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40AS Non-Conference Game of the Week

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We're back for another 40ASNCGOTW. This week we were tempted to preview what is clearly the most interesting non-Big XII game this week: Va Tech @ LSU. It's a matchup between a pair of schools heavily affected by the two biggest national tragedies in the last two years.  But, since we previewed LSU @ Miss State last week (foolishly ignoring Appy St @ Michigan), we decided to go in a different direction. Late last week we decided on Penn State vs. Notre Dame.

This game is appealing for us to preview for a number of reasons. For starters, one of us, the one with a girlfriend, has a girlfriend at Penn State.  Like good non-Irish, non-Catholic Americans, we don't like Notre Dame's sense of entitlement despite not having fielded a truly elite squad since the U.S. first went to war with Iraq (sorry, PB). The iconic Joe Paterno is always entertaining, and finally, we always love watching a football genius like Charlie Weis go to work.

Not-necessarily-football-related reasons to like Penn State: Aside from the importance of keeping the girlfriend (who LOVES football...hi Hannah!) happy, the main thing to like about the Lions is a killer defense--nothing less is ever expected from Linebacker U. The other football reason to like Penn State is that Jimmy Claussen is starting for Notre Dame, and he may be good in the future--but not yet.  More importantly, PSU is a really, really cool place for several reasons. These include: Rally in the Valley on Friday night, complete with an overexcited octogenarian coach; the classic blue and white unis; an incredible collection of hilarious fashion for the game (including a "Rudy Was Offsides!" t-shirt selling in Happy Valley these days); the Campus Creamery, which sells an ice cream flavor called Peachy Paterno; the fact that JoePa has donated so much money that there is a Paterno Library on campus; an all-stadium white-out scheduled for this weekend at Beaver Stadium; and the best tailgating scene north of the Mason-Dixon line (which qualifies it as about 25th in the country).

Not-necessarily-football-related reasons to like Notre Dame: This one was hard but we managed to think of two reasons. First and foremost is Rudy. Some may call it sappy, it is pretty predictable, and we don't really see a hobbit ever playing D-1 defensive end again. It is, however, a great movie when you need to see a great movie. If, as a man, you ever need a good (acceptable) cry, Rudy and Field of Dreams are really your only recourses. The second reason to like Notre Dame is to support the only ND law student we know. Neither of us is in law school, but we can only assume school will be easier if ND wins. Of course, this leaves out the idyllic campus, classy fans, Golden Domes (both on the players and on the church), the Gipper, the Four Horsemen, and an intramural tackle football league.

Why Texas Fans Should Care: Charlie Weis and his embarrassing loss to Georgia Tech last weekend provided some of the deflection of national flack away from Mack Brown and the Longhorns' ugly win vs. Arkansas State. Similarly, if things should not go according to plan against the Horned Frogs, most of the country will be distracted by this contest and thus not watching the Texas game. Plus, it's tough to watch PSU linebacker Dan Connor for 10 minutes without wishing he was wearing the burnt orange. That would solve a big problem. But enough of the pessimistic reasons. From the perspective of a Longhorn fan, this game does not appear to mean much in the context of the 2007 season. Neither team is likely to compete for the national championship. Because of conference tie-ins, there's almost no chance of playing either team in a BCS bowl game (especially since ND may be watching the bowls from South Bend this year). But college football is a game steeped very much in its history and tradition. And this is a matchup of two schools that have serious historical relationships to Texas. To wit: in 1969, Texas won the national championship in both major polls and Penn State folks (ranked #2) have not stopped whining about it since. Paterno and his boys turned down an opportunity to play Texas in the Cotton Bowl to settle the question, causing Longhorn Legend Freddie Steinmark to wonder why PSU would rather fight it out "on the soapboxes of Pennsylvania than the fields of Texas." Instead, Texas got a Cotton Bowl victory over--guess who?--Notre Dame.  Then, in 1977, Earl Campbell and the Longhorns were undefeated and ranked #1 in both polls at the end of the regular season. But in the Cotton Bowl, Joe Montana and the Irish owned Texas, denying the 'Horns their fourth national title--something that would have to wait for a guy named Vince.  Texas finished fifth in the final '77 UPI Poll. Right behind #4 Penn State.

Prediction: Penn State. The Nittany Lions are better than Notre Dame, so Penn State wins going away.

Battle of the Youtubes:
What's Older Than...

This one comes from a mysterious YouTube poster named "Orsonswindle"
The very close runner-up for the ND video can be found here