1. The weather forecast for Saturday's game (as of this writing) has the high temperature in the mid 40's with some chance of rain (or snow?). What weather would give Notre Dame the best chance to beat USC? Why?
Let it snow. It's always bugged me that we don't take advantage of our biggest home field advantage against our biggest rival.
On paper, one would think that the strong running game of SC would do better in the snow than our pass-heavy offense.
But I don't care. Half of those pansies on the Trojans haven't ever played in snow.
And for those of you (like myself) that have, you remember how miserable it was the first time. You can't feel your fingers, you're miserable, and you wonder about the sanity of the people who told you to suck it up and go play.
We've been there, done that.
2. Irresistable Force or Immovable Object? Notre Dame's offense is ranked #10 in yards (470 per game) and #27 in points (32.6 per game). USC's defense is ranked #6 in yards allowed (238.6 per game) and #4 in scoring allowed (just 8.6 points per game). In 2008 Notre Dame had just 91 total yards against USC. Will the Notre Dame offense be able to move the ball on Saturday? If so, how?
SC's defense is legit. And I felt much better about our chances when we had Floyd in the lineup.
That said, I think that this game, more than any we've seen, will resemble the Patriots offense. Look for Weis to throw the book at 'em - 5 wide, goal line, Leprecat, spread, pro set, I formation, Double tight, bunched receivers. Hell, I wouldn't be shocked to see a play run from the A-11. By forcing the defense to react to a new formation on every play, this offense can take advantage of mental mistakes.
And that is how we beat them - by forcing mental mistakes. These guys can hang with our offense athletically, but if we can turn this into a chess match, I like our chances.
3. USC's offense is #22 in yards (430.6 per game) and #53 in scoring (28.8 points per game). Notre Dame's defense is #100 in total defense (403.2 yards per game) and #59 in scoring defense (allowing 23.8 points per game). Will the Notre Dame defense be able to slow down the USC offense? If so, how?
I excpect SC to score some points. They have some legitimate weapons, and will get a few TDs.
The key here is to finally create some disruption. SC has a great O-line, but we need to find a way, somehow, to land some of these blitzes. If we can blitz effectively, we'll eliminate the big play over the top and rely on their ground game. And I like our chances to slow down the run game.
4. In 2008, with Michael Floyd unable to play due to injury, Golden Tate had 2 catches against USC for a team-high 15 receiving yards. How do you expect Golden Tate to play against USC this year?
I think the Tate has proven that he can do a lot more than catch passes this year, and I expect to see us continue to be creative on offense in ways to put the ball in his hands.
That said, I think that the key receivers in this game will be sophomore Kyle Rudolph and tailback Armando Allen. With SC smartly rolling coverage to Golden Tate, these guys will be crucial as outlets for Clausen throughout the game. If Clausen can be patient, Golden will eventually break through the coverages.
5. Jimmy Clausen has started to get some Heisman buzz. In your opinion, which Notre Dame player is the most deserving of Heisman attention, Jimmy or Golden Tate? Why?
Golden Tate is far more exciting to watch than Clausen, and has that flash that would lead me to believe that he is the best non-quarterback candidate in the country. He's certainly most likely to have that "Heisman moment" that becomes indelible in the minds of voters. But, Clausen's numbers don't lie, and he's thrown game-winning passes to multiple players.
Long story short, Jimmy is most deserving of the attention, but Tate has a better chance of actually winning it thanks to his dramatics.
6. Overrated or Underrated. Notre Dame cracked into the AP Poll at #25 this week. Are they overrated or underrated at #25? Where would you put them in your poll?
The Irish are underrated at #25.
They should be ranked ahead of Houston (lost to UTEP) , Oklahoma (2 losses), , and Oklahoma State (lost to Houston). A last second loss in the Big House should put the Irish on par with South Carolina (lost to Georgia), BYU (lost to Oklahoma) and Utah (lost to Oregon) in the rankings, ahead of the previously mentioned teams.
Which would put them somewhere between 19 and 22.
7. USC Song Girls: Ambassadors of Collegiate Goodwill or Anachronism from a bygone era of oppressive sexist stereotypes?
Much like OC Domer, I'm gonna have to come down pretty firmly on the side of "Ambassadors of Collegiate Goodwill."
8. Green Jerseys? There's a lot of "green" talk coming from campus this week, and it raises the question of whether the team will be wearing green on Saturday. Do you want to see the green jerseys or not? Why?
I'm torn here.
And I think that the decision should be made in the locker room by Coach Weis and team leader Jimmy Clausen.
Because, if you're going to wear them again, you'd damn well better be pretty f#(%!@g sure that you're going to put a boot in SC's ass.
'Cause if you bust 'em out and lose, THAT will be their legacy.
And on that note, I hope they do have the confidence to pull them out again.
9. Name the next number in this sequence: -3, -20, -38, -35, _______. Explain.
I think that the most impressive thing that the Irish could do this week, especially after the late game heroics required against their last 4 opponents, would be to have a 2-score lead late in the 4th quarter.
If we end up having a close win, we won't get the legitimacy we need from this game. We'll be stuck with the caveat that we play to the opponent.
Also, if there are any controversial calls (and there always are), a close win will give the Notre Dame haters in the media (I'm talking to you, John Saunders) something to use to discount the Irish victory.
And I want this game to leave NO doubt that the Irish are back.
I like the Irish 38-28.