Yes, I know this is an NFL thread, but I have to spend at least a moment savoring the Notre Dame win over USC at the LA Coliseum yesterday evening, because I was there. This was actually the third time in a row that my Uncle Ted took me to the Coliseum; the previous two times, the Irish didn’t put up a lot of fight against powerhouse Trojan teams. This time, the two squads were more evenly matched, and the Irish won a squeaker in the rain despite giving up four turnovers deep in their own territory during the game.
But it’s always fun to attend college football games, no matter the outcome, and no matter the venue. USC has a great football tradition and a beautiful campus, and we spent a few hours at USC before the game soaking it all in. The band played and marched around the campus, playing “Tusk” several times with the special USC chorus of “U-C-L-A sucks!” At one stop, the crowd started handing beers to the band members, and an assistant band director named Chuy had a splendid time taking the beers away when he could find them and “redistributing” them to the crowd. He saw me standing next to the band with my Irish cap and jersey, handed me one of the beers and said, “Welcome to LA,” while the people around me booed. I had already popped the tab and taken a sip when the young woman who had given the beer to the band attempted to reclaim it. She saw me sip it and started to leave, but then realized I was an Irish fan, at which point she gave me a light slap on the chest and took the beer back, giving it to a man standing next to me in full SC regalia, who chugged it in one fell swoop. I yelled, “I got ONE sip of it!” while the crowd around all of us laughed.
We had a great time, as we did the past two games, and the people of SC should be commended for their support of a great tradition.
Meanwhile, I’ve hit a hot streak in my NFL picks. I went 6-0 last week, and so far this week, I’m 3-0. That puts my record this season to 42-28, and we’ll add a trio of predictions today to see how far this streak will go:
- Steelers at Bills – Pittsburgh stopped a surprisingly good Oakland Raiders team in its tracks last week in a rout, and the Bills have struggled all season. After putting together a complete effort last week, the Steelers have to guard against taking Buffalo for granted. They can play tough, and could surprise an opponent that looks past them. I’ll pick the Steelers to take care of business, 31-14.
- Packers at Falcons – This may be one of the best games today. Both teams are tough, resilient, and have reasons for optimism entering the game. The Pack doesn’t play quite as well on the road as at home, while the Falcons are undefeated in their dome. That will probably be the difference in a 27-24 Falcons win, and don’t be surprised if it goes to OT.
- Vikings at Redskins – It’s the start of the Leslie Frazier era at the Vikings, but don’t expect to see the same kind of boost that the Cowboys got at the start of their Jason Garrett era. The Vikings haven’t won a road game all year, but they do have one fortunate turn in Washington: the Redskins have a 2-3 record at home. It may be the Bizarro World version of the Packers-Falcons contest. The Redskins can get themselves back into wild-card contention with a win here, and I’ll pick them to beat the hapless and dysfunctional Vikes, 24-19.
Note: I won’t have time today for an Obamateurism poll, so we’ll do that tomorrow.