“Just Enough: Irish Win CCHA Regular Season Crown With Pair of 1-Goal Wins Over UNO” – Rakes of Mallow

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The rafters at the newly announced hockey facility just might be full of banners even before the Irish play a game inside of it. At the very least, the 2008-2009 CCHA Regular Season Championship banner will hang, as Notre Dame swept the weekend series with UNO and second place Miami (OH) lost to and tied Northern Michigan in their weekend series. ND obviously hopes that it isn’t the only banner they earn this season.

The title didn’t come easy. It was a physical, hard-fought weekend sprinkled with some fortuitous bounces and questionable officiating. Even Coach Jackson acknowledged that the Irish were extremely fortunate to have won Friday night’s game, a thrilling 4-3 OT win.

The Omaha Civic Auditorium lived up to the hype. Close to 8,000 packed the building each night, affectionately named “The Barn,” to hopefully watch UNO upset the #2 ranked Irish. There was a sizeable Irish fan presence and the roar after each Irish goal rivaled that of the UNO fans. What they did have was cowbell. Lots and Lots of cowbell.

Read the rest at Rakes of Mallow.

Game Day: Stanford @ Notre Dame

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I’ve always thought that teams named after abstract entities such as colors were cute. I think my personal favorite was back in the day when Marquette was the Gold. I guess that would have been a menacing nickname back in the days of Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders when the Gold standard was used or something like that. Heck, even now, as our dollar continues to crumble, the exchange rate for gold can be pretty daunting. And then of course there is the Stanford Cardinal. That one specific red in the vast pallet of reds which was picked to symbolize academic prowess on the west coast.

Football competency? Not so much. Not in this decade.

After a strong game last week, the Irish face a weaker opponent. But as we have seen this season, it appears our boys love to play down to the opposition a la SDSU. Heck, the Aztecs might be a better team than Stanford this year.

Well, maybe not quite.

The Cardinal has had a pretty tough schedule so far, losing to then ranked TCU 31-14 and 15th Ranked ASU 41-17. They slipped by a dismal Washington team 35-28 last week and beat San Jose State 23-10 a few weeks ago. Their most notable win this year is over Oregon State, who we know took down then #1 USC.

Transitive property anyone?

To win, the Irish just have to stick with the plan. The running game has to show up, and it could be a challenge, with Stanford giving up 128 yards per game. But it needs to be effective just to balance the pass attack, where Stanford gives up 260 yards per game. Clausen needs to be sharp, and the pass game will be the offensive difference.

The deal breaker could be on defense. We’ve seen the Irish in the nickel base defense against teams who use the spread. I’m pretty sure Stanford doesn’t though, so we’ll see the Irish 3-4 base. Hopefully they can control Stanford RB Toby Gerhart better than Ringer.

I see where the game COULD be close, but I really don’t want to believe it. Tune in at 2:30 ET on NBC! I have the Irish pulling it out 34-21.

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Regrettably Back Home…

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But not because I don’t want to write for you heapsters. Alas, I have returned from my trip to Austin, Texas! I had a blast, to say the least, but details will be coming the rest of this week, so forgive my brevity regarding specific details! Though the trip did leave me with quite a dilemma. I don’t really know what I love more, Angel, or Texas! Needless to say, it was QUITE the great vacation.

Unfortunately, my little hiatus left me gravely disconnected (quite literally) from the world! Our various pages have been UPDATED (Rays, Bucs, Notre Dame). Speaking of the Rays, they CLINCHED a playoff birth! Congratulations to our hometown boys, and their first venture into the post season. But of course, there is still a division to win! The magic number has been reduced to 2, meaning the Rays can potentially clinch tomorrow, if Boston loses and they Rays finish off the sweep of Baltimore. Here’s a video of the Tropicana Field Madness after clinching a playoff berth!

The Bucs also won surprisingly in OT in Chicago, while Notre Dame lost to Michigan State. The Tampa Bay Lightning have also opened training camp and have even played a few pre season games, opening the Barry Melrose Era, or the regime of the mullet. We’ll have a page for them up tomorrow probably.

So as you probably are expecting, there will be a new TTMC with stories and adventures from Texas. Also, a movie review should be up as well! And I haven’t forgotten about our sci fi list! We should wrap that up by this weekend. In addition, I always have some random, crazy stories to share that I find online! You can expect some of those too. We’ll get back to it tomorrow!

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Some Comments: SDSU @ ND

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That was close. Too close. Definitely not anywhere close to the quite comfortable margin of 21 the spread had us at, but a win is a win. Especially for a team that was the unexpected doormat of D1 last season, winning a tough game like this I feel can begin the cohesion process of the group.It will definitely be needed against a hungry Michigan team next week, looking to appease the maize and blue faithful after two shaky performances at The Big House. An away win at ND would be a potent remedy for skepticism.

Based on how we played for most of the game, we would probably get schooled by most teams. But that was yesterday, and there were many good things that happen too. The [winning] streak is alive with the sound of BLOCKING. Clausen was sacked 0, ZERO times. That’s about 9 fewer times than last seasons opener. He had to scramble at times, but for the most part, he had TONS of time to throw. While this could be attributed to SDSU’s depleted defensive line, college athletes, no matter who they play for, are usually pretty athletic. SDSU clearly had an athletic team, and they brought their best game to the hostile confines of historic Notre Dame Stadium (which hosted its 400th game!).

It’s not a secret that Charlie wants to pound it. I think if you were (un)lucky enough to watch the NBC broadcast, you were probably reminded of this numerous times. We seemed to be effective, but really, stats-wise, it wouldn’t seem it, with Allen and Hughes running for 59 and 54 yards respectively, and their averages at 3.5 and 3.4. We’d like to see that number over 4 at the very least. But in general not a bad showing.

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Passing was a huge question mark coming into the season, especially with Clausen having surgery, and well, not being too impressive or effective last season. He certainly came out firing, showing improved touch, accuracy and arm strength. Don’t forget about confidence. His body language, his look of determination and control of the huddle all oozed of a new confidence level, so that was nice to see. Perhaps it has to do with his “Sampson-like” locks he has now. Don’t cut your hair Jimmy. The receivers came up big for the most part, though there were a few drops. While we may not have utilized our tight end play, I was thoroughly impressed with freshman Kyle Rudolph, who wears that #9 we all came to love. Golden “is thy” Tate had a great game as well, with a TD and 93 yards receiving. His catches always have a knack for being timely.

Clearly, the offense needed some improvement, but our defensive and special teams play was not stellar either. The most notable difference is the change in defensive scheme to a 3-4. It’s tough to play, but it allows for confusing blitzes to be run. LB play is vital, and NT penetration is of the utmost importance. The line really didn’t get too much overpowering penetration. They did record a sack or two, and even an interception by DE Kerry Neal. The line and the LB’s NEED to get into the backfield. This will be important next week against the newly implemented spread offense of UM.

Special teams was sub par. the return game was fine, but again, the kicking is going to make or break games. Punting was good, as Eric Maust had an average close to 40 yards, and had 2 kicks downed inside the 20. But the FG kicking… we missed another one, not to mention a botched hold. We’ll need improvement there.

Overall, it was a bit disappointing to see such a close game, but certainly not as disappointing if we had lost. It was clear that this year’s team has underlying glimmers of explosive potential that hopefully begin to emerge more strongly as the season goes on (and as the ability is needed!). Last year, the experience just wasn’t there, and you could feel the lack of a competitive bite even in the stands as we watched. A bowl big is certainly possible with the schedule and the increasing maturity of the team, but we have to improve next week against Michigan to have a chance.

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Game Day: San Diego State @ Notre Dame

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After waiting for a long nine months (or 12, if you knew the season was over after Georgia Tech AND Michigan), Notre Dame’s 2008 Football campaign kicks off today against none other than San Diego State, member of the juggernaut Mountain West conference. Couldn’t we at least have gotten BYU? Regardless, our proverbial Christmas has arrived, and hopefully Charlie, Clausen and Co. come bearing gifts. We definitely know they are bringing a cupcake to the party. My question is: Are YOU pumped yet? Kick off is only 3 hours away! If you aren’t, then watch our ND propaganda.

Are you not entertained!?! Hehe. Coverage kicks off at 3:30 on your local NBC station, home of all Irish home games. It’s genuinely tough not envisioning myself getting ready to be heading out to the stadium right now. For the past four years, no matter what, opening weekend was always spectacular. I guess this would be the four year anniversary of the epic Michigan upset where we got to rush the field in our first game as freshman! We never got to again.

What to look for today? well, hopefully, lots of points. SDSU has lost half of their defense due to injury. Hopefully the revamped offensive line can capitalize on this and just pound the rock up their throats. Success in the running game not only today, but this year will be the key to rebounding from the tough year last year. SDSU can definitely get the confidence going (as can beating a weakened Michigan next week, well, beating Michigan at ANY time). We’ll also see if the defense can rebound from getting pummeled last year as well. There often was no penetration, and blitzes were often ineffective. The coverage? Well that hasn’t been a strong point for a couple of years, but we’re hoping that our young DB’s can develop (quickly), though we saw flashes of brilliance last year with Walls.

Today should be a relatively easy game for the Irish. I’m jealous not to be there, as many fellow ’08 grads, not to mention, my best friends, are at the game! Hope you guys enjoy! Look for the Irish to win comfortably 34-13 and continue their winning streak from last year.

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