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ND Game Week: Where is the Excitement?

So the much anticipated Notre Dame weekend is finally here.  Thousands of Bruin alums, students, season ticket holders are going to be heading out to Chicago later this week to pay pilgrimage to one of the holiest sites of college sports if not American landscape. I had been looking forward to this weekend ever since this game was scheduled more than a decade ago during the days there were still $1 pint nights at Strattons in Westwood.

Of course I am going to be watching the game this weekend. But I have to tell you I am having a very hard time getting excited about this game.

As I have already mentioned on paper Notre Dame (thanks to Tyrone Willingham's less than stellar recruiting) is not exactly vastly superior to UCLA, in terms of talent on its roster.  Our offense at least on paper matches up pretty well with the Irish defense:

Bruin Offense 06 Rank Per Game Irish Defense 06 Rank Per Game
Rushing Offense 58 143.67 Rushing Defense 68 134.8
Pass Offense 71 189.83 Pass Defense 80 212.83
Pass Eff. Offense 74 119.10 Pass Eff. Defense 73 130.16
Total Offense 66 333.50 Total Defense 75 347.67
Scoring Offense 50 25.67 Scoring Defense 69 23.67

And on the other side our improved defense (again saying ?improved? is kind of relative here given we had one of the worst defenses in the history of college football last year) at least on paper matches up well with the vaunted Irish offense:

Bruin Defense 06 Rank Per Game Irish Offense 06 Rank Per Game
Rushing Defense 14 84.33 Rushing Offense 89 106.83
Pass Defense 25 157.67 Pass Offense 12 273.50
Pass Eff. Defense 24 108.17 Pass Eff. Offense 33 141.12
Total Defense 9 252.00 Total Offense 34 380.33
Scoring Defense 22 15.33 Scoring Offense 27 30.33

Stats compiled by the Irish Eyes.

However the excitement is kind of gone. As the LA Times noted today the Irish running game is a little suspect:

For the Bruins to rebound against Notre Dame, they can't afford another weak run-stopping effort. The Irish, who average only 3.3 yards a rush, rely heavily on Darius Walker, who has 119 of Notre Dame's 192 carries this season.
But how can we confident about a Bruin rushing defense which gave up more than 250 yards against the Quack ground attack?

Sure ND?s rushing attack is one man show featuring Darius Walker. But how can you not gulp at the though of Charlie Weiss having more than two weeks to scheme against Kick it Karl?s offense.

The Irish are 13 point favorites heading into Saturday?s game. And may be Dorrell?s boys will come out all fired up, fight hard for another true moral victory, and perhaps even pull out a miracle, if the Fighting Irish unfocused, uninspired with the prospect of taking on a mediocre football program which is better of matching up against San Diego State and Idaho States of the world than taking the field in front of hallowed Touch Down Jesus? Heck some Irish fans are already afraid of a let down effort against Kick it Karl?s pathetic football program.

But does it really matter any more?

Our football program is a joke. It is being led by someone who may not be only stubbornly dumb or incompetent but turns out that he is a quitter.

Where is the fun?

Someone please give me good reasons for why I should be excited about the Notre Dame weekend. We are all looking for some inspiration. Tell us why we should be excited and jazzed about this much anticipated game week? I am looking for some thoughtful responses.