There are certainly better matchups in Week 7 of the college football season, as there are a handful of conference games that will make a huge difference in deciding who reaches a BCS bowl. But as soon as Notre Dame steamrolled over Miami and became 5-0, ESPN College Gameday announced it was heading to South Bend.
We're heading to South Bend next week to see the Stanford Cardinal take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame!— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) October 7, 2012
And just when you thought things were going smoothly for this team, ESPN goes and tries to mess it all up. Of all of the games to choose from this week, you want to see Notre Dame take on a struggling Stanford team that should be no contest for the home team?
You would think GameDay would want to cover a game that would be a little closer than this one is going to be.
Despite beginning the season with many question marks, having one of the most difficult schedules in college football and arguably the most pressure of any program to succeed, the Irish are a Top 10 team in both polls. Head coach Brian Kelly no longer has to answer questions about the hot seat, and there are actually positive things being said about the program overall.
But ESPN coming to town is just going to bring unwanted attention and make this game feel much bigger than it actually is. Student Reed Haines, who is a senior at the school, wants Stanford to know what it's in for, according to Fox28.com.
"We want to get out there, get a bunch of crazy signs out there in the background, make our presence felt. Make Stanford know we're ready to play," said Haines.
The Cardinal know all about it. Believe me, the signs aren't really needed, as the Irish have already knocked off Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue and Miami. All tough teams that many thought were going to give this team a run, and they have all cowered to the dominant defense of Notre Dame, which currently ranks 13th in the country.
And while I'm sure the coaching staff enjoys the quiet run to a BCS bowl, there is also the history that comes with ESPN GameDay.
Remember 2005? How could you not?
Yes, one of the more heartbreaking losses in recent memory for Irish fans came when ESPN Gameday was on campus. You can blame Kirk Herbstreit and company if you'd like.
Notre Dame had the lead against an undefeated USC team, with only a little over a minute left to play. On 4th-and-9, quarterback Matt Leinart completed a deep ball to wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett that kept the drive alive. Later in the drive, Leinart would go on to fumble the ball, but instead of the game being over, the ball went out of bounds, giving the Trojans one last chance to take the lead.
With six seconds left on the game clock, Leinart sneaked up the middle, got a friendly push from running back Reggie Bush, and the Trojans won in unlikely fashion.
Truth is, Notre Dame is 3-4 all-time when ESPN is on campus, and Lee Corso has never picked the Irish to win when he arrived on set. Forget about the Curse of the Bambino, the Madden Curse or even the Curse of the Billy Goat.
Notre Dame fans could have a legitimate beef when it comes to ESPN GameDay.
Brad Edwards of ESPN says this is a BCS play-in game for Notre Dame, meaning if the Irish find a way to knock off Stanford this weekend, they will automatically qualify for a BCS bowl, even if the team goes on to lose two other games.
No pressure, right?
Notre Dame is clearly having its best season in recent memory and has been doing so without the bright lights and national media announcing it on a loud speaker to the rest of the college football world. There should be no issues taking on a Stanford team that lost to Washington and is shaky at best on the defensive side of the ball.
But then again, you never know with ESPN coming to town. Things tend to get a little crazy when that happens. Still, it is going to take much more than Desmond Howard and Chris Fowler for Stanford to find a way to pull off the upset.
If the Irish do somehow find a way to lose to an underdog Stanford team this weekend, it will likely be a long time before ESPN is allowed anywhere near the campus again.