Frightnight At The Alamodome: Notre Dame Channels Their Inner Santa Anna

Marc HalstedCorrespondent IOctober 27, 2009

SOUTH BEND, IN - SETPEMBER 19: Eric Olsen #55 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish points to a referee after a replay showed Notre Dame scored a touchdown against the Michigan State Spartans on September 19, 2009 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Michigan State 33-30. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Notre Dame needs a woodshed game. They need to go down to San Antonio, line up against an inferior Washington State team, and get a convincing win to rebuild confidence.

They could surely use a solid offensive performance, (300-yards passing from Jimmy Clausen, 150-yards rushing from Armando Allen, and 100 yards receiving from someone new would be nice)

The defense of Notre Dame needs to reflect that the defensive backfield has made its mid-season adjustments, and that Jon Tenuta can orchestrate more than a seven-man blitz package.

No matter who comes to play for the Fighting Irish, one thing s for sure: It’s time to breakout.

2009 has not been kind to Washington State. Coach Paul Wolff’s squad is 1-6 and has been outscored 259 to 106. The run-game accounts for a mere 2.2 yards per play and has totaled just 508 yards, compared to the 1508-yards rushing surrendered to their opposition.

The Cougar passing attack has put up just over 220-yards per game. They have shown signs of life in the past two weeks with Freshman Jeff Tuel who threw for 354 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 49-17 loss to California last weekend. 

The offensive stats are feeble but they pale in comparison to a defense that surrenders an astounding 35+ points per game. Led by junior safety Chima Nwachukwu’s 55 tackles and redshirt freshman Travis Long (four tackles for a loss and two sacks) the Cougars defense has some young talent but they lack the depth and muscle to over-power older, more experienced programs like Stanford, USC, Oregon, and Arizona State.

WSU plays from behind early, strays from the running game, and must air it out for three quarters to keep the scoreboard from tipping over.

Notre Dame has the clear advantage in nearly every offensive scenario and will be expected to produce early and often. WSU has been outscored 112-3 in the first quarter. ND will want to start fast and never take their foot off the peddle.  

After six straight games that have come down to the dramatic depths of the fourth quarter, Notre Dame needs a defining victory over an inferior football team. They not only need it for the intrinsic benefit, but for public perception.

The talking heads of college football still question the validity of their 5-2 record. Questions abound over razor-thin wins over sub-.500 programs like Purdue and Washington, as well their loss to a very average Michigan team.

The cynics of college football still question every anti-Fighting Irish cliché from strength of schedule, to Charlie Weis, to NBC and their national exposure.

The ND haters of college football desperately want Jimmy Clausen to fail and for Notre Dame football to disappear into northern Indiana oblivion.

After a noble 5-2 start, four last minute victories, a near miss against an alleged top-five team from Southern California, and ample amounts of national attention, it’s time for the University of Notre Dame football program to make a defining statement.

If the Irish want to legitimize their rankings, the recent BCS conversations, and the two-man Heisman hype over Clausen and Golden Tate, then they need to simply do what is expected.

They need to crush Washington State, beat Navy by two touchdowns, take a victory from number 15 Pittsburgh, and manufacture quality wins over Connecticut and Stanford.

It all starts on Halloween against the Washington State Cougars.

It’s time for a frightening beat-down from the Fighitng Irish behind the ole’ Alamodome woodshed.