Tag Archives: Ole Miss

The Down the Tunnel Radio Show – Navy Preview

-GoIrishGlory

On this weeks show we talk about the newly released College Football Playoff Rankings and what Notre Dame needs for the playoff. We also previewed the game with Navy this weekend as well as other key games that have implications for the Irish.

http://tobtr.com/s/7057531

Fire the Torpedo’s! Its Time to Sink Navy – A Weekend Preview

-GoIrishGlory

Its finally time to get back to actual football. Since the heart breaking and gut wrenching last second loss to Florida State two weeks ago, Irish fans have been without Notre Dame football and instead had to deal with the incessant talk about polls for a playoff that are still over two months away as well as Justin Brent’s encounter with porn star Lisa Ann over fall break. Enough of all that. Its time to get back to the game played on the field. Notre Dame travels to Maryland this week to take on the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy at FedEx Field. The Irish enter the contest with a 6-1 record and ranked 10th in the College Football Playoff Rankings while Navy brings in a 4-4 record and a two game winning streak. Notre Dame will look to put the loss to Florida State in the rear view mirror and turn their focus to the remaining five games on the schedule as they try remain in the playoff picture. The Irish are by far the better team in this matchup with Navy, but as we all know the Naval Academy has played very well against Notre Dame in the last few years and the triple option attack used by Navy is tough for any defense.

When Brian Kelly first arrived at Notre Dame, everyone was excited about the offense that he would bring with him to South Bend after his success at Cincinnati. However in his first couple seasons, the offense did not live up to the expectations for a variety of reasons, most importantly the quarterback position. This season the offense is FINALLY playing to level we all expected. After looking very impressive during the first half of the season, the offense looked like it had put it all together against Florida State and the task now is to maintain that level of play. The Irish should be able to continue to build on their continued success on offense this week with Everett Golson at the helm going against a Navy defense that has struggled this season giving up 27.6 points per game ranking them 75th in the nation in scoring defense. Navy also ranks 75th nationally in rushing defense, giving up 170.9 yards per game on the ground which should allow for the Irish’s newly minted “feature back”, Tarean Folston, to continue to shine. Since Notre Dame went to Folston as the feature back the Irish are averaging 186.5 yards on the ground per game which is 25 yards more than their season average of 162.4. The Irish should be able to continue to have success on the ground this week.

folston

Navy’s passing defense is not much better than their mediocre at best rushing defense. The Midshipmen are giving up 242.9 yards through the air per game and they have not played an offense with a passing attack anywhere near as dynamic as they will see against the Irish on Saturday night. The Irish are averaging 285.1 passing yards per game ranking 29th nationally. Everett Golson played arguable the best game of his career against Florida State and he should have a field day throwing to wide open receivers all game long. Will Fuller speed is going to be very difficult for Navy to slow down, and Corey Robinson is quickly becoming a huge part of the Irish offense. Expect both to have great games as the Navy secondary will be unable to slow them down.

robinson

The biggest challenge for this game is for the Irish defense as they go up against the dreaded triple option attack that we have all grown to despise. Navy is bringing the nation’s leading rushing attack into this matchup averaging over 350 yards per game on the ground. However the Midshipmen rushing game will face their toughest test against the Irish, which is only allowing 102.7 yards per game ranking 12th nationally in rushing defense. The Irish front seven has continued to improve all season long with stellar performances by Jarron Jones, Issac Rochell, and Andrew Trumbeti along the defensive line and Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith in the linebacking corps. While Navy’s rushing stats look impressive on paper, it is important to point out that at least one reason why their yards per game is so high is because running the ball is the only thing the Navy offense does. The Midshipmen rank second to last in passying offense averaging only 91.6 yards per game. The Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds is really just another running back in their offensive attack and anytime that the Irish can force him to throw is a win for the defense. It will be interesting to see Brian VanGorder’s game plan against the option as he has admitted to not having face the option for years. Notre Dame is bigger, stronger, and faster than Navy and as long as the Irish defenders maintain their assignments, they should be able to slow down the triple option and force a few turnovers.

This is probably one of the worst Navy teams that Notre Dame will have faced during Brian Kelly’s tenure, including their 2012 team that lost 50-10 to Notre Dame in Ireland. Keenan Reynolds is a very good player however they are missing the talent at fullback and tailback that they have had in the past. Teams like Air Force have been able to hold Navy to 21 points this season, so their is no doubt in my mind that the Irish defense will be able to stop the triple option. Notre Dame needs to start blowing out the remaining teams on the schedule this season in order to stay in the playoff discussion and that starts this weekend. Irish fire the torpedo’s and sink Navy. Notre Dame 49 Navy 17 

Burning ship

Other Games Around the Country

3 Auburn at 4 Ole Miss- This game is a playoff eliminator. Both teams enter the contest with a loss and I highly doubt that a two loss team will be making the playoff. Ole Miss is strangely ranked 4th in the playoff rankings after losing to a mediocre LSU team last week and it looks as if the Rebels were exposed in Death Valley. While they may have a very good defense, their offense is not that good. Auburn is an overall better team with a better coach. The dream in Oxford ends this weekend. Auburn 28 Ole Miss 21

7 TCU at 20 West Virginia- TCU completely embarrasses a really bad Texas Tech team last week dropping 82 points on the Red Raiders. The Horned Frogs have looked very impressive all season minus the 4th quarter against Baylor. West Virginia however has also played very well as of late with the Clint Tricket to Kevin White connection. TCU has looked really bad on defense at times this season and playing in Morgantown is no easy task. For the second time this season, it will be couch burning time for the Mountaineers. West Virginia 45 TCU 41

Notre Dame’s Road To The Playoffs – Week 10

I was going to make this post yesterday, but decided to wait until after the official playoff committee rankings announcement.  I wish I hadn’t.  I was expecting the rankings to resemble something similar to the AP/USA Today polls.  I was wrong.  Just like many of you on twitter, I was disheartened when I saw the Irish come in at 10.  However, I wasn’t outraged. 

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  Despite coming into the season with one of the toughest schedules in the nation, Notre Dame’s opponents have not held up their end of the bargain.  Based on the preseason polls, the Irish had 5 top 25 teams on their schedule (FSU, Stanford, ASU, USC, UNC).  They also were to play 4 teams that received votes (Michigan, Navy, Louisville, Northwestern).  It’s not exactly the SEC schedule, but top to bottom, that’s a pretty solid slate of games.  All that remain ranked are FSU, who beat us, albeit probably shouldn’t, have and ASU, who we have a game with in a few weeks.  USC and Louisville still received some votes, with L’ville coming in at 25 in one of the polls. 

The only quality win the Irish have/had was Stanford, but the Cardinal are proving to be no where near as good as people thought they were in August.  So the Irish really have an uphill battle to climb.  They need to go into Arizona State and dominate them. This will be their statement win.  You couple this with the way the FSU game played out, and then the Irish can at least maintain some respectability in the eyes of the playoff committee. 

Just a little background on how the committee comes up with it’s rankings. It will be based on several factors including strength of schedule, team records, head-to-head match ups, weather and injuries.  The major polls will not be used in coming up with the rankings.  The most weight will be placed on a team’s strength of schedule.  So as I noted earlier, Notre Dame is hurt by the teams they play having down years.  So as fun as it is to root for Michigan and USC to lose every Saturday, we as fans should be rooting hard for our rivals each week, as painful as it may be.

So now I’m going to list all 9 teams ahead of the Irish, and their key remaining match ups.  Since the AP and USA Today polls aren’t accounted for in the playoff rankings, I’m not going to waste my time by listing them on here.  We are going straight off the committee rankings.

1. Mississippi State – 7-0 – SEC

Key games: 11/15 – Alabama, 11/29 Ole Miss, SEC Championship

Like I noted last week, The best case scenario is for Mississippi St. to win out and hand both Alabama and Ole Miss their second losses.

2.  Florida State – 7-0  – ACC

Key games: 10/30 – at Louisville, ACC Championship

This is a common opponent with ND, so it’ll be another tool used to gauge how the Irish stack up

3.  Auburn – 6-1 – SEC

Key games: 11/1 @ Ole Miss, 11/15, @ Georgia, 11/29 @ Alabama, SEC Championship

Auburn controls their own destiny with this schedule.  If they get thru it, they earned their way in.  Can’t do anything about that.

4. Ole Miss – 7-1 – SEC

Key games: 11/1 Auburn, 11/29 Miss St., SEC Championship

The biggest problem I had with the rankings was that there were 3 SEC teams in the top 4.  Not to take anything away from Ole Miss, but I thought the whole point of the playoff was to make it fair for everyone else.   

5. Oregon – 7-1 – Pac 12

Key games: 11/8 @ Utah, 11/29 @ Oregon State., Pac 12 Championship

I thought Oregon should be #4 just for balance purposes.  They have quality wins over Michigan state and UCLA to help their resume.

6. Alabama – 7-1 – SEC

Key games: 11/8 @ LSU, 11/15 Miss St., 11/29 Auburn, SEC Championship

Plenty of chances for them to get knocked off.  They’re playing much better lately though,

7. Texas Christian University – 6-1 – Big 12

Key games: 11/1 @ West Virginia, 11/8 Kansas State, Big 12 Championship

This team can score and have a legit shot to get into the final 4.  They have quality wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and a nailbiter loss to Baylor.

8. Michigan State – 7-1 – Big Ten

Key games: 11/8 Ohio State, Big Ten Championship

I have real issues with the Spartans being ranked over the Irish.  They don’t play a great schedule, and got smacked around by Oregon.  Their quality win is a 5 point victory over Nebraska.  They have 2 common opponenets with Notre Dame (Michigan & Purdue)  ND had more imppressive victories against both teams.

9. Kansas State – 6-1 – Big 12

Key games: 11/1 Oklahoma State, 11/8 @ TCU, 11/20 @ West Virginia, 11/6 @ Baylor, Big 12 Championship

K-State doesn’t have an easy road to the final 4.  Personally I don’t think they will remain in the top 10 by seasons end. They have a quality win against Oklahoma and lost early in the year in a close one ot Auburn.

So that is that.  It’s not easy.  The Irish still have a chance.  Obviously they need help.  The one thing they have going for them is that a lot of the teams ahead of them have to play each other.  You can only hope that they all knock each other off evenly.  If we can hope for anything, it’s Mississippi State to run the table and take out Ole Miss and Alabama.  Otherwise, the rest will have to play out week by week.  All the Irish can do is play the games they have left and win football games. 

Reach me on Twitter @GetsThruBuckner

Carolina on the Minds of the Irish – A Weekend Preview

-Kevin

Notre Dame looks to remain undefeated this weekend as the welcome the Tar Heels of North Carolina to South Bend Saturday in the second of four games against ACC opponents this season. Fresh off an excited comeback win over Stanford last weekend in the cold and rain, the Irish will look to avoid a letdown against a North Carolina team that has underperformed preseason expectations. North Carolina comes into the matchup with Notre Dame with a 2-3 record and having dropped their last three games by a combined score of 154 to 93 and allowing 70 points to East Carolina University. Meanwhile the Irish are 5-0 and are continuing to exceed the expectations that many people had for the 2014 Notre Dame Football team prior to the season, and that was before five Irish players were suspended for academic fraud. The main task for the Irish this weekend is to make sure they are not looking past this game to next week when Notre Dame travels to play top ranked Florida State in Tallahassee. While North Carolina has not played well this season, they do have weapons on offense and have the ability to score points. As most have come to know from past experiences, opposing teams that come to Notre Dame Stadium tend to play their best games of the season against the Irish and it will be key for Notre Dame to stay focused on the task at hand.

If there was ever a defense that a team would want to play the week before playing the number one team in the nation, North Carolina’s defensive unit would be at the top of the wish list. Simply put, North Carolina’s defense is just flat out bad. The Tar Heels rank 121st in the nation in scoring defense allowing an average of 42 points per game and rank 117th in total defense giving up an average of 505.8 yards per game. Everett Golson and the entire Notre Dame offense has to be salivating at their chance to carve up a defense that really has no strengths to speak of. The Tar Heels are 92nd nationally in rushing defense allowing 186.2 yards per game on the ground and 121st nationally in passing defense allowing 319.6 yards per game through the air. With the Irish offense struggling a bit last week against Stanford (the weather didn’t help either), this is the perfect matchup to get the Irish offense firing on all cylinders before the big game with FSU next weekend. Look for the Irish to turn to the running game early and often in an effort to get a rushing attack going early, something that Notre Dame has had trouble with all season long. The offensive line looked much better in the second half against Stanford last weekend and if they can build off of their success against a tough and physical Stanford front and replicate that this week, not only will the running backs have lanes to run through but Everett Golson will has plenty of time to stand in the pocket and make throws downfield. Notre Dame’s passing offense, which is averaging 276.6 yards per game and is ranked 36th nationally, is the most dangerous part of the Irish offense and I fully expect Golson to have plenty of time to throw and pick apart the Tar Heel defense.

Notre Dame’s defense has really been the surprise of the season so far. While it was know that the unit had a lot of pure talent, it was also seen to be a young an inexperienced unit that would have growing pains throughout the season. After last weeks performance against Stanford, it sure looks like the Notre Dame defense, which ranks 3rd nationally in scoring defense allowing only 12 points per game, has matured much faster than anyone could have expected and has shown to be one of the elite defenses in the country. Cole Luke has really stood out in relieve of suspended All American corner Keivarae Russell and young players like Andrew Trumbetti and Kolin Hill are thriving in Brian VanGorder’s defensive scheme that the players describe as “really fun”. The rejuvenated Irish defense will face their toughest challenge of the season going up against a North Carolina offense that is very capable of scoring points in bunches. The Tar Heels are 33rd nationally in scoring offense averaging 36 points per game and get most of the their offense by means of their passing attack. Quarterback Marquise Williams has show the ability to make big plays in the passing game and he also leads the Tar Heel’s offense in rushing. The outcome of this game is really going to depend on Notre Dame’s ability to contain North Carolina’s passing game. Like Notre Dame, North Carolina has had trouble running the ball this season, averaging 138.6 yards per game putting them 89th nationally. The Irish running defense has been outstanding all season long ranking 9th nationally allowing only 95.8 yards per game. So basically if North Carolina is going to try to run the football, they are going to have a very tough time moving the football against the Irish defense. We have all been waiting to see if the defense will relax a bit after gaining tons of confidence over the first 5 games of the season and if they don’t play their best, North Carolina will be able to throw the ball and put some points on the board. However if the defense comes out with the same intensity it has shown all season long it should be a long day for the Tar Heels.

The question for me this week is not whether Notre Dame will win this week but by how much they will win by. I do not see any excuse for Notre Dame to not score at least 40 points against this abysmal North Carolina defense and anything less than 40 points will be a disappointment in my mind. The bottom line is that Notre Dame has far to many playmakers on offense to score points at will. The North Carolina defense is so bad that I will be a bit disappointed if Notre Dame punts more than one time on Saturday. The main thing I will be watching for this weekend is the intensity level of the defense to see if they may be looking ahead a bit to Florida State. While the players have been saying all the right things, it has got to be difficult to not at least think about it throughout the week with the amount of attention the matchup is already receiving. Notre Dame should take control of this game early on and never look back. The defense plays well again but gives up some points later in the game after the offense has already provided a large lead. Notre Dame 51 North Carolina 20

Other Games Around the Country 

2 Auburn at 3 Mississippi State- After a big win against Texas A&M last weekend Mississippi State hopes to keep the momentum going as they welcome Auburn to town. While beating Texas A&M was a good win for the Bulldogs, the Aggies are not the same Aggies we are used to seeing. Their big win over South Carolina looks less impressive by the day and they were very close to losing to an unranked Arkansas team. The party ends this weekend in Starkville. Auburn 34 Mississippi State 24

3 Ole Miss at 14 Texas A&M- Speaking of Texas A&M, the Aggies will look to rebound this weekend after getting beat down by Mississippi State last week. Texas A&M has the ability to score bunches of points in a hurry and Ole Miss may still be riding a bit high after beating Alabama. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace is always due to have a bad game or two and this weekend will be one of them. Texas A&M 31 Ole Miss 27

9 TCU at 5 Baylor- I rode with TCU last week against Oklahoma and it paid off. This week TCU travels to take on Baylor who has an outstanding offense yet again this season. However Baylor hasn’t played any team that is even close to respectable this season and TCU will be their first test of the season. Baylor’s offense didn’t look as good as it has been against a bad Texas team last week which doesn’t bode well going against a much much better TCU squad. TCU 28 Baylor 24