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November 27, 2004
The Fight Of Their Season

No, I'm not talking about the Ron Artest riot in Detroit -- I'm talking about the annual battle of Good vs Evil, the Forces of Light vs The Forces of Darkness ... the annual Notre Dame/USC football game. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Fighting Irish have had their difficulties this year, and they're looking for a little redemption:

Three victories over bowl-bound teams and two wins over squads in the top 10 are normally confidence builders for most college football programs.

Not at Notre Dame. The glass is either full or empty for the Irish, who consider a season that doesn't include at least seven wins and a bowl championship series game unacceptable. ...

The Irish have had more ups and downs this season than Magic Mountain's newest thrill ride. They upset highly ranked Michigan and Tennessee after losing to Brigham Young in the season opener, a game they scheduled as a tuneup for Michigan. They are three-touchdown underdogs against the Trojans because of late-season losses to Boston College and Pittsburgh.

This has been a season full of promise and frustration for the Irish. They've shown flashes of brilliance against Michigan and Tennessee, on the road in the latter case, while blowing what should have been walkovers against BYU and Pitt. As a rabid Irish fan, I've seen the talent on the squad, but it still looks like the Irish are at least a year away from putting all the pieces together. I don't think the coaching is the problem, although Ty Willingham has put together two mediocre seasons in a row. What people forget is that recruiting had hit bottom before Willingham arrived, and it takes three or four years to get that back on track.

Nevertheless, the Irish have a shot against the Trojans in tonight's game (8 pm ET, ABC). USC has also been inconsistent, although they have escaped any damage from it. They almost lost twice to obviously inferior teams. The Irish have the talent and the ability to make them pay if they bring their B-game out to the Colisseum.

I will be live-blogging the game later tonight, for those of you who are Irish supporters. You're welcome to comment on the post as I'm writing, although if you're a USC fan, I have to warn you that we don't have spell-check in Movable Type. (You can read about an illustrious Trojan alumnus here and here for background.) We'll be shaking down the thunder from the kickoff!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 27, 2004 10:48 AM

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