Shamrock Stickers: USC ’12

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Theo Riddick (6) runs the ball against the defense of Southern California Trojans linebacker Tony Burnett (34) during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The Irish are going to Miami.  Notre Dame completed its miracle regular season with a 22-13 victory over arch rival USC.  The Irish followed their blueprint for success to perfection versus the Trojans, starting with a bend but don’t break defense to go along with a dominant run game and mistake free football from Everett Golson.  The following players led the way for the Irish in their victory over USC.

Theo Riddick

One week Cierre Wood shines, the next Theo Riddick takes over.  Riddick ran the ball with conviction against the Trojans, consistently gashing them for big runs and seldom going down to the first tackler.  Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown and was unstoppable when running at the heart of the USC defense.  Riddick also contributed three receptions for 33 yards, two of the receptions converted key third downs on scoring drives.

Kyle Brindza

With the Irish offense often stalling deep in Trojan territory Kyle Brindza needed to step up, and he did just that.  Brindza was 5/6 on field goals, all of which being critical kicks.  Whenever the Trojans would make it a one possession game Brindza was there to re-establish the nine point lead.  Brindza also drilled a career long 52 yarder to end the first half and put the Irish up six points, a margin that USC would never get closer than.

Matthias Farley

Matthias Farley was a key part of the defensive gameplan to keep everything in front of the safties and limit big plays.  Farley played very well from his safety spot, limiting the big play potential of Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, causing Max Wittek to have to string long scoring drives together.  Farley led the Irish with nine tackles and along with Zeke Motta had great success pinching down at the goal line and stopping USC’s running backs in the backfield.

Kapron Lewis-Moore

The senior leader of Notre Dame’s defensive line stepped up when the Irish needed a pass rush.  Lewis-Moore had five tackles, two of which for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.  Even when he wasn’t sacking Wittek, Lewis-Moore was having success collapsing the pocket around him and forcing difficult throws, largely through his use of the bull rush.  Lewis-Moore led the defense in the second half in which their play drastically improved and they recaptured control of the line of scrimmage.

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  1. The sport pundits will never give any ND team respect no matter how well they achieve on the field. That’s fine because I’m used to it. Heck, they have ND basically rolling on their belly to the almighty SEC team in the NC game, hahahaha. Are they in for a surprise. As Mr. Pollack commented about giving Saban 44 days to prepare and decimate an opponent well that’s a two sided coin. The flip side is give Mr. Kelly and Diaco 44 days to prepare for opponent’s schemes and they will execute their own brand of football justice. ND is the underdog even being ranked number 1 (good I actually like it) because they are considered an aberration, an exception in this year of 2012. Don’t think for one moment they (the media pundits, especially ESPN blowhards) truly believe ND football is “back.” If you listened to them Saturday night after the game was over, there were various reasons they made as to why this was an exception as to why ND is ranked where they are, not because they achieved it on the field but becaus the other “great” teams basically allowed it by losing to other teams.

  2. I agree with the extra time off. Five extra weeks of practice can only help the underclassmen. I only hope that in the following weeks the boys figure out a few plays that will get them TD’s in the red zone. If they figure that out the Irish may be lifting that crystal ball on Jan 7th.

  3. Some people think it is bad that we get so much time off before the championship, but I am excited about the time it gives Golson to develop. Basically 5 weeks to prepare and he keeps getting better every week.

  4. As an independent, I always felt that ND was at somewhat of a disadvantage because we had no conference championship game.
    (Something the SEC has benefitted from for years)

    But I think the tables may have turned some this year.

    That’s because we have already secured our place in the Championship game.

    As the only major undefeated, polls, computers, style points, or opinions, no longer have any impact in which to change our status.

    So what does a loyal ND fan do this week?

    He does what the others can’t of course… he buys up the hotel rooms in Miami, confirms his air travel, reserves his rent-a-car, and places his orders for game day tickets.

    Talk about getting the jump on the competition!

    Better make room, because Here come the Irish!


  6. One of my favorite post-game moments this weekend. Seeing Mark May don a leprechaun suit. Loved Lou taunting him too (telling Mark to show more emotion and so forth). I can watch that over and over and it never gets old.

    I was also dismayed to finding myself agreeing with May over Holtz on their cases for Ohio State being considered for AP champion (I feel like a traitor). Lou appeared to misunderstand the intent of the question (question being should they be considered–Lou seemed stuck on could they). May noted OSU played in a weak conference, had 4 lackluster wins against teams with Losing records, and the fact that their season is done–no bowl game. He actually said that ND would beat Ohio State if they had faced each other without hesitation. I was shocked.

    1. I think Lou wants to concentrate on the fact that Ohio State broke the rules, and more than once. Too often we are allowing rules to be bent for expediency. Lou’s case is that Ohio State shouldn’t even be talked about the college football world should turn it’s collective back on cheaters until they’ve paid their penance.

      1. Holtz was arguing that OSU should be considered for the AP Championship. He argued that the AP at the beginning of the season would not take their bowl ban into consideration when ranking OSU. May was arguing that OSU should not be considered for the AP championship, but not because of the bowl ban, but because their body of work has not been that impressive considering the poor state of the Big 10 and the fact that they won’t be able to be tested by a bowl game. May felt that OSU would lose to both the SEC champion and to Notre Dame if they had to face them.

        I actually agreed more with May’s argument, based on the question of should they be considered for AP champion. Sure, based on the AP’s own rules, they could be considered if they had an impressive resume as Lou suggested. But based on their body of work and the fact that they won’t have a test in a BCS bowl, should they be given an AP championship over the BCS champion which will pit 2 of the best teams in college football, no. That would be a mockery. Whoever wins on 01/07 will be the AP champion as well.

      2. I should clarify that Mark May was arguing the bowl ban is a consideration in ranking OSU because they won’t be playing after last weekend. He was not, however, arguing about their infractions playing a role in their ranking and whether that should cost them a title in and of itself.

    2. Damian:
      Mark May said THAT?
      Hell just might freeze over.
      Wow–I did not know it and I DVR’d ( is that a verb?)
      I recorded a lot of sports center on my DVR–
      This season has kept me awake until 3-4 a.m. on Sunday—I missed that. LOVE THE IRISH- GO NOTRE DAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      MANTI TEO ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Believe me, I was shocked too. He said it matter of factly without a trace of sarcasm. I was disturbed to find myself agreeing with May over Holtz with his OSU analysis (of whether they should be considered for AP champions). But I suppose that adds credence to the line “Anything is Possible.” I’m sure this will be an isolated incident :).

        However, he did not look happy in the leprechaun suit. And Holtz was classic in his good natured taunting. May just walked away and gave him a dirty look (that was classic too).

      2. I hope I recoreded it Damian!
        LOL .ROFL.
        (* and btw, as far as Mark May’s alma mater is concerned,did I see that one of the D. backs is in legal trouble? imagine that) Maybe I saw it wrong as I was glancing and not seeing details—Mark May should coach there—hmm that’s a thought–but Mark May in Irish Attire –PRICELESS —my kids said it was true was well -LMAO

  7. I felt Coach Kelly played it a little too close when the team was in the “red zone” and because of it had to settle for the 3’s. I did not understand the empty backfield for many of the plays. It seemed to me the defense could concentrate on the QB and his two options (pass or run) and not worry about a possible third option with a running back in the back field.

    We won so maybe I do not know as much as I think I do.

    1. I agree with you and that’s my only criticism of the game. With Riddick, Wood and Golson’s ability to run (the option come to mind), I don’t understand being in the shotgun. The only TD of the game for ND was, duh, Riddick up the gut. It worked all night. USC could not stop him.

  8. T.H.I.S.! =

    “Theo Riddick

    One week Cierre Wood shines, the next Theo Riddick takes over. Riddick ran the ball with conviction against the Trojans, consistently gashing them for big runs and seldom going down to the first tackler. Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown and was unstoppable when running at the heart of the USC defense. Riddick also contributed three receptions for 33 yards, two of the receptions converted key third downs on scoring drives.”

  9. On defense, I truly hope the coaches now trust the secondary. I think everyone of those guys played great. They went step for step with supposedly the two best and fastest recievers in the country. So now tell them that they can everytime and to have confidence to look for the ball. Because Motta and Farley are going to kill the receiver if the ball is caught. This secondary is ready for that kind of play. I hope also that the defensive line is turned loose after the first series. The lack of penetration during the first half was by design. You saw the change in the second half.

    On offense, the coaches better not get the yipps. Punch the ball in the endzone. Riddick is capable and so is Wood. You don’t really need to disguise the formation if you pull a guard or tackle, or even an extra tight end. I’d also like to see some more interesting pass routes when the Irish are on the opposing team’s 30 to 45 yardline. Getting something open in the middle might get that 6 pointer instead of the desparation fade or out route.

    Loved Brindza, but please keep the touchdown to field goal ratio above 1.

    For the seaason, I’ve been totally impressed with the players and coaches. However, at times I still see how the coaching staff locks into a plan that looks like they lack confidence in themselves or their players. I hope they come to feel as I do that this Irish team will fly to the moon if turned loose.

  10. Team unity like I’ve never seen before. The players love each other, the players love the coaches, and the coaches love the players. You can see it. They all believe in one another. Seeing Manti and Kelly hug each other in the tunnel almost brought a tears to my eyes. Our kids do it right. They all graduate. They play a real schedule. They deserve this opportunity…Go Irish!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Brindza was unbelievable on Saturday night. I really think that 1-minute drill after the interception before the half was a psychological killer for USC. We were able to march it down and have our kicker nail a 52-yarder with no time left? I think that really said to the Trojans, “These guys are a team of destiny and will not allow themselves to lose.”

    Incredible effort by all.

  12. Looking to ESPN for unbiased “journalistic” coverage is probably like looking to Jesse Jackson for leadership in racial healing but still i cant believe after 12-0 i still have to digest the lack of acceptance of our accomplishments on College Football Final. It seems like they just cant help themselves continuing to beat the drum of how we got “lucky” a couple times with the missed FG by Pitt, two #2’s on the field at the same time, a “questionable” call against Stanford. Particularly David Pollack has to slip one in there just about every time. His Georgia dogs beat Kentucky (who won 2 games this year) by a whopping 5 points. I wonder if THEY benefited by a bit of “luck” in that game. Yeah, i should probably just turn it off if i dont like it, but mostly i tune in to see the highlights which i miss spending the night in the bowels of the West Sides ghetto.

    Im wondering how the hell we can be underdogs to both Alabama AND Georgia. We are 12-0 and the #1 team in the country. Palmer and Pollock keep saying how if Saban has 44 days to plan for an opposing offense we are in trouble or that Georgia has defensive personnel like we’ve never seen that is more athletic and can nullify our matchup advantages (Eifert etc). It never seems to stop. First it was MSU and a true passing attack we couldnt handle, then it was a “physical” Stanford team like we had never seen, a true passing offense in Oklahoma like we’d never seen, a USC WR core that we’d never had to defend before etc etc. We just cant get our due by the media. Im not going to hold my breath waiting for it but you would think they would at least try to put someone on tv that was remotely neutral or impartial. We get analyzed and dissected more than just about any other team i have ever seen.

    1. It’s exactly where we want to me Chitown. I said it over and over back in September and October. If we keep on winning, everything else takes care of itself. The braintrust at ESPN and their opinions have no more value than ours. They are just guessing and hypothesizing while wearing suits.

      They’ve dismissed and detracted all year long and are ticked off that they were proven wrong week in and week out. I want them to continue to do so.

      I can tell you that, the amount of hatred I’ve seen coming from acquaintences and old “friends” is astounding. (not implying ESPN is hating, just incompetent) Hate does nothing to ND, only to the person who is hating. They are furious at our success and relevance.

      I’m loving every minute of it.

    2. In ’77 they said that about ND versus Earl Campbell and Texas.

      Luckily this team also sees itself as an underdog. They are hungry.

    3. Chi

      Don’t forget their love of Florida. Yes they played arguably the toughest schedule in the country, but they needed a blocked punt to beat Louisiana Lafayette. If that’s not luck what is. The Stanford play is a non-issue. The kids played to the whistle on that final play, started to celebrate and then the RB scored. Kickers miss FG’s every week in plenty of games. The Irish are number 1 and that’s the only thing that matters. ESPN is full of SEC guys that will be loyal to that conference.

      1. and Lou has to deal with the poster boy for being a pin head Mark May week after week. ESPN IS full of SEC guys and let us not forget
        ” The Resurrection of Michigan football.” Lou Holtz? Oh yeah–thank God for him. He is fair, honest and pro Notre Dame. He –Unlike the others does not say a bad thing about the other teams and individuals. He “gives credit where it is due.” Yeah-Lou Holtz Southy–Lou Holtz! Are you an Irish fan or not?

  13. What a great win. And what can you say about Riddick. How many times have we read articles here in the past about how we had these explosive running backs if they could just break free. Riddick was breaking free all night. Riddick and Wood are both great running backs and it’s great to have them both for the NC game. Also speedster Atkinson is going to have a great future at ND. It’s good to see EG growing every week. I always felt EG was the future for Kelly’s offense and he gives a great dimension to the offense.

    And what can you say about the defense. They are the best. USC had what, 7 opportunities to push it in from the redzone and came up with a big 0. And they have been doing that all season.

    I also agree Brindza came up big, esp. the 52 yarder to end the half. Football is all about momentum. The game was certainly not sealed by any means, but that had to deflate the Trojans just a bit going into halftime.

    Kudos also to the coaching staff. This team has proven it will fight for 60 minutes. They believe they can play anybody, but they are not cocky about it, which is important. They are disciplined enough to believe in their team, but they don’t give up bulletin board material. They make their statements on the field, not to the press.

  14. Great coaching job, great team, great season!

    Not only is ND #1 on the field this year, they are also #1 in graduation rates. Field victories and class room victories.
    Sports victories, and moral victories… who says you can’t have them both?

    I have to admit, not having a game this upcoming weekend, I’m already starting to have the Irish winning addiction complex!

    So between now and game time next January, how about some interesting reading to pass the time?

    Here’s one I strongly suggest:

    Saban <<

  15. YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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