How perfect it is for the long victory march to arrive at this place, at this time, with these men! How fitting to face the fiercest foe, the blackest blight of the dark decade now left behind! Twelve is an ancient number of perfection – and perfect the Fighting Irish will be, as no other team in the land! With one more struggle, with one more heroic charge, with one more win Notre Dame will have climbed to the summit of an undefeated season.
But one enemy stands in the way – and let him! For to achieve this zenith without defeating the adversary who dragged us down to the nadir would fail to be a climax. This is the opponent that has cheated and abased and maligned the Irish for too many long years. This is the opponent that has handed the Irish more defeats and robbed them of more championships than any other. Yes, this is the final battle against the last, worst, most desperate and despicable rival of them all.
Whatever may come tomorrow, there will be one more game. But not this year. It will be against a powerful opponent. But not this one. We must finish what we started here and now with a signal victory that signifies our days are getting longer, our sun is shining brighter, Notre Dame is triumphant once again and golden is our fame.
And these men can do it. For these men have done it. They have beaten this, their archrival, on their field, before their fans, as part of this long and arduous trek back up the mountain. This coach has done it. He has outmaneuvered and outwitted his most outrageously duplicitous opposite number at this time of year on just this sort of night.
But what is more – so very much more – is that this team, leader and lads alike, has battled against eleven formidable foes, through games that have stretched well beyond their allotted time, in stadiums friendly and hostile, in daylight and darkness, in masterful performances and determined bids to win on the final play. And they have never lost.
For this team has never failed to believe. When nearly all others did not believe that this very result was even possible, this team, leader and lads alike, never gave up and never faltered in their boundless hope. But why would they? Their University was founded on nothing more and nothing less than a daring hope. These men of Notre Dame represent to the nation the hope that educational and athletic excellence can and do march hand in hand. But they do so with humility, not arrogance. This is not a group of chest-thumpers and big-talkers. This is a group that has worked and struggled and lost – only to return again and again, year after year to the battle, armed with that most indomitable weapon: Hope.
We are so close now to tasting the sweetness of ultimate, conclusive victory. Perhaps we are already enjoying a foretaste of that incomparable confection. But let us not forget that the bitter bile of loss lies not far away if we fail to defeat this enemy which has caused us to taste the foul tang of failure too often. The team must fight on every down, capitalize on every opportunity, deny every advantage to the adversary. The Irish faithful in the coliseum tomorrow night must cheer and support the team with full hearts and full voices – as must every student, alumnus, and believer around the country, if all of us are to taste the sweetness of victory.
For this is the life we have chosen. To believe in an ideal. To hope against the odds. To remain loyal when all others have fallen away. Notre Dame is reviled when its fortunes fade. Notre Dame is doubted when its lot improves. But not by those who believe, never by those who hope, for whom life is not one endless progression of success building upon success, but a tempering, harrowing march that makes the ultimate victory worth the fight, and makes the fight that much more heroic.
And so we have arrived at this place, at this time, with these men. We would have it no other way. Let the charge sound and let the battle be joined! Let the hope that first created Notre Dame 170 years ago surge in every loyal heart!
Nostra Domina Victoriae, Ora Pro Nobis!
Notre Dame just keeps taking care of business. In what might be this season’s toughest test, the Irish had to be just that, and man did they bring it to Norman, Oklahoma.
Should anybody be surprised? Going into Saturday’s game, the Fighting Irish had won their previous 3 games away from Notre Dame Stadium by an average of 31.6 points. Coach Kelly has preached both mental and physical toughness all season, and nowhere does that show up more than on the road.
Everett Golson was back as the starting quarterback after missing last week’s game for precautionary reasons dealing with his concussion. He himself said it was a good opportunity for him to “clear his head”, and he apparently made the most of it. While his numbers (13-25 for 177 yards passing, 64 rush yards and a TD) won’t wow anyone, he played within the gameplan, made big plays when they were needed, and most importantly did not turn the ball over. On his scrambles he seemed to carry the ball better, and he looked to slide and avoid the big hit more than we had seen previously (although he did get crunched early in the 4th quarter).
Credit must be given to both Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick, who both had exactly 74 yards on the ground. They consistently found holes for 5-6 yards which allowed Notre Dame to slow the pace and control the clock. The gameplan all week was to get this game to the 4th quarter and then see what happened. The Irish did just that, as it was tied up 13-13 with less than six minutes to play. At that point, the Irish’s physical play had taken it’s toll on Oklahoma and they began to crack.
Of course, you have to tip your hat yet again to this incredible Notre Dame defense. Going into this game the Sooners’ offense was red-hot, but the Irish were more than ready for them. While they did manage to Belldoze their way to the first rushing TD that the Irish have given up this season, they were held to just 15 yards rushing for the game. Manti Te’o (who else?) paced the Irish will 11 tackles, a sack, and a Heisman-esque interception that ultimately sealed the deal as the Irish finished with a 30-13 victory.
Notre Dame is now 8-0 and announced to the world that they are here to stay in the National Championship discussion. There is no doubt that we are watching one of this country’s elite teams, and quite possibly the toughest one of them all. Just ask Oklahoma.
No, I’m not talking about what happened with the goal-line stand. That was a special, special moment.I’m talking about the “storm” of the field by some students after the referees announced that the play stood as called originally on the field.
The student section was absolute mayhem, and it was awesome. People jumping off off benches, tackling friends, screaming and yelling obscenities in complete euphoria — it was raw joy after sitting through four hours of ice-cold rain. But it was all so worth it.
And yet, we all realized something else was going on — something not good. The freshmen and sophomores had started to rush the field.
I thought THIS was going to be the worst storm that ever happened in Notre Dame Stadium — that was embarrassing enough.
But here we were, watching a rush get started after we beat a Stanford team that we were favored to win by nine points against. Hell, we were ranked ten spots higher than them!
In my section, students were all making sure that nobody else ran onto the field. “This is not us. Don’t you dare. We are better than that. We were FAVORITES.” You could hear it all.
Storms are meant to be something sacred, Upset of the Century type stuff. This certainly did not qualify, and it is part of the reason Notre Dame gets mocked and teased as being “irrelevant”. You storm when you beat a #17 ranked team at home? Yeah, your program must be great.
Look, what’s happening this year with this team is absolutely incredible, something students and fans have been waiting desperately for for years. The appreciation and pride we all have for this team is off the charts, and at some point we all want to celebrate with them. This just wasn’t quite time do it.
Not sold that Notre Dame’s 4-0 start will last? Well, maybe some of these stats will change your mind.
Notre Dame has started 4-0 thirty-five times before this season. In 26 of those seasons the Irish finished with 1 or 0 losses. And of course, 10 national titles came about during those seasons, too.
Notre Dame is now the only team in the country to not give up a rushing touchdown. Considering that the Irish have played Navy, A Denard-led Michigan team, a Michigan State squad with Le’Veon Bell, and a decent Purdue team, that’s saying something.
Notre Dame has yet to trail an opponent this season.
Notre Dame is only giving up 9.0 points a game, which gives them the third-best scoring defense in the country.
While the offense may not be churning as well as Brian Kelly would like, opponents don’t have a particular player to gameplan against. Twelve different players have registered a reception, and the Irish have featured a 3-headed rushing attack.
Stephon Tuitt is tied for 4th in the nation in sacks, with 6 through four games.
Bennett Jackson and Manti Te’o are both tied for 4th in the nation in interceptions, with 3 each.
In fact, Notre Dame is 4th in the country as a team in turnover margin, at +2.2 per game.
Notre Dame is setting the tone early. The Irish haven’t been scored on in the first quarter.
Every one of Notre Dame’s opponents lost in September, proving they are all beatable. The schedule is still daunting, but there is no reason to not be optimistic as we move forward.
**Bonus** Manti Te’o is playing like a legitimate Heisman candidate.
If you recall, this spring I unveiled a post called “Taking the Temperature“. The idea for the post is simple — it’s a gauge of how the students on campus are feeling about the team and its prospects moving forward. Now, with a bye week on our hands, is a perfect time to discuss how everyone is feeling about our 4-0 Irish team.
It’s very interesting, because at 4-0 you would predict that the only feeling on campus would be one of invincibility — and “red-hot” would be the only way to describe the temperature on campus. However, even in the extra-optimistic Notre Dame bubble (which is what I describe the students as being in), the best I can do is call the Irish is uncomfortably humid — and here’s why:
In the spring, most Irish fans — and students as well — were predicting a very safe 8-9 win season for the Irish. Mainly for this reason:
The most obvious reason for the lukewarm-ness right now is the lack of resolution at the QB spot. If there is one thing any sports fan fears, it is lack of direction for their team. And when your team can’t point to any one guy at the quarterback position that is ready to take over and lead, you are certainly perceived as lacking direction. Deciding on a quarterback is the first step into raising win expectations among the fan base. And the truth is, it doesn’t even matter who takes ownership of that spot. For example, I strongly endorse Tommy Rees for starting quarterback. But if he were not chosen to start, I would assume that is because another guy took his game to another level and is capable of playing better football than Tommy, plain and simple. Once a guy is decided upon, fans stop viewing his negatives (why another guy should start over him) and start focusing on what positives the starter can bring to the table.
When I made this claim at the time, I had absolutely no idea that we would still have QB uncertainty midway through the season (this was before Tommy’s arrest, too). I was hoping and expecting that one guy — whoever that was — would elevate his game and take ownership of the starting role. But apparently it’s an issue that we are going to battle the whole year. And to me, that’s still the single most glaring reason for why fans aren’t supremely confident in this team heading to the national championship.
It’s clear that we still have some kinks in the offense that need to be worked out. Not just at quarterback, but the offensive line and running game as well. All three of those positions/groups have shown flashes of potential, but just haven’t quite put it all together yet. And until that happens, people aren’t going to buy in.
However, the defense is for real and this 4-0 start is not being taken for granted. No student on campus has ever had this type of optimism heading into October (sad but true). If the team comes out of the bye week and showcases some offense versus Miami — which everyone is pretty hopeful for — it will be game over. The hype machine will be full-go for the Irish down the stretch, and having the students believing 100% down the stretch will be huge for the home atmosphere, particularly in the games versus Stanford and BYU.
All in all, there’s a good, but not quite great feeling about this team moving forward. Maybe the older students are a bit jaded because of the collapses they’ve seen in the past, but the younger blood is ready to proclaim this as an elite team. Hopefully, in a few short weeks, we’ll have everybody on board.