Notre Dame Does the Least Notre Dame Thing Ever and Wins a Bowl Game in Dramatic Fashion

You see that baby?? It’s not quite the Orange Bowl, but oranges are most definitely a citrus fruit so I’ll fuckin’ take it!

This win was so unlikely for so many reasons. Sure, I took ND outright as 3 point underdogs, but it was only due to a great value in a somewhat coin flip game. Coach O can barely put a sentence together, but he’s always good to get his guys up for any game and play some smash football. Conversely, Notre Dame under Brian Kelly is a team that historically lays down in big spots. We saw it this year in their last three games: a loss to Stanford, a horrible loss to Miami, and a win they squeaked out against Navy. Couple that with the fact that Josh Adams and Brian Wimbush would be subbed out? If I had to bet a toe or something, I’d need find a new bookie but best believe I’d be screaming “Geaux Tigers.”

The game wasn’t pretty, and there were definitely some concerning moments. The fact that Wimbush and Adams played so poorly not only in this game, but the last three games of the year is disheartening. I hope they were injured, or maybe there’s circumstances outside of football that are distracting them, but the difference between the backfield’s play between the first two thirds of the season and the final third was horrific.

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That being said, the good moments far outweighed the bad for me today. Ian Book is a somewhat legit QB, that has looked progressively better with every game played. 14 of 19 for 164 yards, 2TD’s and 1 pick is a really solid day for a true sophomore backup. As soon as the game ended word spread that the starting QB job is up for grabs this Spring, and I’m honestly very okay with that. Let’s see what Book can do now that he’s fighting for the job.

Then, of course, there was the play of the day. Nay, the year. NAY, the millennium.

Miles Boykin, who entered the day win under 200 receiving yards on the year, goes up with one hand, trucks a CB, jukes out another, and sprints slower than anyone I’ve ever seen into the endzone. It was un.be.lievable. I jumped off of my couch and just put my hands on my head without saying a word. We realistically will probably never see a Notre Dame player make a play like that in the fourth quarter for a win over an SEC team, let alone just make a play like that ever again. Miles Boykin became a legend in South Bend yesterday; he’ll never have to pay the $5 cover for keg access ever again.

What a game, what a win, and honestly, what a year. Looking at Notre Dame’s schedule this year, I saw a 6-6 year. But time and again, this team proved that Notre Dame football is still very much relevant. Double digit win at Michigan State, double digit win against USC, dominating the NC State D-Line. If before this season I told you the Irish would go 10-3 with wins over Michigan State, USC, and LSU, and that their three losses would be against a Miami team who played in the ACC Championship, a Stanford team who played in the Pac 12 Championship, and a Georgia team who won the SEC and is playing for the National Championship, would you take that? I know I absolutely would.

So as we close the book (pun unintended) on the Notre Dame 2017 campaign, I’ll leave you with something I didn’t think I’d be saying at the end of this season.

#BringBackBrianKelly

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The Key To Winning this Game Against Miami Will Surprise You

Let me set the scene. New Year’s Eve 2010 started like any other day in the quiet town of El Paso, Texas. The sun was shining, there was a bite in the late December air, and the world was beginning to pull itself out of the recession (I think?). The citizens of El Paso would soon learn, however, that this would be a New Year’s Eve that they would never forget.

For that fateful day in December, the 7-5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish would be facing off against the also 7-5 Miami Hurricanes in the 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl. In a game that college football personalities and experts everywhere had already written off as a battle between two has-been programs, one man silenced his haters. Not for good, but for as long as the game went on.

That man was none other than #11 in blue, Tommy Rees. The offense EXPLODED like a roman candle and caught the lackluster Hurricane defense totally asleep. Rees went off for an overwhelming 201 yards passing and two TD’s to Michael Floyd, who probably drove to the game drunk. The Irish won the game 33-17 in a game that proved to be the perfect start to what would go on to be a fuzzy new year at best.

Since that historic Sun Bowl victory, the Irish have yet to lose to Miami (go ahead, look it up). This so-called “rivalry” is about as lop-sided as Michael Scott’s mattress with his diary beneath it. And in a year where the Irish could find themselves in the College Football Playoff for the first time since its creation, guess who’s the QB coach. That’s right, Tommy Rees.

People are warning me to be wary of this Miami team, to not get too ahead of myself, but listen — as long as we have good ole Tommy Rees up in the booth I have ZERO doubt in my mind that Notre Dame wins this game Saturday.

Don’t get me wrong, the start of this game will suck. Miami will force an early turnover, flaunt the turnover chain, and for the first time in a long time, Miami fans will arrive on time and be LOUD. But that energy won’t last. Notre Dame will do what they’ve done all year and wear down the Miami defense with a balanced attack, before delivering the final blow with their punishing ground game.

So I’ll let the Miami fans chirp me, try and get in my head. But the reality is I’m much more scared of this Navy game next week than I am of this Miami team. In a rematch of the 2010 Hyundai Sun Bowl, Notre Dame will win by the EXACT. SAME. SCORE.

Notre Dame: 33 Miami: 17

Go Irish. Beat Miami.

Notre Dame NC State Preview: Stick to the Plan

Notre Dame takes on 14th ranked NC State today in South Bend in a rematch of one of the absolute WORST games of 2016. Actually, maybe not just 2016, but in all of football last year. This time in 2016 I was sitting on patio furniture in my studio apartment in Los Angeles watching these two teams attempt to play an entire football game during a driving hurricane. I was unaware that this hurricane had already hit North Carolina, and brazenly took the over of 51 in a game that finished 10-3 NC State, with the only touchdown coming from a blocked punt.

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But this year will be different than last, since a.) both teams are far more competent than they were last year and b.) to my knowledge, no hurricane is due to slam into South Bend, Indiana this afternoon. This game has potential to be a drop down drag out dog fight, with both teams running the ball in the trenches and trying to win battles at the line of scrimmage. Many articles I’ve read leading up to this week feel this is a “sneaky trap game” after the Irish absolutely pummeled USC last week and NC State coming off a bye.

Here’s the bottom line though: Notre Dame is just better than NC State. Sure, this game may stay close early, but to suggest that NC State is even remotely athletic as Notre Dame is on offense is insulting. Their defense is tough, but so is Notre Dame’s so they cancel out. Notre Dame has Wimbush and Adams running all over teams supported with arguably the best O-Line in college football, NC State does not. Advantage Irish.

At first, I told myself this screamed trap game, but the more I think about it I’m more worried about next week’s home game against Wake Forest being a trap. Coming off of two ranked wins and having to go to Miami the week after, that Wake Forest game scares the crap out of me. As for this week though, ND has too much talent for NC State to hang around all game. Plus, NC State may be looking ahead to their home game vs Clemson next week.

My words of advice are these: don’t panic if this game starts slow and stays close through halftime, this NC State team is good on defense. But the rushing attack of ND will win the day, as Adams will run for another 150+ yards and 2 scores. Go Irish. Beat Wolf Pack.

FINAL – Notre Dame: 38 NC State: 17

Notre Dame vs. USC Preview: The Battle for the Jeweled Shillelagh

The setting: my living room. The date: October 15, 2005. The Game: #1 USC at #9 Notre Dame. The stage was set for Notre Dame to catapult themselves back into relevance with a win against the unstoppable USC Trojans, led by Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and Pete Carroll.

This game was different than any Notre Dame game I remember watching in my youth. For the first time in my cognizant life, Notre Dame looked good. It was a rare primetime night game in South Bend, Irish rocking their big game green jerseys that I had not seen in years. Charlie Weis and his Super Bowl pedigree had Irish fans excited, and you could feel the energy pulsing from that stadium through the TV screen. Notre Dame was up 4 late in the fourth and had USC pinned back to a 4th and 9 on their own 25. It felt at the time that everyone, even my family of cynics, was ready to believe again.

Then, he said it.

“All right, all we need to do here is not give up a 60 yard play.”

Whistle blows, the ball is snapped. Leinart drops back, and rops in a dime to Dwayne Jarret, who somehow got behind our secondary 61 yard play. The silence in my house was deafening. We couldn’t believe what we just saw. How do you let him get behind you? Did we never see this play on USC’s game tape? It was 4th and 9!

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And you know the rest. Stopped on the 1, Leinart rolls left on a QB sneak, Reggie Bush pushes him into the endzone, Notre Dame loses 34-31. The infamous “Bush Push” then set off a butterfly effect timeline of misery for we ND faithful. Seasons of making BCS Bowls and losing in punishing fashion, losing to UCONN, people like Jimmy Clausen and Dayne Christ playing QB for us, and to this day still having to pay off Charlie Weis for his mediocre tenure as head coach.

At the time, a 10 year old me blamed my Dad for the loss to USC, claiming he jinxed us and ruined the season. But the jaded, weathered 24 year old me knows better than that. That’s just Notre Dame football. Whenever Notre Dame has you ready to “wake up the echoes” they throw a pivotal INT to lose the game. Whenever they have you convinced they’ll, “win one for the gipper,” they give up a 75 yard bomb on busted coverage late in the fourth. To be miserable is to be a Notre Dame fan, and that’s just the way things are.

But Saturday, things will be different.

USC enters this game battered and bruised, especially on defense. While they’re linebackers are solid (as is tradition), they’re defensive line is crippled. Both their starting and backup nose tackles are injured, and starting d-end Rasheem Green is not playing due to an ankle injury. Additionally, Sam Darnold looks like he’s regressed a little this year without as many weapons on offense, and while still dangerous, that unit is not nearly as intimidating as they were last year. They’ll put up points, but so will the Irish.

The bottom line is there are very few teams that are more athletic than Notre Dame on offense (hope you read that sitting down). Wimbush is the best dual threat QB that will become a wideout in the NFL in the NCAA, and I am of firm belief that Josh Adams is the best pure running back in the country. Considering USC comes into the game starting reserves on the D-Line, I expect Adams to have a HUGE day running in between the tackles.

Which brings us to the “llave del partido.” If Notre Dame jumps out to an early lead in this game, like they’ve been able to against everyone all year, they’ll win this game. In a run happy offense, playing with a lead has been key for the Irish this year as they can control the clock and settle into a rhythm for the offensive line. If not, they’ll be forced to throw the ball in big spots and I’ve already said how I feel about Wimbush’s ability to throw a six yard in route. But, I don’t see the game going so poorly that it gets to that point.

If the definition of insanity is, “to do the same act over and over again expecting a different result,” then consider me a fucking lunatic, because I’m all in on Notre Dame to win this game Saturday night. Hope will be restored yet again in South Bend, Indiana, if only for a week.

Notre Dame: 38 USC: 27

Post Bye Week, Let’s Take a Look at Where Notre Dame Sits in the College Football Picutre

The bye week has come and gone for the Irish, so I thought I’d take this off week as an opportunity to reassess the year that’s been, and preview what’s on the horizon for the now 13th ranked team out of South Bend. Year in and year out Notre Dame’s bye week is typically my favorite week of the year, because it’s the only Saturday during college football season where I can act like a sane person, not stressed over how Notre Dame will find a way to lose this week. This bye week was particularly enjoyable, however, because with four ranked teams falling the Irish rose three spots without having to play a minute of football.

 

Truth be told, this year really hasn’t been all that bad watching Notre Dame. I’m often times too pessimistic about Notre Dame, so that’s about as high of a compliment you’ll get from me. But this team has won convincingly against teams they should beat, went on the road and beat Michigan St. soundly in a night game, and were one stupid penalty and two missed field goals away from beating Georgia, who’s now third in the country.

 

These wins have been team efforts too, which is stunning. A common trend for Notre Dame is one player or group shouldering the load that proves to be unsustainable (2012 defense, Brady Quinn, Michael Floyd). This year though, the team appears to be well balanced on both sides of the ball. Drue (crazy way to spell Drew) Tranquill has looked comfortable in the new defensive scheme as the Rover Linebacker, Wimbush is way more athletic than any QB has been in recent memory, and Josh Adams is having a sneaky Heisman worthy season without getting nearly enough love. He is ahead of Barkley in multiple rushing categories, including rushing yards and yards per attempt.

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All this being said, the second half of the schedule is BRUTAL for Notre Dame. They open up this week with a home game against an underachieving #11 USC, home again against #16 NC St which was the ugliest game of 2016 in a driving hurricane, Wake Forest, at #8 Miami, home against Navy who does nothing but score and run clock so that SCREAMS trap game, and finish the year at #22 Stanford. Four out of six opponents ranked in the top 25, and Navy just fell out of that poll a week ago.

 

If Notre Dame survives these six games and wins out there’s no conceivable way they’re left out of the playoff with their only loss coming from the SEC East Champion. The biggest issue facing this team will be stamina and I just don’t know if a run heavy offense will have enough gas to win all six of those games. Hell, having watched Notre Dame for almost 20 years of my life, it wouldn’t shock me if this team found a way to go 1-5 in these games and play in some bowl game I’ve never heard of like the Avocados from Mexico Bowl (which would actually be sick if a. it was a bowl game and b. they played it in Azteca in Mexico City).

 

But, because I seemingly refuse to learn my lesson, I genuinely believe this Irish team can pull this off. The games won’t be fun to watch, my Saturdays will be filled with stress and a looming threat of heartbreak, but I’m all in on this team finding their way into the four-team playoff. Run the ball, eat up clock, the defense will bend not break. It all starts this weekend with USC.

 

Wake up the fucking echoes.

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