Never mind the football team, I think collectively Notre Dame football fans need a break after the heart-stopping fashion that the Irish started the season. Not that I’m looking forward to a weekend off, but there’s a bit more calm as Saturday approaches, a bit more openness to my schedule. That mid-afternoon block that is usually reserved for intense watching of the Irish has now been filled with… what exactly?
Consider this a guide to Irish football fans on what to do with their open Saturday.
1) BUILD GOODWILL
This is critical. If there’s a monotonous task that needs doing, get it done. Rake leaves, clean the garage, volunteer to take kids to the park, or go with the girlfriend to see “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” it shouldn’t matter. By any means necessary, make sure that your calendar is cleared for a good 8 hours next Saturday surrounding the USC game. (I’m adding a few hours before for the prerequisite “get in the zone” time or tailgater if you’re lucky enough to be there, and a good solid three-hours postgame to either celebrate or mourn a loss.) Take advantage of the fact that for the first time this season, you’ll have a Saturday where you weren’t either worried about the Irish or pulling your hair out while watching the team play.
2) ADVANCED SCOUTING
If you don’t have anyone to suck up to, take some time and watch some of the Irish’s future opponents. Want to see if BC’s new 25-year-old quarterback Dave Shinskie is the real deal? Check him out against the rugged Virginia Tech defense. Want to feel better about yourself? Watch Washington State get waxed by Arizona State. You could always cheer for Navy as they take on Rice, or watch two future opponents square off as UConn and Pitt play mid-afternoon football in the helter-skelter Big East. (And if you need a nap, you could just tune in for Wanny’s offensive series’… that should do the trick.) It almost might pay to check out Stanford, who could present a final roadblock on Thanksgiving Saturday.
3) ENJOY FOOTBALL
Sometimes it’s even more fun when you don’t have a dog in the race. The Florida-LSU game has plenty of compelling storylines, even if I’m absolutely tired of the Tim Tebow injury angle. (I’d be shocked if he doesn’t play…) Can Ole Miss take out Alabama and throw the SEC into disarray? Will Wisconsin be able to move the football against the Buckeye defense and stop a mobile quarterback like Terrelle Pryor? Will Michigan lose its second game in a row playing in the unfriendly confines of Kinnick Stadium? (I’m still trying to decide if another Michigan loss is good for the Irish.) Every conference offers a compelling matchup: Will Bobby Bowden quell the uprising that has Seminole fans storming the gates? Will Sam Bradford beat the rust and lead the Sooners over a Robert Griffin-less Baylor Bears? Can Air Force beat TCU so I don’t have to listen to the madness any more?
4) GO OUTSIDE
For many of us, fall weather could soon be leading to winter, which means that as the days get shorter, the opportunity to do much of anything outside is dwindling. It might be a good day to turn the TV off, go for a jog, throw the ball around, or do something that doesn’t include yelling at your flat-screen TV.
(And if that doesn’t appeal to you…)
5) PLAYOFF BASEBALL
Tough to beat playoff baseball, even if your team is out of it (or doesn’t have much of a shot to beat the hated Yankees) and you’re watching for love of the game. Still, baseball in October will never get old.