If you went to Mass on Sunday morning, or received and read your FaithND daily e-mail, you know that the Gospel reading was one about humility. Jesus instructs us, among other things, to not fall for the long tassels and wide phylacteries that all the cool kids are wearing. But why the heck should we be poor-mouthing Saturday’s 48-37 win over Wake Forest?
It is more than fair to say that The Irish D was “off” on Saturday and especially in the game’s second-half. Whether you chalk that up to the weather or to Wake’s familiarity with Mike Elko’s defensive scheme and tendancies or to players not playing well, you’re not wrong. Notre Dame had a tough time handling the elements, the elements of defense, and the experience Wake’s quarterback displayed.
But if you’re unhappy with where this team is, you should really develop a new way to pass a Saturday afternoon or evening. I recommend strategy games or model building. If you can’t deal with an eleven point win over a solid team, I don’t see how you’ve managed lo these many years.
On the heels of what was admittedly our “worst” win of the season, The Irish are up two spots in the AP Poll and three (!) in the Coaches’ Poll. When the CFP Rankings come out, they should remain in third place. They shouldn’t move up, since the air is pretty rare in third and because both Georgia and Alabama won. Clemson (#4) survived against NC State, Oklahoma (#5) won ugly over Oklahoma State and gave up 52 (!) points, and tOSU (#6) and PSU (#7) lost.
The Irish didn’t just win by eleven points on Saturday. They won by eleven points mostly without Josh Adams. They won by eleven points mostly without Josh Adams and with Ian Book under center for a good number of snaps. Notre Dame heads into the Miami (Florida) game with the nation’s seventh-best scoring offence and fifth-best rushing offense. The Irish are approximately five hundred and two hundred yards ahead of where they FINISHED in 2012 and 2015, respectively.
Notre Dame started on the inside, looking out, of the College Football Playoff matrix. The debate about The Irish is whether they fall out, not if a late season win is good enough to get them in. This is a nice place to be in November.
Winning by eleven in bad weather is another sign that this Notre Dame team is different, and better, than teams past. Sure, the weather on Saturday wasn’t as bad as it was last year against NC State or in 2015 against Clemson. But it wasn’t good weather, either, and the outcome on the field was never in doubt.
You do remember 2012, don’t you? The Irish went undefeated, which I am certain you remember. But how many of those wins could have just as easily been losses? How many of Notre Dame’s wins this year could have been losses? None of them. You can’t point to a play or a drive where the game could have turned on the outcome. 2017 Notre Dame is beating teams, sure, but they’re also denying them the chance to win.
Heading into Miami, you, the fan, should not be over-confident. But you can take off your sackcloth and put on a 33 Trucking hat and cheer.