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Irish Blogger Gathering: The Quest for a Signature Win

The IBG questions for USC week are brought forth by none other than OC Domer. OC is by far the most qualified Irish Blogger to talk Trojans as he has to live in the midst of them every day.

1. The weather forecast for Saturday’s game (as of this writing) has the high temperature in the mid 40’s with some chance of rain (or snow?). What weather would give Notre Dame the best chance to beat USC? Why?

I think cold and/or wet weather would give the Irish a bit of an edge and also make the game extra cool to watch. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’d probably just prefer cold and dry. The precipitation makes the ball and the field slick for both teams.

2. Irresistible Force or Immovable Object? Notre Dame’s offense is ranked #10 in yards (470 per game) and #27 in points (32.6 per game). USC’s defense is ranked #6 in yards allowed (238.6 per game) and #4 in scoring allowed (just 8.6 points per game). In 2008 Notre Dame had just 91 total yards against USC. Will the Notre Dame offense be able to move the ball on Saturday? If so, how?

The Irish have executed a pretty balanced attack this season and are hovering right around a 50/50 run pass mix. If the offensive line can hold up their end of the deal to generate a decent ground game it will open up things up for Clausen to go to work. I expect Coach Weis will throw the playbook at the Trojans while maintaining a nice run/pass mix. All of the Weis formations and personnel groups are likely to make an appearance on Saturday.

3. USC’s offense is #22 in yards (430.6 per game) and #53 in scoring (28.8 points per game). Notre Dame’s defense is #100 in total defense (403.2 yards per game) and #59 in scoring defense (allowing 23.8 points per game). Will the Notre Dame defense be able to slow down the USC offense? If so, how?
The defense is going to have to sell out to stop the run and make the freshman quarterback beat them with a vertical passing game. It sounds dicey based on the way the secondary has looked thus far but the Irish can’t afford to let this turn into the Joe McKnight show. The front seven will have to keep the Trojan ground game in check while confusing Barkley with different looks and getting a little heat on him from time to time. That should force some mistakes that the secondary must take advantage of. The defense has to make sure the Irish win the turnover battle so they must capitalize on interception opportunities.

4. In 2008, with Michael Floyd unable to play due to injury, Golden Tate had 2 catches against USC for a team-high 15 receiving yards. How do you expect Golden Tate to play against USC this year?

To dovetail off of #2 I think as long as the offensive line allows Coach Weis to run his offense he’ll be able to keep Tate moving around which will create plenty of opportunities to get him the ball in space. I expect we’ll see Golden lined up all over the field again on Saturday.

5. Jimmy Clausen has started to get some Heisman buzz. In your opinion, which Notre Dame player is the most deserving of Heisman attention, Jimmy or Golden Tate? Why?

I’m a huge Golden Tate fan but I don’t quite see him as a real Heisman contender at the moment. If he has another 200 yards receiving and takes a couple of punts to the house on Saturday I’ll be singing a different tune. As of right now I would have to give the nod to Jimmy Clausen. He’s put up sick numbers, led the team to three consecutive comeback victories and most importantly he’s really emerged as the leader of his team. I’m confident in saying that this team would not be 4-1 if Clausen was not under center and that tips the scale for me.

6. Overrated or Underrated. Notre Dame cracked into the AP Poll at #25 this week. Are they overrated or underrated at #25? Where would you put them in your poll?

I was just talking about this in my Week 6 Wrap Up on Mo
nday. I really think that after Florida, Texas, Alabama, Virginia Tech and USC just about every other team in the Top 25 would give any other team ranked 6-25 a run for their money. Just pick any two at random and you probably have a close game. As for the Irish I could use that rationale and pick apart other teams schedules etc. to argue that Notre Dame should be ranked higher but at the end of the day it is what it is. The preseason rankings have everything to do with where they currently sit and those have everything to do with last season coupled with preseason hype. You could also throw in the fact that one more completion or one more stop at the Big House would have the Irish sitting on the cusp of the Top 10 right now. So yeah, they are probably underrated but if they pull the upset on Saturday that will no longer be a factor. The polls are all about taking care of business if you start on the outside looking in. This team is staring at an opportunity to take a giant leap back in the right direction with a win on Saturday.
7. USC Song Girls: Ambassadors of Collegiate Goodwill or Anachronism from a bygone era of oppressive sexist stereotypes?

Given the choice I suppose I will have to go with the former but I’ll be honest, I could care less about the Song Girls. I suppose they make for a nice photo but other than that do they actually do anything? Supposedly they are some kind of a dance team or something. Whatever. I’m all about cheerleaders that successfully contribute to getting the crowd to up the noise level in the stadium but as far as I’m concerned you can have the dance team.

8. Green Jerseys? There's a lot of "green" talk coming from campus this week, and it raises the question of whether the team will be wearing green on Saturday. Do you want to see the green jerseys or not? Why?

I would definitely vote for no green jerseys this time around. I love the tradition and think they look great but those 1977 throwback green uniforms that the Irish wore in the 2007 beat down took it out of me for wearing green against USC for a while. It was awesome in 2005 but I really wish they hadn’t gone back to the well with the throwbacks in 2007. Had the team just worn blue jerseys that day I might be thinking differently about busting the modern day version of the green back out this year. I don’t think this team needs any additional motivation of any kind anyway. I would rather just see them line up in blue jerseys against the Trojans and get it done.

9. Name the next number in this sequence: -3, -20, -38, -35, _______. Explain.

I’ll go with +10. If the Irish come out firing on all cylinders and things start clicking early I think they just might shock everybody with the margin. I said it on Tuesday but I really think this team believes they can win this game and from my perspective that truly makes anything possible. Besides if it is going to be a signature win it may as well be convincing.