Michigan Not So Big As Notre Dame Embarrasses Wolverines

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Irish End Michigan Series On A Positive Note

By John Ventola

What a difference a year makes. Notre Dame lost to Michigan in Ann Arbor last September by an 11-point margin, 41-30, and Saturday the Irish turned the tables on the Wolverines, whitewashing them 31-0. Anytime two top echelon football teams compete twice in a twelve month period it is rare to see a 42-point turnaround. This writer attended Notre Dame’s dismantling of Michigan and came away with three distinct impressions. Irish quarterback Everett Golson sharpened his game and understanding of Brian Kelly’s offense, new ND defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder’s attacking scheme has improved that side of the ball, and Michigan head man Brady Hoke needs to get things straightened out quickly to keep the Wolverines (fan base) from his door.

Somewhat surprisingly, at least in my opinion, the Irish has risen to No.11 in both the AP and Amway Top 25 rankings on the heels of a convincing 48-17 victory over a depleted Rice squad (forget about how many games the Owls won last year), and the Michigan blowout. With Golson at the controls, Notre Dame should win three of their next four games easily with only Stanford offering up any type of challenge. Early season football can be hard to figure out. A team can be overrated due to an easy schedule, or a key victory can catapult a team to overachievement and winning tendencies. If the Irish can defeat the Cardinal, which lost by three points last weekend to USC, Notre Dame could go into Tallahassee for its battle with No. 1 Florida State with a 6-0 record. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston against Everett Golson would be interesting to watch.

Golson showed Saturday that the year layoff for poor academic judgment did not result

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Golson Shows He Did Not Get Rusty

in any rust buildup. He looked quicker, threw the ball on the run more accurately, showed outstanding pocket awareness, and was flawless in carrying out Kelly’s intricate offense. Golson finished 23-44, passing for three touchdowns and no interceptions. Most of his incompletions were throwaways as he wisely avoided any chances at committing a turnover.

Minus leading receiver DaVaris Daniels from last year due to an “academic dishonesty investigation”, Golson spread the ball around to a set of solid receivers and used the workmanlike running of Cam McDaniel and others to keep Michigan’s defense confused most of the game. Meanwhile, the new attacking defensive scheme installed by VanGorder kept Wolverine senior quarterback Devin Gardner under wraps, Gardner throwing into press coverage and becoming a victim of “happy feet” by halftime. As ND’s secondary played Michigan receivers aggressively at the line of scrimmage, linebacker Joe Schmidt and his defensive mates kept Hoke’s guys away from the endzone. Michigan did manage to get into Irish territory twice in the first half, but both drives ended with missed field goal attempts.

On a day when the Big Ten’s Big Boys, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State, all lost and joined first week loser Wisconsin, questions were immediately being asked about the quality of football currently in one of the big five conferences. Surely, all four can rebound from one loss, but under the new college football playoff system, it will be hard to convince the 13-member CFB selection committee that a Big Ten member

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Big Ten Suffers Terrible Blow To Reputation

belongs in the final four teams picked for the end of year semi-finals. Michigan State at No. 13, Wisconsin ranked No. 18, and No. 22 Ohio State each have their work cut out for them, particularly when they will be playing each other and adding another loss to some team’s ledger. Although the committee is not supposed to consider rankings, I am sure they will somehow take a peek and it will be mixed in their final four selections.

The 13-member selection committee is already the source of controversy. Committee member, Wisconsin’s Barry Alvarez, the former Badger coach, apparently went on the field to question some things during the Badgers second half collapse against LSU weekend before last. Then, current USC athletic director Pat Haden joined the proceedings on the field in the third quarter and spoke with referees during last week’s three point Trojan victory over Stanford. I am surprised that another committee member, Condoleezza Rice, an alumnus and current professor at Stanford, did not go on the field. Really not, the lady was not the Secretary of State because she could not use good judgment. She stayed in the press box. Alvarez and Haden should take a look at the huge responsibility they have accepted and avoid any glimpse of possible impropriety. Not saying there is any ill intention, but it just looks bad, particularly Haden’s actions. Objectivity on game results has to trump any unfair allegiance to one’s school or conference.

The NCAA announced in August that nine of the thirteen members have been recused from any discussions or voting on certain schools. Since the committee has five current athletic directors, including Alvarez and Haden, the move was a no brainer. Four others with close ties to certain schools either played there (Archie Manning at Ole Miss), or work there (Rice as professor at Stanford), or have worked there (Tom Osborne, former coach and athletic director at Nebraska), (Mike Gould, former superintendent of the Air Force Academy).

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) won six of the last seven BCS national championship, coming within thirteen seconds of winning its seventh straight when Florida State nipped Auburn in last season’s title battle. Currently, five SEC schools are ranked in the AP top ten, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Texas A & M, and LSU, and Ole Miss, Missouri, and South Carolina give the conference eight spots in the Top 25. Yes, former Ole Miss All-American Manning, former New Orleans Saints quarterback, and father of professional stars Peyton and Eli, could show himself a lot as he familiarizes himself with the SEC contingent and teams around the country, but he will not. He watches his two son’s play while oftentimes in disguise and tucked away in a pressbox.

Come mid-December, the College Football Playoff (CFP) selection committee could be embroiled in more hot water than any BCS selection process of the two top teams. While all committee members have impeccable backgrounds and reek of professionalism, and strategically come from various regions of the country, they will be under intense scrutiny. The recusal setup was a decision to help the process.

The goal is to rid the process of sports information departments and coaches

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CFP Process Should Top BCS System

themselves politicking for their own teams. Let the play on the field, head to head competition, strength of schedules, and other pertinent information be the guide to choosing the four most deserving teams.

It will not be easy, but it should be “cleaner”, and more acceptable than the BCS process.

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