I traditionally hold my Holtzian values close to the vest. Cautious optimism and eternal modesty frequently guard my Notre Dame predictions.
I like to criticize Charlie Weis when needed, I like to remove the rose-colored glasses when examining Jimmy Clausen, and I carefully predict seasons with numbers like 9-3.
But not today. I can’t. It’s USC weekend, and I'm all worked up. All inhibitions have been lost, and all remnants of my diplomatic sense have been cast aside.
Notre Dame wins big, 38-17.
Some will remember that I suffered a horrid fall off the bipartisan wagon a few weeks back when I engaged in the “Creature v. Creature” format with my respected colleague from Ann Arbor. The “Other Tate Game” has haunted me since, but the loss wasn’t as bad as the abuse I took from the Michigan fans before the game.
My prediction was a big win and Notre Dame domination in nearly every facet of the game.
Tragically, I was wrong.
Saturday will be my retribution.
Coach Lou, this one’s for you.
The energy from the Friday night pep rally lingers into Saturday afternoon. The emotion is palpable, and Coach Weis appeals to the crowd by taking the ball for the opening kickoff.
Manville, NJ's Theo Riddick electrifies the ND faithful with a stunning Jersey jaunt through a late-arriving USC coverage team.
Bon Jovi echoes throughout the Stadium. Somewhere in Freehold Borough, Bruce Springsteen is smiling. Jimmy Hoffa considers resurrection.
Kapron Lewis-Moore, Ian Williams, and Kerry Neal start where they left off two weeks ago and answer the preseason hype with some big early stops. The five-star Trojan offense can’t overpower the Irish front like Pete Carroll predicted.
Clausen answers with a dynamically diverse offensive series. The more rested and nimble captain orchestrates a long drive, draining the clock, and puts the ball in the trusted hands of Armando Allen, Golden Tate, and Kyle Rudolph.
Allen scores from the Wildcat formation. 14-0 Irish.
Trojan QB Matt Barkley struggles with the Notre Dame crowd. The student section has done their online research. ND co-eds bombard the blond-haired, blue-eyed Trojan God with names of ex-girlfriends, his middle school transcript, and four signs mocking the worst of his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, up in the Batcave, Jon Tenuta dials up a few diabolical blitz packages, and Manti Te’o channels his inner Rey Maualuga in route to the USC backfield. Advantage ND.
USC finds a way into the end zone, but not before Jimmy and Golden hook up for a big-play TD to end the half. 21-7 Irish.
The delirium in ND Nation becomes so intense that bizarro world hits South Bend.
Tom Hammond and Pat Haden actually start to correctly identify Notre Dame players during the telecast.
Mark May struggles to digest a bratwurst in the Bristol studio and keels over with an apparent coronary.
Mel Kiper Jr. adjusts his “Big Board” and puts a not-that-fast white strong safety from Notre Dame at the top of his 2009 mock draft.
Back on the field, the Irish withstand the USC comeback in the second half. Carson Palmer leads two scoring drives, and Marcus Allen carries the rock nine times for over 100 yards.
Just minutes after a Nick Tausch bomb from 50 yards, Tommy Z. arrives in time to stop Clay Matthews Sr., Clay Matthews Jr., and Clay Matthews III from “nudging” Reggie "P"ush into the end zone during yet another Irish goal-line stand. The Trojans settle for the field goal, and the Irish cling to a 24-17 lead.
The Smith clan (Brian, Toryan, and Harrison) slams the door on a depleted and beat-up Trojan offense that struggled with Ohio State, Washington, and Washington State.
The SC band leaves early. “Fight On” is done for the day (I hate that stinkin' song!).
Clausen dials up the California connection, and Inglewood’s Shaq Evans catches the first of what will be many touchdowns in his Domer career.
Kyle McCarthy makes a late interception, laterals it to a spot-subbing Mike Anello, and ND puts the finishing touches on the 21-point win.
The aftermath is filled with Irish gold.
Five of the 10 ESPN Top 150 recruits in attendance commit on the spot. Offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson goes Irish. Kyle Prater decommits from USC and signs with ND. Tai-ler Jones calls Jim Harbaugh and trades Cardinal red for the golden dome. Corey Cooper and Giovanni Bernard make reservations for South Bend.
In the polls, the Irish climb to No. 12 in the country.
At ND, Coach Weis incinerates the “hot seat” during the post-game bonfire.
Back at the ESPN mothership, Lou Holtz signs on for 10 new “Dr. Lou” segments.
It’s good to be Irish. It’s great to beat USC. It’s overwhelming to have the college football world choke on their Irish envy.
Dear God, let the countdown to kickoff begin. I’m ready. I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic.
Just please, Lord, don’t make me or our beloved Irish out to be the fools...again.