IBG: Boomer Sooner

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Better late than never, it’s time for this week’s Irish Blogger Gathering. This week, it was my turn to ask Aaron Horvath, UND.com’s resident sports blogger, a few questions about big non-conference games, Notre Dame attempting a “Green Out,” and an Xs and Os question about the big match-up this weekend.

As usual, for more IBG, you can check out our friends around the blogosphere, including the Subway Domer, who made me write three haikus. Play along below in the comments and let’s get some opinions going.

(After being in the stands for Nebraska’s visit to South Bend, I’m curious to see if the Green Out works.)

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1) Outside of the season opener, Notre Dame has had arguably one of the most intriguing football games of the week for the past three games, and that’ll continue for both ASU and USC. All of the Irish opponents get to look at these games as a non-conference affair — a game that’s important to win, but not season defining, like these games tend to be for Notre Dame.

How big of a factor do you think that is? How will it change when the college football playoff begins?

I think you raise a solid point. If ASU loses to Notre Dame it is just a mark on their overall record, but they still are alive for an automatic Rose Bowl berth (hypothetically) with their partnership with the PAC-12.

When the playoff system begins, the games won’t change, how the coaches prepare for them won’t change. Coaches always want to win games, so I see no change. If you are looking at the top-tier competition that Notre Dame faces throughout the year (I.E. Oklahoma, Michigan, USC, Stanford), a loss to anyone can put an end to their BCS Championship game aspirations. In future years, it just means they may be able to have one loss. To put it simply, a loss is a loss and a win is a win. Coaches and players want to win, the game plan doesn’t change in the slightest.

2) The Sooners are coming to town for the first time since 1999. They’ll be welcomed by a Green Out. How effective do you think it’ll be? How much Crimson will we see in Notre Dame Stadium? This coming from a guy that saw a whole lot of red in the stands when Nebraska made their visit to South Bend around the same time.

This is a great question, one I actually had a conversation with a buddy about yesterday. These types of things are very hard to be successful at unless you provide the shirt. The one time in my life I have seen a successful certain color wearing promotion was in my time at Indiana when we had a stripe out. The shirts were not furnished to us, but the ticket office and local community did a great job of getting the word out (and our fan base is quite hip … not really).

Nonetheless, I feel there will be green in the stands, but not enough to warrant an awesome picture or anything. Provide the shirts and it will work. But as you said, we are also going against a team with the color red. Red sticks out a little better than a dark green. If we were using the bright green that the women’s basketball team uses then it would be quite different.

Finally, with all the colors Notre Dame fans wear (green, yellow, mustard, tan, blue, grey, white), I feel like it will be a smattering of different shades. Yet, if the Irish community comes together and all wears green then it will be like a Christmas tree with some red ornaments on it …

3) If Notre Dame’s going to pull out a victory on Saturday, give me one stat on offense and one stat on defense that’s going to be more important.

I’m actually going to start on the defensive side of the ball first and say the Irish need to hold Oklahoma to under 60% completion percentage to give themselves a shot. Oklahoma likes to hit the sideline receiver, go over the top and/or hit deep posts. If the Irish can put pressure on Bell and force him into some lower percentage throws, the Irish will have a great chance in this game. The two games this season where the opposing quarterback has completed 60% of his passes are Michigan and Purdue.

On the offensive side of the ball you have to look at turnovers. This seems like such a simple stat that could very well end up 0-0 in this game. Yet, it is important to Notre Dame because I think they need to win the turnover battle to give them a good chance. Not saying they have to win it to win the game because not all turnovers are created equal, but it would go a long way to moving to 4-1 if they do.