Well that's not how you'd like to finish the season. A total domination by Alabama is all that needs to be said. I'm not sure if the Irish were nervous, rusty because of the layoff, or if Alabama is just that good. I think it's probably a little of all. Notre Dame played maybe their worst game of the season Monday night, but they probably played that way simply because Alabama was just that good. I think everyone was aware that the Tide were a quality team, but I'm not sure how many thought they'd run away with the game almost by halftime. It's a shame the game and the season had to end that way.
Not too many positives you can take away from the game at least in terms of the Irish's play. The biggest positive, of course, is the mere fact that Notre Dame was there and had a chance to play in the game. No one would have expected that at the beginning of the season, but the Irish earned their spot in the game. It's a season they can build off of now and improve upon so the next time they earn the opportunity, they will do more than just show up.
I liked the play of Golson and DaVaris Daniels. That could be an exciting combination next year and beyond. Golson didn't have the luxury of time to sit in the pocket and Alabama's defense didn't allow him to fully showcase his talent, but he still played well and proved he belonged. Daniels had probably the best game of his season catching six passes for 115 yards, and all that after missing the final couple of games because of injury. It was nice to see and at least gives some glimmer of excitement heading into next season.
Too many to fully mention so I'll just do some high(low?)lights. Too many missed tackles, too many big plays given up, too many missed assignments, and too many missed blocks to start. You have to give credit where credit is due. Much of Notre Dame's troubles have to do with Alabama's superior talent and play. I'm convinced the Tide would have made just about anyone look foolish last night, including an Oregon, Florida, or Kansas State. You have to be at your absolute best to beat Alabama on that stage, and Notre Dame clearly was no where near close.
Two other negatives coming out of the game have nothing to do with the actual gameplay. First, inevitably now, some people are going to get all righteous and claim Notre Dame had no business being in the game, they weren't good enough, they just got there because of their name, etc. All of that is bull. Notre Dame earned their spot in this game. They were the only undefeated team in the country (at least that was eligible) and they beat good team after good team this year. Nine bowl teams, in fact, and would have been 10 if Miami didn't ban themselves. Name me one other team that can claim that. The fact that Notre Dame got schooled by a dynastic Alabama program Monday night doesn't diminish the fact that the Irish deserved to be there.
The other negative is the seniors saying goodbye in such a neagtive fashion. This senior class came to Notre Dame off a six win season, suffered through a six win campaign as freshman, and then helped build the Irish back into a nationally elite program this season. It's a shame their final game in a Notre Dame uniform had to be this. I hope in a few years, and hopefully after the Irish win a title or two, these seniors can look back and see the work they put in to help Notre Dame get back to where they belong. Until then, thanks to guys like Braxston Cave, Mike Golic Jr., Tyler Eifert, Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood, John Goodman, Robby Toma, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Zeke Motta, and Manti Te'o for being the foundation and the leaders of this renaissance.
There's not much left to say. Congratulations to Alabama for playing like champions Monday night. College football has a funny way of balancing out. All the great teams over the past 15-20 years or so have a great run and then fade. Nebraska, Miami (FL), USC, and Florida all have come and gone to a certain extent. This Alabama program seems different. They've already won three of the last four titles and it doesn't look like they're going to fade away anytime soon. At least not as long as Nick Saban is roaming the sidelines. They are the standard for which everyone else will be judged. Notre Dame wasn't ready for their moment yet. But they came close this year. Brian Kelly and staff have put the Irish back into position where you think they can compete from here on out. With a great recruiting class ready to sign next month, the future looks bright. Certainly nothing will be easy, but let's not let one, albeit important, night ruin what this team accomplished. Better days are ahead. Now let's get ready for next season.