Tag Archives: NCAA

The DEVIL We Know

Jesse J. – @TheShamRap

Well Domers, here it is.The brutal truth…

We may have actually played ourselves out of playoff contention with a win.


Yes, a win. Don’t believe me?

There is a difference between good and REALLY good. An actual equation. Here it is:

Greatness = What you see + margin of victory

What we’ve seen from Notre Dame in regards to “greatness” comes in flashes. Hasn’t quite been consistent enough on the field for me to consider us REALLY good.

You can’t beat Navy by 10 points, while giving up 39 on defense and expect the Playoff Committee to say “Well that was impressive”, not without extremely sarcastic undertones anyway.


Biggest red flag? VanGorder had two weeks to get this defense prepared for the triple option. TWO WEEKS!

It’s not like Navy was sandwiched immediately in between a game against a spread offense and a pro-style offense. The guys should have been ready.

I’m not trying to put him on the chopping block by any stretch, but BVG has laid 2 BIG goose-eggs (UNC, Navy) as far as defensive game planning vs. teams we should be dominating on that side of the ball.

Our playoff chances just took a huge hit.

But our performance on the field Saturday won’t affect our playoff chances nearly as much as the loss of starting LB, team leader, Joe Schmidt.

Schmidt is now out for the season, he was the quarterback of the defense, and someone you can only replace by giving someone else the time to gain that experience.

Enter Nyles Morgan.


You wanna replace Joe? You couldn’t have picked a more exciting candidate for that prospect.

Morgan has all the natural skills and athletic ability that Schmidt lacks. He’s a physical freak.

Welp, time to make a t-shirt with Nyles and Jaylon.


“Freak Brothers”

Back to reality though. We have a banged up squad heading into likely our biggest remaining game of the year vs. ASU in Tempe.

But don’t let me kill your dreams of seeing those shining helmets in the playoffs. It isn’t impossible, and isn’t all bad news.

Some of the “consistency” Brian Kelly is always talking about is coming together.

THREE consecutive 100 yd rushing games by Folston.
Golson hasn’t fumbled in 2 games.
EVERY wide receiver is contributing.

On to Tempe.

Onward to Victory.

Peace, I’m outta here. Go Irish!

Notre Dame’s Road to the Playoffs – Week 9


We are merely a week away from the first ever release of the NCAA Playoff Committee’s Rankings.  The Irish hit a bump in the road this week, however, seemed to gain the respect of the pollsters even after a loss.  Notre Dame fell to #7 (AP) & #8 (USA Today) in this weeks voting.  However, it’s not a terrible drop.  They’re still in good position to secure one of the 4 spots. Granted they will need a little help, but as long as they win out, they will be strongly considered. 

I don’t know how this new system will work.  Obviously it’s at the discretion of the voters.  So just because ND is on the outside looking in with the major polls, next week they could be in the top 4, depending on how they’re viewed in those persons eyes.  Under the assumption that the Irish have a few hills to climb, I’m going to look over those teams ahead of us and figure out their road to the final 4 also.


Notre Dame has a pretty favorable schedule remaining, in terms of quality of opponents and of winnable games.  As of now, two remaining opponants are in the top 25 (at Arizona State, at USC).  They also have a home game against a 6-2 Louisville team.  Louisville’s next opponent happens to be Florida State at home.  Hopefully they give a good showing, maybe pull off an upset.

Now the rest of the field

1) Mississippi State – 6-0 – AP – 1, USA Today – 1

at Kentucky
UT Martin
at #4 Alabama
at #3 Ole Miss
SEC Championship

The Bulldogs have 2 games against teams ranked higher then the Irish.  This bodes well for us.  If I had to cchoose, I’d rather they win out.  This will give Alabama their second loss and Ole Miss their first loss, assuming neither team loses along the way

#2 Florida State – 7-0 – AP – 2, USA Today – 2

at Louisville
at Miami
Boston College
ACC Championship

Aside for Louisville, FSU has a pretty easy schedule.  I’m torn over this. Logically it makes sense to want the Seminoles to win out because it looks better for the Irish’s strength of schedule. It also leaves a chance for an epic rematch.

#3 Ole Miss – 7-0, AP -3, USA Today – 3

at #24 LSU
#5 Auburn
at Arkansas
#1 Mississippi State
SEC Championship

Aside from a cupcake game insterted into the schedule, Ole Miss probably has to run a gauntlet to get to the final four.  If they get through this, they earned their playoff spot.  They have a phenomenal defense. Their rise to prominence makes the SEC even stronger than it was, which is scary.

#4 Alabama, 6-1, AP – 4, USA Today – 4

at Tennessee
at #24 LSU
#1 Mississippi State
Western Carolina
#5 Auburn
SEC Championship

Alabama doesn’t have a very easy road to the dance either. Although this isn’t the dominant Alabama team of the past few years, they have arguably the best coach in the nation and will be tough for whomever they play against.  Since they are one of the 1-loss teams, it would serve ND best if they lose along the way.

#5 Michigan State, 6-1, AP – 8, USA Today – 5

#13 Ohio State
at Maryland
at Penn State
B1G Championship

I gotta be honest, I don’t get how the Spartans made such a leap.  It’s also odd to see such a difference in the two polls, with them being 8th in the AP and 5th in USA Today.  Also, they jumped Oregon, who rolled over them earlier in the season.  They have a rather easy schedule remaining, except for Ohio State. Problem there is that if OSU knocks them off, it will draw the Buckeyes into the playoff picture.

#6 Auburn, 5-1, AP – 5, USA Today – 6

South Carolina
at #3 Ole Miss
Texas A&M
at #9 Georgia
at #4 Alabama
SEC Championship

I can’t see Auburn getting through this stretch unblemished.  3 top 10 teams and A&M, they have their work cut out for them.  They’re battle tested though, coming off an appearance in last years title game. 

#7 Oregon, 6-1, AP – 6, USA Today – 7

at Cal
at #19 Utah
at Oregon State
PAC-12 Championship

Year in and year out, Oregon is consistently at the top but fails to get over the hump.  They tend to get exposed and fold in big games.  They had a bad lost agaisnt Arizona at home.  The road game against Utah and the Civil War game on the road against Oregon State are the biggest tests remaining. 

ESPN.com currently has the 4 playoff teams as Mississippi State, Florida State, Ole Miss and Alabama.  ND is 7th.  The one issue thats going to come into play is whats the point of having a playoff if there’s going to be 3 SEC teams in it.  As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t win your conference, you shouldn’t play for a national championship.  Obviously I don’t make the rules, and when it comes down to it, I can see why you’d want it more open.  SEC teams can’t help that the SEC is so damn good.  This is just one of the many questions that will start to be answered next week

Depending on how you look at it, the Irish are either at an advantage or a disadvantage in that they don’t play a conference championship.  The championship games are just another opportunity for teams to get knocked out.  On the other hand, they’re also an opportunity for bubble teams to pick up a quality win, especially in regards to the SEC. The lack of a championship game didn’t hurt Notre Dame in 2012.  But this year is a whole new ball game

There’s plenty of other teams in the picture, such as Georgia, Ohio State, Kansas State and Baylor.  I’m going to leave them out today because they’re all still behind the Irish in the polls.  Weekly I will update all of this based on how Notre Dame is standing.  Next week should be very interesting when the new rankings come out.  I’m sure there will be a lot of discussions, and as always, a lot of contreversy.  The Irish can only control what they do.  Hopefully the boys can win out, and look good while doing it, and let the people in charge do what they have to do.

Follow me on twitter @GetsThruBuckner

I Want Jameis Winston To Play This Week

There’s an old saying in sports.  It is “In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.”  These are words this Notre Dame football program will have to live by in order to be serious championship contenders.  So, as much as you’d like to see any opponent be at a disadvantage, it would serve no purpose to the Irish to play Florida State this week without Jameis Winston under center.

I’m going to save debating the moral issues behind Winston’s off field situation for another day.  Whether he should or shouldn’t be playing isn’t for me to decide.  However, it can alter my opinion of my team.  Coming into the season, I wasn’t expecting much from this Irish team.  I felt like they were an 8 win team, which isn’t bad, but it’s not where you want to be, especially in Kelly’s 5th season at ND.  What I think you’re seeing from this team this year though is a full squad of Kelly recruits in his system playing in a way tailored to his coaching style.  I think that’s part of the reason they came into the year a little under the radar.  They’re more athletic then any Irish team we have seen in a while. Kelly finally has his team.

If you look back to 2012, they had a great run.  Kelly was able to guide them to the title game with a team of mostly Charlie Weis’ recruits.  He dumbed down his offense and relied mostly on a physically dominating defense.  But let’s be honest with ourselves here.  The Irish caught plenty of breaks that year to get them to Miami.  When they finally played in the BCS Championship, they were overmatched.  It was like men against boys out there. Whenever you saw Kelly onm camera, he looked like he saw a ghost.  He didn’t know what hit them.  It was a real wake up call for the program.  Kelly saw that in order to compete with the teams from the south, you have to change the type of team you put on the field, which includes being faster and more explosive. Also, in order to do that and draw recruits, you have to play those teams, which you can see they are scheduling games against.

That brings me to this weeks game.  I want to play the defending national champions with the reigning Heisman trophy winner playing.  This game will show how far this program has come, and how much further they need to go.  If Jameis winds up suspended, and ND beats the Seminoles, it doesn’t really guage where this team stands in regards to playing with the big boys. Don’t get me wrong.  It is still impressive to beat Florida State without Winston.  He’s not the whole team.  But if they beat the  Seminoles at full strength in Tallahassee, It will make a statement that this program is back to being elite, and it can play with anyone.

This post seems pretty negative.  I’m not trying to be.  Consider me cautiosly optimistic.  But going into the game it’s hard to not think about that title game in 2012. If they beat a Winstonless FSU, they’ll probably win out and wind up in the playoffs. Then it’s a crapshoot.  There’s still uncertainty about where this team stands. The last thing I want to see though is them get the floor wiped with them by teams that are more superior. 

Winston or no Winston, I think the Irish will do alright this weekend.  I think the -12 point spread is a little much.  Florida State isn’t as good as they were last year.  It’s a winable game. They went into Oklahoma two years ago as big underdogs and pretty much dominated them.  This team is battle tested.  Kelly is a great strategist and will be prepared for the game.  I expect them to compete.  There’s no shame in losing a close game under those circumstances.  Win or lose, the Irish are better off if either result comes with Florida State’s best player on the field.

Talk Irish football with me on Twitter.  @GetsThruBuckner  -Tom

The Down The Tunnel Radio Show – North Carolina Edition


The Down the Tunnel radio show is back. This week we discussed the ongoing academic investigation, look back at the Irish’s comeback win against Stanford, and look ahead to North Carolina. We were also joined by Douglas Farmer from Blue and Gold Illustrated.


Breaking Up With 2013 and Hello New Mistress: 2014

2013, could you come here for a moment? (pours two glasses of whiskey).

Oh, I see you’re already out the door. Well, you might want to sit down. I’m just going to come out and say it: It’s over. We both know it’s been over for a little while now, but we should make it official. To be fair, there were warning signs well before now…

When we first met, I was filled with anticipation and expectation that you could be the one.  That quickly evaporated.  We took that trip to Miami together.  What a magical time it was to be.  Yet there on the beach you left me our final night in the city.  Went running off with that southern, inbred hick.  I heard there was champagne and celebration, but I didn’t stay around to find out.  I went off, got drunk with some of the guys, and I forgave you…

After all, the flirting period the Fall before had been incredible.  Every Saturday you’d found a new way to tease me.  To make me feel special.  Eventually there was no denying that you and I were going to meet.  The stars were going to align and we’d be meant for one another.  In December of 2012 I heard the rumors you were too good to be true.  I quickly dismissed it though.  “Just jealousy from those that hate me,” I said.

Screw them all!  2013, you and I were going to prove them wrong.  Miami wasn’t what it could have been, but we were alright.  Then, the bombshell hit.  It turned out parts of you were too good to be true.  You took away my heart, my purity, my moral compass.  I was speechless.  People mocked me for even thinking you could be the one.  Okay, so you weren’t perfect, but still….I was intoxicated from the Fall of 2012.  I could also have still been feeling the buzz from Miami.

(pours another glass of Whiskey)

There were other warning signs.  Not too soon after some of your imperfections came to light, I noticed that folks started to run away.  I searched for the reason and found solace in their reasons.  Turned out one guy I really liked had family commitments that couldn’t be ignored.  Another knew that you weren’t going to belong to him and sought greener pastures.  I wrote them off too; flawed in their logic that you couldn’t be the one.  Not only that, but in early February you brought me that litter of puppies.  You showed me their elite pedigree and said raising them together would bring us closer.  You said we’d be able to enjoy them for years to come and to just have some faith.

I did have faith.  I believed you.  Then I found out that you’d had other indiscretions during 2012.  That part of what made you alluring then, and tangible now, was going away.  No, you didn’t cheat on me with another man, but you cheated on me mentally.  That creative spark that I so admired may not be quite as bright as I thought.  My god, everything was just crumbling around us.  I respect that you came clean about that.  You’d said you were going to re-dedicate yourself and comeback stronger, better than ever.  By this point, I wasn’t entirely ready to wait around, but what else could be done?  You’d built me up, raised my expectations, and I needed to be the bigger man and stick by you during these times.  My faith would be rewarded.

Right around that same time, one of the puppies ran away.  This made me sad, but given everything else that happened it didn’t seem quite as bad.  I mean, I hadn’t had an opportunity to know him yet.  He was still just a puppy.  I thought you and I had done our best to give him a good home, had treated him well, and if he was still too dumb to realize that, then I just hoped he’d find a good home.  Far, far away where I didn’t have to be reminded that he’d left us.

As the late Summer/early Fall came around, I felt a renewed sense of excitement.  Some of it didn’t directly have to do with you but still brought back fond memories.  There was that magical trip out of the country I took when you were but a fantasy.  When I thought back to that, I wondered if there was still a chance for us.  After all, that trip was great, but it’s not like I’d had major expectations back then either.

Oh yeah, I was also less than thrilled with the idea of your sometimes annoying friend returning to our relationship.  She’d been alright in small doses while we were flirting, but I never wanted her to be around continuously.  This is something I never felt the need to tell you before now, but I knew your friend before I knew you.  There’d been far too many Saturdays where she’d showed up and done something so embarrassing that everyone I was with reverted to drinking and making fun of her.  It’s moot now but just thought you should know.

It wasn’t that the Fall was bad.  It’s just that it missed the magic from a year ago that was so exciting.  No longer were we destined for one another.  We were in a rut.  You knew it.  I knew it, and there didn’t appear to be much that could be done to cure it.  By this point, I knew it was just a matter of time before you and I were finished.  I didn’t say it then because the timing wasn’t right.  Deep down inside, I have to believe you knew it too.  We found things to blame our problems on, but they all rang hollow.  Sometimes the timing just isn’t right, and I think we both know that was the case here.

Hell, since I’m being truly honest anyways, your friend wasn’t even that bad.  I even came to appreciate some of the moments she’d been there for.  Sure, I’d rather she not have been, but given everything, it wasn’t her that harmed us.  I came to like her flaws.  Oh how I remember those late nights where we’d stay up late, look at one another, and break out laughing about the things that’d gone wrong that night.  It was awkward.  Our laughter was fueled by nervousness and discomfort, but sometimes, laughter is the best medicine.

The final straw came this last December.  Our time was running short.  We scheduled a trip to New York together, but there wasn’t any situation under which that could honestly be seen as a chance for reconciliation.  Under the best of circumstances, I knew I just wouldn’t loathe you.  Your buddy the matchmaker even left you.  Don’t look at me like you don’t know who I’m talking about.  I’m talking about the one, I can’t remember his name off the top of my head, that had that head of hair and believed in vampires.  He was hilariously awkward and had helped provide some of the most memorable moments from that 2012 flirting period.  I knew if he was ready to leave, there was nothing more to be done.  Only thing left was to wait until after the holidays…

Sooo….here we are.  You and I.  I wish I could say “it wasn’t you, it was me,” but that’s disingenuous.  It was you.  I’d have given you anything.  My heart, my money, it didn’t matter.  You just callously stomped on it.  What could have been our best moment was ruined by that stupid southern hick down in Miami.

And that’s where I need to confess something to you.  By chance, I found out there’s someone new out there for me: 2014.  She’s promised to bring back the energy and creative spark that you cast off.  Even better, I’ve heard she’s already stomped on that southern asshole you thought was better than me.  No, I don’t know that much about her, but the mystery is part of the allure.  All of the things that made you special, she’s now got.  Fact is, you’re past your prime.  In case you didn’t notice, you’re kind of a loner nowadays.  Most everyone’s already moved on, I’m just joining the crowd.  In a brief conversation, 2014 told me that you weren’t even that special to the southerner.  Apparently, you were just a notch on his belt.  That’s all I needed to hear to make this final.

While you won’t be remembered for all the great times, I should thank you.  I’m confident that when I do find the one I’ll appreciate her even more.  Hopefully 2014 can be that one…

(glasses up for a cheers to the new adventure)

– IrishMoonJ