Dec 21, 2012, 3:02 PM EDT
The second round of our photo face-off competition is now complete, and it’s actually a little crazy to see how closely the results are paralleling the madness of NCAA tournament time. From shocking upsets to top seeds taking care of business, round two had it all.
Let’s take a look back at some of the match-ups that were paired up on the Notre Dame Football Facebook page.
Every March, basketball fans debate whether a #9 seed beating a #8 seed is really an upset. Of course, technically it is, but is there really that much difference between the two? I say no. Our 8 vs. 9 match-up paired up two touchdown photos – Tyler Eifert‘s catch against Navy in Dublin (#9) against George Atkinson III‘s break-the-defender’s ankles go-ahead score versus BYU (#8). The GAIII touchdown definitely came at a bigger moment in the game, but ultimately, it was Eifert’s catch that won easily, probably because of the awesome Aviva Stadium architecture in the background.
Like the 8 vs. 9 pairing, there is not much that separate opponents in the 7 vs. 10 match-up. In this case, the #10 photo featured captains Tyler Eifert, Zack Martin, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Manti Te’o walking out for the coin toss at Oklahoma, while the 7th-seeded photo was Te’o's introduction on Senior Day. Neither photo was about a specific play during a game, but both were iconic moments during the season. Though I was a little surprised, the photo of the four captains advanced to the next round, which is great because I think it is so symbolic of what 2012 has been about – leadership.
This was the equivalent of #13 seed Ohio advancing to the Sweet 16 in this past March’s NCAA tournament. In an overwhelming upset, the #27 photo of Manti Te’o sacking Landry Jones defeated Cierre Wood’s touchdown run against Oklahoma (#11). As much as I love seeing an Irish defender crush an opposing quarterback, I like the Cierre photo more. Notre Dame ran for over 200 yards against the Sooners, and while the touchdown came in the first quarter, it was in that moment, that I think many fans thought, “We are going to win this game.” Plus, you can just see the excitement being sucked out of the faces of every Oklahoma fan in the stands.
In another surprise, the photo of Manti Te’o speaking at the Michigan pep rally (#21) beat Stephon Tuitt‘s fumble recovery in Dublin (#5). Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never forget that speech and I think it took an incredible amount of courage for Manti to stand in front of the crowd following the week he had faced. However, from a purely “how awesome is this photo?” perspective, the shot of 6-foot-6, 303-lb Stephon Tuitt scooping up a Navy fumble, and getting ready to race 77 yards for a touchdown is incredible.
The rest of the match-ups played out as expected, with the four top seeds advancing – #1 Manti’s Stanford celebration, #2 Everett Golson‘s two-point conversion dive, #3 USC Gatorade shower and #4 Stanford goal line stand.
Now that the first two rounds are complete, we’re going to take a break from the face-off until after Christmas. With the four top dogs, and a few “Cinderellas” remaining, the Elite Eight should be an interesting round. In basketball, people often wonder if we’ll see a Final Four with teams all from the same conference. In our photo face-off, it’s possible we could see a couple of all-Manti final pairings.
P.S. In my voting for round two, I went 5-3. I voted for the Stephon Tuitt fumble recovery, the Cierre Wood touchdown, and to my surprise, the Manti Te’o Senior Day introduction. Could’ve sworn I went with the other one, but just looked back at the Facebook comments, and I was wrong.
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