Friday, November 16, 2007

Duke-Notre Dame Winner To Be #2 in Next Week's Coaches Poll

Much ridicule has been heaped on tomorrow afternoon’s football matchup in South Bend. Notre Dame will host visiting Duke, with the Fighting Irish and Blue Devils each sporting 1-9 records. With the possible exception of Minnesota, tomorrow’s loser will carry the title of worst BCS team in the nation. However, now the victor will claim a less dubious honor. Saturday’s winner will be voted #2 in next week’s USA Today Coaches Poll.

This development comes on the heels of last night’s defeat by the current #2, Oregon, at the hands of Arizona. Hampered by the first quarter loss of Heisman Trophy candidate Dennis Dixon, as well as two return touchdowns by Wildcat Antoine Cason, the Ducks fell 34-24 in Tucson. For the fourth straight November, the Wildcats knocked off a ranked opponent in Arizona Stadium. Given that level of success during the month, the program is now looking into the possibility of playing during September and October as well.

Oregon joined USC, California, South Florida, and Boston College as second-ranked teams to fall since October 6. Given the “Curse of Number 2,” numerous coaches felt it would be appropriate to put the Irish or Devils into that spot. As one coach remarked, “The #2 team is pretty much guaranteed to lose. Well, the same thing is true for Notre Dame and Duke. So why waste that bad karma on a good team?”

The agreement among the coaches will only be in effect for one week, so there does not appear to be any danger of either team sneaking into the BCS National Championship Game. As one coach noted, “You saw what happened last year, when Notre Dame took on LSU WITH Brady Quinn and Jeff Samardzija. If that happened THIS year? I mean, hasn’t New Orleans seen ENOUGH destruction?”

Still, if the Irish rise to the second spot in the upcoming week, the Curse of #2 will have come full circle. It began when second-ranked USC was stunned by Stanford, led by first-year head coach Jim Harbaugh. Notre Dame could also take on the Cardinal as the #2 team next week. Commenting on Harbaugh, Irish coach Charlie Weis remarked, “Wow, I got a 10-year extension for ALMOST beating USC my first year. He actually won, so what did he get? 40 years?” A nearby Golden Domer added, “It’s incredible that Stanford even won a game this year. Tyrone Willingham was there just six years ago!”

#2 could be a far more unusual position for Duke. Even Steve Spurrier only votes them 25th in the pre-season poll. However, the Blue Devils could be second-ranked for the next week’s UNC-Duke football showdown, billed in previous years as “The Reason John Bunting Won’t Go Winless!” Duke coach Ted Roof has gotten permission from Mike Krzyzewski to add Gerald Henderson to the roster for that game, since he knows that Henderson has no problem hitting Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.

Before the announcement that the #2 ranking would be on the line, the Duke – Notre Dame game was a matchup only Dick Vitale could love. Saturday’s broadcast could be the worst thing on NBC since Veronica’s Closet. However, the new stakes have increased interest among the schools’ alumni. Hearing that Duke will be involved in a late-season matchup with something on the line, J.J. Redick has announced plans to show up and shoot 4-for-19.

Yes, Duke or Notre Dame will get to enjoy being #2 for a week. Down the road, if form holds, the national championship matchup will pit LSU against the Big XII champion. Of course, “if form holds” is the second-most laughable phrase in college football this year. What’s #1? The “Play Like A Champion Today” sign at Notre Dame Stadium.