The Notre Dame 2012 season was great before the title game against Alabama, wasn't it?
Since that 12-0 season, the Irish have gone 8-4 and 7-5. This season was even more painful for fans. For everyone else, it was a sweet taste of Schadenfreude the final four weeks of the season.
Since I personally follow the team, and tweet during games (most of them were Everett Golson turnover tweets), here's my reaction to every game this season. Enjoy my pain.
Game 1: Rice (Won 48-17)
A weak FBS team to start the year. Of course you are going to win. The return of Everett Golson and may I say, he looked pretty good. There were threats of lightning in the South Bend area, and despite a few downpours, storms stayed away from Notre Dame Stadium. That's a good sign for the rest of the season, right?
Game 2: Michigan (Won 31-0)
Yes! Take that, Brady Hoke! Notre Dame took you guys to the cleaners. What a way to end the series (one that we're ending because of a deal with the ACC). The Wolverines must be good, right? They have Devon Gardner and that Funchess guy. No way they fall apart!
Game 3: Purdue (Won 30-14)
At least they played this Shamrock Series in the state of Indiana. Not a great win against Purdue, one of the weakest teams in an already weak Big Ten. Golson didn't have his best game, but he found a way to win.
Game 4: at Syracuse (Meadowlands) (Won 31-15)
Who knew Everett Golson could play so well and so bad all in the same game. How do you mess up a spike? Hope this streak of turnovers does not become a trend for him. Oh, boy. Stanford is next week.
Game 5: Stanford (Won 17-14)
Typical Stanford. Defensive minded, boring and on top of that, a sloppy game on both sides. Golson turned the ball over twice, but it didn't hurt them.
Again, Golson is clutch on that 4th and 11 to Ben Koyack to win the game! Also, I now know who Hunter Smith is.
When's Florida State? Two weeks from now?
Game 6: North Carolina (Won 50-43)
Everett. Dude. Quit turning the ball over! How many chances were you going to give the Tar Heels to win this game? You gave them the first 14 points of the game on turnovers. How does our defense give up 43 points? Hope this doesn't become a trend like Golson's turnovers.
Also, bowl eligible. Woop! Woop!
Game 7: at Florida State (Lost 31-27)
(After screaming every obscenity at the television)
OK. You guys were jobbed on that offensive pass interference call. If it's "Famous Jameis," the official keeps the flag in his pocket (insert conspiracy theory to get an ACC team in the playoff here).
Even though they lost, I still like how this Irish team played. They still got a shot to makes the Playoff as a one-loss team. It's just gonna be harder.
Game 8: at Navy (Landover, MD) (Won 49-39)
Can we please stop scheduling Navy, guys? They know how to beat you guys. Also, you had them on the ropes when you lead 28-7. The triple option isn't too hard to stop. If it was, everybody would run it!
Also, Brian Kelly, when you get an interception and then a turnover on downs and have a chance to put the nail in the coffin, do it!
You can still join the Naval Academy for their alma mater. Just put the game away when you can!
Having doubts about their chances going into Arizona State. Maybe we deserved to be ranked 10th by the Selection Committee?
Game 9: Arizona State (Lost 55-31)
Death, taxes, Everett Golson turnovers. Only this time it backfired on you guys. You made Todd Graham look like the coach of the year. At least they go home to play Northwestern next week. Gonna try to forget this game ever happened.
Game 10: Northwestern (Lost 43-40 OT)
Yeah, I'm done. I am SO DONE with you guys! If it was already bad enough that Golson was turning the ball over, now everybody else on offense it doing it!
Hey, Cam McDaniel, you have the game won. Protect the damn football! Also, Malik Zaire and Kyle Brindza make a terrible pair on field goals and extra points. Hey defense, did you give up because Joe Schmidt got hurt? DONE!
Also, your loss lead to this. Nice job, guys.
Game 11: Louisville (Lost 31-28)
I've been coming out to every Senior Day game since 2004. So I guess I am not done with Notre Dame this season.
Nyles Morgan, you're just bad. Bobby Petrino had to be watching your tape against Northwestern with such joy. I will give you the benefit of a doubt. You're young. You'll learn, but you stink right now. Your day was summed up when you were ejected for targeting.
You guys could have won, but once again, Brian Kelly's play calling with a first and goal from the
Louisville 10-yard line leads to a fourth down and a Kyle Brindza wide right field goal miss that lead to another loss.
I have so much respect for Joe Schmidt. This defense is up a creek without a paddle with him injured.
Oh, great. USC to finish the year.
Game 12: at USC (Lost 49-14)
I watched the first half because I hate myself.
Way to keep them under 50 points! After the first half, I thought Cody Kessler was going to throw 10 touchdowns and win 70-14 and break every Trojan passing record.
It wasn't until the game was out of reach that Brian Kelly benched Golson and put in Malik Zaire. He didn't turn it over. Can't say the same for Golson, who had two more turnovers.
Gave up watching this game after the first Irish drive of the second half.
Also, are there any more healthy bodies that can play defense? They were dropping like flies at Southern Cal.
Game 13: Bowl Game (TBD)
Extra practice, an extra game. What's in it for me?
Man, the season sure went downhill fast, huh?
Again, those are my thoughts.
So, there you have it. As it has been for the past two decades for Notre Dame Football fans...
The AFC North is up for grabs. Unlike the NFC South, it has "winning" teams competing for the division title.
Coming into Week 13, all four teams (even the Browns) have seven wins, and the Bengals hold a half game lead with their tie against Carolina. Everyone else is 7-4 and its a gridlock for the wild card spots, as the Ravens, Steelers and Browns sit in the seventh, eighth and ninth spots in that order.
It is currently the best division in the NFL, with the NFC and AFC West divisions following right behind it.
Usually, this division is Pittsburgh and Baltimore battling it out into January, or more recently, Baltimore and Cincinnati fighting for the crown. Between the three, all of them find themselves in the fight for the division and/or a wild card spot.
But here come the Cleveland Browns. The Browns? The Cleveland "We've had far too many starting quarterbacks to count since 1999" Browns? Yes. The Browns are in the hunt for the AFC north crown. For the early part of the season, Brian Hoyer made an impact. It hasn't been like that as of late.
In Week 1, Cleveland trailed Pittsburgh 24-3 at halftime. There were bets being taken if Johnny Manziel would take over in the second half. Well, he did not and Hoyer lead a second half comeback to tie the Steelers late before Shaun Suisham kicked a game-winning field goal to give Pittsburgh a 27-24 win that could have proved to be a monumental collapse in the first game of the year.
The Browns have taken advantage of a weak NFC South, but have shot themselves in the foot with losses to Jacksonville and even Houston. They dominated Pittsburgh at home on October 12th and beat the Bengals on the road on a Thursday night.
How realistic is it that the Browns could win the AFC North?
This is the remaining schedule for Cleveland:
November 30th: at Buffalo (6-5)
December 7th: Indianapolis (7-4/Division Leader)
December 14th: Cincinnati (7-3-1/Division Leader)
December 21st: at Carolina (3-7)
December 28th: at Baltimore (7-4/Holds Current Tiebreaker for 2nd Place in AFC North)
This Sunday, they have to face the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium against a Buffalo team that will have an emotional homecoming after the snowstorm forced them to relocate to Detroit for this previous weeks game. It is winnable, but it could be a trap.
Obviously, Cincinnati and Baltimore will be the most important games in December.
The Colts are currently leading the AFC South and will most likely win it unless a collapse occurs, and the Panthers still have a chance to win a pitiful NFC South. They could win it with a 6-10, maybe even a 5-11 record. A win over Carolina means a clean sweep of that division. They and Baltimore would be the only two teams in the AFC North to do that.
Here are the remaining game for the other AFC North teams:
The Bengals and Steelers have the more challenging schedules of the four.
Pittsburgh still has to play the Bengals twice, and could be in for a trap game in the Georgia Dome against the Flacons. Chiefs at Heinz Field could be another game to watch out for. Even the Saints, despite having an atrocious 4-7 record, could knock off Pittsburgh this Sunday.
Cincinnati has Pittsburgh twice, obviously, and the Broncos visit them on December 21st. They also have to go to Cleveland, which could be trouble.
Based on how the league look currently, the Ravens have the easier of the three schedules. San Diego this Sunday looks like the biggest hurdle going into December. They meet Cleveland for Week 17 matchup at home. Advantage: Baltimore.
Of course. You have to remember that this is the Cleveland Browns. They have been more disappointing than successful since their return to the NFL in 1999. Most are probably expecting them to stumble in December, but they have made it this far.
Rick Neuheisel with another College Football Playoff song on "The Dan Patrick Show"
The final two weeks of the college football season is about to bring us some drama, bickering and debates long after the 13-member committee determines which four teams go to the inaugural College Football Playoff at the FBS level.
Rick Neuheisel, former UCLA head coach, current analyst with the Pac 12 Network and avid guitar player, is a regular guest on The Dan Patrick Show and has had a jam session or two over the phone with Dan and the Danettes during the past few seasons.
Neuheisel first got attention with his Springsteen cover of "Born in the USA," with his song "Born in the SEC" back in November 2013 and followed it up with a "National Title Song" before Auburn played Florida State in the final BCS Championship Game.
With the installation of the playoff system, Neuheisel played a "Stairway to Heaven" parody called "Stairway to Playoffs." Like the original Led Zeppelin song, it was about eight minutes long. It is, without a doubt, the best song he's performed on the show.
Tuesday, Rick was back with another song that best described the situation the committee faces the next two weeks.
Here's Rick Neuheisel preforming a cover of Jimmy Buffett's "Volcano" simply titled from the lyrics of the song "I Don't Know."
[Dan Patrick Show]
FCS Playoff Exposes Greed of the FBS
We've reached that point of the college football season where teams are about to play their final games and for some, conference title games, within the next few weeks.
While the FBS (Division I-A) does that, the FCS (formerly Divison I-AA) released their college football playoff bracket Sunday afternoon.
Pretty nice, isn't it? A 12-team playoff system that gives its top four teams a bye week and wraps up two days before the FBS National Champion is crowned in Arlington, Texas.
It feels like every year, some fans think to themselves, "why can't the FBS adopt this?"
The solution to all of our problems with the FBS is staring us in the face every year, but through the years, we have still left it to AP writers, computers and now a committee to determine who wins or plays for a national championship.
While you look at the obvious solution above, it will never come to life because Divison I-A football has dug itself a whole that is filled with a disgusting amount of money stacked on top of it.
With the addition of bowl games with corporate sponsors, television contracts and the massive shakeup of conference realignment over the past decade have resulted in the greed factor of college football's most competitive level of play in the United States.
Now, the new playoff system is the newest solution to make sure the best of the best are playing for the national championship. A 13 (now 12 due to Archie Manning stepping down) member committee made up of past and present athletic directors, former coaches and politicians are now ranking the best teams based on different factors. Comparing it to the old Bowl Championship Series system, we've learned that they grade on a different curve.
A four-team playoff system with a human committee could help determine the best matchups and help avoid a blowout like we saw when Notre Dame played Alabama. Despite this, the NCAA has buried itself with the number of bowl games that have been added over the past 30 years. So much, that it makes it impossible to do a 12-team playoff with the risk of eliminating some bowl games and leaving sponsors out in the cold.
In 1984, there were a total of 12 bowl games. In 1994, there were 19. Ten years ago, 32 bowl games were played. 13 additional games were added between 1994 and 2004. In the last decade, seven more games have been added. 39 bowl games will be played this holiday season. A 40th bowl game, the AutoZone Cure Bowl, will be added next year. There's talk of adding a bowl games out of the country in nations like Dubai. Dubai?
Why have the number of bowl games more than tripled in the last three decades? The largest part of the increase is the payout each conference gets from them.
According to USA Today Sports, payouts are going to double for the Power Five conferences this season. Each will take home $50 million dollars to be divided amongst the schools in their conference. The other five conference in the FBS will split $75 million. In that same article, it is said that the payout to the non-Power Five conferences is five times greater than the payout from 2013. Independent Notre Dame will pick up $2.3 million dollars and whatever amount they get from the bowl they play in (they are bowl eligible at 7-4).
On top of this, conferences gets $6 million for each team that is represented in the playoffs, along with $2 million to cover expenses for the teams in the semifinal game, and if they win, for the championship game as well.
There is money to be had in college football. The article gives further details about what schools and conferences will make. The more bowl games conference teams make, the more the whole group benefits. Wait, weren't we talking about some kind of larger, bracket format?
Money is a powerful thing. It is said that ESPN's television revenue carrying the majority of the bowl and the new College Football Playoff will average around $470 million dollars per year over the next 12 years.
You eliminate bowls, you eliminate easy-to-grab revenue for these conferences. The number of schools that changed conferences over the past 15 years was an example of how wealth affected the college football map.
As Gordon Gekko said in Wall Street, "Greed is Good."
Realistically, you could do a 12-team playoff. Of course, you could limit teams to one bye week and eliminate some of the bowl games nobody really cares about.
Here are a few:
-New Orleans Bowl
-Dallas Bowl (and move the Cotton Bowl back to the Cotton Bowl)
-Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
-Boca Raton Bowl
-BITCOIN St. Petersburg Bowl
-Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
-Foster Farms Bowl
There are several more that could be added to this list, but you get the point. Anyone else find it odd that BITCOIN is sponsoring the bowl that used to be sponsored by Beef O'Brady's?
People like bowl games. It gives them something to watch during the holiday season and it gives teams one last game to play. What is the harm of having playoff games happening in-between a handful of bowl games during the weekdays?
Yet again, just wave a dollar sign, and that suggestion falls on deaf ears.
College football is a drug that most of us cannot kick. The current setup in the FBS is like our system of government. It is not perfect, we find ourselves griping and whining about it on occasion, but we deal with its flaws because we love football and we love our country.
The majority of fans would favor a playoff system like the FCS has, but the athletic departments, their universities and the conferences they are in are just fine with the current system and the revenue they get.
But keep this in mind, too. Players don't see a penny of it.
It's All About That Fourth Team
The new College Football Playoff Rankings came out Tuesday night, and there was a surprise at the fourth position.
While Alabama, Oregon and Florida State took the top three spots in that order, Mississippi State, who lost to the Crimson Tide 25-20 in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicates, stayed in the picture while TCU and Ohio State were the first two out of the playoff.
Three teams in the top four find themselves sitting pretty as the season nears its end.
Oregon has already won the Pac 12 South Division, and if they win out and win the Pac 12 title game, they are in. Their opponent is yet to be determined for the conference title game. Four teams are in the hunt currently.
Florida State, who plays the weakest schedule of the top four teams, will get a spot if they remain undefeated and win the ACC Championship Game (their opponent would be Georgia Tech as of today), they are in.
The SEC West has not been won, but Alabama controls their own destiny in the final two weeks. A laughable matchup at home against West Carolina and then the Iron Bowl against Auburn in Tuscaloosa is all that remains. Unless Auburn pulls off another dramatic upset two years in a row, Alabama is winning the West division and will be in Atlanta for the title game.
And then there are the others.
Let's take a look at the one-loss teams who are in consideration for that last spot.
Mississippi State sits in that precious fourth position. Their loss comes against an Alabama team that has been on a roll since their loss against Ole Miss and their close win the following week over Arkansas.
The Bulldogs are at home for their final two games. Vanderbilt this week, and then the Egg Bowl against in-state rival Ole Miss. Unless West Carolina pulls off a monumental upset in Tuscaloosa this weekend, fans in Starkville better start yelling "War Eagle!" when Auburn takes on Alabama.
The committee's decision to keep Mississippi State in the four team playoff is a sign that they are currently the one-loss team in the best shape going forward. One downside for the Bulldogs: They only have one win against a current Top 25 team. LSU and Texas A&M have fallen out. Either way, they might get that fourth spot without going to Atlanta.
This weeks first team out, TCU, has one win over a Top 25 team (12 Kansas State) and a close loss against a Top 10 team (7 Baylor).
The Horned Frogs, as well as Baylor, don't get a boost from their non-conference games early in the season and there has been a fall-off of Big 12 teams in the Top 25 as the weeks have gone by. Kansas State is the only other team from their conference in the College Football Playoff Top 25.
TCU did not help their resume with a tight game against a lowly Kansas squad, who fired Charlie Weis and has only one conference win in 2014. Probably one reason why they were knocked down a spot in this weeks poll.
Baylor may have defeated TCU in a 61-58 shootout, but their loss against now unranked West Virginia will haunt them and their early season schedule. The same ordeals TCU will deal with going into the final stretch.
The Big 12 Conference champion is the outright regular season winner.
TCU has a bye this week. They will finish the season with a game at Texas next week and a home game against Iowa State.
The Bears have three straight home games to finish the season. They host Oklahoma State this Saturday, Texas Tech and then (12) Kansas State to finish the season.
If Baylor runs the table, that gives them two wins against Top 25 teams, and they will win the Big 12 title via the tiebreaker. That should put them above TCU, but not in the top four.
Ohio State. Oh, boy.
The Buckeyes could win the award for "most improved team" in college football. There's no doubt about that. Not a lot of teams would be lining up to face Ohio State right now.
Their week 2 loss at home against Virginia Tech will stick with them like a bad case of fleas. The Hokies are currently 5-5 (2-4 in the ACC). This is not helping their stock. The medicore non-conference and conference schedule don't help, either. The Buckeyes played almost every non Power Five conference team in Ohio at the Horseshoe.
Ohio State plays Indiana and Michigan to finish the year, which means they will win the Big Ten East division and most likely face Wisconsin in the title game in Indianapolis.
The weak schedule and loss to Virginia Tech will hurt them unless the right pieces fall in the next three weeks.
The two-loss teams in the top ten (Ole Miss, UCLA, and Georgia), good luck. You'll need it. It is down to four schools, and you're not a part of it.
A good time to discuss expanding to an eight-team playoff?
Turnovers finally buried Notre Dame
Everett Golson has been a turnover machine since Notre Dame's win over Syracuse at the Meadowlands.
Sitting here in mid-November, it did not get any better for Golson. It got worse the past two weeks, and it wasn't just Golson committing turnovers the past two weeks. His teammates helped fumble the game away this past Saturday.
There are several areas that can be criticized here.
Brian Kelly's coaching, the defense giving up 30 or more points in the last five games are on the table as well and special teams. Don't get any Irish fan started about Kyle Brindza, Hunter Smith and Malik Zaire. But lets focus on the offense.
The turnovers were damning in the loss to Arizona State.
Golson's five turnovers (four interceptions and one fumble lost) were damning as the Irish got down 34-10 at halftime. Despite a comeback attempt, it was stopped short as Golson's last interception was a pick-six that put the Sun Devils up 48-31.
Saturday's loss to Northwestern is the worst in Brian Kelly's tenure at Notre Dame. His worst game before the lost to the Wildcats came against Tulsa at home in 2010. A week that was darkened by the death of Declan Sullivan.
Kelly's decision-making is on the table in this loss against the Wildcats, but the offensive turnovers were not just coming from Golson.
Of course, Golson throws a terrible pass that is deflected and intercepted, has a third quarter fumble, Justin Brown's fumble at the Northwestern one-yard line took away a possible six points for the Irish, and then after Northwestern was flagged for defensive pass interference with less than two minutes to go, Notre Dame has a chance to escape an upset.
The scenario is set for the Irish to run the ball, kill the clock and get out with a 40-37 win. That was until senior running back Cam McDaniel, who is also a captain, fumbles at the Northwestern 31-yard line on the next play. It gives the Wildcats one last chance to tie it with a field goal.
You know the rest. They tie it, there's overtime, Kyle Brindza misses a field goal for the Irish, and Northwestern kicks a field goal to win. From the first whistle, it spelled disaster for Notre Dame.
The Irish went from winning a horribly-played game, to being upset at home in one, simple play. One that should cement a win for the Irish.
So it wasn't just Golson turning the ball over on Saturday. Now his fellow teammates on the offensive side of the ball are doing it. Turnovers have resulted in two straight losses for Notre Dame. The loss over Northwestern was team effort in the turnover department.
Turnovers (which mainly came from Golson) were not determining outcomes before the Irish played Arizona State. Golson was able to outweigh his bad play with good play against team like Syracuse and North Carolina and he played well in the loss against Florida State. Turnovers finally caught up to Golson in Tempe two weeks ago. The lesson was not learned going into their game against Northwestern. Golson was guilty of two turnovers, but his teammates acquired the bad habit at the worst time and contributed to bring the total to four.
As stated earlier, there are several aspects of Notre Dame's game that can be scrutinized after the loss to Northwestern. The most glimmering problem has buried the Irish. Their playoff hopes were destroyed because of turnovers against Arizona State, and a spot in the Top 25 is gone after their loss to the Wildcats.
The third installment of the College Football Playoff rankings were probably more to everyone's liking: That means that only one SEC team was in the top four.
Thanks to Texas A&M, Auburn was bounced from their spot at number three, and TCU jumped Alabama for the fourth spot, while the Crimson Tide was the bridesmaid again for a second straight week.
This is how it looks:
1. Mississippi State
2. Oregon (Up 2 Spots)
3. Florida State (Down 1 Spot)
4. TCU (Up 2 Spots)
Representation from four of the power five conferences in the FBS. The best case scenario.
The Big Ten Conference on the other hand, has Ohio State sitting at #8 in the new poll.
With the Buckeyes win over Michigan State Saturday night, the chances for the conference to have a representative on New Years Day dropped. Ohio State is in that one-loss purgatory. A second loss is pretty much the death nail for every team this season.
Ohio State's 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech (4-6, 2-4 ACC) back in week 2 is going to haunt them into December. Michigan State's first loss came against (2) Oregon, a "good loss" as many would call it.
The Big Ten is an average conference at best. For Ohio State, combining a average schedule, along with games against Navy, Kent State and Cincinnati and a close call against Penn State in double overtime does not help them when making their argument.
The top four this week is an example of the best case scenario for the College Football Playoff in its maiden voyage. But that could all change quickly. The fruit basket could be upset a couple more times leading up to the final polls on December 7th.
Even if there are several changes in the top 4 over the next several weeks, Ohio State will probably find itself sitting on the outside at #5 or #6 in the best case scenario, even if they win the Big Ten Championship.
Either way, two fanbases will be angry on the first Sunday in December. One of them might be wearing Scarlett and Grey.