The Royal Heffernans

Quite possibly the best family ever

Sunday, October 14, 2012

2002 vs. 2012

Another glorious victory. Undefeated. Riding high. A top 5 ranking. Our defeat of Stanford has us all on an emotional high. However, I refuse to get ahead of where we are right now. That's 6-0.

This is our best start since 2002. A look back at 2002 shows some eery similarities, and I hope some lessons going forward this year.

vs. Maryland @East Rutherford, NJ
WON 22-0
9-7-02 PURDUE WON 24-17
9-14-02 MICHIGAN WON 25-23
9-21-02 at Michigan State WON 21-17
10-5-02 STANFORD WON 31-7
10-12-02 PITTSBURGH WON 14-6
10-19-02 at Air Force WON 21-14
10-26-02 at Florida State WON 34-24
11-9-02 at Navy @Baltimore, MD WON 30-23
11-23-02 RUTGERS WON 42-0
11-30-02 at Southern Cal LOST 13-44
GATOR BOWL @Jacksonville, FL
1-1-03 North Carolina State LOST 6-28

9-1-12 Navy @Dublin, Ireland WON 50-10
9-8-12 PURDUE WON 20-17
9-15-12 at Michigan State WON 20-3
9-22-12 MICHIGAN WON 13-6
10-6-12 Miami FL @Chicago, IL WON 41-3
10-13-12 STANFORD WON 20-13
10-20-12 BRIGHAM YOUNG  
10-27-12 at Oklahoma  
11-3-12 PITTSBURGH  
11-10-12 at Boston College  
11-17-12 WAKE FOREST  
11-24-12 at Southern California  

Seriously? You can't make this stuff up. Both seasons started out with minimal expectations. A neutral site road game with a big victory opened things up. Close wins against Purdue, MSU and UM were next. A big win against a decent opponent came next. That was followed by a close game against a solid opponent. That put both teams at 6-0.

Think the similarities stop there? Look ahead. An OK opponent (Air Force vs. BYU), a road game against an NCAA powerhouse (FSU vs. Oklahoma) followed by a "guaranteed" victory (BC vs. Pitt). A doormat or two then lead to an end of the season trip to play USC.

So what does this tell us? Well, these are two different teams, for sure. However, the 2012 Irish can certainly heed the lessons of the past. First, we need to treat BYU like they are the #1 team in the country. Don't look ahead to Oklahoma. Second, Oklahoma is beatable. It will take our best game of the year, but if our defense rises to the occasion, and our offense continues to improve, we have a shot. We'll be double digit underdogs, but we have a shot. Most importantly, we cannot let up against the ACC stretch of our schedule!!! No let down no matter what happens in Norman. Finally, USC is weakened. They appear beatable. However, they will be playing for a BCS bowl, a Heisman trophy, and for pride against their traditional archenemy. They could easily spoil every other good thing that has happened this season!

Something tells me Brian Kelly is well aware of the lessons of the past. Time for cautious optimism is over. This is it. We are on a championship run. Like it or not, Notre Dame is in the hunt for a National Title. Might as well enjoy the ride. I have a feeling this season is the turning point for Notre Dame football. Whether we go all the way or come up short, we're back.


Kevin said...

We could use some help - such as teams like MSU, Purdue, and Standford winning some big games and getting our SOS back.

I watched a few minutes of the BCS countdown last night, and all they kept saying was ND's strength of schedule is not good enough, that we'll never jump Oregon. Just for comparison sake, who, other than Standford and USC (whom ND plays both), does Oregon play? If you guessed Tennessee Tech, Fresno St., and Arkansas St., take a bow.

Jessie Palmer, in his infinite wisdom, also said that ND needs to play Tommy Rees, because Everett Golson can't win the big game. Golson didn't do too badly against Standford, and he got knocked out at the end. He played well against Miami, and I think he's making progress. I think Tommy Rees would have gotten sacked 8 times by Stanford if he'd started the game. Heck, I like what Kelly's doing - he's got a good young kid with tons of talent and potential who's learning, and a veteran that can come in when/if necessary.

Who knows what will happen. My guess is ND won't finish undefeated, so it won't matter. But I'd like them to win 12 games this year.

Colin and Liz said...

I would be quite happy if we win the winnable games, and play close games against OK and USC. If we do that, then we go to a BCS bowl. That 2002 team was smoke and mirrors, I was there. No offense, with a good secondary. This year's team is so much better. Also, has anyone brought up the fact that our game was played in a freaking monsoon? Rees would have turned the ball over 5 times, minimum. No QB was going to look good that day, and Golson did just enough for us to win. That fumble-TD Stanford had was 100% Kelly's fault. Why in the world did he have us throwing the ball? Also, did you see how pathetic the block of Troy Niklas was? Liz brought that to my attention, and boy did he whiff on a few other huge plays.

I do think BYU is better than most people think, so ND needs to be on high alert this weekend.

Teddy said...

Quick comments (not worth a post) on the final play and review:

Video evidence is INCONCLUSIVE!!! You can see a TD on one angle, an arm down in another, and refs blowing it dead in another. You just have to realize that cannot be overturned from the call on the field.

Furthermore, that call didn't steal a win from Stanford! Even with a TD, they still have to kick the PAT (in a driving rain) and try to win in the next OT. So much more had to happen for Stanford to sniff a victory. Remember, ND scored 2 TDs in that game, both in the 4Q or OT. Stanford's offense scored NONE the entire game. I like our chances in a 2nd OT.

Finally, some say this is karma for the "Bush Push" in 2005. That sentiment is bullshit! In 2005, when we got hosed, everybody agreed that Bush pushed Leinert in. what's the next word out of their mouth? You shouldn't have given up that bomb on 4th and 9.

So let's turn that around here. Stanford should never have let ND complete 4 straight passes leading to a last minute FG and OT TD to take the lead. Stanford should never have ran it up the middle 4 STRAIGHT TIMES inside the 4 yard line. Ever hear of play action, QB bootleg, TE pass? Don't you have 2 All-American TE's? Of course 2nd and 3rd team after Eifert!!!

PS: The 2005 USC game actually was stolen from ND on the play preceding the Bush Push. Leinert tried to scramble in, knew he wouldn't make it, and fumbled it FORWARD out of bounds. The clock was 0:00. That should be a runoff. The game was over. The last play should have NEVER happened anyway!