We, truly, live in remarkable times. Thanks to technological advances, greater awareness of ecological concerns and the rampant rise of narcissism across the globe, we have become a crazy, confused, Hekyll-and-Jekyll society where one day something makes perfect sense and the next … who knows.
Take, for instance, Notre Dame’s status in the national rankings.
The Irish, the nation’s bell cows for measuring all in college football, are unbeaten, unblemished and flat-out, honest-to-goodness rock solid. They’re not flukes. They’re not winning by luck. They’re playing well, sometimes dominating and sometimes not.
They’re 5-0, with wins over two ranked squads. They are second in the country in points allowed, trailing only top-ranked Alabama. They have arguably the nation’s best defender in senior linebacker Manti Te’o.
They also lag behind – get this – South Carolina (huh?), West Virginia (say what?) and Kansas State (you have to be kidding, right?) while checking in at No. 7 in all polls.
Did ya ever? …
Talk about a reality check. Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy must be turning over in the graves at the ignominious nature of it all.
Truth be told, the Irish have no one else to blame but themselves. Whatever omnipotent aura those coaching greats created in South Bend and had spread through the minds of all across the country had been washed away by bad recruiting and even worse coaching hires.
But Notre Dame seems to have a guy at the controls who fits now in Brian Kelly, and, though alums, both legit and subway, may not like it, things may take some time before getting back to “normal” – especially with the rest of the nation’s landscape in constant upheaval, with the likes of, say, No. 2 Oregon a recognized power now for years.
The Irish get a chance to strengthen their new image this Saturday when they host No. 17 Stanford. It almost seems too easy. The Cardinal come in with more grid cred than they probably deserve, courtesy of knocking off overrated Southern Cal last month, they rely heavily on the ground game and their ability to impose their physical will on opposing teams. The Irish, in turn, are as physical as it gets and they have Te’o to stop Stepfan Taylor or anyone else Stanford has carry the ball.
Plus, it appears Everett Golson has cemented his spot at QB for Notre Dame, and the team’s running attack is fresh off a 376-yard, five-TD outing against Miami.
In other key top-25 matchups:
No. 3 South Carolina at No. 9 Louisiana State – All praise the SEC, because, without it, we might be looking at a lot of lame Saturdays this fall. Every week, the circuit seems to be putting on an audition for “how things should be.” The Gamecocks are fresh off a 35-7 shellacking of then-No. 5 Georgia that, really, wasn’t as close as the score would indicate. They invade Death Valley in a dangerous time, though, since the Tigers will be looking to rebound from a grueling, gut-busting loss at Florida, currently ranked fourth, last week. This may sound crazy, considering their respective histories, but South Carolina actually seems to have the better players at this point, with RB Marcus Lattimore, DE Jadeveon Clowney and QB Connor Shaw arguably the top three in this game all wearing garnet and white.
No. 15 Texas vs. No. 13 Oklahoma – Ho-hum, snore. Honestly, when is the last time the Red River Rivalry captured so little of the nation’s attention, especially with both teams ranked? Pass-happy West Virginia exposed the Longhorns’ defense last week, not through the air, but on the ground. The Sooners are much more solid on defense, but can they cope with an offense that averages 46.8 points per game? Does anyone outside of Dallas today care?
No. 22 Texas A&M at No. 23 Louisiana Tech – Well, the run into the polls was fun while it lasted, but it ends here. Despite hosting the game in Shreveport, La., and boasting the nation’s third-highest scoring team (53.2), the Bulldogs are staring at legit, prime-time competition for the first time in 2012 as the Aggies already have shown they can handle their own in the SEC in just their initial month of action since joining. Tech allows 35.8 points per game, which ranks 109th in the country. This could get ugly.