Tuesday, September 15, 2009

IBG: Sparty Week

Sarah over at Bad Trade has posted her questions for this week's edition of Irish Blogger Gathering. Like much of Notre Dame Nation, I still haven't gotten the bitter taste of defeat out of my mouth, but I'll do my best to move on and try to focus on this week's opponent - the classless clowns of Michigan State.

1. Still trying to get the taste of last weekend's game out of my mouth, so let's start with something fun. With Sparty on its way into South Bend, give me your favorite memory of the ND-MSU series. I don't care what it is: John L. Smith losing it, the image of MSU guarding against nothing, an actual game memory, whatever.

Favorite memory implies something I actually liked, so I'm going to go with the comeback in the monsoon at Spartan Stadium. I was watching that game at my buddy Justin's house, and I remember we were just completely disgusted with the team and had all but thrown in the towel by the end of the third quarter. I remember vividly seeing the wind reverse direction and the torrential rain begin during the break betweeen quarters, and I wondered if even God himself had given up on Notre Dame football.

And then the magic began.

Samardzija touchdown on 4th and 5. The sick strip by Ndukwe. An amazing catch by Rhema McKnight on the fade route. Weis screaming at the team on the sidelines. By the time Terrail Lambert grabbed that pick and took it to the house, everyone in the house was going completely bonkers.

And then the house quieted with the nervousness of the end game, remembering all the times we've blown it. We were on the edge of our seats as MSU appeared to gain some momentum for a game-winning drive.

Then, the complete indcredulity of the sick interception that looked to everyone (except the ref right on top of the play) like an incomplete pass. Everyone had these stupid silly grins on their faces, made ever sweeter by the screen shots of stunned MSU fans.

Glorious.

2. Since 1997, Michigan State has won 9 of 12 games against the Irish. I view this as a classic case of Sparty having ND's number. What worries you most about Michigan State this weekend?

Michigan State, much like Boston College, seems to exist for the sole purpose of being a thorn in Notre Dame's side. This game is always their best game of the season - then they go back to being Michigan State.

As far as specifics on the field, I worry about their ability to run the ball. We haven't showed the consistency we need up front to stuff the run, and until we do that we'll be at risk of letting teams hang around.

3. Between my lingering bad feelings from last weekend and the history of this series in the last decade plus, give me a good reason or two or three to feel optimistic about a change in fortune for the Irish, because right now, I could use some optimism.

Because I care deeply about Sarah's mental health, I'll give her a full 5 reasons for optimism:

1. Notre Dame's intensity should be even higher this week, and their wounded pride will assure that there will be no let down this week. These players had their high expectations dashed last week, and in such strange and frustrating fashion that I expect to see some pissed of Domers take the field on Saturday.

2. We won't see this guy on the field on Saturday. Or this guy. Or this one. Or this one.

3. Michigan State lost to Central Michigan last week.

4. If this and this aren't motivation enough, I don't know what is.

5. WE are N D

4. As it is my week, I get to address my current ND obsession. Have the last two games changed your opinion/reinforced your opinion re: Charlie in the box versus Charlie on the field?

I still think Charlie should be in the box. I understand why he's not. Every coach he's talked to has told him he needs to be on the field. But, Coach Weis can see the field better up there, and Corwin Brown and Tenuta can rally the troops on the field. The only advantage of having Coach Weis on the sidelines would be his ability to lobby the refs, but clearly, that doesn't help.

5. If nothing else, I can count on one thing to look forward to on Saturday - tailgating. Anyone have a good recipe for me to try? I make no limitations on what it can be - a drink recipe, dessert, appetizer. So long as it can be made on a grill, camp stove, or ahead of time, I am happy to listen. The better the suggestion, the more likely you are to get invited to my own tailgate.

I actually have garnered the nickname "Spinach Dip" Neil from many of my friends, because of my world-famous spinach dip that I always bring to parties. Now, this recipe isn't exact, as I don't believe in measuring stuff. But, the beauty of this dip is that it gets better over time. Trust me.

A couple bags of fresh baby spinach, hand chopped
3 cans of quartered Artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped
Two large tubs of cream cheese
A quart of heavy whipping cream
A few spoonfuls of crushed garlic
3 bags of Italian Five-Cheese Blend

Throw the tubs of cream cheese in a large (5 qt.) crock pot while you prepare the other ingredients, and set to HIGH.
Chop everything up.
Once the cream cheese starts to melt, throw in two bags of cheese and heavy whipping cream and stir.
Once that's well stirred, immediately put in the artichoke hearts and most of the spinach (it actually takes about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 bags of spinach).
Stir occasionally as the entire mixture starts to melt.
Once you have a decent consistency, add the garlic to taste, and additional cheese as needed to adjust the consistency.
Once the entire mixture is heated through and an even consistency (should be somewhere approaching paste but not quite), reduce heat to low and serve with your choice of bread or crackers. I prefer french bread.

6. Finally, any predictions for the game? I encourage your predictions to involve something other than a final score, but otherwise, I make no suggestions.

I think that the Irish come out pissed off and play really hard at the beginning of the game, leading to some sloppy play and probably more than a little chippiness. Perhaps as a result, MSU gets a small early lead.

Then, the Irish settle down, play their game, and run off 5 straight TDs on 5 straight possessions, putting the game well out of reach.

Final score:
Notre Dame 41
Michigan State 17

2 comments:

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I remember vividly seeing the wind reverse direction and the torrential rain begin during the break between quarters,We haven't showed the consistency we need up front to stuff the run.

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