That sound I've been hearing from up north is the collective groans, whines, and complaints of the Wolverine Nation (aka Ann Arbor, who is a whore) for being booted out of the National Championship game.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. Team A, during their bye week, gets passed by Team B. If it sounds familiar, it's because it happened to Notre Dame earlier this season, as Auburn passed them in the AP poll during their bye week. And that was after a win.
This week, Florida pulled the same shenanigans on Michigan, who were passed in both the Harris Poll and the ESPN poll while they were sitting at home eating cheeseburgers.
So it's not like there isn't precedent.
Ultimately, I begrudgingly have to admit that the BCS worked out well this year. Instead of a rematch in the National Championship, another 1-loss team gets a shot at Ohio State for all the marbles. Although I'd like to see the title shot go to unbeaten Boise State. And see them get absolutely crushed.
NOTRE DAME BOWL MATCHUP
#11 Notre Dame, 10-2 vs. #4 LSU, 10-2
This battle between heavyweights will be the 10th meeting between the two schools, which has been a seesaw battle. The Irish won their first game against the Tigers in 1970 in an epic defensive struggle between the 2nd ranked Irish and the 7th ranked Tigers. The next year, the #14 Tigers got their revenge, upsetting the #7 Irish 28-8. In 1981, we blew out a #4 LSU team at home in Gerry Faust's first game, taking the Irish from unranked to #11 in one week. Three years later, Faust took an unranked Irish team and marched into Tiger stadium, beating the #6 Tigers 30-22, arguably the second biggest win of his career. The next year, in his last year as head coach, Gerrry Faust lost to the Tigers 10-7. Lou Holtz also got a shot at the Tigers in his first year, losing to LSU 19-2, tying the series at 3-3. In 1997, under Bob Davie, we got to play LSU twice, beating them 24-6 in the regular season, but dropping the Independence Bowl to them by a score of 27-9. The next year, we got our series edge back by beating the 10th ranked Tigers 39-36.
And so the series stands at 5-4, with Notre Dame having lost the only neutral site game in the series. LSU has been one of our toughest opponents traditionally, and this year is no exception. The Tigers come in ranked 4th in the nation, with their 2 losses coming in close gmes to #2 Florida and #9 Auburn, and big wins over #12 Arkansas and #17 Tennessee. Notre Dame comes limping in to the game after their second blowout loss, having lost to #3 Michigan and #5 USC. Notre Dame's only other win over a ranked opponent was a come from behind win against #25 UCLA.
The Tigers are #18 in total offense, and #2 in total defense. They are a fairly balanced offensive attack, and are an impressive 10th in scoring offense, which shows efficiency. They are 15th against the run, which is impressive. But they are an incredible 3rd against the pass, allowing only 145 yards per game in the air. This means that this team will challenge Brady Quinn. They are 4th in the country in scoring defense, giving up only 12.5 points per game. JaMarcus Russell is third in the nation in pass efficiency, ahead of Brady Quinn.
The Irish come in only 22nd in total offense and 45th in total defense. They are exteremly efficient on offense, however, averaging 32.42 poins per game, just behind LSU at #12. Notre Dame is an ugly #57 in scoring defense, largely due to the losses to Michigan and USC.
On paper, this looks like a Tiger win. But the Irish have a few stats that give me some hope.
They are +5 in turnover margin, and 3rd in the country in turnovers lost. LSU is even in turnover margin, and a pitiful 89th in turnovers gained. We will not turn over the ball.
Geoffrey Price is 6th in punting, and LSU doesn't even have a player in the top 96. LSU is bad at punt coverage (so are we), but we have a better punter. We can win the field position battle.
Our keys to victory:
1) pass rush - LSU averages 3.25 sacks per game, and allows only 1.5 - we have to win the battle in the trenches
2) don't give up the big play - this is a very efficient offense, and we cannot let them beat us deep we need to improve our 3rd down defense
3) play keep away - we can win field position and the turnover battle, just don't make any mistakes
4)put the ball in Brady's hands - this vaunted pass defense will not frustrate Brady if he finds time to throw. He is the best QB in the nation, and LSU will be bumfuzzled.
To be continued...