IBG – Primetime Rivalry Edition

0071011272301 Notre Dame at USC
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. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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

    1. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. people wake up!! brian kelly is OVERRATED! someone name ONE big game he has won? no discipline on this team. stupid penalties, turnovers, and we can’t run the ball!! and this is our great defense? usc manhandled us. the only reason nd beat msu was because dantonio outcoached himself!! brian kelly is a joke and half!

  8. Where was this team in the 1st quarter? They came out without any motivation or desire. Brian Kelly should be embarrassed as he couldn’t get his team up for THIS game. On top of that, he was clearly outsmarted in offensive and defensive play calling. An absolute disappointment.

  9. Extremely disappointing to watch this game tonight. They just look like they don’t want to be there. USC is just flat out playing a better game than ND and nothing more ticks me off more than admitting that and Rees just has thrown another INT as I write this. Need I say more.

  10. Irish drive 90 yards on EIGHTEEN plays ……not only do they not score, they give up 7 points going the other way. -if that doesn’t sum up my entire life as an ND fan……nothing does. -when……WHEN will we win a big game? Ever???

    1. 2nd and goal from the 3, how come we can’t run the ball three times to get it in? Are we afraid to let our big back carry because he may fumble? And why do we only have 10 rushes for the whole game?

  11. DO NOT, I REPEAT TO BK, PUT IN DAYNE CRIST. IT’S SOUTH FLORIDA AGAIN. JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!. Should have played Hendrix. I’m ready to throw up and just start drinking, UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Well, the PAC 12 officiating crew has shown its bias on the no call interference against number 3 and the ghost false start on 66 when SC clearly jumped off-sides. Atkinson return was nice, but, ND better get their heads out of their asses in the 2nd half. Flutie the fluteman’s commentary is wearing thin too. If I hear him refer to ND playing with “the big boys” now I swear I’ll shove a football in his mouth. BK better have some motivating words for this lackluster 1st half on both sides of the ball. C’Mon ND, GO IRISH. Show up in the 2nd half.

    1. I don’t like that we abandoned the run, at this rate we will throw it over 40 times and we know that does not end pretty.

  13. This is not the time to be coming out flat on both sides of the ball. Just not great to watch at this point.

    1. Nice 15 yarder on Calabrese to give them a fresh set of downs. Half asleep, no discipline. Maybe you shouldn’t have 800 recruits show up on the same day?

  14. BIG GAME tonight looking forward to a night home game always fired up when they play road night games cool to have one at home. Hope the fans are loud and rocking tonight gonna need all the help to beat a solid southern cal team. Big game from the O-LINE tonight hit the trojans in the mouth and impose your will boys. Been a IRISH fan for a long time I live in Toronto Canada GO IRISH!!!!!!!!!! beat southern cal , for those going to the game enjoy it wanna hear my tv shaking tonight.

  15. We have the talent to convincingly beat SC; however, our inability to stretch the field concerns me. Monte Kiffin and Ed Orgeron aren’t stupid. They’re really good defensive minds. I think that they will double Floyd and keep their safeties up to stop the run and the short-intermediate passing game in the center of the field, because that is the only throws that Rees can make. They will make us beat them over the top, because they don’t believe that Rees can do that. SC may not be what they were, but they are more talented than any team we’ve played so far.

    1. That’s why you need to let Hendrix participate, let him come in and have them overplay the run and let him let it fly.

      1. Although he has a big arm, that’s assuming Hendrix can accurately get the ball down the field. Even if he can, Rees will get most of the snaps, so SC won’t have to defend the long ball very often.

  16. I don’t see any reason why we can’t put up 45 points against USC. Barkley will have people in his face all night long. Even if Marc Tyler plays he won’t be a 100%. Woods will be their big threat, however, lets not forget we were not expected to win last year! It is time to make a superior statement on the field! Yeah, I would bet large amounts of money we are going to see more Hendrix! More than likely we are USC’s worst nightmare coming next!


  17. Will Hendrix get more PT this game? If Rees starts cold does anyone see Hendrix taking over for the rest of the game and/or season?

    1. I think BK has been very patient with Rees, even when he has had some cold stretches (more so than with Crist). Unless Tommy gets hurt or give up

      1. The blog cut me out….or gives up a lot of turnovers, you may then see more of Hendrix. Looks like BK has installed more packages for AH, I like that.

        Go Irish!

  18. For the first time in several years, I actually have a positive mind set going into this game. There is a huge difference between this team and the teams from the past decade. I feel like they should win.

    In regards to the stadium atmosphere…The house better be ROCKIN’. I don’t care if we are up 45 to 3 and they have the ball with 2 minutes left in the game. NOBODY should leave and everyone should still be screaming. Don’t give up…let’s bury these A’holes.

    I think the administration should have organized something special for this night game. It would be cool to distribute 80,000 gold shirts. Penn State has the white out, Clemson is always orange, Ohio state/Wisconsin is always Red. We could call it the “Gold Rush.”

  19. It’s always hard to tell each match up anymore, especially since you don’t have many independents crossing conference boundaries. However, from what I have seen, if Notre Dame plays their own game, this should be a convincing win. I see Notre Dame’s offensive line pushing USC off the ball. If the running backs hit their holes quickly, then look for significant gains and sustained drives. I see that alone throwing USC off of it’s game. USC is not used to coming from behind too often.

    Notre Dame just needs to play its own game. I just hope our secondary is ready. Coverage goof ups will be the only thing to keep USC in the game.

    Assuming the players are on game, I see this as potentially that game that defines the new era. I remain very cautious, but also very optimistic.

  20. Now, for traditions I’d like to see come back. How about the trojan horse Saturday night?

    Some good, slightly politically incorrect signage around campus like we had in the 80’s.

    Some better chears. I never hear “Here come the Irish!” anymore, not since they marketed it. In fact, other than good yelling, I didn’t hear any spontaneous cheers come from the stands, during the MSU game.

    I hope it is even louder than that on Saturday night.

  21. A trip to the Grotto and walk around the lakes could convert anyone at this time of year. Mass at Sacred Heart is also special.

    Also, talk to other fans. ND fans are really nice people, especially around campus.

  22. I’ll be at a good friends’ wedding on Saturday night. Thank heavens for the replay on NBCsports.com the next day. I have to wait to watch the game till Sunday afternoon though. (Yes I’m a soccer fan) My favorite soccer team, Manchester City, plays Manchester United at 7:30 AM on Sunday morning. Then the Bears are in London to play Tampa at noon. Hopefully ND’s performance will be worth the wait for me.

    1. Im disappointed with you Spicey. LOL. Saturday evening i will be at a family renuinion just outside Baton Rouge. luckily LSU plays the afternoon game so most of the attendees will have progressed on to drunk stupor and abandoned the TVs by the time my beloved Irish kick off. I’ll still have to listen to the heretic horde lambast my team, remind me of the sugar bowl and generally proclaim the godless “tigahs” as the by sll end all.

      On second thought, I may get a hotel room.

  23. Being a Cincinnati Bengals fan I’ve gotten used to high expectations only to see those hopes come crashing down. I had hoped that ND would be undefeated at this point in the season but again hoped deflated after the 0-2 start. Now with the toughest part of the schedule coming up, I can only see that one game is a certain win (Boston College). We got drubbed by Navy in 2010, Maryland stuck with Clemson and Wake Forest beat FSU and took Viginia Tech deep before they final lost. Stanford is going to smoke us unless we get agressive with the blitz package…our corners can’t play 1 v 1 against their receivers and tight ends. So being a pessimist, I’m just hoping we don’t blow all those games – hell we lost to Tulsa last year!
    The one thing I will say is that I think Coach Kelly is the real deal. Watching what he did with UC (and Mark Dantonio’s players) made me a big fan and I was so glad that ND hired him. I just hope he has turned the corner with this program and taught them how to win, win, win!

    1. Jack-Faith is the cornerstone of victory. As Colonel Doolittle said “Those who believe most win. We are going to believe.” So believe!

  24. Do I want to see ND beat the Trojans by at least 2 TD’s? Absolutly. But even if we only win by 2 points, our BCS chances are still very much alive.
    When it comes to ND and the BCS it’s all about wins. Big or small, ugly or pretty, it doesn’t matter.

    If ND has the wins, they normally get the nod.

    That’s because ND fans will always support their team. Buy the tickets, make the travel, fill the stands, and make the bowls a ton of money.

    Speaking of travel and the USC rivalry, USC and ND were a few of the first teams willing to travel to play each other.
    Back in the beginning of the home and Home series between the Irish and trojans, people (and football teams) traveled by train.
    For ND to get to Southern California from South Bend, it took two days by train. Out of a seven day week, four days were spent travelling.
    But in doing so, these two teams helped pave the way for college football on a National scale by joining East and West.

    ND, to this day, is still one of the most traveled teams in America.

    I look at the SEC, they always seem to have at least a couple of teams at the top of the rankings. It’s always one of the toughest conferences in NCAA football. But if you look at their schedules, and non-conference play, they never travel outside the South East United States.

    For a player in the SEC, how un-diverse and boring is that?

    1. Shaz-Notre dame is THE most traveled team in the history of college football. The only team close might be Hawaii and that’s because they are located geographically on that atoll in the Pacific.

      The SEC is very good and likewise very clever in their scheduling. Almost football’s version of ‘zenophobic’ You correctly identified that point. Thus one has to give SC acknowledgement if not respect for not attempting to get out of college football’s greatest intersectional rivalry.

      And Saturday night will be memorable-just not for Lame Kitten and his Jaihouse crew.

  25. If they do not beat SC by 2 tds their BCS chances ate out the window. This us a beat up SC team that can’t stop the run, they need to jump on them quick.

    1. Jackman-Payback is a bitch; and her name is Irish. Lame Kitten and his jailhouse bunch are in for a nasty night. The Crystal Ball has spoken-let the beatings begin. Yes we can really lay one on SC.
      PS-What ever happened to that incessantly ranting Traveler? Glue factory?

  26. Tailgating is an experience unto itself. It can be distinguished entirely from the game. Any game. Meaning: consuming great amounts of beer and orgiastic food is, really, a “sport” unto itself. Germans have the beer fests. There are the “Heineken Jazz Fests” in many cities. The seasonal fests ( festers?) around the world with any and all occasions as an excuse for imbibing alcohol. Spanish countries have Patron Saint festers. And bull festers. Italians have virginal festers. Russians have vodka festers. San Juan has the Artisan’s Saint Sebastian festers. And “popular” (meaning big crowds of people sweating and pressing each other) festers with alcohol are the manifestation of being human. For thousands of years this has been called “eating with the hogs”, and it’s no matter if it’s at football’s parking place, or Pamplona’s bulls, or at the Hofbrauhaus. It is still eating with the hogs.

    So, please, don’t confuse hoggy behavior with the game of football. Tailgating is, really, a manifestation of being human. It goes back to the Pleistocene (or whatever age) when the human race was evolving from hogs…not from minkeys. That’s why minkeys will govern the planet of the apes, and they will have hog sausages instead of tailgating.

    1. Been imbibing a bot already, Chuck?

      Hell, I’ll join in. There’s a football game somewhere right now i can drink to.

    2. Chuck,

      When speaking of the various, and famous “festers” found around the world, how can we forget the upper east coast, home of “Costanzas'” and their joval season and pagen ritual of “Festivious”?

      Where you will find numerous tasty delights, but no bagels.
      Contorted dances around a gleeming aluminum “Festivious pole”.
      Shouts of anger and insult in “The Airing of the grievances”.
      All culminating with the “Feats of strength”



      1. “Kruger, you couldn’t smooth a silk sheet if you had a hot date with a babe.. I lost my train of thought.” Frank Costanza

    1. I Hate both USC & UMiami. (notice capitol H) But UMiami is a long way away from the stature of USC. So I disagree.

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