ND Football may not be all the way ‘back’, but during this season the program took a major, major step forward. No, not Crazy Train or Shamrock Helmets, but SHELLACKING OF INFERIOR OPPONENTS. YYeeeeeeeeahhhhhhh!
Blowing out teams you’re supposed to beat seems like a fairly innocuous thing. “Of course that’s supposed to happen, so what?” Well, the ‘so what’ is that it HASN’T been happening.
Syracuse. Tulsa. Navy, Navy, Navy. UCONN.
You know those games and you cringe just reading those words. Why? Because ND should be whipping those teams, and not beating them in close games, let alone losing to them. Program-defining wins for teams that have no right even hanging with ND became commonplace in previous years. No longer.
This year, ND Football has taken steps toward becoming a winning program. This team isn’t playing down to the level of competition. This team isn’t allowing ‘meh’ teams to hang in there for a shot at a W at the end of a game. This team is WHOMPING some small-fries, and it is a BEAUTIFUL THING PEOPLE!
Yes, yes, USF was a disaster of a game to start off the year. This step hadn’t been taken yet. And yes, yes, Michigan was a game we should’ve won, but we let them hang around. And yes, yes, Pitt was an ugly affair. And yes yes, Wake has an ugly record. But none of those teams are cream-puff matchups just begging for a blowout. None of those are games you expect to walk away with an EASY win. USF and UM were also insanely weird, and Pitt had a great defensive game plan that they saved for ND. Wake is an up and down team that beat FSU and took Clemson to the absolute wire. These are not the focus of my post.
I’m talking about the games you’re supposed to win, handily. I’m talking about Purdue, Air Force, Maryland. And this week, I’m talking about BC.
These are teams that ND should dominate year in and year out. Combined scores of these games in 2011? 198 – 78. We absolutely CRUSHED these teams, and it’s something that’s been missing for quite a while. In years past, given the exact same opponents, we’d have seen ND drop at least 1 of these, and another would have been down to the wire. Instead, ND handled each of these games.
This team isn’t ‘there’ yet. I know that we have a lot of things to work on and please refrain from giving me all those small examples of why we haven’t yet arrived. I know we aren’t there yet. If we were, we’d be undefeated and on our way to a MNC. But these types of blowout wins over outmatched opponents are important. It’s a vital step to building a program. It builds confidence, it teaches players/coaches how to put a team away, it allows starters to rest and heal, and gives backups a chance to gain experience critical to their future development.
Winning against overmatched teams in the way we have is a major step forward for this program. I watched every second of that Maryland game it was FREAK-ING BEAUTIFUL.
Now we just need a repeat performance against BC, and my point will be proven. ND will have, officially, taken this step. Beating teams you’re supposed to beat is one step towards beating them all. Let’s take one more step Saturday. BEAT BC!