ND Opponent Watch Week 3: Three New Lessons

Marc HalstedCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 30:  Darrin Walls #2 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs with the ball against Fabian Martin #4 of the Purdue Boilermakers September 30, 2006 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame won 35-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Week three of the college football season brought three new lessons from future Irish opponents. Beware, Irish faithful, all of the following news is not necessarily good.

A Numbers Game

The Notre Dame schedule is suddenly harder than it looked back on the morning of September 5th.

Michigan and Michigan State were fast, tough, and very physical. Despite the upset loss at Washington, USC is still the most talented team on the field every time they suit up. The aforementioned Washington Huskies beat USC, and Jake Locker has morphed into the most frightening duel-option quarterback not currently living in a Gainesville off-campus apartment. Pittsburgh is now 3-0.

Then, there’s Boston College. 

Roman Catholics haven’t had it this bad since Martin Luther was nailing things to church doors.

Doug Flutie could start at quarterback for the Eagles—tomorrow—and he’s 68-years old and still 5’3.

Things have gotten so bad in Chestnut Hill that Gene Defillipo just called Jeff Jagodzinski to see if he wanted his job back. 

Boston College may be the worst team on the ND schedule, especially after a horrifyingly inept 25-7 loss at Clemson Saturday that produced a set of numbers that are hard to believe.

The Eagles totaled 55 yards on the day. Seriously, 55. They rushed for 29 yards on 28 attempts. They had -2 yards at halftime. They finished the day with four first downs and a 6.7 percent 3rd down efficiency.

For the season, Boston College quarterbacks are just 35 for 72 for 453 yards and six touchdowns. The two leading receivers have combined for just 230 yards. Montel Harris, the leading rusher, is averaging just 4.2 yards per carry.

Did I mention that they opened up against Northeastern and Kent State?

Despite a 2-1 record, Boston College is in a bad way right now, and the numbers are making it look a lot worse.

October 24th just got a lot easier for Notre Dame.

Run Baby, Run

If the Notre Dame run game does not manage a 250-yard day next week at Purdue than we will all know that the Irish not true contenders.

Northern Illinois rushed for 280 yards on Saturday on 57 attempts. Both Toledo and NIU made more first downs than Purdue. Oregon ran for 193 yards in their first game without LaGarette Blount.

More impressively from the 28-21 loss, NIU ran 83 plays and held the ball for 41:40 compared to just 18:20 for the Boilermakers. The Huskies had three drives of ten plays or more and much of the damage on each of those drives was done by way of the run-game.

Back home on the Irish ranch, Armando Allen has become a legitimate runner in the Charlie Weis offense. He has three straight 100-yard games, three touchdowns, and a respectable 5.5 yard average. 

Most surprising of all is that Allen is 14th in the nation in rushing yards and just 19 yards out of the top ten. He’s ahead of big names like Mark Ingram, Noel Devine, and a young man from Southern California named Joe McNight.

The bottom line for the Purdue-ND game is that the Irish should be able to play ball control all afternoon. With the precision passing of Jimmy Clausen (zero interceptions in 91 attempts), the rise of Armando Allen, and the off-speed abilities of young legs like Jonas Gray and Theo Riddick, Notre Dame will plan on forty minutes of possession, two-and-a-half bills worth of ground production, and a banner day for a veteran Irish offensive line that will be combining for their 120th start against Purdue.

It’s time to run, baby, run.


I haven’t been accused of being a man of few words since I was eating Gerber products. Then again, weren’t we all left a little speechless Saturday afternoon as we Notre Dame fans frantically flipped back and forth from the Irish barn-burner to the USC season-killer?

Let’s keep this one simple: Jake + Sark = uh-oh.

Am I alone in praying that Clausen’s toe feels 100 percent, Michael Floyd has a miraculous recovery, and Justin Tuck considers re-enrollment for the U-dub game?  I didn’t think so.

Ignore the numbers. Forget the close loss to LSU that popped seven Les Miles blood vessels. Who cares about the big Idaho win. If the Huskies get by Stanford next week they will be 3-1, leading the Pac-10, and settling into two weeks of work to prepare for their trip to South Bend. That’s way too much time to play with for up-and-comer head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Jake Locker is a man-child. Sark is apparently a miracle worker. The Huskies are not the lovable Willinghams anymore.

I, like old friend Pete Carroll, need an aspirin.