Notre Dame: Loved by the People, Hated by the Pollsters

Maybe I should wait until the Texas-Kansas State game is over, but I’m pumped now. As you’ll know, this week #5 Auburn got MAULED by unranked Georgia, #8 California lost to unranked, .500 Arizona, #4 Texas is losing to unranked Kansas State, and #6 Florida BARELY beat unranked, .500 South Carolina. Florida is now 9-1, their only loss coming to two-loss Auburn. They’ve eeked out victories against Tennessee (21-20) and Vanderbilt (25-19). And they relied on three blocked kicks (one extra point, two field goals, including the “game winner” as time wound down to end the game) to beat South Carolina!

I will go berserk if Florida is ranked above Notre Dame tomorrow. Notre Dame’s only loss comes to #2 undefeated Michigan (Florida’s comes to current #5 Auburn, though they’ll drop out of the top 10 now). ND’s also eeked out some victories, notably against Michigan State and UCLA, though you could also point to Georgia Tech (a ranked team).

So, what do the reporters and coaches say about Florida?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Urban Meyer and his Florida Gators care only about victories, not style points or pretty stats.

Chris Leak ran for two touchdowns and threw for another Saturday as the seventh-ranked Gators survived Vanderbilt’s fourth-quarter rally for a 25-19 win, their 16th straight victory in the series.

“Winning’s all that matters,” Florida coach Urban Meyer said.


“You’ve got to find a way to win football games,” Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. “We found a way.”

So WHY are people talking like Florida is in the hunt for the National Championship? At least Lou Holtz, at ESPN, is talking ND for the NC.

PatrickObservations11/11/06 13 comments


Patrick • 11/13/06 11:11 PM:

Well, by now Texas has lost, and the polls are in. ND is #5 almost everywhere, except the AP, where they’re #6. Florida is #3 everywhere. I’ve already gone berserk. But there’s still a shot. ND has to beat USC, of course. Meanwhile, Florida has to play Florida State, and then an SEC championship game. Arkansas has to play LSE and then, probably, the SEC championship. So one of those two teams is going to lose, and they may both lose. If Florida plays like they did last week against South Carolina, they’ll lose, even though FSU stunk last week. I have faith in Bobby Bowden to spank Urban Meyer.

Meanwhile, I hate to say it, but Rutgers is going to have to lose to West Virginia. And Michigan-Ohio State loser is going to have to lose big.

Then it’s ND!

Dan • 11/14/06 10:22 AM:

You’re crazy. Notre Dame should have 2 losses. No one-loss team has come closer to losing (against MSU) than ND. The SEC always beats up on itself, which is why there is almost never an undefeated team from that conference. And when there is, like Auburn was 3 years ago, they don’t make the championship game. With Florida, I don’t think there’s a harder game on there schedule than Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina. He and his cronies took out UF last year and they’ve cut down some good teams this year.

The other problem for ND is that everybody knows how badly we got crushed by Michigan. And you typically don’t play for the championship when your one loss was a blowout.

Additionally, I don’t think ND is particularly good. If we beat USC then it’s because Weis pulls some crazy gameplan that works. But I don’t think anything would fool OSU’s Tressel. He gave us a spanking last year and I don’t want to face him again. Especially now that his team is better and ours is probably worse.

By the way, OSU is going to beat Michigan.

And Pat is a homer.

Patrick • 11/14/06 11:32 AM:

Blah blah blah. You’re just parroting back the same old standards: The SEC is the toughest conference. A blowout is unforgivable.

My motto is if you want to win a college football national championship the way things are currently constituted, you have to go undefeated. If you lose, then you’re not better than the team that beat you.

However, it’s certain that there won’t be more than three undefeated teams, and Boise State just can’t play for a national championship. I’m sorry. So that leaves Rutgers and Ohio State/Michigan. If Rutgers is undefeated, I want to see them in the title game, no matter if Almighty Dan in His Great Wisdom thinks they have a shot against Ohio State or not.

But if Rutgers loses to West Virginia and USC loses to Notre Dame, I want ND in there ahead of Florida. Arkansas, you could make a better argument for. But Florida is the Notre Dame of the Southeast. They’re scraping by wins against mediocre teams. They’re spouting the rhetoric about “A win’s a win.”

And don’t get me started about USC. You can’t lose to Oregon State and be ranked in the top 5. It’s a sin.

So: As unlikely as it may be, ND is a great team this year and may very well deserve a national championship shot. Not because they blowout other teams, but because they win. Yes they got beaten bad by Michigan. But that was week three. If anybody deserves a shot at redemption, it’s a team that lost early in the season and came back for better things.

And by the way, Dan:

With Florida, I don’t think there’s a harder game on there schedule than Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina.

That should be “I don’t think there’s a harder game on THAT there (durn) schedule…”

David • 11/16/06 12:07 AM:

As the family college football expert, I thought I should weigh in. All this SEC talk is making me sick. Yes, the SEC is tough and the teams rarely go undefeated. But they are also not very good this year. They are very competitive with each other and very overrated. I’ve seen plenty of their games and I have yet to be impressed.

I agree that ND is not super hot - their defense is TERRIBLE - both against the run (Rutgers’ Ray Rice would gain 200+) and against the pass (watch out against USC). But they’re better than Florida, no doubt. And there is an insane media (at least ESPN) bias against Notre Dame. It’s sickening to the point where I basically refuse to watch game day and their other college coverage.

Dan, you’re sounding like Mike Wilbon (love him, except for his hatred of ND). But you’re right, it’s hard for a team that got blown out to then be in the final game. Pat’s right too - that it’s better to lose early. And let’s face it, Michigan is a better team, with superior O and D-lines, but not that much better. There was severe bad luck for ND that day. If we played them 10 times, we’d win 4.

The Blue-Gray Sky is a good blog with lots of commentary on related topics. Have a read.

Dan • 11/16/06 11:24 AM:

I refuse to talk about football with people who read Bluegreysky. They’re the type of people who read daily, and not only that, they click refresh a dozen times just to see what Jimmy Clausen is eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Did you know that Wisconsin’s only loss was to Michigan, 27-13 on Sept 23, the week after ND’s loss? Undefeated Boise State beat Oregon State, 42-14 in week 2.

You may not remember (or, you probably didn’t watch the game) that Auburn beat Florida with a safety, 4 field goals (only 1 under 30 yards), a blocked punt (TD), and a fumble return (TD). Maybe that’s poor coaching, but more likely it’s unlucky. Kinda the opposite of how ND beat MSU, eh? Florida has played 3 ranked teams, including the “stinky” Tennessee Vols, who have beaten 2 top 10 teams, and have lost their last two games to LSU and Arkansas. And Arkansas has wins at Auburn and at South Carolina.

If the SEC is weak, then the teams on ND’s schedule are wimps. Maybe the PAC 10 is the toughest conference and USC deserves to go if they win out. They lit up Arkansas in their opener 50-14. Yikes. Well, now that I’m looking at the PAC 10, I change my mind. They stink. ND should beat USC. Most of their games have been pretty close.

Anyway, it’s pretty easy to argue that ND doesn’t deserve to go. Heck, in the 3rd Quarter against 1-9 North Carolina (whose only win is against Furman!!) it was a 12 point game! And it was close until the end.

Okay, I gotta go to work.

Patrick • 11/16/06 11:09 PM:

Dan: you’re such an Awayer. How can you call yourself a Notre Dame fan?

Here are some facts: Notre Dame has struggled against lesser teams. They’ve played a relatively easy schedule. They got blown out by Michigan at home. They’ve got a low-rated defense.

More facts: They’re 9 and 1. They have had two tremendous against-all-odds comebacks. They have a very potent passing game and a Heisman candidate quarterback and a potential two-sport-pro receiver.

This is similar to the stories for Florida, USC, Arkansas. Heck, even Michigan and Ohio State have slipped up and eeked out wins.

The name of the game is winning, however you do it. If a team is undefeated at the end of the season, unless they’re Boise State, they deserve to be in the national championship game. I think this is true of Rutgers, even though their schedule is weaker than UM, OSU, the SEC, etc.

If, at the end of the season, you have UM/OSU and Rutgers undefeated, I want to see that game. However, if you have only one viable undefeated team and have to go to a one-loss team, then I want it to be ND. And not only do I want this, but I think it’s justifiable. Here’s why:

  • ND’s only loss (we’re assuming wins against Army and USC) is against a top team. Michigan is either undefeated or one-loss at the end of things. Other one-loss teams have lost to out-of-nowhere weak teams.
  • Every one-loss team has had close calls that they’ve pulled out by a combination of skill and luck.
  • The SEC has been on this propaganda campaign to establish their conference as the most difficult. But the truth is that their teams are fairly evenly matched, but not a one of them is a super team.
  • ND traditionally plays a very good schedule. This year, teams like Stanford, Michigan State, and Purdue ended up sucking. You’d be hard pressed to make a claim that ND intentionally (or institutionally) schedules easy teams.
  • ND’s one loss was week 3 of the season. Early-season losses are always better than late-season losses (which is why I cannot abide the idea of a Michigan/Ohio State rematch: the loser just barely lost, at the end of the season. This is not baseball. You don’t get a second shot that soon.)

OK. My main point is, Dan: you’re not being sophisticated by bashing your own team. You’re being an idiot.

Dan • 11/17/06 2:05 PM:

By the way, ND fans think ESPN hates ND, while ND haters think ESPN loves ND. Me? I think ESPN splits the vote by pitting personalities against each other. Lou Holtz against Mark May, Tony Kornheiser (ND fan) against Mike Wilbon (ND Hater). ESPN knows that they ought not pick one side, so they pick both!

Dan • 11/27/06 4:21 PM:

So. I went to the game and it was pretty awful. If you thought we had even a shred of a chance after halftime then you’re completely out of your mind. What you probably couldn’t see on TV is that Booty had 3 receivers open on every play. Often wide open. Only when he and the rest of the team slacked off did ND get a positive play on defense. I don’t know why they even bothered to run the ball.

We played two good teams this year and got obliterated from all sides. Georgia Tech is okay. As in #22 in the nation. Eh. So. I just pray that we don’t go to a BCS because I’d like to win a bowl game this year instead of get hammered like the past 12 years.

Patrick • 12/07/06 9:40 AM:

I should add that ND is loved by the people making money off of college football, which is one of the reasons why they’re hated by the pollsters.

And by the way, Dan, LSU seems a bit better, but if you look at their schedule, they’re not THAT much better. They lost to Florida and Auburn, two top teams. They beat POWERHOUSES LA Lafayette, Tulane, MS State, Kentucky, Fresno St, and just barely scraped out a win against Ole Miss.

In the Ole Miss game, they were down 20-7 going into the fourth quarter. They scored two touchdowns, including one with 0:14 left in the game. [update: Ole Miss BLOCKED that second extra point attempt, with almost no time remaining, to stay alive!] Then LSU got a field goal in overtime to win. Ole Miss if 4-8 this year. That’s better than North Carolina, yes, but it’s not good.

I know you’re thinking: But the SEC is all so awesome! I love the SEC! I wish I lived in SEC country! But you’re just parroting the ESPN guys. The SEC is a conference. The Big Ten is another one. They tend to produce evenly matched teams that give each other losses. But the teams in the SEC also tend to schedule high school girls’ teams (for the blind) for their out-of-conference schedule.

Here’s my prediction: You know how you’re fond of noting that ND got beaten solidly by the two good teams they faced? Ohio State will beat Florida by more than two touch downs. Florida is a better team than ND this year, but they’re the same kind of inconsistent, interested in “just winning” and barely scraping by in a couple of easy-win games. Ohio State will dismantle them. Michigan will dismantle USC. ND-LSU will be a game. ND will win. Barely. But we’ll win (by “we” I mean Notre Dame, players, coaches, fans, but probably not Dan).

Dan • 12/07/06 5:14 PM:

I think Ohio State will beat up Florida also, but I think USC is going to beat Michigan. I think we should beat LSU, but I fear that every ND player (and especially their head coach) will approach the game like they did last year, in that they think they’re better so why bother?

And why do they have this mentality? Because an entire month’s worth of unavoidable ND-Media-Hype goes to our heads. Well, I sure hope ND wins, but I’ll be looking to next year and hoping that Weis finally learns that too-cocky makes you worse and it’s a bad idea to hype your own team and yourself. The anti-Lou Holtz could learn a thing or two from Lou Holtz.

Which reminds me of a point Dad made once or twice: During the 1812 Overture we should NOT EVER EVER EEEVVVEEERRR chant anyone’s name besides Lou’s. My point being that we should eliminate the song and do something else. That cheer belongs to Lou and it has backfired and will continue to backfire on other coaches.

Dad • 12/07/06 8:09 PM:

I’d be OK with doing the chant when a coach has won as many games as Lou Holtz. By the way, Dan (or anyone else), did you ever succeed in learning that girly cheer that I can only describe as kinda like the macarina, with some drums in the background and there’s this “woo, woo” in the middle? I only know (and appreciate) cheers like, “Beat the Bastards.” The impact on cheering is the only major drawback to having allowed women into the school.

I too hope ND beats LSU, but I am more than a little worried about the defense. As for the SEC, I still think of it as the Securities and Exchange Commission, but that’s just me.

Patrick • 12/08/06 3:34 AM:

I think we should chant “Charlie” in the 1812 Overture, really fast, like it’s one syllable. What the heck did people do with Bob Davie? “Bob”? And how did they hold their fingers? I imagine with the new coach, it’s “Weis” with both hands holding up three spread fingers, like W’s.

The cheer you’re referring to, Dad, is the mad drums going dun-dun-duna-duna-duna duna-duna-duna-duna, while the cheerleaders do this little bend-over-and-pump-your-arms-like-you’re-running maneuver, then they pop up like the running-jack-in-the-box they’ve been imitating, shake their slack-wristed fingers forward, and, yes, go “whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo” as highly pitched as possible.

It’s the stupidest cheer in the universe.

I can imagine the other team getting really pumped when they hear how wimpy ND fans are.

My favorite cheer is the one after the refs make a bad call: “Bull$4!+” repeated ad nauseum. Oh, also “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!” (my motion picture debut).

Dan • 12/08/06 4:17 PM:

ND also has the “KILL. KILL. KILL. KILL.” cheer to the Imperial March. All the students do basically the same motion as the “LOU” cheer, but with one clenched fist, as if you’re stabbing someone to death. Kinda weird. I actually didn’t know what the heck the motion was until one day it dawned on me: “Kill, stab, knife, back, stabbing motion, Oh!”

That Whoo Whoo cheer is awful. I have never participated. The BULL$#!+ cheer is great, too.

The best one is the one that’s like 5 minutes long and it starts with some incessant drumming, then, almost innately, the whole student section softly says something like, “Git-Git-Git Yeah-Yeah-Yeah-YEAH! Oh YEAH - Oh YEAH…WHOOOOOOOOOOOO! HOoOooooO, HoOOooOoo, HoOOOOoooO, Hooooooooooo, HO!” Then it repeats for a while. It’s awesome. I’m actually serious about this one.

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