Eyeing national respect, Notre Dame gets a key road win at Oklahoma

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Earlier this week, Berry Tramel of the Daily Oklahoman wrote that Notre Dame’s famous “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY” sign may have originated from former Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson in the late 1940’s. The slogan may (or may not) have been born in Norman, Oklahoma, but Notre Dame will take it, metaphorically, back to South Bend, Indiana, as its own.

When you go on the road and defeat a top-10 team 30-13, you deserve to be called champions.

Notre Dame (No. 5) answered the biggest question facing the team all year: how would the Irish score, especially without George Atkinson III, against Oklahoma (No. 8)? Well, like most things on offense, it starts with the ground game. The Irish ran the ball effectively for 215 yards. And quarterback Everett Golson, who has struggled mightily at times over the past few weeks, had arguably the best game (and undoubtedly the best throw downfield of play-action) of his young career.

Considering how stiff the competition was compared to other games for Notre Dame this season, this is arguably the best and most balanced the Irish offense has looked so far in 2012, and it came together in the biggest game. The final touchdown for Notre Dame was simply window dressing.

When was the last time you could say that about this offense? It hasn’t alwaysbeen pretty for Notre Dame this year, but they’ve won games their way.

Notre Dame’s defense, for which this team is more highly-regarded, played as well as it has all season. The Sooners had six offensive possessions in the second half. One resulted in a score, two in turnovers and four did not extend beyond 30 yards. Though the Irish allowed the first rushing touchdown of the year thanks to Blake Bell, they only allowed 50 yards on the ground before sacks.

We spoke earlier about Alabama (which is rolling over Mississippi State), Oregon (which ran over Colorado) and Kansas State being  the three most dominating teams to date this season. After tonight, it’s tough not to add Notre Dame to that list or to think it wouldn’t have a chance against any of them. Win big games and you’ll be considered big-time. That’s a perception Notre Dame has fought uphill against for the past two decades. Until this team shows they shouldn’t be taken seriously, though, they’ve earned the right to be.

The Irish were supposed to have a ridiculously difficult schedule this year, but Michigan State, Michigan and Stanford haven’t quite panned out to be as fierce as they were projected before the season. Looking ahead, Notre Dame shouldn’t have any trouble with Pitt, Boston College or Wake Forest before ending the year at USC. But if Notre Dame can keep winning — the BCS computers like the Irish right now more than Alabama and Oregon — it will very much be in the discussion for a BCS championship appearance.

Love Notre Dame or hate Notre Dame, college football is better off when the Irish are in the national discussion.

Mark Richt tweets his best wishes to Georgia

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A new college football season is just about here (there will be actual college football played this week), and Miami head coach Mark Richt has plenty to look forward to with the Hurricanes. A show at coaching Miami to its first appearance in the ACC Championship Game is right in front of him, but Richt spent a quick moment on Twitter to extended his best wishes to his former program; the Georgia Bulldogs.

Richt recruited the majority of the players currently on Georgia’s roster, and by all accounts, Richt had as healthy a relationship with Georgia’s players than any coach could hope to have. With that in mind, there is no shock in seeing a coach of one program offer this kind of warm and fuzzy feeling to his former program. This is also not the first time Richt has wished Georgia well under new head coach Kirby Smart. In May 2016, Richt was praised for his classiness toward Smart and Georgia for the upcoming season just months after being fired.

Georgia parted ways with Richt following the 2015 season despite a long and successful tenure as head coach (although without as many SEC titles as some would have liked, and a lack of national title appearances during a run that saw the SEC dominate the BCS era). Richt was quickly hired by Miami, and this season Richt is expected to help lead the Hurricanes forward another step toward national prominence.

If there is a college football god watching from the skies above, then we will be blessed with a bowl matchup between Miami and Georgia. Richt said in December 2015 that he believes the two programs are on a collision course for a national championship.

There is a solar eclipse tomorrow, but Nick Saban has work to do

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Stores may be sold out of special solar eclipse glasses for what some are dubbing the Great American Eclipse on Monday, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be more likely to be found in his office preparing for a mega matchup to open the season next week.

Besides, Saban has seen how an eclipse works already because he is a devoted fan of The Weather Channel.

“I watch the Weather Channel every day,” Saban said Saturday, according to AL.com. “They’re already saying what it’s going to look like in every city in America. So, what’s going to be significant? Watch the Weather Channel and you’ll see what it’s going to be like in Portland, Oregon.”

That Saban sure is a curmudgeon, isn’t he? But that’s part of the legacy of Saban. Unless the eclipse can help Alabama win a game against Florida State in Atlanta next week, Saban has little time to worry about such nonsense. Otherwise, it is business as usual for Saban and Alabama. However, Saban will allow his players to take advantage of what is, for some, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We’ll set it up so if the players want to go out there and get some sunglasses, I guess they can,” Saban said.

The eclipse is having a slight impact on some football practices around the country, including in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans, for example, have modified their practice schedule for Monday due to the eclipse and will organize a team party around the event.

“I thought what a cool thing to do, but then I thought I’d like them to finish practice and give them time to put the glasses on and really enjoy the experience,” Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said (per ESPN.com). “I wanted to be on the field when it happened, as a team, I thought it’d be a neat memory for these guys.”

Clearly, Mularkey is not watching the Weather Channel on a daily basis.

Kansas surprised four walk-ons with scholarships at Royals-Indians game

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There has been no shortage of videos and stories about walk-ons at various college football programs receiving scholarships by surprise. It is an annual tradition around college football during the offseason, and the fun and pure joy of the moment never gets old.

The Kansas Jayhawks took the game to a whole new level, and a whole new playing field this weekend.

Kansas took its football team out on Friday night to enjoy a Major League Baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians. During the course of the game, four walk-on players — defensive end Mazin Aqi, offensive lineman Beau Lawrence, punter Cole Moos, and running back Reese Randall — were shown sitting next to each other on the video screen in Kauffman Stadium. As they were shown on the screen, a message popped up congratulating them on being awarded a scholarship.

Video of the players soaking in the moment and realizing they had just had their lives changed was captured by the Royals.

It sure beats the heck out of a stadium proposal.

Shane Buechele is almost Facebook official as starting Texas QB

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The college football season officially gets underway this week, but Tom Herman has another week to make some decisions about the starting quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. If he had to make that call right now, Shane Buechele would be getting the starting nod in Austin.

“I’ve said over and over again that if we played a game tomorrow Shane Buechele would start,” Herman told reporters on Saturday, seemingly a bit frustrated with the question once again being asked, according to The Dallas Morning News. “We’ll get a depth chart to make it Facebook official, I guess. Is that what we’ve got to do?”

It is expected Herman will make a decision on his starting quarterback within the next week ahead of Texas’ season opener at home against Maryland of the Big Ten. Buechele was the full-time starter for the Longhorns last season, but a new coach taking over at a program tends to wipe the slate clean to start from scratch. Buechele has faced his stiffest competition for the job from freshman Sam Ehlinger, who enrolled in January and was able to work with the team in the spring.

Whatever his decision ends up being, Herman has not been overly optimistic about his offense. Instead, Herman has been praising the defense as the key to the upcoming season. For a team that allowed 448.3 yards per game last season to rank seventh in the Big 12 in total defense, and 31.5 points per game (8th in the Big 12 ahead of only Kansas and Texas Tech), Herman is either suggesting the defense has taken some strides in practices this year or the offense really does have a long way to go.

It should probably not come as a great surprise Texas may be better off on defense, given the brief Charlie Strong tenure. Strong was always known more for his defense so the seeds for a reputable defense may have been planted in Austin prior to Herman’s hiring. Now it is up to Herman to get the offense in gear.