Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes.Com™
September 7, 2001
Davie Silences Thunder
By Alan Tieuli
The IrishEyes.Com News Service
LINCOLN, Nebraska (IE) – As if on cue, when the Notre Dame football team walked into cavernous Memorial Stadium late Friday afternoon, the storm clouds that had blanketed the campus for several hours erupted. The resulting thunder and lightning cancelled the Irish's scheduled walk-through on Nebraska's field turf.
It's melodramatic to insert a "Shake Down The Thunder" reference here. It also would be inaccurate considering the tone Bob Davie set in his remarks to a handful of reporters.
"Let's call this what it is," Davie began. "There isn't another college coach in the country that would take our scenario, facing this Nebraska team in this stadium with them having played two games. It's just a huge challenge our football team faces tomorrow night."
That sounds like a football coach that feels his team deserves to be the 14-point underdog it is. We'll find out by 11 p.m. Eastern whether the tune-ups helped the Huskers (2-0, ranked No. 5 in the AP) or the extra preparation assisted the No. 17 Irish. Some would say, however, it's unfortunate that Davie continues to dwell on the potential negatives on the eve of what very well could be a "Notre Dame moment."
"I'll tell you that I'm very pleased with the way my football team has prepared itself for this game," said Nebraska coach Frank Solich in an earlier media gathering. "We have every reason to be very confident."
Nebraska is 54-1 in its last 55 games in Lincoln, the Capitol City of Nebraska but also a college town to the core. It has not lost a non-conference game in Memorial Stadium since 1991 (Washington) and this particular match-up is inspiring a great deal of passion. For the first time in many years, local Husker fans expect a "red out" in the Stadium at kick-off. The sell-out crowd will not only be wearing red shirts, but red pants and hats.
"One thing that won't happen," said Husker Chris Kelsey, addressing a sore spot with all Domers, "is seeing Notre Dame blue and gold in our stadium. There will be a few fans, but nothing like our red in their stadium last year. You could tell in their players' faces that they were dead when they saw all our fans."
Still, Notre Dame played heroically last September 9, taking Nebraska to overtime before falling 31-24. And, by any measurement, the Irish are deeper and more talented in 2001. The Huskers are not as deep offensively and have questions up front on defense.
Privately, Davie may be supremely confident in his football team. Publicly, IrishEyes see the Irish coming up big. Notre Dame packs the best defense Nebraska will see this year, and the Huskers have red zone issues. We also have a hunch that Matt LoVecchio is the real deal and has the maturity and moxie to turn that minus-32 disaster in the Fiesta Bowl into a positive.
Stay with us through the weekend for in-person coverage of this critical match-up – the 50th game of the Davie Era. IrishEyes is the only independent online media outlet to receive a media credential to this contest, deservedly so. We haven't missed an Irish football game, home or away, since 1995.
DAY AND NIGHT: There should never be any celebration in Notre Dame Nation when one of the networks (in this case ABC) moves the Irish kickoff to the evening hours.
In the Davie Era, Notre Dame is an abysmal 1-6 in games held under the lights. Here's the complete docket:
- A 23-22 victory over an awful Hawaii team on November 29, 1997. A last chance Ron Powlus-led drive led to the winning field by Scott Cengia.
- A lopsided 27-9 loss to LSU at the Independence Bowl on December 28, 1997. The second-place trophy from that minor Bowl currently sits on top of a file cabinet in the Notre Dame sports information office gathering dust.
- An embarrassing 45-23 loss at Michigan State on September 12, 1998. It was 42-3 at the half only seven days after the Irish beat No. 5 Michigan at home.
- A 10-0 loss at USC on November 28, 1998, costing the Irish a major Jan. 1 Bowl bid. This was the game following "The Safety."
- Tennessee played Rocky Top incessantly in a 38-14 home win over the Irish on November 6, 1999. Notre Dame never looked slower.
- The 5-7 meltdown in 1999 ended with a 40-37 loss at Stanford on November 27, 1999.
- Oregon State 41, Notre Dame 9 in the Jan. 1, 2001 Fiesta Bowl. Nuff said.
Put it all together and it comes out to 1-6, 115 points for, 223 points allowed, or an average of roughly 31-16 per outing. Prime-time indeed.
Conversely, Lou Holtz went 21-5-1 in night contests in his 11 years at the Irish helm.
QUICK HITS: Notre Dame is 1-5 versus Top 10 teams under Davie and has not beaten a Top 10 team on the road since a 27-24 victory at No. 6 Texas on September 21, 1996. That win lifted the Irish to 3-0 and into the fifth spot in the rankings. Holtz' team lost to Ohio State the next week and has not been back to the top five since……..Between the Omaha and Lincoln newspapers there were over 200 classified ads from people peddling the tickets. Scalping is legal here, and the average asking price was approximately $300 per ticket…..ESPN GameDay is broadcasting from Memorial Stadium. Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso hit the air at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. They're the best in the business. Corso looks for Tracey Wistrom to be a key for the Huskers; he sure was last year, catching the third-and-nine pass that kept Nebraska's game-winning OT drive alive.…Carlyle Holiday on Friday: "I've been preparing like I'm going to play. I'm convinced of it." IrishEyes just isn't sure. We feel LoVecchio is going to take this job by the throat and Holiday, with Eric Crouch gone next year, will be regretting his decision to come to South Bend rather than Lincoln……Notre Dame has not visited Lincoln since October 16, 1948, a 44-13 victory over the Huskers …….A good sign: The Irish have not lost an opener since the 17-15 shocker to Northwestern in 1995. The Blue and Gold have won 13 of their last 14 openers……..Davie will be looking for his 31st victory in his 50th game. To put that in perspective, he would need to go 69-11 over the next seven or so seasons to match Holtz' ND 100-30-2 mark.