Thursday, September 27, 2007

Irish Hit the Road Looking for First Win | by Brian

Frank Perdue
"He Was Chicken"

Arthur Perdue first went into the poultry business on Maryland's Eastern Shore way back in A.D. 1917, while The Kaiser threatened Europe and a young George Ruth toed the rubber for Boston's American League Base Ball club. Perdue's son, Frank, was born in 1920, and it wasn't long before he was helping his pop around the farm, eventually becoming an official, full-time employee in 1939, while Hitler threatened Europe and an aging George Ruth enjoyed his retirement. Frank took over the family business in 1950, and became the face of the company for decades, eventually giving way to his son Jim in 1991, while The Scorpions threatened Europe and a deceased George Ruth was about to be portrayed on the big screen by John Goodman/Dan Connor.

In addition to their Empire of Fowl, the Perdue family has been at the forefront of philanthropy in the area. Salisbury University, in Salisbury, MD, boasts the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, while the Delmarva Shorebirds, Single A affiliate of the mighty Baltimore Orioles, take the field at Salisbury's Arthur W. Perdue Stadium. Truly, the Perdue family has been, and continues to be, a pillar of the Salisbury commun---

[Um, Brian? It's Jay....You're supposed to be writing about Purdue University, not Perdue Chicken.]

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Irish Look to Slow Down Purdue's Basketball on Grass

In their first four games, a series of fine running backs and gigantic leads has left Notre Dame's opponents content to keep the ball on the ground. That will likely change Saturday, when the Irish will have to contend with a Boilermaker pass offense led by talented quarterback Curtis Painter. Last year, Painter exploded for 398 yards passing and two touchdowns, with no interceptions, in a losing effort at Notre Dame Stadium. While Charlie Weis has spoken about improved depth in the secondary allowing the Irish to be more versatile in their personnel groupings, the Irish pass defense has been largely untested to this point, with Painter and company providing the first significant challenge.

While many would say that Purdue's most dangerous offensive threat is receiver/kick returner Dorien Bryant, the Irish will also have to contend with Boiler wideout Selwyn Lymon. Lymon was a veritable house afire in last year's matchup, with an astounding 238 receiving yards and two touchdowns. What is particuarly dismaying for Irish fans is that Lymon is not exactly the second-coming of Jerry Rice---he finished the 2006 season with a total of 580 yards and three touchdowns. Lymon is hardly the first figure, in sports or otherwise, to have one fleeting moment of greatness which dwarfs all of his other accomplishments. The following are some of the best-known examples of this phenomenon:

"There are some who call me...Tim."
--- Timmy Smith: Twenty years ago, a rookie running back named Timmy Smith stole the show in Super Bowl XXII, rushing for a SB-record 204 yards, and two touchdowns, in Washington's 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos. Remarkably, Smith had more rushing yards in his one game on pro footbawl's biggest stage than he did in his entire regular season career. In juries forced Smith out of the game in 1990.

Unknown apart from that one game, he is also handicapped by the fact that his name is Tim Smith, which is about as anonymous as you can get. He might as well just change his name to John Doe and get it over with.

--- Michael Cimino: Previously best known for directing the buddy flick Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (not to be confused with Javon Ringer and Jehuu Caulcrick), Michael Cimino left a permanent imprint on American cinema with his classic examination of the devastating effects of war on three blue-collar friends from Pennsylvania, 1978's The Deer Hunter, which won five Oscars, including one for Cimino for Best Director.

Heaven's Gate Cult leader Marshall
Applewhite (NOT Frank Perdue)

Cimino followed that up with what is widely regarded as one of the biggest flops in Hollywood history, 1980's Heaven's Gate, described by Roger Ebert as "a study in wretched excess" and "the most scandalous cinematic waste [he has] ever seen." (Interestingly, Ebert is said to have reacted to last week's Michigan St. preview in much the same way.) Not only did Heaven's Gate effectively ruin Cimino's career, it eventually lent its name to a bunch of wacko comet-riding kooks.

I've sort of lost track of Cimino's career since then, but unsubstantiated reports had him directing an episode of Small Wonder around 1987, as well as a 1993 ad for Crystal Pepsi.

--- Kevin Federline: A few years ago, a musical force burst onto the scene like a supernova, and, just as quickly, vanished. With his hip-hop tour de force entitled "Popozao", Kevin Federline unflinchingly captured the Zeitgeist of the time. The following lyrics are indicative of the song's impassioned warning against the perils of anthropogenic global warming and the sociopolitical divisions in the antebellum South:

In Portugese it means “bring your ass”
on the floor, and move it real fast.
I want to see your kitty and a little bit of titty–
want to know where I go when I’m your city?

Despite the obvious insights he displayed in this meditation on the human condition, Federline has not yet achieved a comparable level of success as of this writing.

The Resistable Force Meets the Movable Object

While the Irish defense will have its handful with Painter, Bryant, and Lymon, the key to the game as I see it is on the other side of the ball, as the struggling Notre Dame offense, which finally showed signs of life behind running backs James Aldridge and Robert Hughes (a.k.a. Thunder and Lightning), takes on a Purdue defense, led by defensive coordinator Brock Spack, which allowed 31 points last week to a struggling Minnesota squad.

On the one side, you have the Irish offense, with a freshman quarterback given little time to throw by an offensive line struggling to meld into a cohesive unit, and a running game which, while it showed flashes last week, still seeks consistency and the ability to run for a first down in short yardage situations. While some improvement was apparent against Michigan St., there is still a long way to go.

On the other side, you have this:

Who will come out on top of this matchup is anybody's guess.

The Dog and Pony Show

The pageantry and spectacle surrounding a Purdue home game would be a ripe topic for this preview, except that Jay already wrote the definitive treatment of the subject two years ago.

Lou to the Rescue

With the Irish at 0-4, it's time for former head footbawl coach Lou Holtz to put down the ESPN microphone and direct his legendary pep talking abilities toward his beloved Irish:

If I were going to talk to the University of Notre Dame team this week, this is what I would say. Men, I'd say, if you want to beat the University of Purdue, you just need to do three things.

The first thing you need to do to beat Purdue is you need to believe in yourselves. Belief in yourself is absolutely essential if you want to beat Purdue.

The second thing you need to do to beat Purdue is you need to believe in your coaches. Trust that what the coaches are telling you is going to put you in the best possible position to win the football game. I mean, that's what they're there for, men. If you fail, you'll still walk out of here in a few years with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. But if the coaches let you down, they'll be out of a job and on the golf course next year. So believe you me, they're going to do everything possible to put you in the position to win. Believing in your coaches is an important thing to do to beat Purdue.

The third thing you need to do to beat Purdue, men, is to believe in that lady on the Dome. That lady represents the Spirit of Notre Dame, and it's a powerful thing. That Spirit has been powerful ever since Father Sorin first founded this university, and it will remain so long after you and I have gone. Look to that lady on the Dome if you want to beat Purdue.

If you do these three things, men, then the rest will take care of itself, and you will beat the University of Purdue.

QB Browns Alert Level: BLACK (Benched)

It's been a few weeks, so let's recap the progress of QB Browns in Cleveland:

In Week 1, the Browns looked positively horrid in a blowout loss to archrival Pittsburgh. Starting quarterback Charlie Frye was terrible, backup Derek Anderson was no better, and the Cleveland faithful were chanting for Quinn to be put in the game. Mercifully for Quinn's sake, he was not.

A few days later, Frye was traded to the Seattle Seahawks for a Venti caramel Frappuccino and 23 shares of Microsoft stock (somebody alert Jim Carrey). Many experts viewed this as evidence that the insertion of Quinn into the Cleveland lineup was imminent (though it should be noted that NBC's Peter King has consistently pointed to the Browns' post-bye week game against St. Louis as the most likely date for Quinn's debut). However, Anderson would be the starter for the time being.

In Week 2, to the surprise of absolutely everyone, Anderson suddently looked like a latter-day Otto Graham, passing for 328 yards and five touchdowns in Cleveland's 51-45 win over Cincinnati. If there were a Derek Anderson Alert Level, it would have been upgraded to ORANGE (The Toast of Cleveland).

In Week 3, Anderson came back down to earth somewhat, throwing for 248 yards, a touchdown, and two picks in Cleveland's 26-24 loss to lowly Oakland. Nevertheless, he will remain the Browns' starter for the time being, so the QB Browns Alert Level remains at Black. However, if Quinn is inserted into the lineup at some point in this Sunday's meeting with Baltimore, it could be downgraded to PURPLE (Pummelled by Ravens Defense).

In other QB Browns news, Chris "Berman of Alcatraz" has taken to calling him "The Mighty Quinn". How utterly surprising.


With the accuracy of The Blind Oracle At Bristol's predictions now reaching ridiculous proportions, let's see what he has to say this week.

"Neither Fowl nor Foul, a nearby foe threatens control of the region. A cocoon envelopes them, and the great man (Brimley, not Don Ameche) controls the power of the Sun. Neither lime nor lemon, yet both at the same time, an old nemesis beckons. Bottom line, the Irish lack the team speed to keep up with the Boilermakers. Purdue beats Notre Dame 35-10."