A Sea of Green:
Our official colors are blue and gold, but given our Irish tradition, one might as well add green to that list. On Saturday, 80,000 green pom-poms will be handed out to fans in attendance, courtesy of the Kelly Cares Foundation. While I would personally love to see everyone in the stadium wearing a unified color shirt, the likelihood of that scenario is slim, given both the chilly weather and the sheer number of variations in Notre Dame's colors.
However, a crowd full of green pom-poms could certainly create a similar effect and I'm interested to see how Notre Dame Stadium looks when the Fighting Irish take the field on Saturday.
A Busy Weekend:
The House That Rock Built won't be the only venue hosting a game this weekend. The Fighting Irish hockey team will play Boston College at 7:35 p.m. on Friday night in the dedication game for Compton Family Ice Arena. The men's basketball team will clash with Delaware State at 9:00 p.m. in the Purcell Pavilion. The hockey game has been sold out for weeks, but will be televised on CBS Sports Network. In addition, the final pep rally of the year will be held in Purcell Pavilion at 6:00 pm.
Finally, since it is the last home football contest of the year, it will also be one last opportunity to catch drummers' circle, trumpets under the Dome, the players' walk to the stadium and the various other home weekend traditions until the Irish return in Sept. 2012.
An Upward Climb:
Following the past several games, head coach Brian Kelly has spoken to his team about the journey they are on and their continued pursuit to "play like a champion." With three straight wins and victories in seven of their last eight contests, the Irish are on that trajectory. While they will not reach their ultimate goal this season, building a winning environment and continuing their recent success can go a long way on the journey to BCS appearances and a national championship.
The uphill climb continues this weekend, with an opportunity to extend their winning streak and build momentum before visiting Palo Alto, Calif. after Thanksgiving. Though Stanford fell out of the BCS national championship race with last week's loss to Oregon, the Cardinal may still be a top-10 team when they face the Irish on Nov. 26, a game that looks to be Notre Dame's toughest test of the season.
The eleventh month of the year has been particularly kind to Kelly during his coaching career. The second-year Irish head coach is 53-13 in November and has not lost in the month since 2007 against a fifth-ranked West Virginia squad. The only month in which Kelly has a better winning percentage is December (.900), but he has only coached ten games in that month. Kelly and his staff hope to continue their November streak against the Eagles this weekend.
On Saturday, Notre Dame will honor 39 seniors before kickoff. Though some of these seniors will return for a fifth year at the university, for many, the game against Boston College will be their last in Notre Dame Stadium. The players and their families will be introduced, before taking a picture with Kelly.
Whether at the high school or collegiate level, Senior Day games can be a whirlwind of emotion because in many cases, these games mark one's "retirement" from organized athletics. In 2008 and 2009, the Fighting Irish seniors ended their home careers in heartbreak. Last year, Notre Dame upset No. 15 Utah, sending the senior class, both the players and the general student body, out with a vindicating win.
As Kelly said in his press conference on Tuesday his message to the seniors is simple: "Win. You'll remember this a whole lot better if you win."
Here's a complete list of those seniors being recognized on Saturday:
S Harrison Smith (Knoxville, TN/Knoxville Catholic)
PK David Ruffer (Oakton, VA/Gonzaga)
TE Mike Ragone (Cherry Hill, NJ/Camden Catholic)
OL Andrew Nuss (Ashburn, VA/Stone Bridge)
CB Nick Lezynski (Newtown, PA/Notre Dame HS)
CB Gary Gray (Columbia, SC/Richland Northeast)
OT Taylor Dever (Nevada City, CA/Nevada Union)
RB Patrick Coughlin (Oak Lawn, IL/Brother Rice)
NG Hafis Williams (Elizabeth, NJ/Elizabeth)
WR Deion Walker (Christchurch, VA/Christchurch)
S Jamoris Slaughter (Stone Mountain, GA/Tucker)
CB Ryan Sheehan (Purcellville, VA/Loudown Valley)
WR Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, MI/Marshall)
S Chris Salvi (Lake Forest, IL/Carmel Catholic)
OG Trevor Robinson (Elkhorn, NE/Elkhorn),
ILB David Posluszny (Aliquippa, PA/Hopewell)
CB Andrew Plaska (Zeeland, MI/Zeeland West)
ILB Sean Oxley (Avon Lake, OH/Avon Lake)
NG Brandon Newman (Louisville, KY/Pleasure Ridge Park)
QB Matthew Mulvey (Del Mar, CA/La Jolla)
ILB Anthony McDonald (Burbank, CA/Notre Dame High School)
S Dan McCarthy (Youngstown, OH/Cardinal Mooney)
OT Dennis Mahoney (Baltimore, MD/Boys Latin High School)
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore (Weatherford, TX/Weatherford)
LS Ryan Kavanagh (West Chester, PA/Salesianum [Del.])
DE Ethan Johnson (Portland, OR/Lincoln)
P Mike Grieco (Glen, IL/St. Ignatius)
RB Jonas Gray (Pontiac, MI/Detroit Country Day)
WR John Goodman (Fort Wayne, IN/Bishop Dwenger)
C Mike Golic Jr. (West Hartford, CT/Northwest Catholic)
OLB Jonathan Frantz (Avon Lake, OH/St. Ignatius)
WR Michael Floyd (Saint Paul, MN/Cretin-Derham Hall)
OLB Darius Fleming (Chicago, IL/St. Rita)
OLB Steve Filer (Chicago, IL/Mount Carmel)
NG Sean Cwynar (McHenry, IL/Marian Central Catholic)
QB Dayne Crist (Canoga Park, CA/Notre Dame High School)
OT Lane Clelland (Owings Mills, MD/McDonogh School)
C Braxston Cave (Granger, IN/Penn)
CB Robert Blanton (Matthews, NC/Butler)