Notre Dame rode a dominant second half to a convincing 38-21 win Saturday. The second half of this game was really the first time this season that the Irish displayed the type of sustained, versatile offense that fans have been hoping to see. What a welcome sight, though, as this followed a typically sloppy, frustrating first half that saw the Irish waste more trips into the red zone … leaving fans to wonder if this game was destined to be another embarrassing loss at home to a very beatable opponent.
The Irish are now 3-1 heading into next week’s home tilt vs Stanford. The outstanding second half should generate momentum and confidence next week. Notre Dame’s offense broke through, primarily due to 6 skill players: Clausen (275 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT), Tate (64 yds, 1TD ), Grimes (65 yds, 1TD) Floyd (100 yds ), Rudolph (1 TD) and Armando Allen (134 yds rushing, 1TD). Kudos to the offensive line (finally!) for again giving Jimmy time to pass but also opening up some running room. Brandon Walker finally made a field goal. A key pick-six by Robert Blanton turned a
Another wasted first quarter which saw ND come out tentative on offense and suffer poor field position … again resulting in a deficit and lack of momentum into the 2nd quarter. As usual, Brandon Walker missed another easy kick. The Irish also failed to pick up a 4th and one from Purdue’s 39 yard line. The defense allowed way too many big plays and inexplicably allowed Purdue to wiggle out of poor field position in a play or two. Again, no sacks of the Purdue QB, which helped yield 360 yards passing. ND also gave up an average of 6.1 yards per running play, and the tackling was not very good for stretches. I remember seeing one Purdue player block 3 ND defenders on a long sideline run. This cannot continue.
Next week is Stanford. The Cardinal are 3-2 and coming off a 35-28 victory over hapless Washington. They have beaten Oregon State and San Jose State, but have lost to Arizona State and TCU. As last year’s incredible upset at USC attests, they are capable of playing over their heads for 60 minutes. Still, ND should be favored to win, but we’ll need to focus and not rest on this week laurels. I look at this game similar to the Purdue game … ND has more talent and the advantage of playing at home … should be a Notre Dame win. However, ND fans are looking for week-to-week continuity of solid play; we’ll continue to be skeptical until we see the Irish play well for 3-5 consecutive halves. Still, today’s 2nd half gives us hope that the Irish are turning the corner.
Nice to see USC flounder this week. Florida, too. No team out there is unbeatable. If #9 Wisconsin can cough one up at Michigan, can the Irish be that far from a realistic Top 25 ranking at 3-1? Just have to keep winning … that’s all we ask 🙂
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