NCIS: South Bend

Tonight we have lots of mysteries to solve. It is time to turn to our friends at NCIS: South Bend to solve them. Here are the clues:
  • Notre Dame is 6-2 coming into the game
  • They are also ranked #22 in the country
  • Notre Dame rolls for 512 yards of total offense
  • Clausen throws for 452 yards on 37 completions
  • The Irish do not punt all day, and force five punts
  • The Irish hold their opponent to 56 yards passing
  • Clausen throws for 225 yards in one quarter
What do you think the outcome of this game would be? Certainly not the second loss in three years to Navy. That is just what happened today though in Notre Dame stadium. The Midshipmen won 23-21 at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame seemed to be able to move the ball at will against the Midshipmen. Unfortunately they just could not put it in the end zone. They finished the day 2-6 in the red zone. They found a new way each time to blow a good scoring opportunity. Their kicker had a record for kicks made in a row, but missed two today that would have won the game. Charlie also continues to go for it on fourth down instead of just getting points. A Clausen fumble at the one, and a pick at the one killed two second half drives. The picture in the upper left hand corner of this paragraph shows Clausen losing the ball at the one. He appeared to have the corner easily, but for some reason cut up into the defender. He paid for it though with a hit that left him on the turf for some time. The Irish moved the ball right down the field time after time with nothing to show for it. Navy did a good job holding onto the ball as well. They slowed the game down a lot. The Irish did not get on the scoreboard until five minutes were left in the third quarter. That brought the score to 14-7. Navy took the ball right down the field to increase their lead again. For some reason the Irish had trouble defending the middle of the field. Whether it be the fullback as the first option, or releasing into a pass pattern. Notre Dame is way too good to look as bad as they did today. I usually don’t get into discussions about firing a coach, but something has to be done. So what did the crack NCIS team come up with for this game. Well they found out that Navy had all the motive. They wanted a win, and would do anything to get it. That includes killing the coaching career of Charlie Weis. The evidence was all over the field today. In the 348 yards rushing, and yes even the 56 yards passing. Ricky Dobbs only passed three times today, but one of those went to the house. He also ran the offense very well. The Irish also showed that they were primed to be picked off. After the Clausen pick and a penalty on Navy the Midshipmen had the ball on the two yard line. They had 98 yards to go to paydirt. Their fullback rips off a 40 some odd run. After he finally went down Notre Dame safety Sergio Brown celebrated his tackle. Really? You celebrate only giving up 40+ yards? That is the attitude of a loser. They showed that today. What normally would take the NCIS team an hour to figure out took this team almost four. The constant play stoppages along with a delayed start sent this game that started at 1:30 all the way to 6:10. For some reason the officials and NBC wanted us there all day. They got their wish. One of the highlights of the day was the way the fans around me started the second half. I bought my ticket outside the stadium from a member of the glee club. As the second half was getting ready to start the people around me stood up and sang the fight song in much better harmony than the team was playing on the field. Both the Purdue and the Notre Dame fight song sound very good with the right people singing them. This was no exception. Clausen set some career highs, and both Golden Tate and Michael Floyd went over 100 yards receiving, but it was too little, too late for the Irish. They will have to step up their game next week when they travel to Pittsburgh to face the fighting Wannastaches.

In other news today the Boilers finally got another road win in Ann Arbor. Now the answer to the trivia question will be that Joey Elliot was the last Purdue quarterback to win at Michigan. The Boilers come from behind to score four touchdowns in the second half to win 38-36 in Ann Arbor. What a win this is for the program. After the debacle last week it gets us back on track for this outside chance of a bowl. Now we just have to beat Michigan State at home, and then win the bucket to become bowl eligible. Who would have thought that we could come back from 1-5 with the schedule remaining to even have a shot at a bowl? Next week is huge for the Purdue football program. Can we send these seniors off right? Time will tell. In other action #4 Iowa lost both their quarterback and the game today when Northwestern beat them 17-10. Jim Harbaugh shocked the nation again as his Cardinal of Stanford won a shootout 51-42 against #8 Oregon. #16 Ohio State beat #11 Penn State 24-7. The Big Ten picture became a little clearer today. And showing that they are not the doormats of the league Illinois beat Minnesota 35-32. Indiana did something we could not do last week, give Wisconsin a run for their money. They lost 31-28 in Bloomington today. One game I got right was Grand Valley State rolling Wayne State. They won 59-28 to win the GLIAC once again. This sets up an interesting last couple of weeks in the Big Ten. No team is technically eliminated from a bowl. The next three weeks will determine what a lot of Big Ten fans will be doing over the holidays.

Game Preview: Notre Dame v. Navy

Two years ago I was in Notre Dame Stadium to see the Notre Dame game against Navy. The Irish came into the game riding a 43 game winning streak against the Midshipmen. Notre Dame had only one win on the season against seven losses, and Navy was 4-4. Navy needed this game to break the streak, and to get within one win of a bowl game. Here is my very short recap of the game from 2007. I really did not feel like writing much after watching the game. That game was only close because Charlie Weis kept mismanaging the game. He likes to gamble and take chances rather than put points on the board. Notre Dame made a valiant comeback after a fumble was returned for a touchdown to send the game into overtime. They could have attempted a field goal with time running out, but they tried to run for the first down. Both teams traded a touchdown then a field goal in the first two overtimes. Navy scored a touchdown and then converted the two point play to go up 46-38. Notre Dame then scored a touchdown to get withing two. On the first two point try they got a pass interference call to get another try. They failed on that run to give Navy the win. This year I think that Notre Dame will run away with the game. Things will be back to normal with Notre Dame rolling Navy as a tune up game. I have been to two previous meetings in this series. Here is a brief recap of each:

11/12/2005: Notre Dame 42 – Navy 21: Maurice Stovall 130 yards recieving and two touchdowns.
11/3/2007: Navy 46 – Notre Dame 44: Three overtime game that snapped Notre Dame’s 43 game winning streak against Navy.

The other interesting game on the docket this week is the Michigan game against Purdue. Both teams are enduring tough seasons. Purdue seemed to have turned a corner before they ran into the buzzsaw in Madison. Michigan did not fare so well themselves losing to the doormat of the Big Ten this season Illinois. If Purdue is ever going to get a win at Michigan it seems as if this is the year. Purdue is 13-41 against Michigan all-time. That includes a 4-27 mark inside of Michigan Stadium. Sadly I think that the streak will continue this week. We handed Michigan a heartbreaker last year with the ‘Tiller’ play. They will have us in their stadium this time with respect on the line. I hope that we can end the streak, but I just don’t see that happening. Once again we must make the quarterback (in this case Forcier) pass the ball to have a shot. If Forcier can run the offense his way we will be in trouble. Purdue needs to just play fundamental football, and I think that they can win this game. Tackle, catch the football, and do not turn the football over. These are easy things to do…for other schools. If we can do that we can keep these slim bowl hopes alive. Go Boilers!

This weeks predictions: Last week I went 6-4. I missed my homer picks of Purdue and the Packers. I also did not see Michigan and Michigan State losing. With a week that close to .500 it brings me to 26-10 on the season. This week I will pick the six games involving the Big Ten teams again along with the Grand Valley State and Irish games. Maybe I can improve my percentage a little this week.

#5 Grand Valley State 49 – Wayne State 13
Minnesota 24 – Illinois 14
#4 Iowa 35 – Northwestern 10
Wisconsin 31 – Indiana 12
Michigan State 42 – Western Michigan 21
#11 Penn State 24 – #16 Ohio State 17
Michigan 31 – Purdue 17
#22 Notre Dame 44 – Navy 20