ND has somehow become the team that magically snatches Defeat from the Jaws of Victory. The list of improbable losses with the game seemingly within our grasp is long and terrible. The fact that any one of those losses happened is mind-boggling. The fact that this long list of maddening losses ALL HAPPENED is certifiably insane. THE ODDS ARE SERIOUSLY SO SLIM THAT I DON’T KNOW HOW TO COMPREHEND IT. If these hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t believe it possible, at all.
2000 vs Michigan State – ND has this game all but wrapped up, but MSU steals it with a huge pass play in the closing minutes. Closing out games with the lead becomes something ND fans fear. And for good reason.
2004 vs Boston College – ND has a lead similar to this past weekend, up 20-7 and looking dominant. Slowly but surely BC creeps back into the game, and steals the W with seconds left on the clock. Feels familiar.
2005 vs MSU – The team that ND has been owned by most in the past decade and a half or so (ND is only 4 of 14) takes the game in overtime, their fans and players storm the field and knock over band members, and they plant the flag at midfield. When does ND get to win in OT?
2005 vs USC – The Bush Push. ND has USC pinned on 4th and long deep in their own territory. Defensive coverage play is solid, as is execution. But SOMEHOW Leinart sneaks a ball through a 1 inch space, and USC is off to the races. Fumble on the 1, yadda yadda yadda, Bush Push with time expiring, we lose. These terribly painful losses have to stop pretty soon, right?
2007 – The entire season hurts. Nothing is good.
2008 vs Pitt – We tanked in ’07 to lose to Navy for the first time IN FOREVER (remember when that was the case?) in triple overtime. We lose another Triple OT game to Pitt, in a game that we could have won 5-6 times. Burns.
2008 vs Syracuse – The game that really ended Weis’ time at ND. Senior Night. ND has a 13 point lead and appears to be walking away with this one. But no, miraculous comeback by a horrible 2-8 team with a lame duck Coach. We lose the game with a Cuse TD with only 42 seconds left on the clock.
2009 vs Michigan – The first in a 3-part series that is the same game played over and over and over, except that each loss is more inexplicable than the previous. In 2009, it was actually a pretty even game, and the refs literally made that happen. Despite the blatant cheating, ND has UM on the ropes and the skunkbears have to go the length of the field with almost no time left. THE FORCE happens, we get juked with our jocks on the grass, and UM is in the end zone celebrating a few moments later with just a few seconds remaining on the clock.
2009 vs USC – ND fights back after being down and drives the length of the field with just seconds remaining. Weis dials up 3 shots and the last one is batted down out of Rudolph’s capable hands as time runs out on the Irish.
2009 vs UCONN – Double OT loss to a team that shouldn’t have been able to touch ND. Felt a lot like Syracuse.
2010 vs Michigan – Back and forth game where ND is dominating with Crist in the game, horrible without him. Crist and Rudolph ‘end it’ with a crushing TD blow with just over a minute remaining in the game. All we have to do is stop the Denard Show one more time. The Shoelaceless One scores the winning TD with 27 seconds left. The Forcier/Robinson connection own ND in the final minutes. This will continue.
2010 vs MSU – ND has this game. MSU is lucky to be in it, and they’re stuck with a really long FG attempt to tie it up in OT. ND defenders inexplicably slip at the line of scrimmage and all come tumbling down, as MSU’s fake goes for a TD and the win. This makes no sense.
2011 vs USF – ND comes out on fire and moves the ball at will. Turns it over for a 99 yard TD for USF. ND moves the ball at will, turns the ball over. ND moves the ball at will…you know how this goes. We double USF in yards, but are horrible on TOs and STs, and lose.
2011 vs Michigan – You already know this one too. But it’s remarkable how UM is 3-0 vs ND out of the last 3, all 3 games were down to the final seconds, and ND has come out on the short end all 3 times. In the long run, these should end up 50/50…
Which brings me to my point:
AT SOME POINT THIS ALL HAS TO FREAKING EVEN OUT DOESN’T IT?!?!?!?!? THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A CURSE. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS INSTITUTIONAL LUCK OR WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT. AT SOME POINT, THE TEAM STARTS WINNING THESE GAMES. WHY??????
BECAUSE THERE IS NO WAY THIS CAN GO ON FOREVER. IT’S LITERALLY UNPOSSIBLE. YOU CANNOT FLIP A COIN AND GET A THOUSAND HEADS IN A ROW. YOU JUST CAN’T, THE WORLD DOES NOT WORK THIS WAY!!!!!!
Sure, we’ve had a few miracle wins in these years. Like: All of Ty’s Wins because he never figured out an offense. Like the dramatic comeback against MSU away (the Johnelle Slap game), when we were down by a million and somehow pulled it out. Like the great finish against UCLA at home where Quinn to Shark became ingrained in our brains forever. Like last season’s final play victory against USC. We’ve gotten a few, but man the SCALES ARE CERTAINLY TIPPED OVER THE LAST DECADE.
And it’s time that we TIP THOSE EFFERS BACK. This is not karma. This is not luck. This is not fate. This is not predetermined and it’s not the case that it HAS to keep happening. It will stop happening when the players and coaches stop LETTING IT HAPPEN. Winning is a choice in these close, dramatic, insane games. You have to choose to win, and then make that happen. Just as losing is a choice. Of course if you choose to win you won’t win every time, but the scales will tip back in your favor. It’s time for ND to MAKE THAT CHOICE.
Choose to win. Until we do, this feeling is going to continue.
I am on a flight to Asia. I will be as far away from ND Football as possible on Saturday. I hope I like the view from there better.