Notre Dame Opponent Watch Week 6: Three New Lessons

Marc HalstedCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2009

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - NOVEMBER 8: Eric Maust #43 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish has his punt blocked during a game against the Boston College Eagles on November 8, 2008 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Before we go all USC-crazy over the next few days, let's pause for a look at life after The Game. BC, UConn, and Pitt are legitimate programs that could permanently derail the 2009 Irish season. It's time to examine the Notre Dame Opponent Watch, Week Six.


Mr. Hyde of Chestnut Hill, Park Deux

One week ago this space was used to make the literary connection between the classic work of Robert Louis Stevenson and the prospects of Boston College quarterback Dave Shinskie.

Despite the calm and efficient performance of Dr. Jekyl last weekend during a convincing victory over Florida State, Mr. Hyde reappeared in Blacksburg, Va., on Saturday.

The 25-year old first-year starter couldn’t keep the evil spirits at bay, as he finished 1-for-12 for four yards and two interceptions.

In a game in which the Boston College offense had a net total of -17 yards at half, 26 total rushing yards after three quarters, and only four first downs before its final drive of the game, it was Shinskie that put up the most depressing numbers.

Tech was up 34-0 at the half and had almost completely halted the run game of Montel Harris before the Eagles found late success. Back-up quarterback Mike Marscovetra came off the bench to fire up 10 completions for 114 yards and two TD’s.

Beyond the play of Marscovetra, 6’3 sophomore Colin Larmond proved worthy for the Eagles. The wide receiver came up with two impressive catches, including a 48-yard touchdown catch in which he out-raced and out-leaped the VT defender before completing the sprint into the end zone.

Harris should still be feared, and there is enough offensive talent in maroon and gold to be respected. But it’s the enigmatic play of the BC defense and QB Shinskie that should make Irish fans breath easy.

No matter what happens with USC, there’s reason to believe that the tangled tale of Robert Louis Stevenson will play itself out in favor of Notre Dame on the afternoon of October 24th.

The Husky Myth

What do Ohio, Baylor, and Rhode Island have in common? 

You can’t name an active offensive player for any of those UConn Husky opponents.

Add in 2-3 North Carolina and their No. 100 ranked scoring offense and you have the easiest early season schedule for a BCS team not named Penn State.

(Come on JoePa, Akron, Syracuse, Temple, and Eastern Illinois? What, the Lehigh girls volleyball team wasn’t available?)

The reality of the 2009 Husky schedule is that their No. 4 ranked total defense is a myth. Before they find their way to South Bend on Nov. 21, they could get rolled by West Virginia, Rutgers, and Cincinnati.

Pittsburgh shredded the Huskies all day long Saturday. Dion Lewis was over 120 yards by the start of the fourth quarter. Pitt wide receivers had their way with the smallish UConn defensive backs.

Oh, and UConn lost leading tackler Scott Lutrus.

Somewhere Jimmy Clausen, Golden Tate, Kyle Rudolph, and Armando Allen are salivating. The No. 4 defense in America won’t be playing the Rhodie Rams when they step on the hallowed turf of Notre Dame Stadium next month.

The Good People of Pittsburgh

I’d like to think I’m reasonably well engaged in the college football world. I humbly believe I have a basic understanding of the Notre Dame opponent landscape after six weeks of the CFB season.

But I have no idea why the good people of Steel Town, USA have such hatred for Bill Stull and Dave Wannstedt.

For those of you who weren’t tuned into ESPN during the third quarter of Saturday’s Pitt game against UConn, you missed a crowd berating the home team with some of the loudest booing I’ve heard all season.

They booed the Pitt offense, QB Stull, Coach Wannstedt, Wanny’s mustache, and the Panther mascot.

In fact, the Pitt fans actually booed throughout a pass play from Stull to Jonathan Baldwin at the 0:12 mark of the third quarter…until Baldwin made the catch in the end zone for an important touchdown that sparked the 24-21 comeback win.

Yes, Wannstedt has been inconsistent but at the time of the hate-fest, his boys were trailing a 4-1 UConn team by just eight points. 

Yes, Stull has shown flashes of idiocy but at the time of the hate-fest, he was hitting on over 66% of his passes for 1,000-plus yards, 11 touchdowns, and just two interceptions. 

Dave Wannstedt has done a good job recruiting, coaching, and leading within a program that struggles to match-up on paper, in facilities, and throughout the recruiting world with the Florida’s, USC’s, and Big 10 powers of college football.

Of course, if you fire Wannstedt, we Irish fans will pool together a few million dollars so you can hire Mark May to lead the Panthers. We’d love to beat him like a rented mule and hang half-a-hundred on his smug mug on a yearly basis.

Oh, and by the way Pitt fans, you won on Saturday, you’re now 5-1, and you’re on top of the Big East standings.

Oy vey, you guys need another Iron City.