Let’s set the stage. I was grilling tri-tip and drinking Kentucky Red Apples in preparation for this great, traditional contest. It was the first night game in some 20+ years in South Bend (although I distinctly remember it at least getting to nighttime in the Bush Push game, which I also call the Charlie Weis Runny Nose Incident).
Notre Dame had gone through some 15+ shades of gold for their new helmet styling. They had grown their field grass long (because that worked so well last time). Hell, even ESPN seemed to care about this match-up and they’ve been pronouncing us dead for two years no matter if we finished in 3rd in the Pac 10 (we did) or are 6-1 (we are). Notre Dame had invited it’s top recruiting class hopefuls to this game for the red carpet treatment. After all, this was a big time opponent, a lot of tradition, and for the first time since I was allowed to legally buy bourbon, they were favored.
Basically, all hands on deck. Wake up the echoes, right?
Yeah, so pretty much picture the most embarrassing thing possible and then double it, dip it in tempura batter, fry it, roll it in sprinkles, shoot it into space and then say something sacrilegious about it. That sums it up.
But now I’ll sum it up.
WOW, Notre Dame. There was a part of me (my right kidney) that was worried about this game. Not about the arrogance battle (you lost that when you wore those helmets, J-Lo), but about us throwing a game like this away, not being able to finish. I wasn’t counting on you guys not being able to start. And on your wedding night!
Kiffin for the first time since becoming the great visored champion of the west came completely ready to rock. USC was better prepared in every facet of the game. While Notre Dame was trying to figure out if their helmets looked more like 70s bowling balls or chocolate Easter eggs, USC was eight steps ahead of everything Coach Kelly (who had some priceless photo ops BTW) was planning (or not planning).
Arrogance met focus for the first time and it was hilarious to watch. USC opened the game by just running over and around Notre Dame to the point ESPN must have been scrambling. Wait, they don’t have running back problems? Wait, their offensive line was listed as “inexperienced” on the sheet Elias Sporting Bureau sent us! Quick! Talk about Matt Barkley turning the ball over! Oh, he’s not doing that anymore? (I have the beard to prove it, atta boy Matty). Then what do we do?
Silence… Crickets… Coyote howl…
Oh, TALK ABOUT ANDREW LUCK!
Don’t get me started though. I’ll save it for the AGP this Thursday. Andrew has it coming.
So, Notre Dame was blinded by my totally accurate Kiffin outfit prediction. He went further this week with the whitest windbreak I have ever seen, no stripes, no flair, just glare. That was the most sunlight Indiana has seen in years. Pregnancy rates increased because everyone in the stadium was suddenly tan and slightly more attractive. Kiffin: “You’re welcome”. He’s the only man who has an on/off switch for his clothing.
Let’s get down to brass tacks here. USC had 467 total yards to ND’s two-hundred-and-way-less-than-us. I already forgot the name of their wide receiver #3 because he didn’t catch the ball to hear his name on television. We shut down their run game to half of what they average normally. AND WE WERE UNDERDOGS.
That’s the thing with Notre Dame. They have lost touch. Yes, they won last year. But they don’t respect how quickly losing the next year turns it into 8 of the last 9. Not only is your squeak-by win last year forgotten, it’s lost in a sea of head coaching changes, growing grass out as if it matters, making uniform changes to pump your team up and so on. None of it works.
The beauty in the game is watching the world real from what essentially was Arrogant Nation making its way onto the football field. Despite being known for calling wild Playstation-esque games, Kiffin went by the books and won the trenches, the short passing game, the defensive battle and definitely the outfit battle because Kelly’s outfit looked like he stole it off a dead man at a liquor store in French Lick.
Kiffin took the Irish apart. Mante Te’o, who was a late flip-flopper to Notre Dame from USC looked so confused out there it actually made me glad he went to South Bend. It was like he’d never seen a play action or had to cover the flats before. The Irish were constantly off-balance, but what do you expect from a school that doesn’t find anything off with having Jesus making a football pose on the side of a library. In Indiana.
Everyone is crazy doom and gloom in the media about Notre Dame now, referring to their dashed BCS hopes. I am not sure which is more embarrassing, the fact that a 2 loss (before we spanked them) team with a weak schedule was hoping for a BCS game or the fact that college football is corrupt enough that they actually were going to make it to one. People are talking about Brian Kelly like this was his most disappointing loss. Dude, they were a 12 and SEVEN Sun Bowl team and worse, they beat Miami, so we know half the Hurricanes were either dreaming of being on that sex yacht or so coked out they forgot they were playing football.
Is it INSANE to think ND isn’t that good?
Regardless, the post game fun was just that. Fun. Kiffin was seen walking by all of Notre Dame’s recruits, who had been wined and dined, showed the virtue of same sex dorms (sweet call, ND), the excitement of tipping cows in Indiana, the tradition of losing in bowl games you didn’t belong in this last decade and reveling in the opportunity to wear new glittery helmets. The recruits looked at Kiffin in his magical white windbreaker and visor after spending the last four hours explaining why USC, sanctions or not, was best. He smirked and said “fight on” to them and later when asked about it, about ND pulling out all the stops to showcase what ended up being a old-school Tower of London beheading, he said something about “free advertising”. ARROGANT NATION!
If there was ever proof that you can’t sanction the endzone, it was this game. Which team looked like they had the weight of the world on their shoulders. Hint. Not the ones flying back to sunny SoCal with a W.
Even more fun were the deluge of “Notre Dame quit in front of their recruits” comments by awesome people like Chris Galippo, Marc Tyler and Curtis McNeal. There’s nothing better than knocking your opponent out, begging him to get up so he could have a respectable decision, him standing up, then drowning himself in the spit bucket they keep in the corner. That was it pretty much. Someone should buy FireBrianKelly.com now because knowing how delusional ND fans are, this is going to be a hot property to cybersquat on.
So, where do we net out. Barkley’s Heisman talk has picked up (albeit for next year, but I think we’re starting to see this team is winning a Rose Bowl if he stays. Don’t care about a fake national title, I just like beating Big Ten teams in Pasadena on New Years. I want Barkley to know the feeling. I have had many as a fan and underground rebellion leader). Robert Woods is basically the best college receiver I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot in my time covering CFB and his buddy Endzone Lee looks damn good too. ESPN paid some big bucks and put us back at 20 in the AP, ahead of ASU (hilarious) and ESPN, despite their hatred of us of late (did anyone see that ridiculous wedding DJ analogy on Highlight Express, WTFOMGBBQ???), they are bringing GameDay to USC again, in both years of our bowl ban.
We’re too hot to ignore, the party always comes to our house, we have all the good drinks and pretty people. I am going big this week because I know it’s all about the Sisterhood of the Travelling Luck Antiques Roadshow, but guess what. Our house, our stage, let’s remind the world this is a guy who looks like Abe Lincoln’s inbred cousin and the road to the Heisman, as always, runs through Troy.
GREAT TIME TO BE A TROJAN.