Notre Dame is back in a big way – here’s why
Saturday night, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team closed out their 12-0 perfect season with a 22-13 win over the USC Trojans in Los Angeles. Thanks to the win, they have clinched a spot in the BCS Championship Game on January 7th, 2013. Notre Dame seems to be the country’s darlings at the moment: a once great football program that had been less than exciting in recent years.
To many Irish fans, the success seems to be long overdue. Last week, when the then-undefeated Kansas Jayhawks and Oregon Ducks were both upset by their opponents and broke the three-way tie for first place, it was Notre Dame’s first time at No. 1 since 1993. Students filled the open areas on campus to celebrate. It’s Notre Dame’s time again.
However, before they could do any real celebrating, they had to beat one of their long standing rivals, USC, in the last game of the regular season. The Irish marched into LA to quite a bit of hype. This week, their iconic gold helmet graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. They were the all the rage on ESPN and other sports channels. However, there wasn’t a narrative of bringing down the mighty giants who had amassed a perfect record. America wants to see them win.
And win they did. Saturday night, the team slowly but surely brought down the Trojans in that 22-13 win. They held the lead the entire game, but it wasn’t until the final 5 minutes or so that it really seemed to be locked down and that the players relaxed. It was four quarters of nose to the grindstone, all or nothing football.
It isn’t just the undefeated season that has people talking though. They are helmed by All-American, senior captain linebacker Manti Te’o, who’s quickly becoming a favorite for the Heisman. Then there’s third-year head coach Brian Kelly who seems to have history pulling for him. Legendary Notre Dame coaches Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine, and Lou Holtz each won their first national title in their third year as coach. Couple that with the fact that many Americans have a soft spot in their hearts for the Irish thanks to movies like “Rudy” and the famous “win one for the Gipper” speech from “Knute Rockne, All American”.
So is it destiny, or plain old hard work? Only time will tell, but for now Notre Dame can rest easy through December knowing that they’ve got the best Christmas Present of them all already sitting under their tree: a trip to the National Championship.