The good news? Notre Dame had two weeks to prepare for the Utah Utes. The bad news? Almost everything else. Although this space has looked long and hard, it hasn’t found a way Notre Dame emerges victorious in their third to last game of what’s become a long and trying season. What’s worse is that we don’t see a ton of ways this game is close, either.
The equation that adds up to a close game just doesn’t compute.
On one side is a football team that is coming off a terrible loss to Tulsa. It may have been the worst loss in a season where that honor is actually a really close debate (if you don’t think a “worse loss of the year” column is coming before Christmas, you are quite mistaken sir, quite mistaken). They’ve lost the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season and start a freshman who, despite playing well as of late, has the potential to0 look like a lost dog for extended period of times.
On the other side is a football team that is also coming off a bad loss – though not the kind that make a team sad, the kind that make a team angry and looking for revenge, presumably on it’s next opponent. They have an offense that averages 41 points a game, a quarterback who completes nearly 70% of his passes, and a good running game.
Oh, and they got spanked by a non – BCS school and didn’t drop out of the top 15 in the country. (That means, they good!)
Utah does nearly everything well. Heck, even the special teams unit is outstanding. Watch out for Jordan Wynn to shred the Notre Dame secondary. One would have to figure that either Matt Asiata or Eddie Wide will have a fantastic game against the Irish, if not both. The Irish defense hasn’t shown that they can stop the run in any of the last few games.
The one really interesting subplot for the Irish is how Tommy Rees plays. He, more then any other player on the team, has looked like two different players this season. When he played in relief of an injured Dayne Crist in week 2 against Michigan, Reese looked scared and confused. But his development is evident. He played well in garbage time against Navy (for what that’s worth) and, aside from a late interception that I absolve him of blame (worst individual play call of the year), he played well against Tulsa.
You have to like that he had two weeks to prepare for his first college start. What can’t happen in that start, however, is Reese having the game thrust upon his shoulders like it seemed to be against Tulsa. He threw the ball 54 times! Offensively, Notre Dame should only make him make the throws he has to. The final interception in the Tulsa game is a perfect example. Freshman should never be making that pass. If that type of late game result happened against Tulsa, just imagine what it would be like against Utah.
It sure as anything wouldn’t be good news. If Notre Dame competes in this game, it will be because Cierre Wood and Armando Allen ran the ball effectively and Rees wasn’t put in situations where the game can turn on his arm.
But that brings up another question. As much as we’ve been calling for it in this space, has this offense shown that they can stay in games on the backs of Allen and Wood alone? The equation hasn’t been given that much of a chance, but maybe that tells you something….
It’s a never ending question that doesn’t seem to have an answer.
The Pick: Utah 50 Notre Dame 30 – I want to see how long this game is competitive. If the Irish can score a couple touchdowns early, this might be a competitive game at the half. It’s stopping Utah for a full 60 that concerns me. They have too many offensive weapons that just HAVE TO explode after being held to 7 points last week at home. The Utes are angry. The Utes are really really good. The Irish are in trouble.
About the Author
Written by Jordan Lauterbach
Jordan Lauterbach began his career in sports media when he was just 15 years old at WKWZ - Syosset. He hosted a sports talk show for nearly four years before moving on to WCWP - Brookville in 2006. Lauterbach currently hosts a sports talk show every Wednesday night from 9pm - midnight (eastern) and a College Football talk show on Saturday mornings from 11am - 12:30 (eastern) (can be heard online at wcwpsports.com and on Long Island on 88.1fm). Follow me on twiiter: jlauterbach1