HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!!!..Albeit a bit late due to my beloved Fighting Irish playing their last game just a couple days ago…I’ll get to that game in a minute. Shut up.
Once again it's time for Irish Shu to look back at their season. In the last edition I recapped the first 7 games, so now I'll review the last 6 including the championship game.
OKLAHOMA: I, being the ever-pessimistic beaten-down Irish fan was preparing for the roof to fall in on what had thus-far been an excellent undefeated season. I thought that if any team was going to expose the weaknesses my team had, it would be then-#8 Oklahoma at Norman…how very wrong I was, and how happy I was to be so! The dominating Irish D held the Sooners to a measly 15 yards rushing, bent but did not break by allowing Landry Jones to pass for 356 yards, but no touchdowns, and ran away in the 4th quarter in a 30-13 win at Norman. The Irish D did yield their first rushing touchdown of the season, but the backs of Cierre Wood, Everett Golson and Theo Riddick ran for one apiece to more than make up for it…It was the signature win for the Irish and Coach Kelly and the remainder of the season was definitely looking bright after this one.
PITT: Almost every great team has a “let down” game at some point in the season. Even the eventual champions in Alabama had one against Texas A&M. You could say this was the “almost let down” for the Irish…but by golly, they escaped with an ugly 29-26 triple overtime win over the eager Panthers. The Irish overcame a mistake-filled day that included 3 turnovers and a 20-7 4th quarter deficit. Everett Golson found it in himself to take charge after being benched, and the Irish got DAMN lucky when Pitt missed a 33-yard field goal attempt in the 2nd overtime on their way to the ugly win. WHEW!!!
BOSTON COLLEGE: The Irish went to Chestnut Hill to face an Eagle team that has given them problems in recent years and played an adequate, but unspectacular game on their way to a 21-6 win. Hapless B.C. was torched by Theo Riddick for 104 rushing yards and 67 receiving yards in a game that was not as close as the score made it seem, but still had a milquetoast feel to it when it was all said and done…perhaps the pre-game news that Alabama had just lost to A&M before the game deterred their focus? Who knows? Boston College would go on to a final record of 2-10 that ended with the firing of Coach Frank Spaziani after 4 seasons…ND D-Coach Bob Diaco was interviewed to take his place, but declined.
WAKE FOREST: The Irish showed a bit more of their true potential against the Demon Deacons as they routed them at home on Senior Day 38-0. The game featured touchdowns on their first 3 drives, offensive yardage output that was more than 2 to 1 over the Deacs and total domination…something the Irish had trouble showing in the 2 games prior to this one. The Irish then learned that they were in-control of their destination after both Oregon and Kansas State lost later that day…all they’d have to do now was go to the L.A. Coliseum and knock-off USC and the spot in the championship game was theirs!...uh-oh.
USC: A team does not make excuses. A team must play a game with the players they have…but to this day I still cannot help but wonder; would the outcome have been the same had Trojan QB Matt Barkley not suffered a separated shoulder the week before this one? We’ll never know, obviously, but it certainly didn’t help USC’s cause in the 22-13 Irish win that punched their ticket to the national championship game and ended a very disappointing season for a USC team that started-out ranked #1. Frosh QB Max Wittek gave his best in Barkley’s absence but still threw 2 interceptions and was flustered by the tough Irish D. The ND Offense, meanwhile, gutted USC for 439 yards including 146 rushing yards from Theo Riddick, but still left some points off the board and had to settle for 5 Kyle Brindza field goals in the win…still, though, it was a win that left the Irish as the only bowl-eligible team with an undefeated record. WOO-HOO!!!
National Championship game vs. ALABAMA: SIGH…outside of the Notre Dame fans themselves, nobody gave the Irish a chance in this one. Not to take anything away from the Tide, but the Irish defense that had been so dominant all season played nothing like they had been up until this game. They played a “matador defense” waving the ‘Bama ball carriers by and yelling “Ole’!” instead of wrapping-up and tackling, and the Irish O under-executed against a tough Tide D (something this O did a few times this year) on their way to the 42-14 ass kicking that gave ‘Bama their 3rd national championship in 4 years. The game was a pisser…and a disappointing end to the BEST season these Irish eyes have seen in over 20 years. Congratulations to Alabama. You came to play. That’s all there is.
So to wrap it up the Irish football season was awesome! Sure, it sucked to not win the championship and to get our asses kicked in said game…hey, I don’t deny that we did! But along the way the Irish:
- Flew to Ireland and trounced a pesky Navy team on a soccer pitch.
- Survived a strong defensive Purdue team while still trying to find an identity for their quarterback.
- Saw their Defensive leader in Manti Te’o come of age as he suffered the losses of his girlfriend and grandmother in a day, and play the game of his life against Michigan State that weekend on his way to becoming a Heisman finalist and winning a truckload of other individual awards.
- Shook the Denard Robinson monkey off their backs and beat Michigan for the first time in 4 years.
- Developed a good quarterback in Everett Golson, who went from a redshirt frosh with no experience at season’s start, to a MUCH improved leader and signal caller by season’s end…something that gives this team a good head-of-steam going-in to next year.
- Dominated a rivaled Miami team one week, and fight a tough Stanford team to an OT win the next…the same Stanford team that would eventually beat Oregon at Autzen Stadium and win both the Pac-12 Title and the Rose Bowl.
- Survived scares against a BYU team with a tough Defense (and the Irish playing without their starting QB) and an inspired Pitt team that really put everything out there to try to beat the Irish…and almost did.
- Survived their last “trap” game against a rival USC team on the road to get to the championship game in the first place.
- Put together their first undefeated regular season in over 2 decades.
This Irish fan says THANK YOU for an awesome season…and waits with concern to see what transpires in the off-season. The Irish don’t lose a ton of starters, although losing Te’o and All-American Tight End Tyler Eiffert among others will hurt, but they have an awesome recruiting class coming-in…
…However, as of this writing it is being reported that Coach Brian Kelly has interviewed for the head coaching job for the Philadelphia Eagles. Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco is also highly-coveted and may leave for a head coaching job of his own when it’s all said and done. We shall see what will become of all this.
Great season, nonetheless. THANK YOU! And GO IRISH!!!
As for my other teams and how they did:
MONTANA GRIZZLIES: My alma-mater was a program in-shambles this year after rape and assault allegations gutted the team and the coaching staff. It showed as the normally FCS championship-caliber Griz had a disappointing, but not surprising 5-6 season and didn’t even come close to making the playoffs…the good news? They can only go UP from here.
NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS: Finished with another 10-win season, which is good, but it ended with a THUD with ass-kickings at the hands of both Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship and to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl…not the way to go out. Obviously this team is not bad, but has pieces missing.
COLORADO STATE RAMS: Hate to say this, but my days as a Fort Collins resident and CSU Ram fan seem VERY long ago…as a result I’m not paying as much attention to them as I used to. Jim McElwain’s first year as coach was only barely improved from the previous 2 seasons the Rams had as his team finished 4-8…but in his defense, the Mountain West was more beefy this year with the addition of Boise State. We’ll see how they do next year.
CUSTER COUNTY COWBOYS: Yep, my hometown high school team. 2 years ago they won a State Championship. Last year, they made the State Semifinals. This year, they had a lot of underclassmen and rebuilt as they won some games, but just missed the playoffs…something they don’t do very often. Better luck next year.
Fellow You Gabbers: It is always a pleasure!!! Have an awesome 2013! I’ll keep reading your works. And still chip-in with a blog now and then.
PS BEEZE – thank you for encouraging me to contribute! Give lil Molls a kiss, ok?