All Business

Nov. 10, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Theo Riddick (6) carries the ball as Boston College Eagles defensive tackle Bryan Murray (93) attempts to tackle in the third quarter at Alumni Stadium. Notre Dame won 21-6. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

November for college football has lots of different meanings. For many programs it means the final games of the year, and the thoughts and dreams of next season. For others it means hated grudge matches that have been building toward combustion throughout the course of the season, with Michigan/Ohio State, Auburn/Alabama and Clemson/South Carolina ready to place school pride on the line. But if your program is fortunate enough to be in the national title race, November is really only about one thing: style.

If Oregon’s style is flash – be it through the shine of their metallic HydroChrome helmets (which Nike will let you buy online for an economical $999.99) or their up-tempo spread attack – and Kansas State’s is America’s love of an underdog, then  Notre Dame’s style is businesslike. The Fighting Irish are the crew cut wearin’, stiff suit totin’, guy at the office who is always fifteen minutes early and doesn’t believes in idle chit chat because it wastes time better spent on solving problems. Notre Dame’s style is getting the job done in a manner that the other 116 FBS programs have failed to do: stay undefeated.

Fresh off the news Alabama had failed to take care of its own business against emerging conference rival Texas A&M, the Fighting Irish punched in at Alumni Stadium at Boston College and punched out with a 21-6 victory. “Businesslike” is the perfect description of the game, with a short touchdown here and there, sprinkled in with a field goal or two, marking the
sixty minute event. Nationally, Notre Dame continued to be overlooked despite going 10-0 for the first time in 19 years, but the numbers show a Notre Dame team growing more dangerous.

Heading into Notre Dame’s rivalry game with Boston College, the Eagles were giving up 233 yards per game on the ground. And while the Irish were held to less than Boston College’s average (184 yards), Notre Dame’s rushing attack continues to impress. ND’s ground game currently sits 33rd in the country with an impressive 200 yards per game. To illustrate the strides Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly’s program has made, last season Notre Dame was 54 th with 160 yards per game. And in Kelly’s first year Notre ND was 92nd with 126 yards per game.  Jumping nearly 60 spots and adding 80 more yards rushing per game in two years is a giant Irish green arrow pointing up for Notre Dame’s future.

The greatest indication Notre Dame is becoming a dangerous team is a story line that’s only started to emerge the past two weeks, and one that has remained below the national radar: Irish quarterback Everett Golson is starting to break free from the label “freshman” and transition toward “veteran”. Golson had his best performance of the season against Boston College, going 16-24 (67%) for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns (one rushing) with no interceptions. This past Saturday was only the second time in Golson’s career he had a completion percentage of over 60% while also passing for over 200 yards.  And another indication Golson is on the right track involves Irish tight end Tyler Eifert.

Eifert, a preseason first-team All-American, has had inconsistent performances due to instability at the quarterback position and an increase in blocking duties. Despite those hurdles, the Fighting Irish tight end has led the team in receptions in four different games, each time never hauling in more than four catches. There was even a two-game stretch against Michigan and

Michigan State where Eifert managed only one reception for 38 yards. The past two weeks, however, Eifert has begun to emerge as the elite tight end he truly is, hauling in back-to-back six reception games.

Notre Dame’s style throughout the season, as Brian Kelly said this week, has been its defense, with the Irish defense now tied with Alabama for the number one scoring defense in the country.  However, if quarterback Everett Golson continues the maturation he has shown the past two weeks, the Irish offense might be finally waking from its three-year slumber. And it couldn’t be happening at a better time.

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  2. If he is, he’d better be gone at the end of this season.

    In addition to keeping Diaco for at least another season or two, ND needs to hire the the best STs coach available. STs is too important a part of the game to totally ignore. Even if a unit doesn’t allow returns against it, invisible yards and points are sacrificed by STs if they themselves are returning punts and KOs effectively.


    Here come the Irish!

  3. Mike Elston has spent the past four seasons coordinating special teams at Central Michigan and Cincinnati and will guide the Irish special teams in 2010.

    is this guy stil the special teams coach?

      1. Thanks, Irish, for that info. Is this Booker’s first year or first stint? If first year, then I’d say for the sake of fairness give him a chance to improve STs next season. Do unto others kind of thing.

        However, BK needs to make more demands of Booker and his units. Booker should be put on notice that improvements will be expected next season in both return games.

      2. It’s his first year on the staff. He was basically an intern the past 2 years for BK. word is he is an excellent recruiter.

  4. I just found out that I got tix to the Wake game! First tickets I’ve been able to get this year! Senior Day here I come. GO IRISH!

  5. That’s right, Irish, you’re all in or you’re not. Lynch wasn’t.

    While I disagree with you on the matter of the Irish getting screwed in that past, your points are valid and well-taken. I hope ND goes undefeated and plays for the NC this season. But if it goes undefeated and gets passed up, I trust you’ll remind everyone here who will moan and groan about what you said above about this being a “beauty contest”. When a team just beats inferior opponents its not going to win many beauty pageants in the eyes of the pollsters.


    Go Irish!

    1. Agreed, maybe we would have been worse because he wasn’t all in. Maybe he was a problem in the locker room, who knows. All we do know is that the guys that are here are 10-0.

  6. Irish,

    The NCAA is the organization that authorizes and endorses the different polls. It is the umbrella organization that manages this entirely corrupt business of college football and other sports. I agree with C-Dog entirely here.

    The conspiracy then exists at the media and coaches level. I’m not saying the conspiracy is organized or even conscious of itself. It’s based on a whole host of emotional and psychology processes well known to students of social behavior. Can I point one out? How about dislike for the successful and powerful. No, I’m not trying to also make some coy kind of socio-political argument. I’m just saying that it is a well-known phenomenon in sports (and other fields) that the most successful social actors (teams in the case of organized sports) are as hated as much, if not more, than they are liked. ND is one example; the NY Yankees are another.

    Regardless, my point was to establish the clear double-standard that applied to ND’s championship-caliber seasons in 1989 and 1993. Clearly the polls or whomever changed the rules of the game against ND in 1993 if the precedent was the 1989 head-to-head criteria and not strength of schedule. ND should’ve been champions in 1989 or 1993, but they were screwed over twice!

    (BTW: I’m not even going to go into a possible anti-Catholic bias that might also be at play here in a country that until very recently was overwhelmingly WASP and anti-Catholic.)

    1. I guess we both have our opinions on this but one thing is for sure. We would have won the title in 1989 if we would have beaten Miami and we would have won the title in 1993 if we had beaten BC. When you lose it is out your control. If you are not undefeated then it becomes a beauty pageant and beauty is very subjective.

      Having said this, we may go 12-0 this year and get left out. But let’s worry about that at 12-0. As BK said, the ring will be just as big but there won’t be a crystal football.

      At the end of the day I just want to see us win on Saturday for the seniors. Lets get to 11-0 so I can eat some turkey and talk some smack to my brothers and friends. One is a Gator, one is a Buckeye and the last one a Falcon from the AFA. Throw in some Ivy Leaguers and it will be fun conversation.

  7. Navy-Looks poised to win the Commander-in-Chief trophy again and 6th in the country in rushing Offense. ND victory with stifling D.

    Purdoo- Atrocious and ND sleep walked to victory.

    Sparty-Gonna go bowling and beat the B1G division leading Badgers. ND victory with stifling D.

    Meeshigan- Still in hunt for B1G division and going bowling. ND proved Shoelace is mortal.

    Hurricons- leading ACC Coastal and bowling. ND decimated the speedy sunshine boys.

    Stanturd- #12, second in PAC 12 north, still in the hunt for Championship…ND had epic goal line stand.

    BYU- Bowling, 7th in points allowed in the country…ND victory with D and just enough O.

    OK- #8, second in the Big 12, possible BCS bowlers…ND shut them down and ran all over them in Sooner land.

    Pitt- Horrible, but D came alive when needed and Golson showed warrior spirit.

    BC- Another sub-par team, but plays ND tough every year. Workmanlike manner on both sides of the ball nevre left this one in doubt.

    OREGON DUCKS- wins against FCS Tenn Tech, non-BCS Fresno State and Ark State and in-conference whipping boy Colorado. Flashy offense built around speed.

    KSTATE- wins against FCS Missouri State, non-BCS North Texas and in-conference cream pie Kansas. Also beat the Sooners by only 5. Team built around a dynamic QB, like Michigan, Texas A&M, etc.

    So, of the top 3, two have gimmee wins and are built around Offense. One hasn’t palyed an FCS or non-BCS (Navy and BYU are independent, but most consider BCS conference level) and is built on Defense.

    Given the last 6 years the Special ED Conference has one the NC with defenses stopping flashy offenses and, given that, over those six years, the talking heads repeatedly reminded us that “DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS,” then obvioulsy ND is a shoe in for the NC if they take care of business against Wake and USC…right?

    What? You’re kidding….ND would need for KState or Oregon to lose to get in the NC game? Wow…sounds a bit counterintuitive. Almost like there is a bias against ND. Oh, it’s because the Irish haven’t been “relevant” the last few years. Wait, wasn’t the mighty Bama’s last championship before Saban in 1992? And LSU’s before Saban was in 1958? Oh, those are SEC teams. I get it. Oh well, sorry the echoes woke up and the thunder is shaking down. Didn’t mean to show up the prognosticating classes. You ESPNerds keep playing your games. ND will keep playing hers.


    1. Nothing to worry about with Oregon and KSU (stanford and texas will take care of business) Neither will be undefeated this year. If ND can make it through SC, then I will be in South Beach January 7, 2013 partying with my boys!!

      1. Stanford doesn’t have a prayer against Oregon. They are not built for that speed. You are better off pulling for Texas.

    2. Delta,

      Awesome freakin post man!! I’ve been trying to figure out where our love is when we have done more than any other team has done in the country!!!!!!!!! People hate ND, including the human voters. Computers have it right and I know that these stupid ESPN analysts want to write their articles about how the computer is made up of God knows what. Well I know one thing it does, it ranks you based on strenth of schedule. Reason why we are #1!!!

      Go Irish!!

      1. In 1989, the NCAA tells us Miami is the National Champion because of its head-to-head victory over ND, despite ND playing the toughest schedule that year. OK. In 1993, the NCAA tells us that FSU is the National Champion, despite losing to ND, because it played a marginally tougher schedule than did ND that year.

        Double standard? The NCAA hates ND? Hell, yes!

      2. The NCAA does not award championships in football, the media and coaches polls do that. It doesn’t matter if the NCAA loves or hates us with respect to a national championship.

        I’m all for us against the world, but I think we are reaching to say there is some sort of conspiracy against us. We’ve gotten our fair share of breaks over the years due to us being ND.

        Lets not get all caught up in the rankings until we are 12-0.

  8. Good article. I was bothered reading other threads that some fans are hypercritical of this team. They are 10-0 people. They have not been 10-0 in ages. This is a good, solid, reliable team.

    I don’t think most fans are delusional. Most of us know ND has some work to do. With “style” points they could be #1 or #2. I get that. But a lot of the close games (Stanford, Pitt and BYU) would have been losses in the last 10 years. This team does have one major factor those other teams did not. Fight. They do not, will not give up. They will fight until the clock says 0:00.

    I think some fans are so scared this is just an anomaly, that they’re seeing the cloud in the silver lining. I don’t think this is an anomaly. This team is growing. And there are 2 major factors. First, the staff is recruiting the right players. It’s not just how many stars are on their names, it’s how they will fit in with the needs of the team. The staff is also developing the players. That means EG has been allowed to make a few mistakes, whereas Tommy Rees has been on a shorter leash. The staff knows EG, being a redshirt freshman, is going to make mistakes. BK seems to have a good feel for when EG needs a break. Having Tommy Rees I believe has pushed EG to be better. But the staff has never wavered that EG is the starter. Despite early on when the media tried to make it a controversy, there never was one for BK. EG is the quarterback. End of story.

  9. Amen Scott,

    Contrary to our self-proclaimed procrustean in house realist, Obviously, Special Teams is not going to win a national title this year! EG is the magic formula that Bama does not have in their armamentarium. This is best described as the X-factor for the recalcitrant-nit-picking-pseudo- realist tribe here. May also need to get out crayons and draw pictures for this proctological pseudo realist tribe!

    Our top rated defense coupled with EG trending favorably spells 13-0 and a National Championship!

    Outstanding bottom line, Scott!

    Here come the Irish!

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