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YOU SHALL KNOW CONFERENCE USA'S VELOCITY

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In honor of tonight's game between Southern Miss and Rice...
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By Dave Eggers, Author
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First of all:
We are tired.
We are a bowl team!

And also:
You are tired.
You are a bowl team!

In any city, in any cluster of people, there a few people who are watching at this hour, who are both awake and watching, and it's in these lonely dens that we need to be. If we are living as we are living this week, then we have to be awake with the people who are still watching. We play where the opening falls. We play when people can't watch anymore. It is juvenile. It means everything. It is the illusion of progress. Playing on Wednesday isn't progress. The illusion is enough. We will play for those who will watch.

We will speak to these people, and we will speak to you because we cannot help it. It gives us strength, almost unbelievable strength, to know that you are there. We covet your eyes, your ears, the dozens of poll positions between us. How blessed are we to have each other? We are alive and you are alive so we must fill the air with low risk play-action passes. We will fill today, tomorrow, every day until we can no longer move, or our conference's television contract expires. Announcers will tell stories to people who will listen and to people who don't want to listen, will ignore us to tell stories of the most incredible feats by bigger schools, of Notre Dame's most recent struggles, they will fill the air with stories for people who seek us out and to those who have stumbled upon us by accident. We covet your accidental gaze. Because all the while we will know that you are there. How can you pretend that we do not exist? It would be almost as impossible as us pretending that Notre Dame is still a relevant national program.

And we will be ready, at the end of every day will be ready, will not say no to anything, will try to run the middle screen when everyone is practicing, studying, going about their routine, we will not go about our routine, we will compete with the PTA meeting, will clap thundersticks all the time, breathe in all the air full of rush hour and empty seats and settling for fast food, we will breathe it and drink it, so apathetic, so when it comes we will not be disappointed, we will be ready, obscure enough to go, gratefully, will shake hands with the world we are certain is judging our every snap, hello, hello, we are here to score touchdowns, we will feel its eyes and then we will call a play, some exotic formation we've hidden from the world until it has decided to watch, and we will go to the end zone.