Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Does One Notre Dame Alum View the 2013 Schedule?

Before I get started, I want to be clear that this is not a Notre Dame season preview. There are literally thousands of people that are more capable than me of writing such a story, and many of them have.

As a recent alum, viewing the football schedule each fall brings back memories about my time in college. In this post, I'll share the memories and associations that I have about each 2013 opponent:

August 31--Temple
The Irish never faced Temple when I was on campus, so I didn't have much of an opinion about the Owls. My main impression of Temple came from this video:

Also, I hate all Philly sports teams, so I'm sure I'll be able to muster some proper hatred for Temple before the season opener this weekend.

September 7--at Michigan
Michigan is one of ND's biggest rivals, and the most recent games between the teams have been wildly entertaining. When I was an undergrad, though, it was difficult to hate the Wolverines too vehemently. When we traveled to Ann Arbor (that whore) during my junior year, we were welcomed into multiple Michigan frat parties and experienced plenty of good-natured banter. I feel very close to many of the Michigan students we met, because we shared dirt-and-beer mixed drinks during muddy games of beer pong.

September 14--at Purdue
A few things that come to mind about Purdue:
--The Breakfast Club, which allows students to treat every home game pre-party like Halloween.

Halloween? Nope, just the Breakfast Club before another Boilermakers loss.
--One of the best baseball games I have ever witnessed.
--West Lafayette, Indiana is the absolute pits.
--Ross-Ade Stadium is a craphole, but you're allowed to leave at halftime to tailgate then re-enter, making you forget about how much of a craphole the stadium is.

September 21--Michigan State
We traveled to East Lansing twice durng my time as a Notre Dame student. The first trip, my sophomore year, was for one of the best comebacks any of us had ever winessed. I've never heard road fans take over a stadium like Fighting Irish fans did on the way out of Spartan Stadium.

Our second visit to Michigan State was not nearly as enjoyable. Sure, the Irish lost, but that was not nearly the biggest issue. To accurately describe our experience, I would have to use phrases like "glass bottle projectiles," "groping," and "white trash convention." The unpleasantness of that visit to East Lansing caused me to write a newspaper story about why it's way more logical to hate Michigan State than Michigan. Alas, that article is lost somewhere in the bowels of the Interwebs.

September 28--Oklahoma
Like Temple, Oklahoma didn't play the Irish while I was in college. Unlike Temple, Oklahoma always had a terrific sports program, so we all followed the Sooners. Hopefully, this game will be similar to last year's contest, when ND demolished Oklahoma 30-13.

October 5--Arizona State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Here were Undergrad FranT's thoughts about Arizona State: "Hot weather... Beautiful girls... Easy classes... Why the hell did I come to the Midwest for college again?"

October 19--USC
How do I begin to describe all the mixed emotions I felt about USC? My freshman year, I watched the Bush Push in one of my worst experiences at Notre Dame Stadium. I also had my new sunglasses trampled that day as we prematurely rushed the field. Still, we thought that game represented a return to relevance for the Irish.

USC proceeded to homie stomp ND the next three years as the Irish regressed tremendously. Still, the 38-3 thrashing by the Trojans my senior year was not a negative overall expreience. I traveled out to Southern Cal on Thanksgiving weekend to cover the game for the school paper. The USC campus -- including the Rose Garden and extremely friendly fans -- was a breath of fresh air after we toured Hollywood, where my highlight was a pizzeria that sold $2 beers. After the game, we went to the "9-0," an awesome dive bar close to campus that we dubbed the "USC Finnegan's." We rang in my 22nd birthday that night, ensuring that I would always maintain a soft spot for USC.

With all that being said, f--- the Trojans. No mixed emotions when it comes to the actual football game.

October 26--at Air Force
I recently wrote about why I can't become a fighter pilot, so I obviously have the utmost respect for those who do.

November 2--Navy
The Irish have been playing Navy annually since 1927 in the longest continually-running rivalry in college football. There has always been tons of mutual respect between the schools, although it was easier for ND fans to maintain that respect as we beat the Midshipmen every season for 43 years. I'm still bitter about Navy's triple-overtime win during my junior year.

November 9--at Pittsburgh
I'm going to cheat here and write about the Pitt game the year after I graduated. My buddy Mike picked me up after work, where I basically pulled a Bradley Cooper on my students.

We drove from New York to Pittsburgh, which until that day I thought was close to Philadelphia. (It's not. Despite being in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh is a Midwestern city.)

Despite the long drive, it was a great experience. The weather was beautiful even though it was mid-November; most of the bars had outdoor areas with cheap Yuengling; it was the first time I had seen many of my friends since graduation; and what a beautiful backdrop for sports stadiums. I hope to make the pilgrimage again this year.

November 23--BYU
I've been to Utah once, for a rugby trip to Park City, and the place was weird. Not necessarily in a bad way, just different. The people all looked eerily similar, the bars served beer with like 3% ABV, and the city shut down at around 9 p.m. As for BYU, I pretty much knew they had Steve Young and a bunch of Mormons.

Let's move on, now that my ignorance about Utah and BYU was just made painfully obvious.

November 30*--at Stanford
I always thought of Stanford as a school to which I probably wouldn't have been accepted. And I think it's cool that many of the Cardinal football players embrace their inner nerd. But in 2011, Andrew Luck used his book-smarts and architecture education to insult the Irish. Here's what Sports Illustrated wrote about Luck:

When the design of a stadium leaves [Luck] underwhelmed, he's far too tactful to say so. Usually. "Historically, it's very interesting," he says of Notre Dame Stadium. Yes, but what of its design? "It's a bowl."

Yeah, a bowl where Notre Dame is 11-3 against Stanford. Luck's quote is pretty benign, but it's annoying enough that I want Notre Dame's nerds to annihilate Stanford's nerds this fall.

*This game falls on my birthday. Is it still okay to celebrate wildly for your own birthday at 27? When is it not okay to celebrate? I need a ruling on this.
Throughout the season, I'll continue to post thoughts on Notre Dame from a fan's perspective.

As always, go Irish!

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