Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Nail-biter for the Irish

Originally uploaded by The Gulde Family.
Our friends the Carlssons picked the Michigan State game for their annual tailgater extravaganza at Notre Dame.

A word on the Carlssons, who've been mentioned before on this blog: Mr. Carlsson was my dad's college roommate and civil engineering classmate. When I moved 1,123 miles away from home to go to college, the Carlsson house in the south Chicago suburbs became my proximate home. Every Thanksgiving and Easter meant gathering around their table for a fantastic meal. I've brought many friends to the Carlssons' house, and they can attest that Mrs. Carlsson is a cook with few peers.

Amazingly, this was the first time my mom had ever been to the C Family tailgater. The university has made it a lot more difficult by banishing RVs to a distance remote from the stadium. The Irish made it a little less jubilant by losing a close one to the Spartans. Nevertheless, as you can see in these pictures, we had a lot of fun.

As for the game, ND lost 44-41.

College football teams only play a dozen games a year. The eventual champion is likely to have no losses. So any single loss is devastating. It's not like the NFL, where the superbowl champs typically end up with three or four losses.

Losing to MSU hurts, especially when they've beaten ND so consistently in the last nine games(MSU won seven). Adding further insult, MSU is the kind of team that ND has owned in the past. Before Bob Davie slithered in as ND's head coach, the Irish were 25-5-1 against MSU since the time of Ara Parseghian.

So don't hear what I'm about to say and think that I'm diminishing the fact that ND lost the game.

When I walked out of that stadium, I could think of a dozen losses in the last three years that hurt much much more than this one. I'm not calling it a moral victory; I'm just saying that I'd rather see a game like that than a 20-point blowout to an also-ran team. The fact is that the Irish were down by three touchdowns late in the third quarter. They stormed back and tied it up before losing in overtime.

High school recruits are not discouraged from attending a school that loses a close one. Seeing a team demolished, though, is pretty strong incentive to stay away. Taking the long view, then, I would rather see ND lose a few close dog-fights than a single non-competitive blowout.

Well, there's a lot more to say, but I fear losing the attention of our readers. Call me any time if you want to talk Irish football.

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