For my first series of posts, I'm going to do a game by game comparison of the actual 2007 season and my best guess at 2008. I'll try to keep the crotchetiness to a minimum which will be difficult after this past season.
The opponent: The Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech
My perspective: I was in attendance for the 2007 opener. I marched excitedly into the stadium after a fun but modest amount of tailgating. I found my excellent seat in the lower bowl, towards the top between the 40 and the 45 yard line on the GT side and anxiously awaited the start of the 2007 season. You could feel the energy in the crowd as we all sat, wide-eyed and bushy tailed, in anticipation of Coach Weis' triumphant revelation of our starting quarterback for 2007. Not long thereafter, the only thing I was anxiously awaiting was the sight of the cooler back out in the library lot. The miserable game coupled with my buzz wearing off by the beginning of the 2nd quarter made for a long afternoon staring into an unrelenting sun and wondering how our blocking could actually be as bad as it appeared to be. I am honestly unsure which of those two things were more responsible for the 5 tiny men with 5 tiny jackhammers attempting to chip their way out of my skull.
The outcome : A 33-3 drubbing in large part due to almost 200 yards rushing and 2 TDs from GT tailback, Tashard Choice. His Heisman candidate numbers were probably as much a result of an inept offense as the failure of the defensive front to control the line of scrimmage but regardless, the unveiling of Coach Brown's 3-4 defense wasn't anything to get excited about. If I was playing in the back field for the Nittany Lions, I was getting awfully excited about the Irish coming to town. I left the game hoping that Georgia Tech really was that good but I knew that I would have to wait at least 2 weeks to find out as the powerhouse that is Samford wasn't going to give me much of a feel for that. I also knew that the Irish were basically back to square one with the quarterback situation. In my mind, Jimmy Clausen looked good enough to start the following week but did I really want to throw a true freshman with questionable health out there behind what looked like a very confused offensive line? Please no. Then again, who gives us the best chance to win the game? It was unfair to dismiss Evan Sharpley at this point but he didn't look very confident and Clausen seemed to at least show a little swagger out there. The Jones experiment was a flop to say the least and I couldn't see how the staff could possibly get any of the offensive players back on that wagon. So, in Jimmy we (or at least I) trust...
The opponent: The San Diego State Aztecs
My perspective: Having attended a full third of the 2007 Irish losses in person and all in the house that Rock built, I will likely enjoy the 2008 opener with Mrs. Seamus and our beloved canine, Seamus from our yet-to-be-built family room. This seems ideal at the moment for a few reasons:
1. The new house is putting a cramp in our social/travel schedule as we have not yet learned that Genentech stock is worth investing in, despite how high the price climbs.
2. In the unlikely event that the 2008 season opener takes a turn similar to that of the 2007 opener, I am going to need full access to hard alcohol and lots of it. Waiting another 365 days and anticipating the abundance of anti-Charlie/sky is falling posts across ND nation will be enough to make this grown man cry.
Of course, should we find tickets, I am likely to ponder hitchhiking on the Pennsylvania Turnpike if that's what it takes to get me there.
The prediction: Had the 2007 campaign gone more similarly to the 2006 campaign than the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season, I would probably be puffing my chest out and claiming that the Aztecs couldn't even beat us with Marshall Faulk in their backfield. Even with that said, I still don't see this contest being all that close. Regardless of whether or not they've been historical powerhouses, schools in states that begin with "Flor", "Tex" of "Cali" always scare me due to the sheer amount of quality talent in their backyards but even with that going for them (which is nice) the Irish are going to be fired up for the home opener and even more fired up to get out there and prove that 2007 was an anomaly. I have little doubt that we will dominate them on offense and I have a hard time seeing us give up more than a touchdown or two, despite the inexperience and lack of recruiting ranking stars upfront. Irish get a win to start the season: 31-13.
Advantage : 2008 in a landslide. Barring an unforeseeable butt whooping at the hands of the Aztecs there's really no comparison here. SDSU could come in and upset the Irish and it would still beat watching the horrific 2007 debacle of a debut.