The Royal Heffernans

Quite possibly the best family ever

Thursday, November 01, 2012

What Will It Take

Plenty of room at the bottom of that sign!
The dream season. A National Championship coupled with a Heisman trophy. Notre Dame has done it 3 times (1943, 1947 and 1949). More recently, Alabama and Auburn have pulled off this awesome combo.

Before this season began, this was not even on the horizon for the 2012 Fighting Irish. Now, after an incredible 8-0 start to the season, both are within the realm of possibility. Should we get our hopes up? Are we just setting ourselves up to be crushed? What will it take for the Irish to achieve these lofty goals?

All of these questions will be answered by the man who successfully analyzed the ND - Oklahoma game and predicted the outcome based upon stats and factual evidence, despite EVERY national media person ignoring these facts and picking the Sooners. If I hear someone use the "eye test" to judge a football team again, I will immediately tune them out.

The Heisman
Manti Te'o is almost a lock for an invite to New York as a Heisman finalist. Most informal polls of Heisman voters have him at #2 right now. However, I have not seen anyone put him #1 yet. You can see that everyone acknowledges his excellence, but nobody is willing to actually give it to a defensive player. That creates a problem. I think 3 things must happen for Manti to win the Heisman.

1) Notre Dame must go undefeated
Even a single loss would eliminate him from contention.

2) Kansas State has to lose
Collin Klein is the Heisman leader on just about every ranking I have seen. For Manti to win, the leaders ahead of him must fall.

3) Attitude change
Even if Klein goes down, I see another offensive player from a top team leapfrogging Manti - unless the Heisman voters make a conscious decision to change their past voting habits. I think this is a big leap. If Manti can create a few Heisman worthy highlights, that may be enough to make this happen. A big PR push by the ND athletic department is in order as well.

BCS Championship
We can't win a title unless we get there. Obviously, we have to win that game. However, getting there may prove more challenging than winning a potential championship game! Right now, I see 2 scenarios by which we get into the BCS Championship game. Both require a few things to happen, and clearly Notre Dame does not control its own destiny.

1) 2 of the other 3 remaining undefeated teams must lose
Clearly, if we are one of only 2 undefeated teams, we get in. I think Alabama, KSU and Oregon will all end the season ranked ahead of us if we all remain undefeated. The reason for this is that the human polls have us at #4. We cannot leapfrog Alabama or KSU with our remaining schedule compared to theirs. Also, Oregon will likely pass us in the BCS rankings after this weekend with their improved strength of schedule coming up.

2) Notre Dame passes KSU in the Coaches and Harris polls
My joy over defeating Oklahoma was tempered last weekend when the polls came out. I really thought we would leapfrog KSU, based on a head to head comparison of our mutual games against the Sooners. Our victory was much more decisive, and came at a time when OU was rolling. Right now, we are a bit behind them, and it is nearly impossible to overtake them in the BCS rankings. The computer polls love them (as they do us). We need to somehow convince the poll voters to leapfrog us. That will be very difficult. Our only chance is that our upcoming victories look better than theirs. We have to score MAJOR style points and crush Pitt, BC and Wake. The offense needs to progress and show that the Oklahoma game was the START of something big, not an aberration. Considering how we handled Navy and Miami (the worst 2 defensive teams we have played) I like our chances there. I also think we have to really root for USC. We know they are good, but we need our finale against them to really matter. KSU doesn't have much left. their finale against Texas should be a cakewalk considering Texas' awful defense.

So let's get down to the big question. Should we get our hopes up? My simple answer:  


We have all been ND fans our whole lives. That means 2 years of joy and X years of disappointment and soul-crushing losses (X is defined as your age - 2). 1987 gave us a Heisman and 1988 gave us a Championship. Is it likely we get crushed again this year? Yes. However, it's time to get on the bandwagon (if you were ever off). Wear your gear. Watch the games (I'm talking to you Colin and Dad). Make plans for a HUGE Thanksgiving weekend party to watch USC. Make some hotel reservations in Miami, just in case!

Someday, Notre Dame will win it all again. I want to ride the train to the title and savor every moment of it. The train has left the station this year. I'm on board. Are you?


Colin and Liz said...

Am I onboard? You bet your ass!

Uncle Choo Choo

Kevin said...

Te'o for president! (He couldn't do any worse, could he?)

Also, if USC beats Oregon, and we beat USC, that would be HUGE! Oregon, Alabama and KSU still have some tough games. Alabama gets into their real SEC schedule, KSU has a ton of pressure since they've never been this high, and Oregon sometimes goes out and just lays an egg. I like our chances - I especially like that the next three weeks should all be very winnable. We take care of our business and hope those other three DON'T take care of theirs.

Teddy said...

If by "real SEC Schedule" you mean offensively challenged LSU and scrappy A&M, then great. I consider Bama's SEC schedule an absolute joke. They dodge Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The SEC rigs their schedule to help the projected best teams. I actually think they manipulate the schedule to maximize the chance that 2 teams will play the BCS Championship (like last year), or at least 2 are guaranteed a BCS bowl.