So here's my prediction for the FSU game: Everett Golson's going to turn the ball over.
I know it. You know it. We all know it.
am not saying we couldn't end up with another miraculous, turnover-free
victory against a Top 10 team on the road (a la the Oklahoma game in
2012); Golson often has a freakish ability to play better in hostile
road environments than he does when the Irish are at home. (Maybe all
the animosity helps him focus. Who knows)
time I consider the possibility of a turnover-free game against the
Seminoles, some internal, Magic 8 Ball-esque voice tells me: Don't count on it.
still hope for the best, of course. But in an effort to brace myself
for any inopportune possession changes, I've decided it's best not to
simply wish for the costly mistakes to disappear. Instead, I've decided
to focus on the potential outcomes of any turnover malarkey by asking
myself: okay, what happens AFTER we turn the ball over?
Better not tell you now, says Magic 8 Ball.
what we've learned so far this season is that it is apparently possible
to turn the ball over five times and still win by a sixteen-point
margin. And that we have a special teams unit strong enough to help us
out in this endeavor, by gaining key field position, making key tackles,
and blocking key kicks. We've also learned that we're capable of
orchestrating a comeback--of scoring fifty points when necessary
(scoring 6 out of 6 trips to the red zone), if that's what it takes to
win the game.
The obvious response to all this--the one
generally agreed upon by the greater college football universe and all
statistical common sense--is Outlook not so good. Because obviously you can make crazy turnover mistakes against Syracuse. Or North Carolina. Or Purdue. Or...Stanford. But you can't do that against a team like FSU. They will make you pay for it.
makes sense. In fact, it's an argument I've made myself. Turning the
ball over five times or digging a 14-0 hole in the first five minutes of
regulation isn't a good idea unless you've been cast as the underdog in
a heartwarming sports movie (preferably involving overcoming the odds
by beating your big brother in a cross-town peewee football rivalry).
And no--I don't think we can beat FSU if we make as many mistakes
against the Seminoles as we made against North Carolina or Syracuse.
we've also learned this season that our defense can't stay on the field
for 90 plays. That a hurry-up offense destroys our ability to make key
substitutions and stay dominant on third down (see: North Carolina
game). That our holder really needs to wear gloves during field goal
attempts in the rain. And that it's more or less impossible to tell
what's going on in Everett Golson's head, and we should probably abandon
hope that the team (or Everett Golson's brain) will have eradicated all
their stupid mistakes by the time the Irish trot out on that field in
But we can also say with absolute confidence that we've gotten lots and lots of practice recovering from our own mistakes. You may rely on it. The
last four games have not been stellar in terms of dominance, and there
have been so many obvious errors it's easy to fixate on them. But in the
midst of the glaring snafu's, that when we're down--when things are
starting to go wrong and the breaks are beating the boys--we go out
there and WE WIN ANYWAY. Even if we miss two incredibly crucial field
goals in a tight game against the top-ranked defense in the country.
Even if we're watching the lead teeter back and forth like a see-saw
until time finally expires.
It doesn't matter that some
furious, selfish, unsportsmanlike part of me wants the team to shape
the hell up and stop making turnovers, stop missing tackles, stop
looking like they're a work-in-progress and start looking like a bunch
of dominant mo-fo's--not because obviously they should be doing this
anyway but so that people can STOP SAYING THINGS like, "Ha, well, even
if Notre Dame does manage to scrape by on their suuuuuuuuper difficult
schedule and go undefeated and make it into the playoffs, it's just
gonna end up like this again: [post link to 2012 national championship
Maybe I should just stop going on the
internet during football season. Because I'm sick to death of these
snarkastic comments and I'm sick of people saying ND has a ridiculously
tough schedule at the beginning of the season and then taking it back
three weeks later, and I'm sick of pre-season rankings in general; and
I'm SUPER sick of the effing selection committee even though they
haven't done anything yet, because HOW THE HELL is appropriating two of
the major historic bowl games each season and pissing off a ton of
Top-10 teams' fans by cherry-picking four teams each year instead of two
ANY BETTER than the original system of "Hey, everybody just play your
bowl games and we'll pick the winner from there"? (I guess that's an
entire rant on its own, for another time.)
Back to the point: I know everybody thinks we should be all quaking in
our buckled leprechaun boots about the possibility of turning the ball
over against the defending national champions (or whatever), but I say
screw that. I will of course be a lobster-faced vision of fury should we
turn the ball over three times and have it cost us the game. But I am
not afraid of making mistakes. Go ahead, Irish. Give my blood pressure a
spike. Do what you do.
Because even if this team DOES
screw up, I don't believe it's a sign of imminent failure. Because this
year, the one thing we've been really, really good at is overcoming our
Now, perhaps this does not sound as optimistic or violently comforting as YEAH--let's
go break some wooden boards apart with our faces and then go out there
and smash in the faces of those Seminoles!!!!!! (
afraid I don't really have a lot of face-smashing conviction about this
game. Whenever I try to ask myself what I think, I mostly get a gloop gloop gloop...Try again later.
I do know, with certainty, that we are capable of fixing our flub-ups.
Even if we're just fixing them with duct tape and spackle to hold us
over til the end of the game. (That's as long as it needs to last,
And this is a new week. A new game. We get to
start all over. Leave the lopsided, shoddily constructed structure from
last week's caper behind and build something new. Maybe even something
that will last. Something we'll look back upon--maybe even feel the
urge to gild and commemorate for future generations. Because, you know,
there are few things Domers love more than gilding victories for
So let's go out there and lay a new
foundation. Doesn't matter how unstable the thing looks in the midst of
construction; you pull this one out, and some combination of glee and
nostalgia will fix that sucker right up until it looks like the friggin'
Parthenon. (Well. Or something like that. It's only the seventh game
of the season; let's not get carried away.)
It is decidedly so.
GO IRISH BEAT SEMINOLES!