On Monday, January 7th, the stage was set for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to reclaim the glory of yesteryear. They won all the awards any team could possibly want. Manti Te’O was one of the most decorated players in the history of the game. There is no doubt that Notre Dame’s branding helped him out immensely. This Notre Dame team was different than other Notre Dame teams. The program is definitely on the rise, but real concerns were overlooked, and if any pundit brought them up, they were admonished.
The truth is, Notre Dame struggled with teams that weren’t very good. They had a come from behind, game winning drive against Purdue that really set the stage for the season. A couple years ago, Notre Dame would have lost that game. This year was different. The Fighting Irish were fueled by the heartwarming story of Manti Te’O. After the loss of his girlfriend and grandmother, Notre Dame takes out Michigan State and Michigan in consecutive weeks. While disturbing trends were popping up, they were still ignored. Michigan had six turnovers in the game, and they only lost (13-6). Dominant teams will crush opponents that give up six takeaways.
Still the stage was set for Notre Dame. They just beat a team that the defending champion beat. However, many wanted to disregard the score differential.
Now Notre Dame got to take on a Miami squad that had a couple moments this season. The Irish dominated this game. They won 41-3 over the Hurricanes. It’s a great win by the Fighting Irish, but they weren’t trying to hear that Miami receivers were flying past the defensive backs, and dropping balls. The truth is Notre Dame was giving up touchdowns, but their opponents weren’t good enough to take them.
Notre Dame was still undefeated, but they might be in trouble when Stanford comes to town. In one of the great games of the college football season, the Irish survived an overtime victory over the Cardinal. Some will say that the game still isn’t over, but all that matters is they won. In reality, this was Notre Dame’s best game of the season.
After squeaking by BYU, another offensively challenged team, Notre Dame was playing the nationally respected Oklahoma Sooners. Notre Dame held the mighty Sooners to 13 points. After the game was tied with a little over five minutes left, the Irish scored 17 straight points to win the game 30-13. This was another great game by the Irish, but the win was overhyped.
Once again, many people claimed that Notre Dame blew out the Sooners. There is no such thing as a blowout when the game is tied with five minutes left.
Once again, the stage was set for Notre Dame to breeze into the national championship game. Then Pittsburgh came to town, and this should have been an easy victory for the Irish. What transpired during the game should have been alarming for the Irish. Notre Dame was losing 20-6 before a furious rally sent the game into overtime. In the second Overtime period, the game was all but over when Kevin Harper missed a chip shot field goal. Notre Dame found a way to win in the third session, and the storylines were set. This is a team of destiny. They just know how to win close games. Writers and talk show hosts were afraid to mention the truth. They struggle with bad teams, and have been very lucky to escape in a few games.
Still, Everett Golson was growing before our very eyes. He was coming up clutch, and they were finding ways to win.
After dispatching of Boston College and Wake Forest, Notre Dame had one more opportunity to wow its fan base against USC. Once again, the stage was set for the Irish when UCLA knocked Matt Barkley out of the game, and the rest of the season. Notre Dame had another solid victory, and ended the game with one of their patented goal line stands.
The win propelled the Irish into the championship game, and they were waiting for the rest of the season to play out.
BCS Title Game
Notre Dame was not ready for a game against Alabama. They were never good enough to hang in there with the Crimson Tide, yet this is what happens with a system like this. It’s not the schedule’s fault either. Alabama could have played Notre Dame’s schedule, and been just fine in the BCS title game.
Alabama won 42-14, but the score wasn’t the main concern. Alabama proved early that the two rushing Notre Dame gave up during the season was a fluke. It’s not about the yards that Lacy and Yeldon ran for during the game. The stats don’t do justice to the physical domination up front.
Notre Dame passed for more yards than Alabama, but their time of possession was less than a quarter and a half. They couldn’t get Alabama off the field at all in the first half.
The second half started the same. Notre Dame received the ball, and they were forced to punt. Alabama drives down the field and A.J. McCarron hit Amari Cooper on a crossing pattern for a 34 yard touchdown. Cooper was so open he almost stepped out of bounds, as he trotted into the end zone.
In the end, Notre Dame lost to a better team. They had a remarkable season, and the future looks bright. The name brand helped their resurgence, and it also created the opportunity for a huge let down.
Nebraska was the king of the last College football dynasty in terms of championships. In the midst of their dynasty, Florida lost to Nebraska 62-24 in the Fiesta Bowl. The next year, Florida won the National Championship 52-20 over Florida State. That’s a nice comparison Notre Dame can look to.