November 29, 2006

Awakening the Basketball in me...

Usually I wait until there is no more college football on Saturdays to start worrying about college basketball, however, in another move to go ahead and jump the gun, I can tell you right now the four #1 seeds for this year's NCAA Tournament.


In November.

The four regionals this year are in San Jose, San Antonio, St. Louis, and East Rutherford. (What, no Syracuse to complete the 4-S sweep?)

Already this thing is laying out nicely...

North Carolina (East Rutherford)
Florida (San Antonio)
Kansas (St. Louis)
UCLA (San Jose)

It's really that simple.

Naw. We have a ton of time left in the basketball season and things will start heating up in December, but for me the #1's are set and everyone else is rushing to see which region they will be #2 in.

Oh, and Ohio State #1? Huh?

November 27, 2006

USC will beat Ohio State...

In the ever rush to join a media that prides itself on predicting at the earliest possible time, put me down for taking USC and any points that Vegas is willing to give me against the Buckeyes. Yes, Ohio State could render all the Michigan-USC debate moot, however, I think USC put that argument to bed with a 44-24 whipping of my beloved Irish. The Trojans had a -1 turnover margin and yet only came up six points short of what Michigan did with a +4 margin.

The poll takes a new look this week with 1-2 fully solved. My Irish barely get into the BCS on my system, but without giving it all away, here it is - as always wins over BCS winners in parenthesees and the opponents record in the second set.

1. Ohio State (6) (73-71)
2. USC (8) (77-53)
3. Florida (7) (79-53)
4. Michigan (5) (83-61)

- Still the same argument here as the loss by Notre Dame means that Michigan only has the win over Wisconsin as a win over a one loss team. USC and Florida could end up with 9 and 8 wins over BCS winners if they both win next week.

5. Rutgers (3) (61-57)
6. Louisville (7) (72-58)

- The most important thing to me is head-to-head analysis. With West Virginia bowing out to South Florida this puts the two Big East teams against one another. Much like I kept Arkansas ahead of Auburn for most of the time when Auburn's resume impressed more, I will do the same here.

7. Wisconsin (3) (42-72)
8. Boise State (1) (61-68)

- No one is talking Wisconsin as they are the fraud of the system - having one loss but they didnt have to play Ohio State. Boise State has clinched the Fiesta Bowl with a 12-0 season. They will play the Big 12 champion.

On to the teams with two losses...

9. LSU (5) (80-62)
10. Auburn (5) (77-67)
11. Arkansas (4) (67-63)

- Said before, head-to-head is the ultimate criteria for me, however, we have three teams here who round-robin'ed each out in the SEC. I put it to a vote with my friends at the Tennessee-Kentucky game and we came up with the following to separate these three teams. Important criterias mentioned were strength of schedule (favoring LSU), wins over BCS winners (LSU and Auburn), and when and where you lose. LSU wins out with a point in each category - earlier losses and both on the road while Auburn and Arkansas each lost at home. Arkansas gets a chance because if they beat Florida they will have an SOS record of 78-65 with five wins. Stay tuned.

12. Notre Dame (4) (75-63)
13. Virginia Tech (4) (71-61)
14. Oklahoma (4) (71-73)

- This group rounds out the BCS at-large qualifiers, meaning they can be chosen by the bowls. Oklahoma can win their way in with a win over Nebraska. Virginia Tech will be punished by the weak ACC and Notre Dame will get their shot again at Michigan in the Rose Bowl thanks to their name. One other debate amongst the friends this weekend was a mention of to whom you lost. Opinions changed in a hurry when that logic would put Notre Dame up at #9 with losses to two of the teams still left in the national championship hunt. (Michigan and USC) Notre Dame gets the nod here with the better opponent SOS.

15. West Virginia (3) (62-57)
16. Wake Forest (3) (59-73)

- Here are the arguments against these teams. First, if Notre Dame hasn't beaten anyone of note, then who has West Virginia taken down to date? 8-4 Maryland. Wake Forest? Their best win is a home tilt over Boston College at 9-3. Same conference, same record, but the Irish traveled to Atlanta for their win over a 9-3 team. Of course, Wake could beat Georgia Tech in next week's ACC championship and end all debate.

17. BYU (0) (64-76)
18. TCU (1) (51-66)

- Small conference love as the two close out the two-loss teams list.

19. Tennessee (5) (82-61)
20. California (6) (70-48)

- Vols get the head-to-head nod over the Bears despite fewer wins over BCS winners and Cal's better opponent SOS. One thing about Tennessee, the Vols are a true 9 win team having their five wins all against teams with 6-8 wins and their three losses against teams with double-digit wins.

21. Texas (4) (78-54)
22. Texas A&M (4) (71-59)
23. Nebraska (4) (70-60)

- Same argument here as the SEC trio above - all three beat each other but on the road (Texas at Nebraska, Nebraska at A&M, A&M at Texas). SOS determines the order.

24. Hawaii (1) (58-72)
25. Georgia Tech (3) (67-64)

- Hawaii could get another win over a BCS winner if they beat Oregon State this Saturday. Georgia Tech and Boston College were the only remaining three-loss teams but I gave Tech the nod for being in the conference title game while Boston College is locked out by Wake Forest.

November 19, 2006

Only three options remain for Ohio State's opponent...

Sadly, one of them is not Notre Dame. I love my Irish and I would take the opportunity of playing Ohio State if it came to it, but no, with Michigan no longer having any more games left on their slate, they have essentially locked out the Irish.

I cannot erase a 26-point loss to Michigan, at home with a clear conscience.

For me, there are now only three options left for Ohio State's opponent... USC should they win out, Arkansas and/or Florida should they win out or Michigan if neither wins out. USC hosts Notre Dame and travels to UCLA. Florida travels to Florida State and Arkansas "hosts" LSU in Little Rock. Both the Hogs and Gators will meet in Atlanta on December 2nd.

If your a USC fan, cheer on your team.
If you like Arkansas or Florida, cheer for your team and Notre Dame.
If you like Michigan, cheer for Notre Dame to beat USC, LSU to beat Arkansas, and Arkansas to beat Florida.

Here are the standings with wins over BCS bowl-eligible teams in the first set of parenthesees followed by their opponent's combined record in the second set.

1. Ohio State (6) (71-69)
2. USC (7) (63-47)
3. Florida (6) (65-46)
4. Michigan (5) (80-60)
5. Arkansas (4) (52-65)

Those are the national champion hopefuls, everyone else is jockeying for position in the other BCS bowls. Yes, Arkansas is below Michigan, but the Hogs will add LSU's 9-3 and Florida's likely 11-2 to their slate if they win out. Suddenly they would have six wins over BCS winners and a 72-70 overall opponents record. Good enough to get over Michigan? I would say yes.

6. Louisville (4) (62-48)
7. Notre Dame (4) (64-60)
8. West Virginia (3) (51-53)
9. Wisconsin (3) (42-69)
10. Rutgers (3) (52-53)
11. Boise State (1) (45-66)

Group Two of the BCS chasers. Louisville becomes the benefactor of Cincinnati's win over Rutgers. Should the Scarlet Knights go down in defeat at West Virginia then the Mountaineers and Cardinals would be tied with UofL getting the BCS bid thanks to their November 2nd win. Notre Dame will go regardless, either as a justified 11-1 with a win over USC or as the 10-2 media darling/whipping boys who will praise/complain for six weeks about the Irish presence in the BCS. West Virginia is a big LSU fan, hoping Arkansas will lose out from here and end up with three losses, perhaps opening up a BCS at-large bid. Wisconsin is done, as one conference can only send two members. Rutgers would need to reverse fortunes and beat West Virginia, making them the champions of the Big East. Boise State needs to just win at Nevada and they will qualify for a BCS game finishing in the top 12.

12. Auburn (5) (72-52)
13. Texas (4) (66-49)
14. LSU (4) (65-56)

Auburn's season is over while LSU and Texas could add one and two (Texas) more wins over BCS bowl teams. The BCS only takes the top 14 teams and these could be the last qualifiers as non-champions. However, LSU and Auburn could get locked out by Arkansas and Florida.

15. Boston College (4) (61-55)
16. Oklahoma (3) (59-54)
17. Georgia Tech (2) (55-60)
18. Virginia Tech (3) (58-55)
19. Wake Forest (2) (43-60)

Someone will win the ACC but it won't be Virginia Tech who got locked out by Georgia Tech this past weekend. The Yellow Jackets could strengthen their resume with a win at Georgia this coming weekend. Oklahoma could finish at 10-2 and be at least an option for a BCS at-large.

20. TCU (1) (43-62)
21. BYU (0) (53-64)
22. Hawaii (0) (45-68)

The march of the non-BCS two-game losers. Hawaii can at least point to having lost to an undefeated Boise State team. TCU has the Texas Tech win keeping them above the fray. All the opponent records are not flattering.

23. Nebraska (4) (64-52)
24. Clemson (3) (62-60)
25. Tennessee (3) (69-52)

November 12, 2006

After the chaos...

Before yesterday, Notre Dame was sunk in their hopes for a national title. Lou Holtz seemed like a delusional former coach expressing that the Golden Domers were still in this thing. Today, I wake up and the Irish are at #5 in the AP poll, giving them hope with USC ranked ahead of them. It's still a very long shot, but they could end up in Glendale after all...

With that being said, apologies to not having my post up from last week. Alas, the Louisville fans didn't get to see their name in lights as being the team who gets to face the Big Ten winner in Glendale.

Here we go... numbers in parenthesees are the number of +.500 BCS wins and the overall record of their opponents.

1. Michigan (4) (57-49)
2. Ohio State (3) (52-55)
3. Rutgers (3) (42-38) (played 1 I-AA opponent)

- Here are the remaining unbeatens with national championship aspirations. In my opinion, if Louisville could have been considered, then you have to rank the Scarlet Knights at #3 for now.

4. Florida (5) (59-42)
5. USC (5) (52-41)
6. Louisville (3) (51-39)
7. Notre Dame (3) (55-48)
8. Arkansas (3) (45-46) (1 I-AA opponent)
9. West Virginia (1) (41-38) (1 I-AA opponent)
10. Boise State (1) (39-47)
11. Wisconsin (2) (36-50)
12. Wake Forest (1) (31-49)

- This rounds out the once-beaten teams and well, Boise State. The Broncos are still looking good for the Fiesta Bowl after the game winning kick against San Jose State. Florida and USC have the superior resumes while Wisconsin and Wake Forest's resumes prove why their still amongst the list.

13. Texas (4) (61-41)
14. LSU (3) (54-46)
15. Georgia Tech (2) (50-39)
16. Auburn (3) (60-51)
17. Oklahoma (3) (56-50)

- These are the first thought of two-loss teams. Texas and Georgia Tech control their destiny to make the BCS as they can win their conference championship games. LSU and Auburn would need help and some key losses by the teams ahead to get there. I finally put LSU over Auburn due to LSU's losses coming on the road while Auburn's wins and losses against BCS winners have all come at Jordan-Hare. Oklahoma could get into the BCS due to the impression of their "loss" to Oregon. The consensus could view the Sooners as an 11-1 team.

18. Maryland (1) (48-41)
19. Virginia Tech (1) (44-44)

- The ACC pair have a win over Clemson in common and they have lost against Georgia Tech. Maryland's other loss was at West Virginia and Va. Tech lost to Boston College. The difference is that Maryland can still make the ACC Championship Game whereas Virginia Tech is locked out with Georgia Tech having qualified.

20. California (4) (51-42)
21. Boston College (2) (49-41)

- While their opponents records are better than the two teams above, their losses include a losing team (NC State at 3-7, beating BC) and a .500 team (Arizona, 5-5, beating Cal yesterday).

22. BYU (0) (49-58)
23. TCU (1) (39-47)

- The non-BCS teams get in because we have no more 2 loss teams left.

24. Nebraska (3) (61-41)
25. Clemson (2) (56-55)

- The Huskers get back in with back-to-back wins over winners. Clemson hangs on to the win over one-loss Wake Forest.

BCS scenarios

- The SEC title game is set with Florida to face Arkansas. Winner goes to the Sugar Bowl or even perhaps Glendale. LSU and Auburn can each finish 10-2 but wouldn't control their fate.

- The Big Ten is easy, the Ohio State-Michigan winner goes to Glendale, while the loser settles for Pasadena. Wisconsin cannot go to the BCS as only two teams are allowed per conference.

- The Pac-10 will be decided this weekend when USC and California hook up in L.A. The Pac-10 can get two if Cal beats USC and then the Trojans in return beat Notre Dame. That would leave both at 2 losses and a 10-2 USC team making a strong case for a bid.

- The Big 12 is down to Texas or Oklahoma against Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship. Oklahoma is another candidate at 10-2 if they win out and Texas beats A&M.

- The ACC will only send their champion. Georgia Tech has qualified for Jacksonville with Boston College, Maryland, and Wake Forest sorting things out on the other side. The teams are ranked too low to end up as automatics outside of the conference championship automatic bid.

- The Big East would send Rutgers if they win out or the highest ranked team if the Rutgers-WV-Louisville round-robin comes to fruition. Each team would have lost on the road, but West Virginia would be the likely team to advance with having suffered the earliest loss. I truly believe that West Virginia is the only attractive at-large bid for the BCS bowls due to crowd sizes, Louisville or Rutgers would get trumped by 10-2 teams such as Oklahoma, Notre Dame or even LSU who have greater fan bases.

- Notre Dame goes by winning out, erasing all doubt. The Irish can still advance if USC wins out and they would be left at 10-2 against other 10-2 qualifiers.

- Boise State will go so long as they stay undefeated.

Here is my predicted shakedown with the conference champions and automatic qualifiers. Michigan and Boise State will remain ranked ahead of at least one other conference champion, that keeps them in the BCS.

NC - *Ohio State vs. *USC
Sugar - *Florida vs.
Orange - *Georgia Tech vs. *West Virginia
Fiesta - *Texas vs. Boise State
Rose - Michigan vs.

- This scenario would leave an 11-1 Louisville and Rutgers competing with 10-2 LSU, Arkansas, or Auburn, and Notre Dame, and Oklahoma, and California for the final spots. Three slots and eight teams, who would you pick? The 10-2 teams would bring the greater fanbases and something tells me Notre Dame would not be passed over three times, especially with losses against two of the top three teams in the country at the time. (USC, Michigan)

- While the qualifying scenarios seemed paired down there is a lot of football left to be played. The SEC, ACC, and Big 12 won't decide their entrant until December 2nd. By virtue of the standings and schedule, neither will the Big East. Only the Big Ten and Pac-10 will be done by this next weekend.

November 06, 2006

Notre Dame 45, North Carolina 26

I could talk a thousand words about my experience at Notre Dame this past weekend, but lets just say it with pictures, shall we...

Lets start by saying that 7:15 a.m. in South Bend is a COLD time to be out and about. I think the temperature was around 35 when we first arrived. I was basically like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, happily telling anyone that it was my first game at Notre Dame... even the parking attendants when we got lost. We left the Indianapolis hotel at 4:30 a.m. For those who are curious, I woke up at 2:05 a.m. after going to bed at 10:00 p.m. on Friday in the hotel. Apparently my body decided that 4 hours would be all I would need.

The next shot is about 15 minutes later after I have stopped gawking at the stadium and rejoined normal society by putting one foot in front of another and walking. Do we look cold in this picture? The guy who took it was one of the parking attendants and he just laughed when I asked if he did this much.

The plan was underway and we were going to take the 6+ hours to tour the grounds and get some food. First off, lets just say I had heard through the grapevine that the South Dining Hall was the place to eat. Wrong! $11.25 for a buffet plate at 9:00 AM was not my idea of trying to stay on the cheap. What was cool were all the halls out grilling their own food and hawking their wares to make money for themselves. Gotta love the entrepreneurial spirit of the Notre Dame student body!

You simply must have the obligatory shot of the Golden Dome on any trip to Notre Dame. I am just amazed that yours truly with my meager photography skills pulled off the picture that you see to the right. Granted, I did some photoshopping to get rid of the ND trash can that you no longer see, but the rest of the picture was all me.

This is the typical shot that you see on a camera when the game is about to return from commercial and some broadcaster wants to wax poetic about Notre Dame, the campus, Rockne, the Dome, whatever.

So the time crawled towards 1:00 p.m. and the gates opened and we were one of the first 500 in the building. I couldn't wait to get to my seat and see the view. This is what I saw from Section 126, Row 16, Seat 14. Beautiful.

Here we are, happy as larks that the game is about to begin. Gotta love the self-portrait with the help of the handy-dandy viewing screen on the borrowed digital camera. Good stuff. At this point, I think we're slap happy more than anything else. It's already a 12 hour day for me at this point and we've not even seen the clock move towards ticking down to kickoff.

You wait your whole life for this next moment...

Here come the Irish!!!

The Game

Alright, here begins the fan talk. Notre Dame took the ball straight down the field and led 7-0. Thank goodness, I thought. Let's get an absolute blow out game. Put the thing out of reach early and play some of the freshmen. Then North Carolina answers. 7-7. Alright, its early I think. Then 14-7, 21-7, 24-7 Notre Dame. Atta boys. I'm hungry and I go down right after the Irish score, only to watch the Heels run back the kick, 24-13 after the missed PAT. Then Zibby gets a punt return, and the place explodes. 31-13, Irish. Then the stupidity occurred. They get another series of big plays after we fumble the damn punt. 31-19. Irish come back, score, 38-19 on a long pass to Samardzija. Sweet.

Then I melted down. A 71-yard touchdown pass by UNC. The play was probably called "throw it up because the left corner can't guard anything" on two. It was a travesty, a sham, and a mockery - a travishamockery.

I was there at my first game in Notre Dame Stadium and I said to the guy in front me that we were dead meat in Los Angeles if we keep this up. Good lord, it was awful.

But the boys recovered, marched down and scored one last time for the final margin, 45-26. I didn't have the camera out, because I wanted to remember everything.

But finally as we watched the band play, we were still all smiles...

November 03, 2006

Rudy Suits Up

"This is the most beautiful thing these eyes have seen."

There they are folks, I finally will be attending a Notre Dame game at Notre Dame Stadium. The journey began a long time ago upon the knee of my grandfather who passed away too early. It was the man who started it all, telling his young grandson of the Four Horsemen, Ara, Leahy, and the ever-present Rockne. The tales were spun and my catholic upbringing only drove the point home.

"My son, how did we do today?"

My grandfather passed away and the torch fell to Father Mac at St. Leo's Church in my hometown. With that one simple question before Saturday mass he would keep the fire going for me. While we never had much Notre Dame artifacts lying around in the house to prove our loyalty, the game would never miss a second of appearing on our television set. The Irish were always a concern amongst my grandparents. My grandmom who didn't care much for sports would always pop in for a bit to see the score.

The tradition continued with my mom, raised in the above household and ever aware of Notre Dame and how they were doing. Not too many times in life do you bond with your Mom during a game, but the times would come... the 1988 season of glory, that rainy September day when Rocket Ismail would take two back to the house in the Big House. We both were yelling at the TV when he took off on the second jaunt. Then, our most favorite, was Jerome Bettis running over Florida in the Cheerios, er Sugar Bowl.

I endured the heartbreak of 1993, enjoying being the only person who called Notre Dame over Florida State in my entire school - only to watch in despair as David Gordon's kicked ruined everything the next week.

We've documented the pain of the Davieham eras.

Now, I come to today, when I will hit the road immediately after work and head home to a place away from home. I will be the first in my family to see a live Notre Dame game at the Stadium and I will feel a bit like Ned Beatty, walking in to see his son.

I am getting goose bumps already...

About Me

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.