Why We Could Win, Why We Could Lose

louis nix purdue

As the sun settled over Notre Dame stadium last Saturday, the Irish walked off the field earning a gritty win against the Boilermakers. While not nearly as impressive from just one week earlier, this is the type of game they would have lost in past few years. As injuries and costly mistakes piled up on both sides of the ball for Notre Dame, they still found a way to fight through them and notch a win at the end of the day. There were some definite positives that fans can take away from this win, and there are some old questions that still need to be answered and new ones that have arisen. Some of those questions need to be answered very quickly as the Irish travel to East Lansing this weekend to face a very tough Michigan State team. Michigan State has returned 9 defensive starters, and have a shown a propensity to run the ball extremely well. This is by far Notre Dame’s biggest challenge of the year so far, and their first real road game. There are multiple reasons that each team’s fan base can look to and justify a win for their beloved squad, and most of them would be legitimate. The team who walks away with a victory Saturday night will have overcome its weaknesses and will have found a way to improve upon them during the week of practice leading up to the game

Why Notre Dame Could Win

TIGHT END PLAY – The Irish are extremely talented at this position and have one of the best in the country in Tyler Eifert. At 6’6 251 pounds, Eifert is a nightmare for opposing defenses to cover with a linebacker, and really requires a double-team to limit his effectiveness. Troy Niklas has also been very impressive in his ability to find the open spot in the defense, catch the ball and make plays. Ben Koyack has also seen some success and at 6’5, he provides yet another legitimate weapon for the Irish offense.

MULTIPLE THREAT QB – While only a Sophomore, Everett Golson has shown the ability to make good decisions under pressure, and provide mobility in the pocket. Although most would not consider him a true threat to run the ball consistently quite yet in his young career, that does not mean he can’t. He is extremely elusive and forces the defense to always keep an eye on him. Michigan State has a strong defensive line, and his ability to create and provide more time for his receivers to get open will be incredibly invaluable come Saturday night. His talent to throw on the run will also play a huge part in Notre Dame’s ability to move the ball consistently on the Spartans defense.

DEFENSIVE FRONT SEVEN – For the most part the Irish front seven have been very successful in the early part of the 2012 campaign. Stephon Tuitt has played like a man amongst boys and leads the Irish defense with 4 sacks. Louis Nix isn’t far behind, as he has become a true disruptive force in the middle of the Irish defensive line. Manti Te’o leads the team in tackles and has been very good at the point of attack this year. If Kapron Lewis-Moore is healthy, he and Ishaq Williams also provide some true punch up front, and they will all need to be at the top of their game if the ability that Le’Veon Bell has shown in his first two games is legitimate.

Why the Irish Might Lose

MSU RUNNING ATTACK – Le’Veon Bell sure seems to be the real deal in 2012. He possesses the rare gift of power, speed, and agility all in one package. If Michigan State’s offensive line can control the line of scrimmage, it could be a long evening for Irish fans. Notre Dame safety Zeke Motta could play a huge role in trying to limit the Spartans’ run game, but the bottom line is whoever controls the line of scrimmage, most likely will control the scoreboard also. Notre Dame cannot afford to miss tackles and blow assignments as they did against Purdue, or Spartan fans could see another performance out of Bell like they did in the Boise St game.

MICHIGAN STATE’S DEFENSE – As mentioned before the Spartans return 9 starters on a very physical defense. The Irish did well last year against this defense, but it is a different set of circumstances this year. An immensely talented defensive line for Michigan State that is headlined by Kawann Short will throw as many different looks as possible at the Notre Dames offense, and if the Irish offensive line plays like they did against Purdue, Sparty could really gain a huge advantage here.

SPARTAN STADIUM AT NIGHT – Although there is no B.J. Cunningham or Kirk Cousins, that doesn’t make East Lansing any easier of place for visiting teams. It’s also no surprise that the Irish are a very young squad at key positions and playing here at night for your first true road game is no easy task. The crowd of 75,000 will have revenge on their mind, and will take every moment to remind the Irish of how much they dislike them.

Obviously there will be a lot more factors that play into who walks away with a victory this Saturday, and these are just some of them. This game has a huge impact for both teams on the rest of the season. Michigan State still has Ohio State and Nebraska visiting East Lansing, and has to hit the road and play in the hostile venues of Wisconsin and Michigan. The Irish need to grab every win they can, as their schedule is no easier with games left against Michigan, Miami, Oklahoma, and USC.
Both coaches understand the importance of this game, now it’s a matter of which team decides to put it all together for three hours on national television in prime-time.


Notre Dame -24
Michigan State – 21

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  1. My first time back here in 15 months and all I hear is bellyaching about the ACC move. It’s done, move on. Concentrate those vibes on defeating the Spartans. Which I surely believe will occur. They are good but not great. Keep in mind that nobody expected ULM to send Arkansas to the shed, or Sitting Bull to lay it on Custer and the 7th Cav, or everbody’s fave, Appalachin St. taking the Wolverines to the proverbial cleaners. So lighten up and relax, enjoy the game, and throw back a few frosty beers-I know I will be; finally!!! Go Irish! Hooah!

    1. Nice Sad Warrior! I know I will be getting no sllep tomorrow nihht between the Irish pumping me up and my O’s in a pennant race. No sleep this weekend

  2. BJ – you really believe Saturday is Kelly’s last chance? Give me a break. So they lose to Michigan State and run the table and finish 11-1, win the bowl game and go 12-1 . . . and Kelly gets fired? Please.

    Kelly isn’t going anywhere, and quite honestly, I don’t want him to. This team is moving upward on year 3, as opposed to spiraling down like Davie, Willingham and Weis.

    Wait until the end of the year and see what happens. We can all pretty much agree, with this schedule, going undefeated isn’t going to happen.

  3. BJ.

    That’s the difference between you and Swarbick. You only care about football. As an AD, he has to worry about his other sports. It’s part of his job description. He doesn’t have the luxury of only caring about football.

  4. “An immensely talented defensive line for Michigan State that is headlined by Kawann Short will throw as many different looks as possible at the Notre Dames offense, and if the Irish offensive line plays like they did against Purdue, Sparty could really gain a huge advantage here.”

    Kawann Short plays for Purdue

  5. BJ,

    I don’t doubt your heart is in the right place. But I don’t think you have thought this through. I am ecstatic over this move for several reasons.

    1. With the agreement to play 5 ACC teams yearly, we still have the ability to play all our most important rivals. There is still room for navy, mich, mich state, usc, stanford. That’s just nine games a year. So we can still sched 3 others. BC and Pitt will be in the ACC so that’s covered. I’m not losing sleep overpurdue.

    2. We get access to the acc non bcs bowls. So its not just bcs or champs every 4 years.

    3. Yes the acc has some patsies. But it wouldn’t hurt us to play a couple every year like every other team does. At least we will play duke syracuse and wake instead of an FCS school.

    4. They also have clemson, florida state, miami, VT and GT. Pretty decent competition and some marquee games.

    5. We are now in great recruiting areas. Virginia. North carolina, south carolina, georgia, florida. Add in california with stanford and SC and all we need is an annual game in texas to be in all 3 of the best recruiting areasof the country.

    6. Its outstanding for basketball and baseball.

    7. We are better positioned if the superconferences ever happen and force our hand. The acc will undoubtedly be one of them. It also makes scheduling easier when everyone else has more conference games to contend with.

    I love the move. Go Irish.

    1. ACC is also an excellent lacrosse conference. ND is a powerhouse in lax and has been knocking on the door of a national title for years now. It will likely mean that ND will play more top 10 or top 5 teams before the tourney.

      That being said, I have mixed emotions about the move. But I understand it’s a necessary reality.

  6. I don’t have a problem with Notre Dame joining the ACC. In today’s environment, I think they’re moving to a conference was inevitable. The ACC is a great conference, both athletically and academically – and that is a good fit for ND. I understand that in football Notre Dame will remain an independent and have to play 5 ACC teams per year (they currently are playing 4 ACC teams). This still allows the Irish to continue to play traditional rivals such as USC, Stanford (thereby guaranteeing them the opportunity to play on the West Coast each year, which is helpful in recruiting), Navy, and Michigan. They would then still have 3 games to work with. When you take a comprehensive look at all sports, there aren’t many conferences in the country that can compete with the ACC – it’s a strong conference. I understand that from a football perspective, the ACC is not quite as strong; however ND remains independent in football and would have the opportunity to play some quality opponents on a consistent basis in the ACC – Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Virginia, Clemson, North Carolina State, Boston College … these are all good programs. I look forward to seeing the Irish play when they come to the mid-Atlantic area on a regular basis starting in 2015. Go Irish!

  7. 2015 SCHEDULE

    Date Opponent
    09/05 Texas
    09/12 at Michigan
    09/19 at Purdue
    09/26 Temple
    10/10 Navy
    10/17 USC
    10/24 vs. Connecticut
    11/07 Wake Forest
    11/14 at Pittsburgh
    11/21 Syracuse
    TBA at Boston College



    1. You don’t get it, this move was for the non-football sports and to give ND better Bowl Options while remaining independent in football. As the other conferences expand, it was going to be harder and harder for ND to schedule any decent teams from the power conferences.

      In your list above, you failed to mention Florida State, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Miami, which are all decent programs. In addition to the 5 ACC games, they are going to keep USC, Stanford, and Navy on the schedule. That gives them 4 games that can be from anywhere in the country.

      I think this is a great move for the UNIVERSITY, not just the football team. Can you imagine the excitement when Duke and NC come to play basketball?

  9. swarbrick is a joke, he has loaded us down with a 5ive game acc requirement, we just went from a national program to another RegionaL PLAYER, I ALWAYS KNEW HE WOULD SELL US OUT

    1. He didn’t sell out. We are already playing 4 ACC schools this year anyway. He kept our independence and put the other sport in a much better situation. How about showing some support for OUR coach and OUR AD every now and again instead of constantly bashing them.

  10. For the most part last week was painfully inartful. This week against MSU will be a reflection on the coaching staff to get everyone settled in for better execution of plays.

    I too, am worried about the system of inserting plays. If the same play calling event repeats itself, we might as well hand MSU our play book to read. EG is a bright kid, STOP using mental development as cover BK, you had all summer and fall to evaluate mental capacity OF ALL FOUR QB’S. You chose EG to start, now start supporting EG and develop plays that will work for EG in an exigent and progressive manner! Be the expert you thing you are and get it done; NO EXCUSES THIS YEAR PLEASE!

    Most salient is the fact that this is not USC we are playing. MSU can be beaten with error free football. If nothing else, we have no MSU star quarterback to contend with unless we make him one. Our talent matches theirs, so it will come down to who has the superior coaching staff that wins.

    There is no real reason why we should loose this game, other than hoping for failure! If our players are good enough to be 2-0, they are certainly smart and good enough to become 3-0 vs MSU. Fault finding is the easy part, corrective action definately equals success! Many freshman compete at a championship level in D-1 football and many do not! Do we have the right coaching staff? We will witness that answer this week.

    Here come the Irish!

    1. JC,

      I disagree with your analysis. I look at two things that dictate a game. If you control the line of scrimmage you win. I don’t think ND’s O-line will dominate the game and that is th reason why ND loses the game.

      In defense of Golson and Kelly last week there was no film on Purdue’s defense because of a new defensive coordinator. This week they have film and I expect Everet to be better this week.

      In the Spread offense the QB calls the plays at the line and is responsible for getting the offense in the right play. The reason why this offense has failed the past three years is Dayne wasn’t a quality QB as shown at Kansas in the first two games and Tommy knew the offense but was no athelete. Golson the right guy just needs time to develop. It’s night Rice who only had to read a Defensive End and pitch.

      1. Jack,

        You owe me a beer if I am right and vise versa!

        You better hope I am right and that beer is going to taste good! Hahahahahaha.

        Here come the Irish!

      2. Why is our front seven not going to be equally tough on their O-line? that to me is wash, it comes down to whose rookie QB is going to have the better game with the least turnovers? They had Bell last year if I recall and he didn’t turn into Earl Campbell just because he weighs as much.

      3. FXM,

        Good point, I just think that MSU has a better secondary and that will be the undoing. Also, I didn’t like the way ND got pushed around on the O-line last week.

    2. Last year I believe, if I remember accurately, we weren’t projected to win either against sparty at home (well, proved them wrong). Anything can happen and I’m not predicting defeat until the clock reads 00.00 4th quarter and if our score is less than sparty’s.

      Gooooooo Irishhhhhhh


    “As part of the partnership with the ACC, Notre Dame has agreed to annually play five ACC opponents in football and each conference member at least once every three years.”


    1. And what is the alternative. Stay in the Big East in other sports. ACC is a great basketball conference which will help ND’s basketball teams. The Big East was finished and ND needed to get out in it’s other sports. No matter what conference ND joined in other sports, that conference was going to require ND play a number of football games there. Fact of life. And staying in the Big East for other sports was just a non-starter (unless you don’t care about the other sports, however Swarbick has to care about all his sports, not just football).

    2. Well, as much as I hate to say this, there is a bigger picture here besides just football, which, as others have noted, football remains independent at this time. If the time comes where conference membership WILL BE A MUST to get into a football playoff or maybe changes to BCS rules where it will require conference membership to get a major/BCS bowl bid, then there is a fallback position to get ND football included in the ACC, which, the ACC will not say “No” to. Things could be worse, but, keep those blinders on BJ if you must.

      Go Irish

  12. Hello.. McFly…. ND remains “independent” in football.
    Nobody sold out the football program.

    Our other sports… like basketball… will soon be in the ACC.
    That is “GOOD” for our both our basketball teams.

    This year ND plays Wake Forest. (part of a home & home series)
    Boston College

    Thats 4 teams who belong to the ACC.

    So 4 games is alright, but 5 is selling out???

    In the recent past we have played Mayland, Syracuse, UNC, Georgia Tech, and Duke in football… all ACC teams.

    Maybe you thing we have a better shot at achieve greatness by playing Big East teams?

    Think McFly… Think.

    Relax, have a drink, life is good!

    1. Your are right I forgot that Pitt and BC will join the ACC, so if you factor that in ND will only have to play the other ACC teams three games a year.

  13. swarbrick sells out the irish, opts for mediocre acc, footBALL TEAM TO PLAY 5 ACC TEAMS EACH YEAR, THE END OF ND GREATNESS, I ALWAYS KNEDW HE WOULD SELL US OUT.

  14. TIGHT END PLAY – The Irish are extremely talented at this position and have one of the best in the country in Tyler Eifert. At 6’6 251 pounds, Eifert is a nightmare for opposing defenses to cover with a linebacker, and really requires a double-team to limit his effectiveness.”

    I understand.

  15. I don’t see the Irish winning this game. I hate to say it, but rookie QB, O-line that look horrible last week and a beat up defense doesn’t equal a winning line up. Plus the game is at Sparty at night and Golson had trouble getting them lined up in South Bend, let alone with the loud crowd at Sparty. I see the Irish staying in the game and fighting until the 4th quarter but, getting worn down and losing 24-13.

    1. “I hate to say it, but rookie QB, O-line that look horrible last week”

      That was last week. The O line is good IMO.

  16. Coaching advice from the master.

    John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010)
    The “Wizard of Westwood”

    1.Industriousness – you have to work and work hard.
    2.Friendship – for success, either individually or for your team, there must be a level of friendship. It is a powerful force that comes from mutual esteem, respect, and devotion.
    3.Loyalty – it is a cohesive force that forges individuals into a team. Loyalty is very important when things get a little tough, as they often do when the challenge is great.
    4.Cooperation – working together in all ways to accomplish the common goal. And to get cooperation, you must give cooperation.
    5.Enthusiasm – people in positions of leadership must be motivated & positive people.
    6.Self-Control – it is essential for have discipline and mastery of emotions, for discipline of self and discipline of those under your supervision.
    7.Alertness – as you strive to reach your personal best, alertness will make the task much easier. Be observing constantly and be ready and quick to spot a weakness and correct it or use it.
    8.Respect – respect your opponents, but never fear them. You have nothing to fear if you have prepared to the best of your ability. You have conquered fear when you have initiative.
    9.Intentness – be persistent. Be determined. Be tenacious. Be completely determined to reach your goal.
    10.Condition – It is impossible to attain and maintain desirable physical condition without first achieving mental and moral condition.
    11.Skill – you’d better be able to execute properly and quickly. I’d rather have a lot of skill and little experience than a lot of experience and little skill.
    12.Team Spirit – you are willing to sacrifice personal considerations for the welfare of all. That defines a team player.
    13.Poise – you give your total effort to becoming the best you are capable of being. It takes poise to accomplish this.
    14.Confidence – you must believe in yourself if you expect others to believe in you. However, you can’t have poise and confidence unless you’ve prepared correctly.
    15.Competitive greatness – all fourteen factors are necessary for competitive greatness. It’s being at your best when your best is needed. It’s enjoying the challenge when things become difficult, even very difficult. Competitors love that challenge. It brings forth their competitive greatness.

    Among Wooden’s maxims:
    •Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. (from Benjamin Franklin)
    •Flexibility is the key to stability.
    •Be quick, but don’t hurry.[95][96]

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