Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 53 of 55

54 SEPT. 10, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED A fter 34 years at Blue & Gold Il- lustrated, I still find myself to be ridiculously child-like when it comes to publishing game predictions. I've always felt there should be two categories for this: one from the head or the logic side (believed to be con- tained on the left lobe of the brain), and the other from the heart or the raw emotion side (perhaps the right lobe). When we put in our final predic- tions almost two weeks prior to this year's opener with Michigan, I was the lone wolf who selected the Wolver- ines — and instantly had buyer's re- morse about it once it was published. This intense regret only expanded as game day neared when I began to sense I had made an egregious error. When you are engulfed in the Notre Dame environment where optimism is generally going to reign, especially when interviewing the players and coaches and having a vested inter- est in their success, it is easy, if not almost obligatory, to get caught up in the hype. Emails and calls arrived wanting me to explain myself, and my invari- able response was, "Don't take this stuff seriously. I wouldn't have to work for a living if I truly knew." However, I will now confess to what goes into most of my "predictions" in toss-up situations. It is three-fold. One, I am not really much into the X's and O's aspect. We hired Bryan Driskell, the most meticulous indi- vidual I've met at breaking down tape, tendencies, etc., for that. My leanings are toward the intangibles such as "law of averages" (within reason, of course) or "what is due." One example was the home game versus Oklahoma in 2013. I picked the Sooners for only one reason: it was ri- diculous they were 1-9 all time against Notre Dame. They were "due" to win in the series (and did, 35-21), espe- cially with a top coach like Bob Stoops. The exact same feelings permeated me when the Irish traveled to Texas for the 2016 opener. It was ludicrous for Notre Dame to be 9-2 against an operation the caliber of Texas — and 4-0 in Austin, no less. The Longhorns were "due," and I told everybody that. However, as is often the case, I talked myself into believing Notre Dame should win and took the Irish. Same thing in 2017 at Miami. Throughout the preseason and regu- lar season, it was the game I feared most and said a loss was immi- nent because the Canes were "due" against Notre Dame after losing four straight, especially in heartbreaking fashion the year prior (30-27). They were aching for revenge at home. Again, though, I convinced myself into believing the Irish were College Football Playoff bound, and so I gut- lessly had the change of heart be- cause of my internal wish. Oh, and the one game I was abso- lutely certain Notre Dame would win in 2017 was the regular-season finale at Stanford, where they had lost four straight and were "due." Wrong again! So that's what resulted in my half- baked logic versus Michigan: Jim Har- baugh is too good a coach to lose four in a row, Notre Dame was 5-0 in home night games versus Michigan ("due" for a loss), and the Wolverines had lost 16 straight on the road to ranked teams — with the last such win com- ing at No. 2 Notre Dame in 2006. Let's see, the Irish were the last team to beat Oklahoma before they also ended the Sooners' record 47-game winning streak in 1957, and Notre Dame also was the last team to de- feat UCLA before the Bruins' 88-game winning streak ended at Notre Dame in 1974 … so therefore Notre Dame in 2006 and 2018 would sandwich the Wolverines' 16-game losing streak on the road versus ranked teams. Now do you understand why not to take my predictions seriously? The second factor is a form of a de- fense mechanism. Especially against Michigan, my attitude going in is "bet- ter to fear the worst and be pleasantly relieved than get all hyped up and exacerbate potential disappointment." Finally, it is important to me not to be perceived as a shameless homer (although I confess there always will be an inherent bias) who will always select Notre Dame. What fun would that be to a reader to know you will get the same pick every time? Now that the Michigan game is over with, win or lose (this was written and submitted before the game), I feel re- ally good about the rest of the season. That's because the Irish are due to beat Stanford, due to end the losing streaks on the road versus ACC teams (Virginia Tech), due to win the regular- season finale in California, overdue to end a 25-year streak without winning a major bowl, overdue to end a 30- year drought sans a national title … ✦ Confessions About The 'Due' Process THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI Senior Editor Lou Somogyi has been at Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 1985. He can be reached at Michigan entered the 2018 opener at Notre Dame with a 16-game losing streak on the road against ranked teams, last winning such a contest versus the Irish in 2006. PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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