Thursday, February 7, 2008

2007 v. 2008 Game 2

And after that painfully long delay, on to game 2...


The opponent: The Penn State Nittany Lions

My perspective: Having not seen the Irish on TV yet, I was anxious to see them with the help of ESPN's cameras. Georgia Tech could just be that good, right? They did go to the ACC championship in 2006. It seemed perfectly plausible that the Irish were just out of whack the week before due to having a gameplan suited for DJ and not Jimmy Clausen. Jimmy looked pretty good at the end of that game so a full gameplan designed for him is going to produce drastically different results. Right?

Mrs. Seamus and I had mentioned to some PSU alum friends that we should get together to watch the game and I was doing everything I could to avoid that. I was trying to be optimistic about things turning around for the Irish in week 2 but I couldn't even call myself cautiously optimistic once actual gameday rolled around. Our friends had called earlier in the day to see what our plans were and I was avoiding the call back like the plague - it would have been way too painful to watch a loss like week 1 in a small sea of white somewhere in Baltimore.

The outcome : The Irish got the ball first and put together a decent drive. A penalty to start the game wasn't exactly what I was looking for but they looked a heck of a lot better than they did to start week 1's game. The missed field goal was certainly frustrating at the end of the opening drive but it was a long attempt (50 yds.) , so things could have been a lot worse.

I have come to the conclusion that good kickers are horribly unappreciated. When you have a good one, it's rare that you thank the football Gods for him unless of course, he kicks a game winning field goal. When you have one that's not getting it done, you curse the inability of the staff to recruit the next Mark Moseley at least a dozen times per game. I think that's a conservative estimate too.

Penn State's first possession ends abruptly with an outstanding interception and 73 yard return for a TD by native Pennsylvanian, Darren Walls. ND 7 - PSU 0 and I am almost ready to go join the small sea of white no matter where it is in Charm City. The Nittany Lions receive the kickoff, run a few plays and politely give the ball back to us in the form of a fumble recovered by another native Pennsylvanian, Joe Brockington. Hallelujah! The Irish came to play!

Shortly thereafter is when the fun stopped... seemingly out of the blue, PSU started to take the game over. The line of scrimmage was virtually dominated by the Nittany Lions for the rest of the game and that lack of physicality lead to more 3 and outs than I care to ever see again. Charlie's pups fall to the Zombie's Lions, 31-10. Ouch. At least Michigan lost to Oregon earlier in the afternoon setting up the battle of the 0-2s in Ann Arbor.


The opponent: The Michigan Wolverines

My perspective: For reasons that will become clear in a few months and of course, God willing, this will be a very special weekend for Mr. and Mrs. Seamus (not in that order). It's a home game for the Irish and again due to our recent little purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Seamus will be tuned into NBC from our new family room. Ever since the skunkbears took over college football's all-time winning percentage, my severe dislike for them has steadily grown into a full fledged hatred of all things maize and blue. Though you may see a vein stick out of my forehead at the mere mention of their name, I certainly have a lot of respect for their program and their school. On gameday, I will be edgy in the morning, growing into a full fledged bad mood by the time the game starts.

The prediction: Unfortunately, Lloyd Carr decided to "retire" at the end of the season and was replaced by Rich Rodriguez of West Virginia. My gut instinct tells me that Coach Rodriguez is a major upgrade for them which is not good for Irish fans. The good news is that there are some gaping holes in the Wolverine offense due to the departures of Chad Henne, Mike Hart, Jake Long, Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham. That said, I still don't see the Irish winning this game. Our offensive line and front 7 on defense just have too much ground to make up to lead us to victory in a game like this early in the season. Good special teams could make up for slightly losing the battle in the trenches but after last year, I don't think we'll have what it takes there either (yet). A late TD results in: Skunkbears over the Irish, 35 - 31.

Advantage : Push. A loss is a loss and losing to Michigan at home would easily hurt as badly as losing to the Lions on the road last year. The "progress" on the scoreboard compared to the last two years of embarrassing losses will take the edge off my bad mood but giving Dick-Rod the upper-hand in what is sure to be a bunch of hard fought battles during his tenure is going to sting.

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