It’s sort of ironic that I’m writing this, because I had always despised Notre Dame. I’m really not sure why, though. It could be that some of its fans could never admit when the team was actually bad. It could be because they think their school is perfect and constantly talk about how pretty the campus is. It could just be because there’s so many of them, everywhere, at all times. I can’t tell you why Notre Dame always annoyed me. All I can say is that I never wanted to see the Irish win.
But on Saturday night, after USC got stopped after a miserable series of plays from inside the 5-yard line and it was apparent that Notre Dame was heading to Miami, I noticed something: I wasn’t annoyed. I wasn’t mad, jealous, or surprised. I was excited. Why? Because I can’t wait to watch Notre Dame compete with the big, bad, invincible SEC.
I live with two Notre Dame fans, which means I’ve watched more of Notre Dame than any other team besides Ohio State. I watched the Irish control the entire game in East Lansing to beat Michigan State 20-3. I watched as they pulled out a tough overtime win against a really good Stanford team. I watched the Irish go to Oklahoma and dismantle the Sooners. And along the way I’ve also watched and listened to so many people say, “They’re not that good!” Even after Notre Dame finished at 12-0, that sentiment remains widespread:
If feel sorry for Notre Dame right now. They get to feel the SEC’s wrath.
— Jesus Juice (@FabianBurse) November 26, 2012
Bama, lsu, florida, texas a&m, south carolina and georgia can all beat notre dame
— Jordan Zelhart (@mrJordanZelhart) November 26, 2012
Alabama vs Georgia is the real National Championship Game. Notre Dame is overrated.
— Saturday Down South (@SDS) November 25, 2012
The reason so many people don’t believe in the Irish is simple: they win with defense. They don’t win pretty and they don’t blow people out. To people who don’t understand what good football looks like, ball control and disciplined defense aren’t impressive. They’re not flashy. They don’t grab anyone’s attention. But I can tell you this: The Irish are physical, they execute, and they won’t beat themselves. Combine those characteristics with good players on both sides of the ball and you have have yourself a great team.
If you believe it’s a done deal that Alabama is going to blow out Notre Dame in the National Championship Game, I have to things to say to you: 1) Georgia is going to give ‘Bama everything it has in the SEC Championship Game. The best defensive performance I’ve watched all year was Georgia’s when it played Florida. Its defense is extremely fast and devastatingly physical. Alabama will be the favorite, but it will be a fight. 2) If Notre Dame plays Alabama, I don’t see how there’d be any way that the game would be a blow out. There wouldn’t be enough points either way. No matter who Notre Dame plays, it’ll be a tight, tough, defensive battle. And as far as those games go, the Irish are experienced.
The evolution of Everett Golson is another reason I like Notre Dame. He made impressive throws in that USC game and is getting better at managing the offense. With his improvement, Notre Dame’s offense has become dangerously dynamic, able to hurt defenses in various ways. If the freshman can lead Notre Dame to 21+ points, that’ll be enough.
I know there are tons of people who still won’t buy into Notre Dame. There will still be the people who believe that Texas A&M is better than ND, which is ridiculous. But when the title game rolls around, I know the Irish are going to compete. And I won’t be the least bit surprised if I see Manti Te’o and company celebrating on the field of Sun Life Stadium on January 7th.
I’m not jumping on the Notre Dame bandwagon. In fact, I’m not even sure what that means. I just know good football when I see it. Coming from a former ND hater and current diehard Buckeye fan, I like Notre Dame taking the title. Call me crazy.