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  • We’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1988

    by OmahaDomer

    A coach with tepid support from the Irish fan base and 10 losses over his first two years entered the year with an untested quarterback from South Carolina against an apparently impossible schedule. He completed an undefeated regular season with a physically dominating victory over Southern Cal.

    I know, you’ve heard it before. Louis Leo Holtz made his legend with a 27-10 win over Southern Cal and a Fiesta Bowl win. But it’s all ancient history. No team can possibly lead the nation in graduation rates and the national polls. It has all passed Notre Dame by. The college game is now all about getting athletes who care little about schoolwork and simply want to remain eligible for three years and reap millions in the NFL.

    Oh wait. It’s 2012 and a high character team from Notre Dame, with a 99% graduation rate, dominated U.S.C. to finish 12-0 and ensure a berth in the national championship game. To be sure, Notre Dame will have its doubters when it faces the winner of the Alabama-Georgia game. If Alabama wins, Notre Dame will likely be a 10-point or so underdog. If Notre Dame plays Georgia, the line will be closer but will favor Georgia.

    It matters not. Undoubtedly one of the stories leading into the national championship tilt will be that Notre Dame played a soft schedule. Your correspondent is baffled, however, by any such assertion. Notre Dame played a schedule whose teams who are a collective 80-42 in non-N.D. games, and included 10 likely bowl teams and two potential conference champions.

    Oh, to the game. Notre Dame lost the toss and took the ball to begin the game. The Irish began with a crisp up-tempo drive that nicely mixed the run and the pass. It stalled and N.D. converted on a field goal to stake the visitors to a 3-0 lead that they would never relinquish.

    U.S.C.’s redshirt frosh quarterback Max Wittek, who early in the week took to the L.A. airwaves to guarantee a victory (which seemed only logical after U.S.C. coach Lane Kiffin had guaranteed after U.S.C.’s humiliating 2010 defeat that the Trojans would “never again” lose to N.D. while he was coach), was too amped up and killed a U.S.C. drive with overthrows.

    The inspired Irish drove down the field and N.D. game offensive M.V.P. Theo Riddick tore through the Southern Cal defense for a nine-yard run that would be the visitors’ only touchdown of the evening.

    What appeared as though it might be a comfortable evening for Irish fans quickly became uncomfortable. The Trojans went on a nifty 60-yard drive with all of the yards covered in the air. With Notre Dame’s defense concentrated on the ultra-fast Marquise Lee, his counterpart Robert Woods got inside position and notched a touchdown to make it 10-7.

    The Irish, as they have all season, refused to wilt. The N.D. offense drove down for a 29-yard Brindza field goal to make it 13-7.

    The hosts, however, inhospitably refused to acknowledge that the game was over. Notre Dame then had a three-and-out sequence that forced the first Irish punt of the evening.

    A nice Ben Turk punt put U.S.C. back at its own 28 with just under two minutes to go. A deep throw by Wittek was intercepted by Notre Dame’s frosh CB Russell who maintained beautiful inside position.

    N.D. went on a clutch drive to the U.S.C 35 and Kyle Brindza hit a career-long field goal of 52 yards to stake the Irish to a 16-10 lead at halftime.

    The second half began about as well as N.D. fans could have hoped. U.S.C. took the second-half kickoff and Wittek threw an interception to T’eo, his seventh of the year and certainly cementing a trip to New York. A nicely executed basketball pass to George Atkinson III netted 15 yards, but the Irish stalled and Brindza missed a short field goal and Irish hearts crept closer to their throats.

    N.D.’s defense bowed up and forced punts on the next two Trojan possessions. The Irish then went on a critical drive that would end with an N.D. field goal that would stake N.D. to a two-score lead that would prove critical down the stretch.

    U.S.C. drove to the N.D. four-yard-line but the drive stalled and U.S.C. correctly called for the field goal to make it an uncomfortable margin of 19-13 in favor of the visitors.

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but N.D. showed impossible heart and character in the face of adversity. George Atkinson III set the Irish up with a nice kickoff return to near midfield. The determined Irish drive stalled at the U.S.C. two-yard-line but Brindza converted again to make it 22-13 and return the game to a two-score affair.

    The most critical sequence of a tense affair began with a nice return by the Trojans’ Lee to the U.S.C. 45. With just under six minutes remaining Wittek hit Lee on a 53-yard bomb that looked as though it might be the play that defined Irish frustration.

    What unfolded, however, was one of the most gutsy sequences in the proud history of N.D. defense. The Trojans, apparently in business at the Irish two-yard line, committed a false start penalty. On consecutive plays, U.S.C. drew pass interference penalties on Russell trying to defend Lee (the second appeared dubious but would have no effect on the outcome).

    With first and goal at the one-yard line, Kiffin channeled his inner David Shaw. Wittek sneaked. No gain. Wittek sneaked. No gain. Handoff to McNeal. No gain. Play action pass: incomplete.

    It was all over but the shouting. Riddick burst through for a first down. Two kneel down plays and N.D. punted to U.S.C. with under 20 seconds to go. A couple of futile U.S.C. offensive plays and the game was over and N.D. headed to Miami.

    This correspondent would venture that a bettor could have gotten 10,000 to 1 to odds that if this game were to involve at team that was 11-0 and playing for a berth in the national championship game and the other was 7-4 that the teams would be N.D. and U.S.C. respectively. But, as they say, that’s why they play the games.

    The tale of the tape shows that this game was not as close as the score. N.D. outgained U.S.C. 438 to 285 and outrushed the over-matched Trojans 221 to 99. N.D. won the turnover battle 2-0. The only thing that kept the game close on the scoreboard was that N.D. had to attempt six field goals after deep drives into Trojan territory.

    This Notre Dame team will not lose the national championship game. This Irish team has too much heart and the nation’s best player in Manti T’eo. Though constantly disparaged by national pundits, this Irish team has some of the best talent and coaching in the land. Ever since the picture of T’eo with two illuminated light beams on his shoulders, plausibly seen as being the angels of his late girlfriend and grandmother, it has been clear that this is a Notre Dame team like no other.

    Now here are answers to Vannie’s prescient questions:

    Can Golson and the Irish keep their emotions in check and get off to a solid start?

    A resounding “yes” this one. The lead would swing between three and 10 points, but the Irish would never relinquish it.

    Will Notre Dame’s secondary minimize USC’s yards after catch with proper angles and crisp tackling?

    Yes. Notre Dame’s defense gave up a couple of long pass plays, but did not hand U.S.C. any big gains on screens.

    Can USC stop the run while keeping its safeties back in a Tampa-2 defense?

    No. N.D. out-rushed U.S.C. and the Trojans’ poor tackling victimized them all night.

    Will Wittek have time to display the poise and accuracy the Trojans will need?

    This one is close. Your correspondent is concerned that Wittek will be a nuisance in years to come. For a player making his first start in a game of this magnitude, he has little about which to hang his head. One of his few poor decisions turned into an interception by T’eo. A more experienced Q.B. probably would have soft tossed the pass for a T.D. on U.S.C.’s last meaningful possession. But the outcome would have been the same with Barkley. U.S.C.’s early rushing success was largely a result of the N..D. defensive staff’s attempt to anticipate the daffy Kiffin’s play calling.

    Can USC’s offensive line repeat last year’s domination of the Irish front seven?

    No. A thousand times no. Last year, N.D. was attempting to play a one-legged Aaron Lynch at defensive end and U.S.C. correctly diagnosed this as the weak link in N.D.’s defense and ran over him all night long. This year, N.D.’s stout defensive line gave up a few runs of some length early, but showing its mettle, held the Trojans under 100 rushing yards and mostly threw U.S.C.’s offensive line around like they were rag dolls.

    Will this be the game that special teams play finally costs Notre Dame a victory?

    No. Each team got one return of moderate significance. Special teams were not a factor.

    Which struggling kicker will come through for his team?

    Both kickers performed admirably. Brindza was 5 of 6 on field goals and U.S.C. was two of two. Brindza forced touchbacks and U.S.C.’s kicker could not reach the endzone, but gave up only one significant return. Place kicking was a push.

    Will the referees dare to call holding on the Trojans?

    No. Actually, there appeared to be a fair amount of holding on both sides, which accounted for the low sack totals. The referees did an admirable job of avoiding making themselves the story.

    This is the Notre Dame team that the mockers confidently proclaimed would never happen again. Time after time, Notre Dame has been declared “irrelevant” by national pundits. In the late 1950’s and 1960’s it was confidently declared that the Irish would never be back. But what should have been a national championship in 1964, and a national championship in 1966 and 1973, proved the doubters wrong.

    In the late 1970’s, it was clear to the national pundits were sure that the charismatic Ara could not be replaced. Dan Devine’s 1977 team proved that wrong.

    After nearly a decade of futility, the Irish hired Lou Holtz who won the national championship, and deserved one in 1989 and 1993.

    After flashes under Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis the national pundits cluck-clucked again and assured the rest of the nation that N.D. would never be back again.

    We’re back.

    56 Responses to “We’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1988”

    1. GO IRISH.

      • The only thing that concerned me was when the Irish were in the red zone and was rushing the ball well….why did O’Brien switch to a more passing???

        • I wondered the same thing, myself. Theo Riddick scored on a 9-yard run in the first quarter. Why all the passes in the red zone thereafter? Just didn’t make sense to me. If this was scripted, then move away from the script.

    2. Love every second of it. Accomplishing so much despite so many opportunities to make excuses. Kelly’s comments last year after the USC loss. Lose a bowl game. Lose Darby, Shephard, Greenberry, and then Lynch and Prestwood defect. Lo Wood, Jamoris, and Austin Collinsworth go down with injuries. A freshman running back in Keivarae Russell is thrust into a starting CB role and doesn’t skip a beat. Everett Golson endures early season growing pains and develops into the player that the offense cannot operate without. Davaris Daniels, Daniel Smith, Chris Brown stepped up and TJ Jones turned into the most sure hands on the team. Manti playing through heartbreak. And if you sit back and think about it, this is only the very beginning of this offense. You’re right. It doesn’t matter who wins the SEC title game. There’s no chance this team is losing the National Championship game. GO IRISH!

    3. “Nobody does it like Notre Dame” – Brian Kelly. Yep!! Pretty much sums it up!!

    4. We’re back indeed

    5. The defense’s stop on third and goal convinced me that this team will win the national championship. You could see by the way they were digging in before the snap that they just live for moments like that, and that there was no way they were going to fail. They could replay that down 100 times and they would stop SC every single time. And they will do the same to whichever team they play in Miami.

    6. We will win the NC. Kelly has done a great job of bringing the team along offensively. A telling quote last night, “we are not ready to finish off drives yet.” This team has gotten better and better all season. Imagine where they will be in 43 days.

      Kelly deserves a ton of credit.

    7. Place kicking may have been a push but Kyle Brindza was spectacular. He should get a game ball.

      How about these stats?

      1) We will finish undefeated and untied in a CALENDAR year for first time since 1949

      2) We just finished a regular season where opponents were 2 for 112 scoring touchdowns when they had to go 60 or more yards (starting at their own 40 or worse). Wow.

    8. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      What can you say other than how sweet it is!!!

      Irrespective of the outcome of the BCS Championship Game, this team is one of the greatest of all time and this season wiped out so much pain from years past.

      I hesitate to point out the one thing that irked the chit out of me I’m going to anyway. Like Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, BK has a regrettable tendency to abandon stuff when it’s working.

      I’m thrilled we won, but for the love of Knute, how do you not give the ball to Theo on the last two touches in that last drive after’s he’s run over around and through the stout Trojan run D?

      Kelly goes empty set and runs with Golson twice and then has the kid try and through a fade to Eifert that requires perfect touch at any insanely pressure packed moment. That was not smart.

      Had the Trojan FB not gagged and actually caught the perfectly thrown pass in the end zone on 4th down the Trojans would have had a shot at an onside kick.

      Fortunately, it’s much ado about nothing because the D is other worldly, but I almost wasted a perfectly good wide screen TV screaming at Kelly to stick with Riddick.

      But I digress …

      Couple of other observations.

      If Manti doesn’t win the Heisman, there’s simply no justice. Johnny Schmonny. A&M isn’t undefeated last time I checked … and Johnny would wet himself if he had to line up against a real D like the Irish. Kid’s a freshman. Not this year. THIS IS OUR TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The campaign for Manti needs to go into full throttle swing. There should be two people in New York for the award ceremony – not five – Manti and Brian.

      Oh, and since the presentation is the day AFTER we win it all, Manti can bring and spike that silly glass football. They’ll give us another one.

      The only other two observations:

      How big was GAIII’s kickoff return? No one will ever confuse him for the Rocket, that was the biggest return at the biggest time in the biggest game in Notre Dame history. If you’re listening say, “AMEN!!!”

      Final observation is I think Bobby Diaco deserves tremendous credit for doing a nice job mixing up the blitzes, and making adjustments to stop the run. The announcers wanted to talk about the Trojan receivers and they are dynamite, but this game was won by the D stopping the run and stopping Redd and McNeil was incredible.

      Great job Irish!!!!! Now let’s go kick the snot out of Bama, because that is who we’ll play.

    9. This is the one I wanted to win, even more than the national championship game (which I obviously want to win also). This win completes the uNDefeated season and signifies that WE ARE BACK. Worst case, we finish the year in the top 5. Best case: #1. We are going to be highly rated next year. And the year after. AND the year after.

      Yeah, we will have some up and down seasons. That is the nature of college football. Key players will graduate some years. We’ll have years when we don’t get the calls and don’t get the good bounces. We’ll have seasons when injuries will hurt us (although our secondary was descimated this year and next-man-up was more than adequate). But with Brian Kelly at the helm, we will be prepared to compete with any team in the nation, year in and year out.

      I always look forward to colllege football season. I love to watch college football, not just ND games. And now, each season, I will be looking at the rankings, trying to figure out how a PAC-12 team will lose, or how two eams from Big 12 that are undefeated late in the season will both lose, or how we will be ranked in the BCS ahead of a Big 10+ team. Now, games in every conference matter to me, because Notre Dame matters in the yearly national championship discussion.

      Notre Dame is back. And we aren’t going anywhere. Get used to it.

    10. Let Riddick run the ball almost the entire length of the field-get inside the 10 yard line-then he’s out of the equation and he doesn’t get a touch? Don’t understand it but I love the “W”. I had stomach cramps all week before the kick-off last night but they have long gone away! Golson is the real thing. Manti is a gorilla and what about that goal line stand that will be talked about for generations? Hats off to the entire ND team and coaching staff. Now let’s go to Miami and win the BSC championship.
      ND FOOTBALL IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    11. A team that won’t be beat can’t be beat. Coach Kelly, his staff, and this group of very special young men have returned Fighting Irish football to that place where those of us who actually saw Johnny Lujack play remember very well. Thanks guys! Go Irish – Win!

    12. Sorry! I meant BCS championship!

    13. THIS IS NOTRE DAME! My sons tweeted that they never thought they would see this day again. What character; what a story line!

      Manti is the best all around representative in college football today. Like BK related in the presser, if he isn’t the Heisman winner, they just need to cut to the chase and make it an offensive award…period. Theo Riddick will be remembered as the linch pin for the offensive side of the ball. This kid has got heart and a determination that we haven’t seen in recent memory. Bravo!

      Switching gears: What was the utter nonsense coming from the Cierre Wood camp that he was going to go to the NFL after this year. This guy isn’t even the starting back! Theo Riddick personified the toughness that that skinny kid doesn’t possess. Darius Walker had a better chance and you see what it got him. I think he is presently in drama school somewhere. Thoughts?

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        Whether Woody should go now is strictly a function of the draft board and draft depth at the RB position. Do I think Cierre will be a high pick and a good pro irrespective of when he goes? No. He’s neither fast enough nor strong enough to do well at the next level in my view. Having said that, I never saw the guy that went to Green Bay doing well or sticking around so long. I don’t know if there’s any comparison, but if Cierre thinks now is his time, I wish him the best.

    14. Yes, everythings great, but we can’t continue to make field goals instead of touchdowns. By now, Kelly must realize that Golson has not mastered the fade throw to Eiffert. Probably less that 20% completions. Why not change this to theback shoulder throw. Eiffert can easliy mahandle the shorter defensive bakand Golson can make his more normal through of a good flat pass to the back shoulder with like 80% completion rate?

      Kelly got caught up in the emotions of the game in the fourth quarter. Why use you second time out just because the game clock is running out with NDo n the two yard line? What difference does it make to accept the five yard delay of game penaly and then kick the short field goal and preserve two time outs that you may need later in the game. It’s time for him to calm down and get the red zone offense perking.

    15. TOP TO THE MORNIN’ TO YA IRISH FANS!!!!!!! IRISH EYES ARE SMILIN’ THIS MORNIN’!!!!!!!!

    16. Special teams was definitely a factor – kickoffs and feild goals – aren’t they part of special teams? I know you mentioned the kickers as well, but just wanted to point that out.

      • And I haven’t seen any mention of the punting game. While Turk didn’t drop any inside the five, he kicked decently long punts and the coverage was excellent, with the SC returner dropped immediately on a few occasions. Perhaps a small issue, but ND never game up significant field position, with the exception of the one long kick return in the 4th quarter. Special teams performed well.

      • I was thinking the same thing. Special teams were actually a huge factor in that they weren’t a problem – at all. This, more than anything else, makes me feel better about facing an SEC defense in January.

    17. David from Panama says:

      The Kelly – Swarbick combo is what has gotten this program where it is. God bless and give credit to both of them and our players.

    18. NDBonecrusher says:

      Holy Smokes!
      I am not gonna get up on here and say “I knew it all along”. I didn’t. I wasn’t a believer till Stanford. But everything said above is 3000% accurate. The team has a heart bigger than Manti’s guns. My son will be talking about this team when I am long gone.
      We can’t make it to Florida, but I hope everybody who is making the trip travels safely and brings home the prize. Somehow, I think this will not be the last time we will be playing in January.
      Love Manti. Love Golson. Love Riddick. Love the graduation rate. Love that we get to the NC game on the shredded backs of the hated Trojans. It’s all just perfect. GO IRISH!!! Number 1, baby!!!!!

    19. This team plays with so much heart. Can’t wait until January 7th! Miami bound–Go Irish!!

    20. John Cochtoastin says:

      The satisfaction factor is so great with this team. You want memorable moments? The goal line stands against Stanford and USC, the ICON youtube moments esp Senior day, starting in the season in Ireland, the key turnovers at key times, the outstanding coaching.

      Want a fun and satisfying task. Watch the ND-USC replay tomorrow night and count USC’s yards after first contact. There aren’t any. This team tackles people as well as any I’ve seen.

    21. Nervousness and apprehension followed by utter relief after the results of last night. Basking in the glow of happiness on a sunny Sunday morning. The long festering pain of the 1993 loss to BC has finally been exorcised. The #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish have completed a perfect 12-0 regular season. To Miami and Onward to Victory!

    22. Kelly Gruene says:

      I enjoy NDNation.com and look at the site often. However, rather than “A coach with tepid support from the Irish fan base…”, I believe that the Irish fan base has supported this coach much more than many of the writers at NDNation have. Same primary coaches as last year. Sprinkle in a few new players. Different result. Why? Players have been making plays this year. Last year the players didn’t make the plays. Fumbles, missed tackles, poorly thrown passes. Coaches can’t make the plays, only players make the plays. This year? Ball control, good decisions on offense, great defense led in part by players playing in new positions that were decided upon by the coaching staff. Russell making those pass interference plays? That’s coaching. Remember, he was a running back last year. He has been coached to make those kinds of plays and he made them. He was placed in that position by these coaches. Some at NDNation criticized this coach harshly last year. Much of that criticism (but probably not all of it), I believe, was misplaced. This coaching staff has produced amazing results, continues to recruit amazing players, and has the future looking golden indeed. The biggest question moving forward is how to keep Bob Diaco on the staff. Go Irish!! Steamroll the SEC!!

      • M. O'Neill says:

        I completely agree. I think the Kelly bashing on NDNation was a loud minority in the midst of a silent majority. This was aggravated by many of Kelly’s supporters either being shouted down on this Website or outright banned (including some friends of mine).

        A lot of us could see the steady and significant improvement over the past two years, and even some (such as myself) could see the very strong parallels to 1988 heading into the season.

        It’s good to see so many now come forward with their mea culpas for their treatment of Kelly.

      • I think “tepid support” is right. I’ve actually been much more on the supportive end of the spectrum for NDN, but I don’t think there were any rational calls for his ouster. However, had he gone 5-7 this year we would likely have been in “we have a problem” mode. A coach’s final win rate rarely varies significantly from his win rate through three years. Years four and five for Davie were 14-10, Faust 12-11, Weis 13-12 — all essentially their win rates of the first three years. Holtz, however, was 25-10 through three years and ended with a .764 win rate, Devine was 28-7 and ended with a win rate essentially identical to Holtz’s, Ara was 25-2-3 and ended over .800. You get the idea. Kelly is now 28-10, which obviously bodes well for the future. But if he had been, say, 7-6 this year he would have been 23-16, which would have been essentially identical to Willingham’s 21-15, Weis’s 22-15 and Davie’s 21-16.

      • Mike Coffey says:

        “Different results. Why?”

        Check our rushing numbers this season vs. last, all by players who were on the roster last year.

        Check the balance of the offense. We’re no longer one-dimensional.

        Check the sideline demeanor. Coaching, not out-of-control screaming.

        Yes, the coaches have done well this year, and they deserve full credit for the change in direction. But that doesn’t mean “much of that criticism was misplaced.” In fact, much of the criticism was directed at the things that changed.

        • There is nothing wrong with fans criticizing or questioning various facets of player or coaching performance. That’s to be expected. It was more the tone and over-the-top quality of some of the NDN criticism, which attained a preferred status on this Site. You can continue to deny it, but it’s good to see that most who engaged in such behavior have simply come forward and admitted that they were wrong.

          Kelly inherited a team that lacked physical toughness, mental toughness, team chemistry and was also unaccustomed to winning. This was very similar to what Holtz inherited from Faust. Despite these systemic problems that needed to be righted, Kelly might have turned things around more quickly than he did (and more quickly than Holtz did), but for the fact that the team he inherited also did not have a strong QB. When Tommy Rees as a freshman/sophomore is the best that you got (and it’s been proven now that he was the best – Crist got benched in favor of redshirt freshman at KS), then that’s just one more difficulty to overcome. And looking back, people should be able to realize by now that Kelly’s record playing Rees was not that bad by any standard.

          “Check our rushing numbers this season vs. last, all by players who were on the roster last year. Check the balance of the offense. We’re no longer one-dimensional.”

          If there is such a thing as coaching incompetence, as exhibited by Weis, there is likewise such a thing as fan incompetence, as exhibited by these comments. Kelly ran a one-dimensional offense before 2012 – ignoring the run game? Really?

          There was an obvious and steady improvement in ND’s ability run the ball and ND’s defense when Kelly took over the program, which could be seen as early as 2010 in the wins over Utah, USC and Miami. The main problem was at QB, and with the steady improvements in defense and the run game continuing into 2012 and the addition of a QB that Kelly selected … the pieces all came together in 2012 like they did in 1988.

          Nothing wrong with fan criticisms, even when they are misguided.

          But the negative bashing was over-the-top and just wrong.

          Better to take the high road and admit a mistake than to keep trying to minimize it and justify it.

          • Mike Coffey says:

            I believe nine rushing attempts against SC last year shows an unbalanced offense. And before you put 2010 SC into the good-rushing column, let’s remember prior to Hughes going crazy in the latter stages in the game, we were throwing a lot more than running. Utah was a team exposed as a fraud the week before they played us, and Miami didn’t want to be there. Meanwhile, we lost to Navy and Tulsa and South Florida, and got absolutely mauled by SC in 2011.

            Brian Kelly is a pass-first guy, and he’ll be the first one to admit it. He’s also admitted in pressers he’s coaching this team differently, both on the defensive and offensive side. Good for him for making the corrections, we’re all benefiting from it. I don’t care how he got there, he’s there, and it’s all good.

            I think some of the defend-Kelly-at-all-costs stuff in the last two years was just as useless as anything you’d consider over-the-top negative. And I find it odd some folks want those who (rightfully) criticized BK for problems the last two years to unreservedly come to Jesus, yet if you ask them to acknowledge the bumps in the road we hit on our way here, they press their lips together and get the trembles.

            But to me, none of it matters. We’re going to play for a national championship, and I’d rather spend my time thinking about that.

    23. Hopefully no ND fan will ever use the tough academics as an excuse any more as I have heard used by countless ND fans over the years. As much of a critic I have been of Kelly I now have to eat my words. Never thought this would happen under him. Me bad. With that said I am going to ride this wave all the way to Miami. Go Irish! It’s been a looooooong time.

    24. irishhawk50 says:

      Kelly is coach of the year. If anyone but a totally deluded ND fan would have said ND would be 12-0 at the end of the season we would have said they were crazy. The funny thing is that all of this seems as it should be. I just woke up from a 20 year bad dream! Go Irish!

    25. I hope Notre Dame plays Alabama, then ND can silence all the nay sayers.

    26. GraceHallChapel86 says:

      Enjoyed the article.

      I am also enjoying the articles hinting that ND isn’t up to it, overrated, won’t win the next big one, blah, blah, blah. It’s like reality TV, fiction, and comedy all rolled into one sorry genre, and it has amused me all season long.

    27. A fabulous ND regular football season ended with an unequivocal statement that the Irish are indeed # 1. The players, coaches, trainers, band, Irish Guard, the cheerleaders, the students, the AD and most of all, the University, did a superb job in producing a most memorable season. Thanks ever so much, especially on Thanksgiving weekend.

      As to last night’s game, Everett Golson play making and BK ‘s play calling confirmed that a multi dimensional QB is harder to defend than the traditional dropback QB, whether Barkley or Wittek. Game also made clear that Lame Kiffen’s laminated play card produces the same results as the Bob’s Big Boy laminated menu used by Charlie Weis. Kiffen’s frantic negation of an SC TD with a very late time out was weird. As was having a 6’4″ QB with a golden arm attempting to “sneak” across the goal line not once, but twice in slow motion. If there is a risk to ND, it’s that SC will hire Bob Diacco as Defensive Co-Ordinator for $1.5 million per year. Not sure if Lame would fire his father in order to hire an exceptional defensive coach, but Pat Haden will surely try. Bob would be a continuation of Pete Carroll’s defensive genius, but with far fewer penalties.

    28. Gary Canori, '72 says:

      It was a great team effort. I just wish the offense play calling would have rushed the ball a few more times on the goal line. Another TD would have been icing on the cake.

    29. The only thing I’m sad about is that we have only one more game to play with Manti T’eo. He is pure class. A role model. The greatest leader, hardest working, hands down best player in college football! Ah, if only Heisman voters based their votes upon substance not flash. We may very well see the Heisman given to a freshman with fancy dance steps, but in our hearts we all know who the real Heisman is!

    30. There certainly is a TEAM in Manti T’eo.

    31. LewisU TOM says:

      I just did some math to follow the 80-42 opp record of nd.

      OF the top 5, only FLA matches our strength of schedule. Bama’s opponents were 69-62 this year. Georgia’s were 72-60. Oregon’s were 72-57. ANd Florida played a tough schedule against five teams whom finished 10-1 (without the FLA game) making their opponents 91-39.

      Judging by these numbers and what Ive seen, I’d be happy to face Bama or GA in miami!

      • Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

        Agreed. The best part of the National Championship Game will be a watching a two TD underdog Notre Dame team putting a two TD beatdown on the SEC champ. I’m so sick hearing all the hype about the SEC. This is our time.

    32. ElkhartIrish says:

      No intention of putting anyone down but a thought has occurred to me. The coliseum is beautiful and so is the white horse (!) and the Trojan armor and sword and routine. The players have a ton of talent. The cheerleaders are gorgeous. The weather is usually great. But there’s just something about SC that just rubs me wrong. I guess it’s the arrogant attitude. Our guys have pride but there’s also a decent amount of humility, but no arrogance. God bless our team. Go Irish!

    33. John Cochtoastin says:

      Remember when Michigan’s Long, Henne and Hart all coming back for their senior year in hopes of a NC then lost to Appalaichain State? Now Barkley returns this year to 5 losses.

      Things don’t always work out the way you envision them. Thats why when they do, it is just so satisfying.

    34. martinjordan says:

      1. ND should have scored 35 points – AT LEAST!
      2. Brian Kelly’s goal line play calling stinks as he abandons what got him there.
      3. Golson does not throw that fade pass well on the goal line and it becomes a wasted down.
      4. Theo Riddick ran like he was possessed! Why didn’t he get at least one carry in the last goal line situation?
      5. Kelly’s clock management at the end was positively Daviesque – I’m surprised he didn’t have Golson take a safety and get hurt.
      6. USC’s team speed was evident when ND tried to run wide but when ND ran straight at them …
      7. Special teams coverage was excellent.
      8. Wittek had a good first half but ND kept everything in front of them and only gave up one big play.
      9. He wilted in the second half under ND’s pressure.
      10. I had no problem with the pass interference penalties.
      11. ANOTHER GOAL LINE STAND!!!
      12. At least they’re getting field goals and not turning the ball over but they have score more TD’s
      13. ND matches up well with whichever SEC team it faces.

      • Kevin Welsh says:

        Give it a rest. Nobody is that interested in your critcisms of the soon to be AP Coach of the Year who happened to be good enough to win all 12 of the games he was employed to coach. After the fact criticizing the miniscule percentage of plays that didn’t work out of an undefeated team is the essence of self-aggrandizing blather. Everybody can be right after the fact. Who cares if you had a problem with the PI penalties or not? The clock management at the end of game was good enough to get it to 0:00 with the same 9 point lead he had with 5:58. Leave your ego at home and just watch the game.

        • martinjordan says:

          It’s all part of the process. ND has one game left – probably against Alabama and there is much room for improvement. Nick Saban is 3 – 0 in his career against ND.

    35. Bob Howsam, Jr. says:

      The icing on the cake will be when Max Redfield commits and the Irish recruiting class winds up being #1 on Scout and Rivals.

    36. Mark Augustine says:

      Seeing Mark May in a Leprechaun suit was worth all the nail biting moments. I was at the ’73 Sugar Bowl between Alabama and ND, will never forget it, and am chomping at the bit for another Alabama game. It would be the perfect end to a perfect season

    37. Paul deep in the SEC says:

      Do not delude yourself that this team is deemed by Fate or whatever to win the National Championship. Likely facing Alabama and Nick Satan, I mean, Saban, who does not recruit, but invites the best to play at Bama. They will be well prepared and will be by far the best team the Irish will face this season. However, they are not invulnerable and our Irish can beat them, but it will be great coaching, continued great defense, and the offense playing an error free and inspired game that beats the SEC. As for what I believe will happen in Miami, I will quote the great Rockne: “Yes, I know that you feel your are not strong enough. That’s what the enemy thinks too. But we’re gonna fool them.” Go Irish!

    38. Nice comments to all

      Have never been a BK backer…but I have to say with 6 weeks to game-plan and a D that plays way over it’s head in the secondary with lots of talent lost…this is an ND team that wills it’s way to win. I have sat back in so many games this season, ready for an ND defensive fall-out with momentum against them..it just has not happened. Diacco is the man!

      Stanford goal line stand was incredible…OK win is # 2 in my book…USC was right up there with OK…number 1 still has to be MSU on the road in prime time…put that defensive effort up in NC game and the game is over no matter who we play!

      Thanks Bob..stay here please FOREVER!

    39. Speaking of Saban and Alabama, this is what we in Cleveland get when we draft an Alabama running back by the name of Trent Richardson:

      “The Pittsburgh Steelers organization is the BESTEST team in the NFL.”

      Yes, a guy that went to college used the word “Bestest” in a press conference. This guy probably shouldn’t have been allowed out of third grade, because he ALWAYS sounds like that. The fact that he was playing for Saban surprises me not one bit. And excellent player, but truly not college material.

    40. george kaplan says:

      Agree with martinjordan. BK is trying to will Golson to get better with some success, but the 2 yard line isn’t the place. BK’s play- calling has been much better this year, or maybe he just has a better QB. OTOH, the SEC champ may be able to stop 4 downs from the one yard line, so maybe ND will need Golson to grow up some more.

    41. NDBonecrusher says:

      Y’all need to remember the old agade “defense wins championships”. Sure the offense has grown and will continue to do so, but this team got to 12-0 on the backs of their D. We have played and beat the best because the D came up strong again and again and again. USC goal line stand was ridiculous. Game on the line in their stadium and they could not punch it in on a bazillion tries from inside the 10? Sick.
      Whomever the opponent is, the D will keep us in the game. Nobody is gonna hang 45 points on them, no matter what you will undoubtedly read in the weeks to come from the trolls and haters. Oklahoma was supposed to do that too, and they were soundly thumped in Norman. Yielding 13 points is a bad day at the office for this bunch. That is crazy talk, but the stats speak for themselves. Defense wins championships.

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