IBG – Primetime Rivalry Edition

Brian Kelly and Tommy Rees will attempt to lead Notre Dame to back to back wins over arch rival USC for the first time in a decade this weekend when the Trojans come to town. (Photo / IconSMI)

Hey there.  Why does it always seem that life/work get to be the busiest at the worst times for blogging purposes?  With some free time this week I wanted to make sure to get back on track with this being USC week.   With that said, here is my response to this week’s Irish Blog Gathering.

1. I’m taking an old friend of mine to the USC game. They were born and raised in South Bend near Notre Dame, and developed a dislike for the University at a young age from dealing with the frustrations and messes that come from Notre Dame home football weekends. She’s never been to a Notre Dame game before (she’s an Ohio State fan). We’re going to go tailgate and do all the usual tailgating stuff. Any suggestions on what I could do to help her let go of her animosity towards Notre Dame?

Walk around campus on Thursday or Friday and hit up all of the sites before a lot of people arrive on campus.  Go to the Grotto and light a candle.   Listen to the trumpets in the Dome on Friday.  Rub Rock’s nose.

Go to the Midnight Drummer’s Circle on Friday night.  Ever since I stopped attending pep rallies, I’ve gone to the drummer’s circle instead and I still love it.

On gameday, make sure to tailgate early so you have time to hit up the player’s walk to the stadium and the band’s concert.  Lastly, make sure to make at least one trip to the Backer during the weekend.

2. On a related note, do you have any suggestions for improving the Notre Dame game weekend experience generally? Are there traditions lost that you’d like to see restored, or new ideas that you’d like to see implemented to improve the gameday experience?

I would start with the pep rallies.  They have gotten a little better over the last couple of years, but they are still not something that I include in my trips out to South Bend anymore.  The addition of the beer tents when Notre Dame introduced the Irish Green a couple years ago was a surprisingly nice addition, but the pep rally themselves still are lacking.

Other than that, I love all of the other game weekend traditions at Notre Dame from the player walk, to the midnight drummer’s circle, to the band’s concert on the stairs.

Now, if you are talking about the game day environment inside the stadium, there is a lot that needs to be done to make Notre Dame more of a home field advantage and a more intimidating place to play, but that’s another question all together.

3. (a) USC is (and always will be) our biggest rival. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? And if you agree, why do you feel that this is such an important rivalry? (b) Rank your top 10 college football rivalries and provide justifications for each.

Yes, USC is Notre Dame’s biggest rival and to me it isn’t even close.  The Notre Dame-Michigan series has taken huge breaks, but the idea of a break between Notre Dame and USC has never been an option.  USC and Notre Dame on Thanksgiving weekend every other year is something I’d never want to see change as it has become part of my family’s Thanksgiving weekend tradition.

The uniqueness of the Notre Dame-USC rivalry is what makes it so special.  How many other major rivals are separated by 2,000 miles?  Most major rivalries, as my list below shows are regional.   There have been some good national rivalries over the years, but none have been able to withstand the test of time like Notre Dame and USC.

  • Michigan/Ohio State – I don’t particularly like either of these schools, but they have a great rivalry and they genuinely hate each other – that is the sign of a great rivalry.  Much like Notre Dame/USC over the last few years this rivalry has become very one sided, but it’s still one of the best in the country.
  • Auburn/Alabama – Another rivalry that is just steep with hate on both sides.  Oh yeah, and it doesn’t hurt that the two schools are routinely among the best in the country – especially lately.  Another sign of a great rivalry is a great name and the “Iron Bowl” certainly fits the bill.
  • Florida/Georgia – The “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” just sounds like a fun time.  If there were one game on this list I’d like to attend based on the name of the game alone, it would be this one.
  • Miami/Florida State – In the 90’s this game was routinely a national championship elimination game.  It also gave us the term “wide right”.  Both programs have fallen off a bit over the last few years, but the rivalry remains strong.
  • Notre Dame/Navy – I don’t care if people outside of Notre Dame and Navy take this rivalry serious, but for those who know the history and uniqueness of the rivalry understand what makes it special.
  • Texas/Oklahoma – Any rivalry that gets played in a neutral site every year deserves to be considered one of the best in the country.  Both programs are historic rivals and many years this game has served as a national title elimination game.  It also has a great name with the “Red River Shootout” (yes I know PC folks have renamed it the Red River Rivalry)
  • Oklahoma/Oklahoma State – This game is call “Bedlam”.  Enough said.
  • Pitt/West Virginia – The Backyard Brawl is a great name and even though these two schools are usually not in the national title picture, the two sides have some genuine hate towards each other.
  • Cal/Stanford – Great history with the whole “the band is on the field” game.
  • Army/Navy – If I were ranking these in order, this would be my #1 rivalry and no explanation is really needed here.

Note – a couple great rivalries like Oklahoma and Nebraska and Texas and Texas A&M have been or will be discontinued or at least interrupted because of realignment so I left them off this list.

4. Southern Cal is 5-1, with their only loss on the road at Arizona State. They are unranked, sitting right behind us in the “also receiving votes” category. How good is Southern Cal this year? How do you see this game playing out?

USC is a pretty solid team, but not nearly close to the teams we have seen from USC in years past.  They have some major problems along the offensive line and just don’t have the same playmakers on defense that we have become accustomed to seeing during the Pete Carroll era.

I think the game will be close early but eventually Notre Dame’s running game will be the difference just as it was a year ago.  If Notre Dame can limit it’s mistakes and avoid a turnover parade like we saw last Thanksgiving weekend and early this season, I think the Irish will be able to pull away in the second half and hold on for a victory to give Notre Dame two in a row over its biggest rival.

5. It appears that with a win over USC, we’ll re-enter the Top 25 rankings. Now that we’re halfway through the season and have some actual evidence available to us from real games, how do you see the rest of the season playing out?

  • (a) Notre Dame’s final record (indicating where we will lose if at all): 9-3 with a loss to Stanford.
  • (b) Notre Dame’s bowl destination, opponent and outcome. Champs Bowl against Florida State.
  • (c) The BCS Championship game and result. LSU and Wisconsin with LSU winning 24-17.
  • (d) Notre Dame’s final AP ranking. 13th
  • (e) The winners of the major awards, including:
    • (i) Heisman Trophy – Russel Wilson
    • (ii) Home Depot Coach of the Year -Bret Bielema
    • (iii) Davey O’Brien Award (best QB) – Russel Wilson
    • (iv) Doak Walker Award (best RB) – Bernard Pierce
    • (v) Fred Biletnikoff Award (best WR) – Ryan Broyles
    • (vi) Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player)


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  1. storespook 8 years ago

    The 4th best rushing team is up for next week. ND better get its stuff in order because Navy, Wake Forest, & Stanford all can beat this current ND squad if it plays like last night. I’ve come to the conclusion we’re just not that good against a better athletic teams. The 360+ yards we gave up to Air Force I don’t think was an exception. Our run game given up too early. I think it’s time to seriously consider starting Hendrix. We’ve got nothing to play for except maybe the Jackass Junction Bowl now. Just a thought.

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    1. JDH 8 years ago

      I do believe strongly that ND will lose to Stanford and one other team. I think they’ll have 5 losses and a yet another horribly disappointing season. But I thought they’d lose to MSU and/or Pitt too, so I’ve been known to be wrong.

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  2. bC 8 years ago

    It’s always the coach ( starts and ends ) with the coach and the fact that he makes somewhere around 4 million a year doesn’t help matters. This team is a worse laughing stock than last year. They take a step forward than 3 back. I’m sorry but after the practice week after USF my players would never fumble again, especially if my est. 4 mil / year was riding on it.
    Thanks again for another humiliating game

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    1. JDH 8 years ago

      Fair enough, but Brian Kelly cannot COACH Crist to not fumble the ball catastrophically on the one. Just like the interceptions he threw against Navy last year in the end zone and the one he threw against USF this year in the end zone. What is Kelly supposed to do? Just keep saying, “Hey Dayne, quit doing that ok?” It is Kelly’s fault however that he put Crist in at all- that I agree with. Only Crist has loser tatooed so squarely on his forehead that he, with his size and ability, can fumble a snap under center, not fall on the ball immediately, and cause 7 points the other way. Unforced and inexcusable. He should never play football again- I truly believe that.

      And it’s not BK’s fault that Wood can’t catch a soft 7 yard pass behind the line. But I guess you could make the case Kelly did not have them prepared. In his presser, he assured the media he would have done nothing differently in preparation. He put it squarely on the players.

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  3. JDH 8 years ago

    I really don’t put most of last night’s loss on Kelly. I know, I know, it always starts/stops with the head coach. But, based upon their play the last month,he had them ready to play and made big strides.

    USC was 100% ready to play and was all business. ND was a train wreck. For all the talk about USC being “spoiled children” and ND’s players being the good, disciplined, smart kids- yeah right. I saw a USC that was extremely disciplined! No/few personal fouls, penalties, turnovers. Just walked into ND stadium and dominated a very confused, intimidated Irish team. Granted, there were some HORRIBLE official calls/non-calls. The helmet-helmet penalty? BS. The no-inteference call on Floyd? BS.

    If you listen real closely you can hear the sound of Dayne Crist’s football career blowing away. I do put that on Kelly. How many more displays of being a complete head case does Kelly need to see? Crist cannot even take a snap and lean forward, as a 220 lb. upperclassmen. He is a joke. And I honestly believe he should transfer or just quit. He should never, EVER, see the field again under ANY circumstance. He alone didn’t lose the game, but that 14 point swing in the 3rd qtr. was catastrophic.

    Recapturing momentum is just too hard. Everytime they had it, they gave the ball to USC.

    Did anyone see the Kelly presser? He basically put it on the players and said he wouldn’t have changed anything in the bye week preparation. I actually agree w/ him here, only because I don’t think it’s him anymore. Just my opinion…

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  4. scav 8 years ago

    ND gets to play the rest of the season for pride, while the rest of college football gets to play for conference championships. It’s time ND realizes that they are not special anymore and reinvent itself. If a Catholic University will play Ozzy Osbourne to fire up the crowd, they can join a conference.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these kids needs something to play for each year. As these conferences continue to change, ND will be on the outside looking in.

    Not that it matters anymore, but how good would that Michigan State have looked after what they did to an unbeatable Wisconson team.

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  5. Bj 8 years ago

    An incompetent athletic director who hires a second rate coach, a second rate coach who repeats his mistakes time and time again, crist, a defense coordinator that gives up 25 to 30 pts a game, a team that has given up on itself, who wear chains around their necks,tattoos, and is only there for free ride, fire swarbrick, fire kelly, fire bob diaco, and while you are at it fire father jenkins. it has all become a sad pathetic, parody. lou holtz must cry himself to sleep.

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    1. IrishChan 8 years ago

      That’s a bit over the top

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  6. Laf Irish 8 years ago

    Dayne Crist owes me $1550.00!

    $900.00 for the 50″ plasma HDTV I just destroyed with a brick.
    $250.00 for the repairs to the wall that’s behind 50″ plasma HDTV.
    $400.00 to replace the grill on my SUV that’s behind the wall that’s behind my 50″ plasma HDTV.

    No charge for the brick as it was undamaged.

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