At some point, after foregoing about 10 distinct chances to win the game by making just one more play, you gotta concede that you just flat out dropped the ball and failed. You just didn’t get ‘er done when you should have … you just lacked that winning quality … you underachieved in a major way. Well … that was definitely Notre Dame on Saturday vs Pitt. I’ll come out and say it right now … the 4 OT loss to the Panthers is simply infuriating for ND fans … it is simply the sickening type of loss we have seen within ND Stadium 2-3 times per year over the past 12 years or so … and it is absolutely nauseating. Now, why would I say that? Well … maybe it’s because ND has more talent than Pitt, we were playing at home, Pitt was playing without their starting QB and their center … and Rutgers scored 54 points on them in Pittsburgh the week before. Shall I continue? ND had a 14 point halftime lead and led by 7 with about 4 mins remaining in regulation … at home. Nobody … I repeat … nobody … gets less out of more than the ND coaching staff.
Starting in the second half, Notre Dame had about 10 distinct chances to essentially win this ball game. They then proceeded to whiff 10 times in a row in clutch situations … also known as the “gagfest”. The first such chance was Harrison Smith’s freakin’ senseless personal foul very early in the second half. If Smith can somehow avoid being a butthead (e.g. avoid smacking the Pitt player in the back away from the play and 3 seconds after the 3rd down play was over), then Pitt starts the half by having to punt from their 30 yard line and down by 14 points. Instead, they are awarded a first down at their 45 and go on to score a TD to cut the deficit to 7. That changed the entire complexion of the game and ND’s offense became tighter than a drum … they simply went into a shell … afraid to use their talent. I think the Irish had 7 yards of total offense in the 3rd quarter, which was one of the worst single quarters I can remember in a long time.
So Smith’s mindless personal foul started the whole mess … for Cubs fans, you could say it was Bartmanesque. From that point on, ND had several opportunities to make just one more play to seal the win. There were several 4th downs on defense where the Irish could’ve simply made the stop and won the game. The most obvious opportunity was with ~2 mins left in regulation with ND winning by 7 and Pitt facing a 4th and 6 from the Irish 10 yard line. Whiff. ND’s defense whiffed on about four other 4th downs along the way during the second half. How in the world does ND get only 1 sack on Pitt’s back-up QBs the entire game????
Offensively, ND had a 2nd and goal from the 3 yard line in the first OT. If they score a TD, they win the game. But nooooo … jamming it in from there is too much to ask. There was also the 4th and one from the 50 with about 1 minute left in regulation. If we can sneak a just a yard on this one play, we can get another 20 during the next 45 seconds and kick a FG to win in regulation. Yeah … right! Forget it.
The truth is … there is no way this game should’ve even been close to reaching over time. ND should’ve won by 15+ points. We have more talent, we’re at home, Pitt has key injuries, Pitt has Dave Wannstedt as head coach. I mean, how many advantages do you want???? So I’m really ticked off and disgusted today … just like most ND fans across the country. The Irish should’ve won this game easily and instead coughed it up. The reasons? ND’s coaching staff can sure recruit, but they can’t coach X’s and O’s leading up to game day, they can’t motivate consistently, and they don’t adequately develop players. ND’s coaching staff is close to inept. They are good recruiters, but not good at much else … except screwing up a good thing. This could’ve been a really nice 9-3 springboard season. Instead, we’ll be lucky to be 7-5 when all is said and done. Charlie … I don’t know if it’s you, the members of your coaching staff, or both. But collectively, you’re just not getting the job done. Saturday’s loss to Pitt is a real low point of your tenure at ND.
In other CFB news, Wally’s next favorite teams both won … Boise State trounced New Mexico State 49-0 to stay undefeated, and Northwestern beat Minnesota with a late pick six. (That’s why they’re the Gophers). Did everyone see Texas Tech beat Texas in an instant classic? Will they now become #1? Nope … probably #3 … behind Alabama and Penn State. If TT keeps winning though, they will crack the Top 2, likely at Penn State’s expense. Meanwhile, Georgia did not disappoint as the most underachieving team in America … they got trounced by Florida. Last but not least, one good thing has continued to happen the past few weeks: Michigan lost again!!!!!! Quite cool.
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