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A Saturday Without Notre Dame Football: A Running Diary

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day,” until Notre Dame returns to the gridiron.

Syndication: Notre Dame Insider Michael Caterina / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cheeseburger week is a melancholic time. It’s a chance for fans to catch their collective breath during Notre Dame’s bye week, but there remains a sense of longing to see the Irish in action, especially after such a promising performance last week.

To provide a snapshot of what a Saturday without Notre Dame football is like for the fans, One Foot Down (a.k.a. I) was there for my entire Saturday from start to finish, providing a minute-by-minute flurry of activities and thoughts that will somehow have to hold me over until next weekend.

7:51 a.m. — Knowing there will be no Notre Dame football game on this particular Saturday, I wake up and solemnly play “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC before I even get out of bed. My mood perks up when “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses plays afterward.

8:20 a.m. — As I walk to breakfast, I listen to the latest episode of The Athletic’s Notre Dame podcast: The Shamrock. You may not appreciate The Athletic’s propaganda machine, even the Notre Dame arm of it. If that’s the case, allow me to (shamelessly) suggest the counterpropaganda you need: the One Foot Down podcast.

8:30 a.m. — I arrive at Founding Farmers DC, a popular breakfast spot in the nation’s capital. If you don’t feel like making a reservation, I personally recommend getting there at opening and snagging a spot at the bar (first come, first serve) to avoid the seating hassle. Today I branch out and try the Southwestern scrambled eggs with hashbrowns and multigrain toast, although my go-to is typically the beef pastrami hash.

9:00 a.m. — Time for some more propaganda. I tune into the Kentucky Sports Radio pre-game show for No. 7 Kentucky’s game at No. 14 Ole Miss. The homegrown Wildcats fan inside me wants to root for them; another part of me grows nauseated at the thought of a world in which UK is a borderline top-5 team with a legitimate shot at the CFP while Notre Dame struggles to go 8-4.

9:15 a.m. — I get back to my apartment and try to find activities to distract myself from watching the once-proud product that College Gameday has become. Dishes, laundry, and exercise manage to tide me over.

12:00 p.m. — Time to start fixing lunch; salmon patties on deck. Normally on a college football Saturday I would go on a sojourn to Five Guys while listening to the radio broadcast of a random game. However, residual rain from Hurricane Ian convinces me to stay in.

1:33 p.m. — I can do nothing but marvel at this Kentucky-Ole Miss game. How are the Wildcats only down by seven at the half despite shooting themselves in the foot with a missed field goal, two botched extra points and a safety generated by intentional grounding in the endzone? Mark Stoops lives to defy expectations as head coach of Kentucky football.

2:01 p.m. — I ask myself why on earth I thought taking the over-37.5 in Air Force-Navy (currently 10-3 Falcons with 7:00 left in the third quarter) was a good pick. I didn’t have any money on it, but my picks are a source of professional pride at this point.

2:03 p.m. — I also wonder what the heck is going on with Oklahoma as they get routed by TCU (41-17 Horned Frogs with 0:48 left in the second quarter)? My mind ponders whether this apparent collapse by the Sooners — the biggest competition for 2023 Notre Dame commit Peyton Bowen — will persuade the composite five-star safety to stay loyal to the Irish. For what it’s worth, Irish head coach Marcus Freeman and safeties coach Chris O’Leary were in-person watching Bowen play Friday night.

2:05 p.m. — I hate giving oxygen to the ridiculousness of cutting into college football games for Aaron Judge at-bats. But I have to opine this inexplicable decision making by the higherups at ESPN. I mean, cutting in on multiple channels? Are you sh—ing me? Complete idiocy. Plus, so many fewer people will see it since Dish Network and Sling TV lost all ESPN-affiliated channels Saturday morning. If you ask me, those subscribers are the lucky ones.

2:17 p.m. — No Notre Dame fan should ever get their hopes up that a Kirk-and-Brian-Ferentz-led Iowa team will ever be capable of handing Michigan a loss. 20-0 Wolverines, 2:33 left in the third quarter.

2:20 p.m. — If it’s any consolation for Irish fans, at least senior linebacker and targeting penalty magnet J.D. Bertrand hasn’t (yet) been boneheaded enough to dive at a sliding quarterback’s head. TCU and Boston College have both had defensive players dumb enough to do it today.

2:30 p.m. — Man, Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan looks like he’s in great shape for a middle-aged dude. What? He’s 23 years old? This guy?

Colorado v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Never mind, then.

2:37 p.m. — I didn’t realize Notre Dame men’s basketball’s first official practice was today. But now that it’s Oct. 1, I can almost taste hoops season. Can’t wait to see this dude (and my boy Matt Zona) tearing up the court this season.

(Yes, I know that second clip was from July 19, but I make no apologies).

2:43 p.m. — It’s not Aaron Judge’s fault that ESPN is making me loathe him. Just hit the damn home run already and spare all of us! Kentucky Ole-Miss is a three-point game in the fourth quarter. This is some bulsh—.

2:56 p.m. — Just when you though Kentucky might actually pull it off — down three points, milking clock in the fourth quarter and getting to the red zone — they fumble it away on a would-be third-down conversion. I guess there is some normalcy in college football.

3:12 p.m. — Holy crap! Is Kentucky actually gonna pull this off? A 51-yard catch-and-run to get to the six-yard line with 1:10 to go.

3:13 p.m. — And of course, UK gets called for an illegal motion because they’re going too fast…

3:13 p.m. — And of course, Kentucky’s quarterback gets hit and fumbles the ball away to seal the game. What a rollercoaster.

3:18 p.m. — Ugh. The only game in which I had any real emotional investment ended in the most heartbreaking fashion imaginable. The dejection that ensues after your team snatches defeat from the jaws of victory is incomparable. I need a break from college football.

5:10 p.m. — Break’s over. Took some personal time to peruse YouTube and get my weekly reading done for my Constitutional Law class. Looks like this particular block of games is pretty uninteresting, except for the fact that Alabama quarterback Bryce Young went out with injury. That sucks.

5:15 p.m. — I do think there are two possibilities for the biggest takeaway from this timeslot: the atrociousness of Baylor’s uniforms or the atrociousness of Virginia Tech’s offense. I don’t think the uniforms are that bad (my dad disagrees), so my vote is probably gonna be for the Hokies, who have only managed to put up 10 first-half points against a North Carolina defense that Notre Dame diced last week.

The Hokies’ offensive track record to date — 20.25 points per game, and that’s including 27 points scored against Wofford — certainly doesn’t bode well. I’ll withhold judgement until the end of the game considering Notre Dame started slow against UNC, but if the Tar Heels’ defense can’t cure your offensive woes then nothing can.

6:03 p.m. — With No. 16 Baylor trailing by 26 points against No. 9 Oklahoma State late in the third quarter, the Bears went for it on 4th-and-5 at their own 29-yard line. The Bears receiver caught the pass at the 45-yard line and outran three Cowboys DBs the remaining 55 yards for a touchdown. Just put yourself in Chansi Stuckey’s shoes for a minute.

Stuckey coached wide receivers at Baylor for a year and the Bears won the Big 12 championship. Then, he got hired in the same position at Notre Dame. Now, his position group has just one touchdown catch combined through four games. Part of me feels sorry for Stuckey, because Notre Dame should never be a step back from Baylor at any position. However — and I’m not saying this is the case — if he didn’t know just how bare the cupboard was that he was inheriting with the Irish, he should have done more research.

6:13 p.m. — Baylor has a fire-breathing baton twirler. I have nothing more to say, just felt that it should be noted.

7:00 p.m. — Wait, Kansas won? The Jayhawks are 5-0? I changed my mind; THAT is the biggest takeaway from the mid-afternoon slate. Rank them, you AP Poll cowards!

7:13 p.m. — But yeah, Virginia Tech’s offense is B-A-D bad! They finished with 10 points for the GAME. As a reminder, that’s how many they had at halftime. I’m not certain Iowa’s offense would have put up more on North Carolina, but I think there’s a discussion to be had there.

8:24 p.m. — Where is the rain in this NC State-Clemson game? I was promised a soggy, sloppy slugfest. Oh well, it’s still early.

8:34 p.m. — What are you, dear reader, more tired of: ESPN cutting into games for Aaron Judge to strike out/get walked or all of these Dr. Pepper “Fansville” commercials?

8:35 p.m. — Imagine if the Fansville sheriff — played by Brian Bosworth — arrested Brett Favre for welfare fraud. Could be marketing gold.

9:21 p.m. — This is late, but I just saw that Ohio State faked a punt and ran for a first down while beating Rutgers by 39 points. Either that, or the punter saw all the open grass and improvised. Then a Rutgers player got flagged for a late hit out of bounds on the Ohio State punter.

I propose a new rule: if you fake a punt (or your punter takes off sprinting toward the opposing team’s sideline) while up 39 in the fourth quarter, the opposing team gets a freebie from one penalty on the play.

9:25 p.m. — Missouri is beating Georgia 16-6 at halftime and Auburn is beating LSU 17-14 in the third quarter. I expect at least one of the Bulldogs and Tigers to come back and win, but hope springs eternal. College football never disappoints, after all.

9:58 p.m. — It’s not that I would prefer it if Notre Dame’s running back commit in the 2021 class was current Clemson running back Will Shipley. I’m content with current Irish backs Logan Diggs and Audric Estime from that class. It’s just that I worry about Notre Dame’s linebackers trying to tackle Shipley in space on Nov. 5. Maybe the second half of the Oct. 29 game against Syracuse would be a good time for J.D. Bertrand to get his third targeting penalty…

10:03 p.m. — I just saw the stupidest interception I’ve ever seen in my life, and it may have sealed Bryan Harsin’s fate. Auburn’s running back was about to be tackled for a big loss in the redzone, so he tried to throw the ball away but just tossed up a floater up that fell right to LSU.

I’d like to know if this was the same Auburn running back who refused to go down in bounds and allow the clock to run out on Alabama last season, but instead he stepped out and the Crimson Tide had enough time to force overtime and eventually win. Assuming Auburn won and then all the conference championship games played out the same, Notre Dame would have been in the College Football Playoff and fans would have gotten to see Clarence Lewis get torched by No. 1-seed Michigan’s wide receivers.

10:10 p.m. — I’m realizing that my last two entries were trashing two of Notre Dame’s own defenders. Maybe I’m just snarkier when the sun goes down.

10:24 p.m. — Here’s something I learned at 10:24 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2022: you can’t advance a muffed punt. I learned this because Auburn muffed a punt with just over five minutes left while trailing 21-17.

10:25 p.m. — WTF? LSU was in field goal range and just fumbled the ball back to Auburn. Brian Kelly is the gift that keeps on giving. 4:56 to play.

10:29 p.m. — I look away for one second to check highlights of Georgia-Missouri (Mizzou is up 22-19 in the fourth quarter) and an LSU defender just ripped a 50/50 pass away from the Auburn tailback.

I very much wanted to write “Auburn’s boosters may want Bryan Harsin fired, but apparently God does not.” I’m beginning to think He really just doesn’t care and is enjoying this sicko-mode game as much as the rest of us.

10:38 p.m. — LSU is about to kneel out the rest of this one. Can’t say I’m not slightly disappointed, but them’s the breaks. I’d at least like one “execution” joke from Brian Kelly postgame.

10:39 p.m. — ABC just showed highlights of the last two hurricane games Clemson and NC State were involved in. Funny enough, both involved Notre Dame (a 24-22 Tigers win in 2015; a 10-3 Wolfpack win in 2016). Speaking of hurricanes, this game has been a slugfest, though not as sloppy or soggy as was suggested. 23-13 Tigers with about 10 minutes to go.

10:53 p.m. — Missouri trailed Georgia 26-22 with less than four minutes left in the game and decided to punt away on fourth down. Sure, they had three timeouts and were deep in their own territory, but why on earth would Eli Drinkwitz think his team could manage to force Georgia to punt back to them?

Missouri should have gone for it and if Georgia got the ball back then they could try to hold them to a field goal. Then they would still be down only one score (29-22) and have a chance with a game-tying/winning drive. And I thought Drinkwitz was supposed to be the “alpha nerd.”

11:01 p.m. — And yeah, Georgia ran the clock out on ’em. And Clemson’s about to put the finishing touches on this one in the red zone with 3:15 to go. I’m sure there’s no possible way they’ll blow this one. Between that Auburn-LSU game and Pac-12 After Dark about to kick off, there can’t be that much craziness to go around, right?

11:05 p.m. — I just saw that soon-to-be-ranked Kansas is hosting College Gameday next week for their matchup against TCU. LFG!!!

11:07 p.m. — Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagelelei trots into the endzone to put this one to bed. And speaking of putting to bed, I am pooped. We’ll check on the rest of the action tomorrow morning. Until then, nighty-night.

Sunday, 10:02 a.m. — Listening to the CBS Sports Cover 3 Podcast, I learned for the first time that Pitt somehow lost to Georgia Tech, despite Georgia Tech firing their head coach last week. *snickers*

Sunday, 12:30 p.m. — It feels about time to put a bookend on this set of diary entries. Until Notre Dame kicks off against BYU in Las Vegas, here’s to surviving another cheeseburger week.