For the first time since 2005, when the Notre Dame Fighting Irish fell to USC 34-31 courtesy of Reggie Bush‘s infamous late shove of quarterback Matt Leinart into the end zone, College GameDay will travel to South Bend, if only because they had no other options.
On the surface, the home of the seventh-ranked Irish is really the only site that makes sense for week seven. The third-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, who play the ninth-ranked LSU Tigers, were the subject of last week’s College GameDay, while the Red River Rivalry, featuring the 13th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners and the 15th- Texas Longhorns, doesn’t look as glamorous as usual, as both teams’ questionable defenses have led to early-season home losses.
On the other hand, the Fighting Irish are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2002 and rely on their second-ranked scoring defense, which yields only 7.8 points per game.
But the 4-1, 17th-ranked Cardinal should be a formidable test to Notre Dame’s quest to stay undefeated. Not only has Stanford already beaten the USC Trojans, another top-ten foe, but they match up well with the Irish, boasting both a balanced offense and the sixth-ranked rushing defense. Like Michigan, this will again force Notre Dame’s starting quarterback Everett Golson to throw in order to beat them.
Of course, one of the unstated reasons Lee Corso and company tend to avoid South Bend is ABC’s rivalry with NBC. Since ND’s home football game contract with NBC went into effect in the 1990s, the network’s logo seems to be everywhere on campus during football Saturdays, not to mention the peacock station’s call letters embedded in the Notre Dame Stadium scoreboard facing Touchdown Jesus. The ABC-affiliated ESPN understandably doesn’t like picking up this opposing logo every time one of its cameras pans the campus, but these days they almost can’t help it.
Hopefully ESPN’s crew will stay cheerful as they “Cheer, Cheer for ol’ Notre Dame” this Saturday. Despite the downside of NBC’s presence, it should be a great game in one of college football’s greatest venues. Besides, Sacred Heart Basilica, the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus all do not have NBC logos — at least not yet.
Notre Dame has lost the last three games in this series after reeling off seven consecutive wins over the Cardinal in the battle for the Legends Trophy.
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