The Home Stretch

With a week to go in the regular season, it’s the beginning of the end.

By John Griffin

A heroic goal line stand that will surely go down in Notre Dame lore lifted the #1 Irish past USC and a valiant effort by Trojan QB Max Wittek, who was thrust into action with an injured Matt Barkley unable to start.

With USC down 22-13 with 5 and a half minutes remaining, Wittek lofted a 53-yard pass to Marquise Lee, who snagged the ball at the Notre Dame 2-yard line. All of a sudden a game that seemed nearly over was blown wide open, the Trojans had new life and a chance to claw back into the game with plenty of time to spare.

Unfortunately for the Trojans, Notre Dame had no such plans.

The stingy Irish defense, a unit that allowed an average of 10 points a game, stood tall once again. Due to penalties, USC ran 8 plays inside the 10-yard line. Over 3 minutes burned off the clock. 1 play gained positive yardage. The Irish yielded 0 points. You can watch the entire drive here.

The stop culminated a long journey for the Golden Domer faithful, who have been waiting, impatiently, for 24 years for this moment. The Irish are going back to the national championship game, their first BCS berth ever. It’s not due to any of the typical media hype for ND, mind you. This team began the season unranked. They’ve played 4 ranked teams, 2 on the road, and emerged unscathed.

The Irish are finally back. Will they win it all? That’s another story.

Meanwhile, In SEC Country…

What fortunate roads #2 Alabama and #3 Georgia have traveled. That’s not a knock against either team, even the best teams need a little bit of luck.

Alabama’s loss to Texas A&M so late in the season should have kept them out of the national title talk. Luckily, in what we generally call a “falling ass-backwards into a gold mine” #1 and #2 lost the very next week, opening the door for Alabama to cruise back into a #2 spot and a shot at the title. First however, the Tide need to get through #3 Georgia in Atlanta.

Georgia has played a remarkably (and I do mean remarkably) soft SEC schedule for 2 years now. This year they managed to avoid Alabama, LSU, and Texas A&M. Come on, man. While I know there isn’t anything Georgia can do about who they face in SEC play, can we look at the out-of-conference opponents?  Georgia Tech, Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, and Georgia South?

Yeah, a regular murderer’s row.

The Dawgs did however, notch a very impressive win against #4 Florida, but am I really supposed to believe the Georgia is #3 in the country? That they’re better than Oregon? Kansas State? Texas A&M? This team got obliterated by South Carolina and nearly lost to a team coached by this guy. I am not saying Georgia is a bad team, they are legitimately top-10, but I think they benefitted from a soft schedule and an overly-high preseason ranking.

So yes, I’ll take Alabama.

Players of the Week

Florida RB Mike Gillislee continued to be a consistent workhorse for the Gators while QB Jeff Driskell kind of awkwardly runs around while defensive linemen slide off of him and he throws for under 200 yards every week. Not that Driskell isn’t a playmaker. Anyway, Gillislee averaged 5.6 yards per carry and picked up 2 touchdowns as #4 Florida topped #10 Florida State, 37-26.

Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor had a sensational game against #17 UCLA. His 142 yards on 20 carries and 2 touchdowns pushed the #8 Cardinal to victory, and insured a rematch with UCLA in the PAC-12 title game.