5 Things I Didn’t Like In Notre Dame’s Win Over Bowling Green

When Notre Dame posted 66 points on New Mexico earlier this year, it was a weird blowout in a sense, because amazingly there were a few things not to like in it.  This past weekend wasn’t the same story.  Notre Dame won 52-0 over Bowling Green, and finding five things I didn’t like for this weekly column was a stretch.  I’m committed to doing this column every week though damnit, so I thought long and hard on this one.

Note: it was even hard to find a picture for this column this week, so I just used one I thought we might be able to reuse at some point.

1. Notre Dame fans complaining this game was even scheduled

This is one from before the game even started.  Notre Dame fans have been complaining about this game for a while – pretty much from the moment it was announced.  There was a school of thought that Notre Dame should have never scheduled this in the first place since Bowling Green is just a lowly MAC team.

But guess what? Notre Dame needs a couple of games like this a year. They offer a chance to work on weaknesses and to get reserves valuable snaps that they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten until being thrown into the fire.  They are a bit of a necessary evil, and it’s not like Bowling Green is an FCS school.  As a reminder, Notre Dame has ever scheduled one of those – one of just two programs remaining who haven’t done so.

It also wasn’t that long ago that Bowling Green had a 10-win season.  In 2015, Dino Barbers led the Falcons to a 10-3 season.  Two years before, Dave Clawson did the same.  This game was announced in September 2016 – fresh off a ten-win season.

In short, the fans who are all bent out of shape over this game, need to get over it.  Notre Dame gained a lot in playing this game.

2. Bowling Green’s pretty gutless game plan

Bowling Green is a pretty bad football team. They were a 45 point underdog for a reason.  Still, the Falcon’s gameplan left a lot to be desired.  It didn’t appear as though they were even trying to try and make this one interesting.  They were running clock whenever they could and didn’t even try to get tricky to get some points on the board.

Then there was that field goal in the 3rd quarter.  Bowling Green called a draw on 3rd and long.  That usually suggests a team is setting up a fourth-down attempt.  Instead, they attempted a field goal – a kick that Julian Okwara ultimately ended up blocking to preserve the shutout. Okwara flat out destroyed a helpless Bowling Green lineman before getting his hand on the kick.

No one expected Bowling Green to make this one interesting for very long, but they didn’t even really try.

3. Notre Dame getting just a bit tricky in the second quarter

While it was surprising to see Bowling Green not get tricky, it was equally striking to see Notre Dame get just a bit gimmicky in the second quarter with more of those misdirection little pop passes that worked so well against New Mexico.  Those plays kick-started a struggling Irish offense at the time.  That wasn’t needed against Bowling Green, though.

Just like it wasn’t great Notre Dame needed those against New Mexico, I didn’t necessarily like seeing Notre Dame using them again this weekend.  That is unless the Irish put them into use to set something else up this weekend against USC.  If we see Notre Dame run some misdirection off a similar play for a significant gain, then this is a poot point.

Again, I’m reaching here because there wasn’t a lot not to like here.

4. Ian Book and Javon McKinley dropping what would have been a 6th passing touchdown

Okay, this one is ticky-tack, but again, that’s how little there was to not like about this one.  Ian Book had a chance to connect on a 6th passing touchdown, which would have tied a Notre Dame single-game record.  He had Javon McKinley WIDE open for a walk-in touchdown on a crosser, but the pass was just a bit behind him.  Now, McKinley still had both hands on it and certainly should have come down with, but there was fault on both for why the pass hit the turf instead of entered the record books.

McKinley and Book did connect on an earlier touchdown, and McKinley did notch the first 100 yard game of his career, so there was still a lot to like in his performance.  In fact, I am hoping that we start to see more and more of McKinley down the stretch.  He and Book are developing the same kind of chemistry that Book and Miles Boykin had a year ago.

5. Chase Claypool playing this game when he was hobbling early

Our last point on the list this week might seem minor, but I wasn’t a fan of Chase Claypool even playing in Saturday’s game when NBC reported that he was hobbling a bit on a balky ankle he injured against Virginia.  Notre Dame did not need Chase Claypool to beat up on Bowling Green, so why even risk having him in the game at all with USC on tap this weekend and Michigan on the horizon in three weeks?

Notre Dame absolutely needs Claypool to get by USC and Michigan victorious, so I don’t quite understand the logic in playing Claypool when it seemed like his ankle might not be 100%.  Even it was, last Saturday would have been a good time to get a younger receiver reps while letting Claypool rest up for this weekend.

So there you have it.  I made it through this column this week, even though there wasn’t much not to like about the blowout we saw last weekend.

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  1. 6. I still don’t think Ian Book uses the pocket properly. He doesn’t “step up” into the pocket like other QB’s. Instead, he will immediately start rolling or sliding off to one side or the other, or he scrambles. If he would step up, he would have more time in a stable position to throw and there would be more time for routes to develop and get receivers open.

  2. Frank , 100% agree on #1. The Big 5 schedules are full of “Group of 5” games every season. The MAC , MWC , AAC, C-USA, SUNBELT. MAC is one of the best of the group. In 2012 Northern Illinois Univ. went to Orange Bowl led by QB Jordan Lynch a Heisman nominee that season. As You mentioned Bowling Green was really good back a short while. The Group of 5 conference teams want to play the Big Boys–improve their programs and they do pretty good competing , sometimes an upset. That’s why college football and college basketball are my favorite sports.

  3. The only complaint I have in scheduling is that we had 2 of these games this year, New Mexico AND Bowling Green. When push comes to shove at the end of the year, and not having a conference championship to fall back on, our schedule is the only thing we have going for us.

    I already have serious doubts we’ll get another crack at a playoff with one loss–but having two patsies on the schedule won’t be a huge help.

    One is fine. I agree with Frank it’s nice to have a game like this to work on things and to give the back-ups some meaningful reps since they are usually your future players.

    And not every game should be Georgia level. One cupcake, maybe two or three elite level teams, then a mix a above average to average teams.

    Now, of course, as Frank points out, teams don’t always turn out the way you thought after you schedule them.

    But I wasn’t a big fan of scheduling both BG and NM the same year. If you’re paying a team to play you, they’re probably not going to be much of a challenge.

    Otherwise, yeah, ND played strongly in all areas. There are always areas for improvement. After all, even a team like mighty Alabama can have areas where they can improve. Nobody’s perfect.

    1. I especially resent that these blowout games are the Senior Alumni games…for the past three years (at least).
      The Senior Alumni game was rarely one of the “big” games, but it used to be a desirable game at least. Now, no matter what you say about it Frank, it’s dog poop…and we don’t deserve that.

      BGC ’77 ’82

      1. Southside, I seriously think that after a lifetime of service for the greater good, and a lifetime of support for Notre Dame and the Catholic Church, when I could have made three fortunes and a King’s ransom doing other stuff instead, and that goes for a lot of Alumni, WE DESERVE BETTER than Miami (of Ohio) , Ball State , followed by New Mexico and Bowling Green. Why does this seem to puzzle you guys? FYI: The first two were the Senior Alumni games…I don’t even know which game it was this year.

        BGC ’77 ’82

      2. BGC , Well , most Irish fans didn’t attend Notre Dame. I wasn’t aware that Senior Alumni were treated like dog poop. Damian can speak for himself , debate , agree , disagree. I happen to agree with Frank on #1 in the article. The point about Michigan , USC and Stanford is that — their programs are not in the top 15 at this point. If they were undefeated/ranked , perhaps there wouldn’t be complaints regarding Irish having a couple of breathers on their schedule. Irish always had Navy , Air Force and Army on their schedule along with another team not so good. The Ara/Holtz era always had 1 or 2 easy wins on the schedule. Anyway , if Irish go 11-1 this season and don’t make the playoffs or top bowl game–it won’t be because of having BG or NM on their schedule.

      3. Southside, If Dog Poop for the past 4 years offends you, call it what you want. But these are the facts:
        Senior Alumni Games:
        2016 Nevada
        2017 Miami (of OHIO)
        2018 Ball State
        2019 NONE

        Perhaps Dog Poop is too strong. Maybe it’s just some yellow rain down our backs…and I’m overreacting to ticket policy (again).

        One thing we can both agree on Southside – playing Wisconsin at Soldier Field in a few years will be awesome…should have been scheduled for the White Sox stadium though.

        BGC ’77 ’82

    2. Damian , “I wasn’t a big fan of scheduling both BG and NM the same year.” So , when did you say this ? Isn’t it a fact sir , because USC , Michigan , Stanford are not looking good in SOS at this point –that you are going after NM and BG as possible cause of Notre Dame being eliminated from playoffs due to SOS. Isn’t that a fact sir. I rest my case.

      1. Southside, I take Damian’s own words as he put them…he “just doesn’t like two of them in the same year”…neither do I…but my real complaint is treating the Senior Alumni to a string of garbage games. Make the game(s) with the teams that don’t even have 70 guys on their rosters, and who have the Bob Davies and the Brian Van Gorders for coaches, the Alumni Family Game so those younger folks can bring their 10 year old kids to view the wreckage. That would impress those kids in good way…at least if the Team doesn’t sleep walk their way through it, like they did for Ball State.

        As for YOUR observation, not Damian’s or mine, you are correct, sir, The pundits and the Committee will probably look down on us scheduling two non-power schools, and reduce our SOS accordingly. We have only 12 games, not 13…so this is to be expected.

        As for a “reason” to eliminate us from the playoffs, if Georgia takes a loss, no further reason will be required. At 12-1, Georgia gets in ahead of us. At 11-1, Georgia gets in ahead of us. At 13-0, for Georgia, some on the Committee my actually try to use our SOS to eliminate us…but I think they would fail.

        Also, I was unaware that Michigan was a weakness for us in SOS…isn’t their record pretty much the same as ours? Will you still say they are weak if we go up to Ann Arbor and find out we have our hands full?

        BGC ’77 ’82

      2. I just think that when it comes to the playoffs, without a conference championship to help us out, our SOS is all we got. Scheduling two cupcakes in a year doesn’t help.

        USC, Michigan and Stanford are not looking particularly strong, which actually makes it worse. But let’s be honest, even in their current state, all 3 are still probably far superior to NM and BG.

        I can live with one of those a year. When Alabama plays schools like Chatonooga State every year, sometimes multiple games, I can live with one lower level division 1 team.

        But two? Even Navy could probably hand NM’s and BG’s head to them.

        As I said, I’m not saying ND needs to play Georgia every week.

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