Tuesday, October 13, 2009

All In | by Pat

It's Southern Cal week, one of the longest weeks of the year as we all stare towards Saturday and the annual tilt with the Men of Troy. However, as I started to poke through the facts, figures, and game reviews, looking for the overlooked open exhaust port in Carroll's Death Star of a program, it quickly became clear that their expected roadbumps haven't really shown up. Even though they will show up in South Bend led by a true freshman at quarterback, he already has a 4th quarter comeback win on the road at night over Ohio State to his name. And despite losing nearly their entire defense to the NFL, this year's squad is actually ahead of the dominating pace set by last year's crew. Sure, they hit a pothole against Washington, a team that ND just beat, but the transitive property has little value in college football and shouldn't be much solace for Notre Dame fans.

More than SC's strong stats and deep depth chart is the unavoidable fact that the past few years worth of matchups have been a horror show of Irish ineptitude. The players and staff just don't know what it is like to experience success against Southern Cal. I can think of no better way to sum it up than with this unfortunately 100% true statement:

70% of the scholarship players on Notre Dame's roster were not a part of the program the last time Notre Dame scored a touchdown against Southern Cal.
Re-read that statement a few times and you might find yourself looking to make other plans for Saturday.

And yet....despite the odds favoring the Trojans and the unpleasant thoughts of what another loss means for Charlie and the future of ND football, I found myself today looking up last minute airfare to Chicago. Maybe it's because today is 100 years to the day that my grandfather was born, the man that decided to head to college, picked a small school in northern Indiana, and was in the Stadium the first time the Trojans came to visit in 1931. Or maybe I just want another chance to tailgate and catch up with friends. But I think the main reason is that I'm getting the feeling that I don't want to be anywhere other than Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday.

I bought the plane ticket and that is where I'll be this weekend. Charlie is pushing all his figurative chips into the middle of the table for this game -- the list of recruits in town for the game is as impressive as any that have been on campus in years -- so I figure if he's going all in, I'm going to go all in too and will be screaming my head off from a seat inside the House that Rock Built this Saturday at 3:30.

Maybe I'm wrong and Saturday's game will be no different than the last seven (7!). Maybe I'm just letting my heart overrule my head once again and setting myself up for another heart-crushing letdown. But damn if it doesn't just feel like this is one game not to miss.

So I'm all in and I hope you are too. If you're coming to ND this weekend, join me outside the Stadium at 1:30pm on Friday to greet the Trojans as they show up for their walk-through. Join me to fill up campus all day on Friday as some of the top recruits in the nation start to roll into town. Join me wearing your green as you show up early on Saturday. Join me inside Notre Dame Stadium to once again make it a loud and tough place to play. Don't expect to sit much. Don't expect to have a voice left at the end of the game. Don't expect to let your confidence waver even slightly.

Because it's time to go all in.