Unbuckling the mailbag:
Question: I'm a long-suffering Notre Dame fan and I've been trying to figure out the last time Notre Dame beat a top-10 team on the road at night?
Answer: You've come to the right place. I majored in journalism but minored in "Trivial Fighting Irish Tidbits and Knute Rockne's favorite drive-ins, diners and dives."
I stayed up all day once to write a finals paper titled, "The day Notre Dame played at night."
Here is your Notre Dame nighttime answer: It was Oct. 8, 1983, a 30-6 victory at No. 7 South Carolina. The last time Notre Dame defeated a top 25 team at night, on the road, was No. 22 Purdue in 2005.
You might think this does not bode well for Notre Dame against No. 10 Michigan State on Saturday night?
Notre Dame is trying to get to 3-0 for the first time since 2002!
But know this: The Irish are 2-0 in night games played on Sept. 15.
Brian Kelly is 6-5 after sunset. Dan Devine was 5-0 at night. Lou Holtz was 20-5-1 after dark and Ara Parseghian was 10-2-1. And no, the tie wasn't that 10-10 epic against Michigan State in 1966.
Notre Dame played Miami to a scoreless tie in 1965.
Notre Dame's first night game was Oct. 5, 1951, a 40-6 win over Detroit at Briggs Stadium.
"Outlined against a … wait a minute, I can't see a thing because of the glare!" — Grantland Rice
Bob Davie had terrible night vision. He misled Notre Dame to nine straight night losses and reportedly asked whether the school would consider moving all night games to summer in Alaska.
Notre Dame is 6-8 in nighttime bowl games and 38-25-2 all time in nighttime road games.
Hope this helps. If not, I just wasted 45 minutes sifting through Notre Dame's game notes.
Good day … and night.
Q: Two games and talking Heisman?
A: Talking, not awarding. I got dragged into the discussion this week when UCLA's Johnathan Franklin ripped off 217 yards against Nebraska and showed up tied for No. 8 in one straw Heisman poll conducted by a former USC assistant sports information director.
Imagine if a USC tailback rushed for 217 yards against Nebraska. They'd put the engraver on standby.
We found no conspiracy here, just Heisman awareness lag time, a delay comparable to beaming pictures back from Mars. Part of it is the fact that UCLA has been so crummy in recent years that I think some pundits forgot they still fielded a team.
Heisman voters will get a chance to dissect Franklin as a candidate Saturday night when UCLA hosts Houston at the Rose Bowl. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
Heisman voters with DirectTV can't wait to catch more of Franklin in action.
Oh, wait …
Q: Help! I have DirectTV!
A: I'm guessing DirectTV won't be using that as an advertising blurb.
I feel your pain, as I am too a DirectTV subscriber with no access to the Pac-12 Network.
You want to hear something funny? The Network came to my house last month to film a bunch of segments for a "Pac-12 Greatest Games" series.
You know, program filler on an endless loop.
I could go on for days about all the great all-time Pac-12 games involving Utah and Colorado, but I can't even get the Pac-12 Networks in my own living room?
This is getting serious now because UCLA and USC are featured exclusively on the Pac-12 Networks the next two weeks.
The Pac-12 took out a full page ad in Thursday's and Friday's L.A. Times to put the pressure on DirectTV, so we'll see how it goes.
The league seems to have targeted the USC-California game Sept. 22 as negotiating leverage, figuring fans will storm the gates if USC is not on television in the Los Angeles area.
Here's the problem: USC and Cal could both lose Saturday. The Trojans are playing at Stanford; Cal is at Ohio State.
Is DirectTV sticking pins in voodoo dolls of Trojans and Golden Bears?
The Pac-12 can't take sides in games involving conference members, but it seems to me it would be better positioned against DirectTV if Cal is coming off a win over Ohio State and USC is either No. 1 or No. 2 in the polls.
I can't publicly root against Stanford because my wife is a graduate, but privately I can do anything I want …
Q: You have been an advocate for eliminating these foolish preseason or early rankings. Do we need better evidence than the first two weeks?
A: Of course we need more than two weeks of evidence or else Northwestern might be crowned Bowl Championship Series champions. But that's also why there are 10 more weeks.
Early season polls are OK as long as you keep everything in perspective. Polls aren't going away because they serve as publicity tools for the Associated Press and USA Today, but they will be greatly diminished in two years when the sport goes to a four-team playoff.
My only concern is football might lose some of that week-to-week spontaneity that makes it so much fun.
The first BCS standings, released in mid-October, offer a weekly snapshot of how things are shaping up. The standings create a buzz and get people riled up into early December.