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College Football Week 5 Review: Putting the Fight Back in the Fighting Irish

Posted on October 03, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Jimmy Clausen has thrown 10 touchdown passes in 2009 with just one interception.

Jimmy Clausen has thrown 12 touchdown passes in 2009 with just two interceptions.

It was another interesting weekend of college football as several ranked teams received unexpected challenges while a couple teams solidified their place in the rankings.

Putting the Fight Back in the Fighting Irish
I’m not ready to call the 2009 Notre Dame Fighting Irish a good team, but they are definitely entertaining.

Now 4-1 following a 37-30 overtime victory over the University of Washington, the last four games for the Irish have been decided by a total of 17 points with all of them going down to the wire.

Except for in the 38-34 loss to Michigan when the Wolverines scored in the final seconds to pull out the win, Notre Dame has been able to make big plays when it counts.

That is a far cry from a year ago when Notre Dame finished 7-6 and seemed to always fall just short in crunch time.

I’m sure that the legions of Notre Dame faithful across the country are ready to claim the return of the “Golden Dome Aura”, and I suspect the Irish will probably inch back into the top 25 this week.

But Charlie Weis has fooled us before. Just last season Notre Dame also started 4-1 before losing five of their next seven games to stumble into the Hawaii Bowl with a 6-6 record.

The Fighting Irish seem to have a much more consistent offense than a year ago as they have scored more than 30 points four times and scored 24 points in the fifth. A year ago they had five games with more than 30 points, but also were held in single digits three times, including a shutout loss at Boston College.

In his third season as the quarterback, Jimmy Clausen has emerged as a darkhorse Heisman candidate. He is completing 65 percent of his pass attempts and thrown 12 touchdown passes with just two interceptions.

It won’t be long before we learn whether Notre Dame is a legitimate top 25 team. After a bye week, they will host USC in what could prove to be the most significant game in the tenure of Charlie Weis as coach of the Irish.

USC is still very good, but they are not the offensive and defensive juggernaut that they have been in recent years. If Clausen can continue his magical season, the Irish could pull out the victory and re-emerge as a national championship contender.

After USC, the Fighting Irish don’t play another game against a top 25 team and could very easily roll through the rest of their schedule without another loss.

Is Notre Dame a Contender or a Pretender?

  • Contender (71%, 12 Votes)
  • Pretender (29%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 17

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If that did happen, then instead of questions about whether Charlie Weis will keep his job for another year, the questions would shift to whether Notre Dame deserved a shot at the national title.

However, if the Irish struggle against USC, it could be much harder to run the table and then Weis may have his neck back in the noose.

I’m really not sure if Notre Dame can beat USC, but no matter what happens, you can bet they will be fun to watch.

LSU Hangs on to Set Up Meeting With Florida
The Florida Gators and LSU Tigers have claimed the last three BCS National titles. Both teams will be undefeated when they meet in Baton Rogue next Saturday.

LSU scored a late touchdown to overcome Georgia 20-13 in Athens. It wasn’t a pretty game, but the Tigers made the plays they needed down the stretch to win the game.

They now host a Florida team that got a much-needed week off.

With Tim Tebow trying to recover from the concussion he suffered against Kentucky last Saturday, the Gators enter this game seemingly a little vulnerable. LSU is always tough, but if Tebow isn’t 100%, the Tigers will certainly be ready to pounce.

The winner of this game will certainly be near the top of the rankings when the first BCS polls are released later this month.

So Much For the Sooners
Just when it looked like the Oklahoma Sooners would right the ship and be back in the top 10 in time for the annual meeting with Texas on October 17, the Sooners suffered a second loss in just four games.

Jacory Harris has emerged as a standout quarterback in his second season with the Hurricanes.

Jacory Harris has emerged as a standout quarterback in his second season with the Hurricanes.

The 21-20 defeat at Miami is certainly a “better” loss than the loss earlier this season to BYU, but it is nonetheless a loss to a team the Sooners would have been expected to defeat easily had Sam Bradford been in the lineup.

Oklahoma will likely defeat Baylor next week, but the Texas game is now an even more significant game for the Sooners. With two losses, any chances of making the national title game are now just about over, but if they can win the conference title they can still get into a BCS Bowl. A loss to Texas would end any hope of that happening.

You have to give Miami credit. After being embarrassed last week at Virginia Tech, they overcame an early 10-0 deficit to pull out the one-point victory. Sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris is becoming a big-time quarterback right before our eyes and the Hurricane defense is finally looking like the unit that dominated college football for so many years.

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