Notre Dame fans are in the midst of a season to remember as their beloved Fighting Irish football team posted an impressive 12-0 regular season record and will vie for college football’s prestigious National Championship title come January. Fans are getting ready for the big showdown against Alabama by stocking up on Fighting Irish merchandise before college football’s championship game kicks off January 7, 2013 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL.
This news could not make Fighting Irish fans any happier as they have waited a very long time for Notre Dame to return to national prominence. Since winning their last national championship in 1988, Notre Dame has seen a number of coaches come and go in South Bend. However, it appears the Fighting Irish have finally found their guy in Brian Kelly who has helped resurrect this once proud football program.
How did Notre Dame get there exactly? Let’s take a look.
All season long, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish relied on their defense to help them win games. This was especially the case during the beginning of the season when Notre Dame was still figuring out their quarterback situation and getting Everett Golson acclimated to the playing at the collegiate level.
In wins over the Purdue Boilermakers, Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines in the month of September, the Fighting Irish relied heavily on their defense while their offense failed to score more than 20 points in any of those games. However, after those three games, the offense seemed to get going for Notre dame as they throttled the Miami Hurricanes 41-3.
A Little Bit of Luck
As is the case in just about every national championship season, there was a bit of luck on the side of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this season. A controversial call in the Stanford game allowed Notre Dame to escape with a 20-13 overtime victory. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor appeared to have broken the plane of the goal line in overtime to tie the game but the video replay officials upheld the ruling on the field; Notre Dame dodged a bullet.
Notre Dame also escaped a triple-overtime game against the Pittsburgh Panthers on November 3rd. The effort Pitt gave in that game was easily their best of the season but it was not enough to upend the Fighting Irish.
In addition to those two close calls, the Irish needed a last minute drive against the Purdue Boilermakers to avoid overtime and win their second game of the season.Â Backup quarterback Tommy Rees who came into the game for an ineffective Everett Golson led the game-winning, field goal drive. Without that drive by Rees, there’s not telling how Notre Dameâ€™s season would have played out.
Help from Other Teams
Notre Dame was not only fortunate to win a couple of close games this season but they also received some help from other teams around the country as well. On November 17th, the Fighting Irish were ranked No. 3 in the BCS standings and took care of business against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. After that win, Notre Dame turned its attention to the Kansas State Wildcats and Oregon Ducks who were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the BCS. As luck would have it, both teams lost their game that night and the Irish were able to jump up to the top spot in the BCS poll.
Without Kansas State and Oregon losing their games, it would have been unlikely that Notre Dame would have finished the season in the top two of the BCS standings.
Whether you love or hate Notre Dame, it appears as if the Fighting Irish are here to stay among the nationâ€™s elite college football programs thanks to the hard work of head coach Brian Kelly and the dynamic play of players like Everett Golson, Mantei Tâ€™eo and Tyler Eifert. It’s never too late to join up on the bandwagon and score yourself a Notre Dame jersey to call your own.