Notre Dame Preview

Admit it. You've been looking forward to Saturday's tilt against the Fighting Ty-rish as much as any this year. He Who Shall Not Be Named left Stanford in an unpleasant fashion, and the recruiting clashes between the two schools were heated last year. But this Saturday's game will be played between the sidelines by two 4-6 teams mostly focused on a positive uptick to conclude their seasons. Both teams are praying for a win...


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Let's just go ahead and not talk about last week's Big Game anymore. Okay?

Although you can't have an article that follows last week's loss and not mention the pitiful offensive output of the Stanford Cardinal in that embarrassing first half. Cal turned the ball over four times in the first half alone, but the Card were only able to translate those Bear gaffes into 10 measly points. The defense could only hold up for so long, and "so long" wasn't 60 minutes. Second loss in a row to the Bears. This might be a dose of how Cal felt during Stanford's seven-year run of Big Game success, and we all know that feeling like Cal is never a good thing.

Once again ‘tis the season to look to the future of Stanford Football, and the future is this Saturday against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who like the Cardinal have a 4-6 record on the year. It looks like one of those classic "who the heck cares" contests, when each team tries half-heartedly to salvage some pride while avoiding any debilitating injuries and grooming some of the next generation for the coming years.

Regardless of what happens this Saturday, this has been a somewhat disappointing season for Stanford. An early-season winning streak was nice, but followed by a game against Washington that should have been won, a nightmarish couple of tilts in the state of Oregon, and the requisite ass-kicking at the hands of USC, it was obvious that wins at home against an over-rated UCLA and a crappy Arizona State would not "make" the season. We wanted a Big Game win and didn't get it. So now the Card are stuck facing an old coach (love him or hate him) who knows the terrain and is rightfully confident after last year's victory over Stanford in South Bend.

What option remains for the Stanford Cardinal? 

Do the same thing their Saturday antagonists do frequently, in their dorms (where there is a chapel in each residence), every Sunday when the entire school gathers together, and before every football game:

Pray.

Pray that Chris Lewis plays well enough to leave his Stanford career behind him on a positive note. Pray that Stanford develops some offensive imagination (what happened to the supposed creativity on offense that Stanford was supposed to see against Cal?). Pray that the Card doesn't suffer any more unnecessary and potentially catastrophic injuries like the quadricep contusion and hematoma Trent Edwards sustained at the conclusion of the Big Game. Pray that Stanford does something, anything, to get the student body excited about the football team. Just pray.

Dear God,

Through your greatness and mercy, we beseech your grace to allow the Stanford defense to rattle Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn into throwing interceptions on Saturday (though through the iniquities of the Stanford offense these turnovers most likely will cometh to naught). He hath already tossed two interceptions for every touchdown pass in 2003, totaling 12 picks on the year. He hath catapulted himself into the esteemed company of former Irish freshmen passers like Steve Beuerlein and Matt LoVecchio, whom he hath exceeded for Irish freshmen records in completions, attempts, and passing yards. We pray that the Stanford secondary learneth to turn their heads instead of keeping them facing receivers, and thereby giveth themselves a chance to intercept Quinn. We request that you closeth the huge holes which did appear over the middle in the game against those despised minions of Lucifer, the California Golden Bears. Finally, O Lord, we pray that the Stanford defensive front findeth a way to the salvation which resideth with adding to the 21 sacks which the Irish hath sustained through this year.

We Stanford fans know that the Stanford running defense, though overpowered toward the end of the Big Game, remaineth a strength of this Stanford team. God, let not Julius Jones torch the Cardinal for any significant yards; Jones remaineth half a yard per game shy of averaging 100 yards per contest. With 1,058 yards on the season, he hath already broken the 1,000 yard mark; Stanford must know of the incredible momentum which Jones hath built heading into Saturday night's game. Jones bringeth an average of 140.7 yards per game over the last five contests, with eight touchdowns on 143 rushes. As the senior playeth in his last game for the Irish, keep from him any momentum so that Stanford might look back on this year and at say, "Our run defense was good, at least."

God, in your benevolent mercy allow not Rhema McKnight or Omar Jenkins to continue to light up the statistics books as your presence lighteth the Golden Dome of South Bend. With 41 catches on the year, McKnight doth average 52.4 yards per reception, and hath distinguished himself as Quinn's preferred target just slightly over senior Omar Jenkins, who although he hath only one touchdown on the year, hath earned more than 1,000 yards for the 21st time in Notre Dame history. With 135 yards on Saturday to add to his 1,063 which he hath garnered so far this year, McKnight will vault himself into 14th place on the all-time receiving list for Notre Dame. We pray that the confines of Stanford Stadium be inhospitable to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, so that Jenkins doth not obtain his record against the beleaguered Stanford secondary, which hath suffered so much in this year. If there be any mercy remaining, O Benevolent One, we request also that McKnight receiveth divine inspiration and realizeth that the name "Rhema" doth belong on a country music tour of Alabama carnivals, and not on a football team commanded by such an evil traitor as that blasphemer who claimed to not be looking for a job, only to leave us accursed with our present plague.

O Lord, we offer up libations to Your Greatness in order to ensure that Justin Tuck, the junior defensive end from Alabama, taketh not offense to our lame joke about his home state. We also beseech you to calm the fire which appeareth to have been lit under him in the last eight games, wherein he hath notched eight and a half of his total nine and a half sacks. As leader of the Notre Dame defense in sacks, tackles for loss (15) and forced fumbles (three), Tuck hath solidified his position as the premier backfield invader on the Irish squad - let him not run roughshod over the young Stanford offensive line on Saturday night. We suppose it will be too much to ask of your grace to refuse a tackle-for-loss to Tuck, so that he doth not break the record for most TFLs in a single season (ten).

As our prayer to you concludeth, O Lord, we ask but a few more things in restitution for the pain with which you have visited us fans of Stanford Football this year. Let not Courtney Watson continue his Irish-leading tackling. Watson hath recorded 102 tackles so far in 2003, with 14 tackles for loss and three sacks - refuse these numbers augmentation on Saturday. Shed light into the brain of Vontez Duff and make him realize that he owneth the worst name in college football. By far. Watch over poor Trent Edwards, as our injured quarterback struggleth through recovery for the serious leg injury which he hath suffered, and which hath required him to undergo two surgeries since the Big Game. Heal his leg, for the good of Trent and for the good of all Stanford Football's church. Erase the shotgun draw from the playbook, O Lord, and infuse the Stanford offense with the creativity and zest which it hath demonstrated for so many years prior. And for Your sake, O God...

Allow Ryan Eklund to take some snaps on Saturday.

Amen. Go Card.


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