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Monday, September 6, 2010
Three-point stance: Irish toughen up

By Ivan Maisel

1. Alabama’s fourth-quarter goal-line stand in its 1979 Sugar Bowl victory over Penn State is mythic because of the fourth-down stop of back Mike Guman by linebacker Barry Krauss. Fewer people remember the second-down stop of wide receiver Scott Fitzkee at the pylon by Tide corner Don McNeal. Nittany Lion freshman quarterback Rob Bolden has heard about it his whole life. McNeal is his great-uncle.

2. Northwestern and Vanderbilt each scored three touchdowns and a field goal on Saturday night, yet the Wildcats won, 23-21. The difference? The Wildcats missed one extra point late. The Commodores missed one early, then failed on two two-point conversions chasing that one point. Missing extra points is an annual hazard of early-season games. But I’m never convinced of the wisdom of going for two points until you must. Vandy, down 17-15 in the third quarter, should have kicked the extra point.

3. A few years ago, Notre Dame went about the task of dumbing down its schedule, which is how Western Michigan, Tulsa and Utah -- that last one didn’t work out so well, did it? -- are coming to South Bend this season. Under new athletic director Jack Swarbrick and coach Brian Kelly, the Irish are reverting to taking on the world. In 2012, the Irish have traditional foes USC, Michigan, Boston College and Stanford. They also have Miami and Oklahoma, and a game against Navy in Dublin, Ireland.