him to break a long TD to keep his scoring streak alive.

Jonas playing smash-mouth football against Navy

Defensive MVP: Manti - I've been waiting patiently for the leader of our defense to get his hands on a loose ball with running space ahead of him. Will this be the week?

Get this man the football!

Oct 28, 2011


If you look closely at the crowd of Middies in Notre Dame Stadium tomorrow, you may see them holding a flag that reads, "DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP."  The Fighting Irish will need to draw some inspiration from this famous Naval battle cry as they take on a fierce opponent in the wake of a humiliating defeat.

After a brutal loss at the hands of our bitter rivals from Southern California, several Trojans spoke out about the lack of fight in the Fightin' Irish when it came to the fourth quarter of that contest.  Chris Galippo, a linebacker who is still bitter over being passed up by Notre Dame after visiting on a recruiting trip with Jimmy Clausen, claimed, "At the end there, when they didn't call those timeouts, they just quit.  And that's what Notre Dame football's about.  They're not anything like U$C."  Running Back Marc Tyler (of TMZ fame) chimed in with less-than-perfect-English by sputtering, "That's what happens when you beat them down.  We wore them out.  They didn't want to play us no more.  We out-physicalled them and beat them down."  While such statements do little more than prove the lack of class spewing forth from the Kiffin-run program, they do sting somewhat when their impact is considered. Perception often is reality, and right now much of the country perceives the Fighting Irish as weak.

Lou Holtz was famously quoted as telling his National Championship team, "One thing nobody in this world can give you, men, is respect... the self respect you have for yourself, the way you play the game, and the way you believe... the way you do things.  This is a game of respect.  You are Notre Dame.   You are special.  You represent Notre Dame.  You represent everybody that came before you and everybody that will come after you.  At Notre Dame there is a spirit.  The spirit is something that's within ya.  Ya gotta listen to that spirit, and you gotta fight for it. Ya gotta believe."

On saturday, the Fighting Irish need to find the fightin' spirit within them, listen to it, and earn the respect that is needed to turn this program around for good.  They're on the cusp of greatness, but they stand at a crossroads.  This classic matchup against our historic rivals stands as the perfect opportunity to prove that we have not and will never give up the ship.

Oct 21, 2011


Notre Dame Law School Tuition: $42,870.00

Football Student Ticket Booklet: $215.00

Lane Kiffin's Face When the Irish Win: Priceless

Score Prediction:  

University of Notre Dame: 37
University of $anctioned Cheater$: 27

Game Balls:

Manti proves he made the right decision on Signing Day
by scoring his first career TD.

At 6'3", Floyd goes HAM against U$C's 5'8" and 5'9" corners.

Oct 20, 2011

Wearin' o' the Green

What do the Emerald Isle, the shamrock, St. Patrick's Day, Brian Kelly's last name, the Official Banner of the Fighting Irish, and the prettiest jerseys in all of college football have in common?

GREEN: a color worth fighting for.

The Notre Dame student section will be representing their true Fightin' Irish heritage on Saturday night by wearing green as their boys in Blue and Gold take on the Ketchup and Mustard wearing Trojans from the University of Sanctioned Cheaters.  The students have called for a stadium-wide "Wearin' o' the Green."  Do your duty for Fightin' Irish Nation by donning some Kelly, Emerald, Lime or Forest in a show of unity.  Why is this color so important, you ask?  Read on.

Pushups look sexy in green

Irish history directly influenced the Irish-American experience during the Civil War when Thomas Francis Meagher, an Irish rebel leader who had escaped to the United States, formed a brigade made up entirely of Irish soldiers which quickly gained a widespread reputation as one of the bravest and best fighting units in the entire Union force. Commonly rreferred to as the “Fighting Irish,” and marching under their notorious green flag which never seemed to fall from its position in the front line of every battle, these Irish-Americans established themselves as a widely celebrated symbol of both Irish pride and American patriotism. Both the original Banner of the Fighting Irish, as well as Meagher's sword (which I have held!) are currently in possession of the University of Notre Dame Archives.

Rev. William Corby, C.S.C., chaplain of the Irish Brigade and later president of the University of Notre Dame, also gained wide renown as a Catholic, Irish-American, and American figure due to his reputation for bravery on the battlefield. In 1863, moments prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, he “performed an act that seized the imagination of his countrymen” by granting general absolution to all of the Union troops about to engage the enemy. Matching statues commemorating that moment stand on the memorial sight in Gettysburg and outside the aptly named Corby Hall on campus at Notre Dame (you may know of it as "Fair Catch Corby").

Fr. Corby blesses the green Banner of the Fightin' Irish at Gettysburg

Legendary Coach and expert promoter Knute Rockne made use of the color green as he put Notre Dame on the map by building the greatest football franchise in history. He highlighted the color as a prominent symbol of Irish nationalism when he had his teams dress in blue to begin their toughest games before instructing them to reveal the fiery green sweaters they wore underneath at the right moment. This tactic worked more than once against heavily favored foes, eliciting praise from The Scholastic - 1928 Football Review: 
“Mr. K. K. Rockne may, or may not, be a psychologist. But, he did array his Fighting Irish in bright green jerseys for their battle with the United States Naval Academy. Mr. Rockne evidently surmised that garbing a band of native and adopted Irish in their native color is somewhat akin to showing a bull the Russian flag.” 

The tradition lived on at Notre Dame when the color green played an integral role in our 1977 national championship run, which included the legendary “Green Machine” game (Ironically played on October 22) against our arch rival Southern Cal Trojans (click the link for a great video recapping that game). 

The Trojans came into Notre Dame Stadium in 1977 riding a 7-1-2 record over the past ten contests against the Fighting Irish. Recognizing that “something special was going to be needed to get the Fighting Irish back in the winning trend,” Coach Dan Devine reached back to the days of Rockne and beyond in order to give his team the edge they needed.

After their final practice leading up to the game, he spoke to the team as a whole about the name “Fighting Irish” which they shared with the famous Irish Brigade of the Civil War. He told them the story of the Irish Brigade’s notorious green flag that brought fear to the hearts of Confederate soldiers while inspiring the Union forces to "fight like Irishmen." He then explained how the color green symbolized a great struggle for freedom in Ireland during which brave men had "died so that Ireland might be free."

Devine’s history lesson left his team feeling confused as they left practice, but when they arrived in the locker room before the game after warming up in blue, they were greeted by the sight of bright green uniforms hanging in each of their lockers. The players’ adrenaline began to pump at that moment, and when they came charging out of the tunnel into a surprised Notre Dame Stadium they overawed their fans and their opponents alike with “Fighting Irish” bravado.

Their newfound swagger led them to a 49-19 annihilation of the Trojans, and the momentum generated by that game carried them all the way to the Cotton Bowl, where they defeated Texas to claim their spot atop the college football world once again. The “Green Machine” game engineered by Devine would become a legendary symbol of the “Fighting Irish” spirit. 

Green Fire: ND v SC midnight drum circle tradition

From Irish Rebels like Meagher, to legendary Irish-Americans like Corby, to National Champions like Rockne and Devine, the color green has remained central to the history of the Fightin' Irish.  Honor this history on Saturday night by wearing green in solidarity with the students who proudly call themselves the Fightin' Irish.

Even Jesus loves rocking Kelly Green

Kelly visits Center of Universe

Coach Kelly ventured into the Center of the Universe last week to honor the Dawgs of Alumni Hall, who he thanked for setting the standard in terms of support and enthusiasm on football game weekends.  He commended the men of Alumni for playing such an integral role in the tradition, sense of family, and spirit that can only be found at Notre Dame, adding that he quickly learned to expect a lengthy delay while all the Dawgs in the house go berserk every time the word "Alumni" is uttered at a pep rally.  

Located on Main Circle at Notre Dame,
Alumni Hall is the "Center of the Universe"

Coach challenged the Dawgs to make a valid attempt to “at least make it to the game” on Saturday night despite the late 7:30 start.  Echoing the sentiments of Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, who challenged the student body to tailgate responsibly and get loud once inside the stadium, Kelly asked the Dawgs to hydrate themselves thoroughly prior to bringing the ruckus come game time.

When asked about the typical game day atmosphere at Notre Dame, Coach again agreed with Swarbrick in admitting that Notre Dame Stadium is one of the quietest venues his team plays in from week to week.    While he commended the students for their commitment, he spoke out in full support of a jumbotron and piped-in music to make up for the small size of our student section, as well as the lack of noise coming from the rest of the stadium.  

Coach maintained that he understands the "tradition" argument against a jumbotron and/or "canned" music, but that he believes in our ability to make such improvements in a way that enhances the unique tradition and spirit of Notre Dame, rather than detract from it.  He pointed to the way music and classic footage were used at the first night game ever in the Big House in a way that added tremendously to the "strength of the collegiate atmosphere" of the game without the clutter of advertisements or any other unnecessary distractions.  He also made it clear that our fanbase should not expect to be held back by stubborn adherence to the status quo any more, citing the need for several changes which have already been made and will continue to take place in order to revive the most central of all our traditions... the tradition of winning football games.

While it seems as though a minority of Notre Dame alumni (small "a" alumni, not big "A" Alumni as in Dawgs) consistently makes the most noise in opposition of such changes, the unanimous consensus amongst the Dawgs stood in strong support of making such moves.  With our student body, Head Coach, and Athletic Ditrector on board, I wouldn't be surprised to see and hear an extra boost to our home field advantage in the near future (If you disagree, please prove that we do not need these additions by getting loud enough to make a difference in our stadium).

When asked which rivalry he considers to be most important to the Fighting Irish, Coach chose the "Greatest Intersectional Rivalry in College Football" over our series with the skunkbears, stating that Notre Dame vs. Southern Cal epitomizes everything that a rivalry should stand for.

The Dawgs told Coach that the students were planning to fill the student section with green on Saturday night before asking him whether the team would sport matching threads.  In response, he did not deny the possibility of green jerseys.  With a wink and a nudge, he said that he looks forward to continuing the tradition of green jerseys, but would not specify which game (read: we are wearing green on Saturday, and so should you!). 

Coach also explained that his newly implemented Hendrix package was here to stay, and that he plans to fully utilize this whole new side of the offense in order to prevent defenses from keying in on just a few playmakers the way Pitt was able to (we only scored 15 points in the win over Pitt).  By offering a variety of looks, our offense will remain efficient even when certain aspects aren't working against a specific defense.  Just when an opponent seems to have solved the puzzle, we now have the ability to play a wild card with potential to be game-breaking.

When one Dawg asked if his roommate, walk-on TE Arturo Martinez, will see the field this year, Coach said that by asking we pretty much guaranteed him some playing time. He also gave a shoutout to all of WOPU Nation, saying that walk-on players like Pat Coughlin and Chris Salvi have impacted the team tremendously this season.

Finally, the Dawgs gave Coach an ultimatum: whether he would rather be Johnny Depp or Will Smith.  He mulled the choices over for a minute, then decided that neither would be preferable to his current position as the head coach of the Fighting Irish.  Well played, Sir.  Well played, indeed.

Coach Kelly strikes a power stance on the sideline

Alumni Hall proudly granted "Honorary Dawg"status to Coach Kelly (who now joins Coach Brey as the only two active "Honorary Dawgs" at Notre Dame), by presenting him with a Wake Week shirt and two of our signature frosted pint glasses.  In response to the later, he happily declared, "I bet these look great filled with beer!” That they do, Coach. That they do.

Alumni Dawgs leading the charge at a football pep rally

The Blessed Men and Brothers of Alumni Hall would like to thank Coach Kelly for taking the time to pay us tribute, answer our questions, and for recognizing us as a leader and an icon amongst all halls.

Oct 18, 2011

Fall of Troy: Revisited

This is it.  

We've all been waiting for this game since it appeared on the official schedule.  

This Saturday, the Fighting Irish will host the once-mighty men of Troy for the first night game held at Notre Dame Stadium in over two decades.  As we prepare for the 83rd chapter of "The Greatest Intersectional Rivalry in College Football," Irish Creed takes a look back at last year's matchup, which saw our Boys in Blue and Gold emerge from the Coliseum victorious.

Fall of Troy: Revisited

Tommy Reese, the first Notre Dame quarterback to defeat the mighty men of Troy since Carlyl Holiday did so in 2001, described the win in the only way he could by saying "Words can not do it justice."

In words borrowed from Lou Holtz, Brian Kelly talked about taking pride in the fact that his lads "didn't flinch" against a rival that has tormented all of Notre Dame Nation over most of the past decade.  According to Kelly, "We put the fight back into the Fighting Irish today."

I’d love to say that a win over the Trojans has been a long time coming, but I personally can’t.  Even though it feels like an eternity, the misery only began for me in 2005 with the Bush Push (which, Ironically enough… never happened).

That legendary game between #9 Notre Dame and #1 U$C was the first college football game I watched after applying to college, and my first experience as a Notre Dame fan.  I’ll always remember exactly where I was and what I was doing during that game.  Actually, I was on a double-date at a bowling alley and I was attempting (unsuccessfully) to divide my attention between the amazing spectacle on TV and the not-quite-as-amazing spectacle that was my date.  I remember jumping up and down screaming when it appeared as though the Fighting Irish had won, since the students had begun to rush the field and there was no sound on the TV at the bowling alley.  I then watched in disbelief as the officials ushered fans back into their seats and added time back on to the expired clock.  Let’s just say what transpired next ruined the rest of the night not only for every Notre Dame fan watching, but for my date as well…

As a student at Notre Dame, I lived through 3 brutally embarrassing defeats before finally feeling the tide begin to change direction during my senior year.  The stars seemed like they just might align in 2009.  The entire campus breathed “BEAT SC,” and loyal students spent more time hanging up posters, writing on sidewalks, and building a Trojan Horse than they did studying for midterms.  At the Friday night rally, I burst out of the horse sporting a mohawk and Tommy Trojan’s sword (which I broke over my knee) and tens of thousands roared as Rocket Ismail delivered a gospel-like speech that none in attendance will ever forget.  I had never been more amped in my life, and the energy coming from the greened out student section during that game lifted our team to come soaring back within striking distance of our mighty foes late in the second half.  Alas, my dreams of standing atop the north-endzone goalpost as the students tore it down flew out the window when our fourth-and-goal pass fell incomplete.  At that moment, in agonizing pain, I vowed that I would one day witness the fall of Troy.

I did what any traumatized recently-retired leprechaun would do by deciding to live in Southern California with fellow Irish Creed writer FightingIrish1313 during the summer of 2010.  While living behind enemy lines, not only did I visit the soon-to-disappear Heisman trophy belonging to Reggie Bush, but I also left behind a small Irish charm somewhere on their campus, thus putting the dreaded Curse of the Leprechaun on the University of Spoiled Children (You can read about my SoCal adventure here).

Flash forward to this November, as I arrived in Huntington Beach for Thanksgiving by the ocean where the sign at my hotel read “The word of the day is: STOKED!”  Stoked I was, possibly even hella-stoked, to spend a few days soaking up some cosmic rays in the OC before venturing into a quaint neighborhood known as South Central LA for a rivalry showdown featuring backup quarterbacks starting on both sides.  Hella-stoked for a win… brah.

I must admit that I was impressed with the tailgating scene prior to Senior Night in the Coliseum (whoa… totally sorry for spoiling your big night… brah).  Some creative Californians even hanged an effigy of a leprechaun from a tree, which was lovely.

Once inside the Coliseum, I discovered that most Fighting Irish fans had been relegated to the cheap temporary bleacher style seats that are literally nowhere near the football field.  Not to worry, because the Trojans failed to fill their own house as expected.  It didn’t take long before we created a cheering section of our own in the corner of the endzone.  More than once, our celebratory cheers and jeers could be heard on the field over the lifeless din of the So Cal crowd.  While the Irish Tricolour flag upon which I had spray-painted “KILL SO CAL” did not amuse those around us, it did spark some energy when I joined the crowd-surfing students in the fourth quarter.  Our small band of faithful fans shared tremendous highs and lows throughout the game, and as the clock hit 00:00 an overwhelming sense of relief swept over us all.  An army of security guards surrounded us to make sure any attempts to rush the field would be thwarted, but we were perfectly content standing arm in arm singing our Alma Mater with smiles on our faces.  As we exited the friendly confines of the Coliseum, we thanked our gracious hosts for the win, and echoes of the Notre Dame Victory March reverberated throughout every hallway.

There's no use crying over spilled trojans...

In reference to the thousands of Cali brahs who showed us the real meaning of the term “fair-weather fan” when they left the game early in droves after finding the blustery 50 degree night far too frigid for their liking, I guess revenge actually is best when served cold (pun intended).  I do respect their loyal fans who stuck it out in a losing effort on Senior Night though, because I’ve been there and done that.  

I left the game excited for the future of the “Greatest Intersectional Rivalry” in college football.  It takes two to tango in a true rivalry, and we haven’t shown enough fight to even make the games interesting as of late.   As one of about 3 Notre Dame fans (and the only one decked out head to toe in bright green) at the 9-0 (the CJ’s of SoCal) after the game, I was a bit surprised at how many Trojan fans approached me with toasts “to the rivalry” (and even more surprised that I escaped with my life after half the SC football team showed up).  If Coach Kelly was right, and the Fall of Troy was a sign that we finally put the fight back into the Fighting Irish, then I’d like to join those Trojan fans by raising a glass “to the rivalry.”

All in all, my ND v SC experience has been an eventful journey, and I am hella-stoked for its continuance now that the drought is over and Kelly’s reign has begun (also hella-stoked to have the Jeweled Shillelagh back in the JACC... brah).

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule

2012 Notre Dame Football Schedule
DateOpponent / EventLocationTime / Result
09/01/12vs. Navy Dublin, IrelandW, 50-10
09/08/12vs. PurdontNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-17
09/15/12at SpartyEast Lansing, Mich.W, 20-3
09/22/12vs. SkunkbearsNotre Dame, Ind.W, 13-6
Shamrock Series
10/06/12vs. Da UChicago, Ill.W, 41-3
10/13/12vs. TreesNotre Dame, Ind.W, 20-13 (OT)
10/20/12vs. BYU Notre Dame, Ind.W, 17-14
10/27/12at Oklahoma Norman, Okla.W, 30-13
11/03/12vs. Pittsburgh Notre Dame, Ind.W, 29-26 (3OT)
11/10/12at Backup College Chestnut Hill, Mass.W, 21-6
11/17/12vs. Fake Worest Notre Dame, Ind.W, 38-0
11/24/12at U$C Los Angeles, Calif.W, 22-13
1/7/13vs. AlabamaBCS CHAMPIONSHIP
(Miami, Florida)
L, :(