The Irish are 8-0 with an excellent chance to enter Southern California undefeated at the end of the month. That is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Of course, as Keith Arnold of Inside the Irish and I discussed during this week’s Irish Blogger Gathering, to do that the Irish must avoid following the paths of the 2002 and 1993 Irish squads.
Below are my questions for Keith and his responses. You can find Keith’s questions and my answers on Inside the Irish later this afternoon. Don’t forget to check out The Subway Domer and Josh Flynt of Strong and True as well as Subway likely asks Josh some IBG questions that are inappropriate for an employee of the university to answer.
1) Notre Dame’s win on the road in Oklahoma was the type of victory Irish fans haven’t seen much over the past 20 seasons. Now, going into a three game stretch against mediocre-to-awful Pitt, BC and Wake teams, how does this team avoid the type of letdown that fans have seen too much of over that same 20 seasons?
By keeping their eye on the prize. If the 2012 Irish want to go down in the history books, they need to take care of business. That means playing every Saturday like its against Oklahoma, because a loss to anybody ends this run. At this point in the season, it’s essentially a series of one-game playoffs until USC, and because its so late in the year Notre Dame needs to win out to stay in the running for the (crazy to even type this) national championship game.
Has Notre Dame done the hard part? Yes. But don’t think that an undefeated Notre Dame team doesn’t become the biggest scalp on the wall for Pitt, BC, and Wake Forest, so expect the best these teams have for the next three weeks.
2) The athleticism and instincts Manti displayed on his 4th quarter interception were absolutely unbelievable. Brent Musburger said it might be his “Heisman moment.” What else needs to happen for Manti to be the 8th Heisman winner from Notre Dame?
Notre Dame needs to run the table with Te’o front and center and the defense to continue powering the charge. And it wouldn’t hurt if Collin Klein lost a football game, too. If we’re going to look at this analytically, Te’o needs to keep filling the stat sheet, getting to interception number five or six, a couple more sacks, forced fumbles, etc. Double-digit tackle games need to keep going as well. When Charles Woodson won the Heisman he was returning punts, made eight picks, and had a ridiculous Heisman moment of his own, edging Peyton Manning. Te’o has been dominant on the field, needs to make a few more “big moment” plays that can be run-and-rerun on SportsCenter, and then, who knows?
So, in short: More Stats. More Wins. More Moments. And a Kansas State loss.
3) With only a few weeks to go in the season, let’s imagine that the 4-team playoff system started this year. What 4 teams would end up making the playoff, and which would come out on top?
Right now, there’s less than a one percent chance that Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame all stay undefaeted, so it’s a little tough to say what teams end up in the playoff. But if we’re going to build off of that format and just say those are the four contenders, how great would that be? Alabama and Oregon would face off as of now (thankfully for ND fans) and it’d be a terrific game, with both teams facing their biggest their biggest tests of the year.
Notre Dame would play Kansas State, and you’d have to think the Irish would probably have their best chance of winning against the Wildcats. But if you’re asking me how that all plays up, well, your guess is as good as mine.
But it sure would be fun.