As Notre Dame heads out of the halftime of the 2013 season, they face a Saturday night showdown against the rival. Southern Cal heads to South Bend with and interim head coach and a roster depleted by sanctions and injuries. It should make for an interesting evening.
Now, on to the questions:
1. Notre Dame is now halfway through the regular season. Where is this team relative to expectations?
Based on most preseason prognostications, they are right on track with where many thought they would be. Most predicted a 9-3 record (plus or minus) and said that Michigan, Oklahoma and Stanford would be the most likely losses. Check, check and TBD.
Even though this team is pretty much where people though they would be in mid-October, it doesn't mean that (a) anyone is happy with it, or (b) it happened the way anyone thought it would.
The defense has regressed from the 2012 levels. The offense continues to stall out and is in the bottom third of the country in scoring. And yet, if someone made a play here or there, this team could be at 6-0. Or make fewer plays and be at 1-5.
One thing that the last three seasons has taught us is that Brian Kelly's teams improve over the course of the season. I don't expect any major departure from that this year. Beating USC on Saturday is the first step in repeating the cycle.
2. What are your thoughts on the 13 person football playoff selection committee announced this week?
My first impression was that committee selection committee (yes, I just said that) went for big names over everything else in order to get "credibility" from the general public. Most of the names will be familiar to casual sports fans-which means just about zero in my book.
To summarize the committee, they picked 6 current or former ADs, 2 former coaches (if you count Ty Willingham), a former reporter and the rest are current or former university or conference administrators.
I think they missed a huge opportunity to bring in some of the "numbers guys" - i.e. those associated with the all too controversial BCS computer rankings. Also missing is representation from a certain football blog. And yes, I am personally offended.
It was announced that there will be an attempt for as much transparency as possible. However, individual ballots will not be published. Yup, this sounds like a bunch of NCAA double talk. They will publish four to five rankings of the top 25 teams per season starting in the middle of October.
A top 25 list--for 4 playoff spots. Good job, good effort.
3. If you had a vote on the committee, what teams would be in the playoffs this year?
Granted, the season is only at the half-way point, but based on their performance to date I would select the following teams and overall seed (in parentheses):
- Oregon (1) - outside of Washington, they really haven't played anyone. But they have been impressive. Plus, they beat the Huskies by 21, on the road.
- Alabama (2) - they get in almost by default. They look beatable, but play a pretty soft schedule. They won a shootout against TAMU and play LSU in a few weeks.
- Clemson (3) - they get in based largely on their early season victory over Georgia. They have a chance to move up in the seeding by beating FSU this weekend.
- Ohio State (4) - it really kills me to put them in here right now, simply because they haven't beaten anyone of note. However, they have beaten better teams than the likes of Florida State, Louisville or Baylor.
On the bubble: Florida State, LSU, Missouri, UCLA, Miami (FL)
4. What is your typical Saturday morning game day ritual?
Historically, this has involved watching the better part of Game Day, simply because there weren't a lot of better options. The four letter network did something this year that has caused me to ignore that program altogether-the hiring of one Mr. Paul Finebaum.
It was bad enough listening to Chris Fowler's snark in combination with Lee Corso's rambling and the occasional thought from Desmond Howard. PAAWWWWWWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLLL was the icing on the cake.
Now I watch the EPL on NBCSN. I find it to be a refreshing departure from the "analysis" that is offered by tWWL.
There is also some cereal and family time involved.
5. Non-football related question: This past Tuesday (10/15) was a big release date for new music from several notable artists including work from Sir Paul McCartney, Pearl Jam, The Avett Brothers, and The Head & The Heart. How do you think Murtaugh's reaction to the new McCartney album went?
At first, I think it was probably something like this:
Which then morphed into something like this:
And ended up like this: