Within the pregame buildup to Saturday’s matchup in opposition to No. 1 Clemson, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly insisted it was “not the end-all” for this system, win or lose.
Kelly was proper. No. Four Notre Dame’s 47-40 double-overtime victory in opposition to the Tigers would not guarantee an ACC championship, a School Soccer Playoff berth or this system’s first nationwide championship since 1988.
Notre Dame college students rushed the sector regardless of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. That may briefly distort the lasting reminiscence of what the Irish (7-0, 6-Zero ACC) pulled off at Notre Dame Stadium in opposition to the Tigers (7-1, 6-1 ACC), a sport Sporting Information thought can be the sport of the 12 months earlier than the season began.
Typically it is good to be proper. This was multiple sport. This was a sport that silenced the discuss this system being overrated or undeserving of the particular remedy that comes with that fats NBC contract. This was a sport that put the Irish again within the heavyweight class with No. 2 Alabama and No. Three Ohio State.
These packages took the Irish’s place on the prime of faculty soccer’s pecking order within the final 30 years. Notre Dame waded via the Bowl Championship Collection and School Soccer Playoff eras with blips of success that had been overshadowed by the corresponding failures.
You do not keep in mind the Irish going 12-Zero in 2012. You keep in mind Alabama blasting Notre Dame 42-14 within the BCS championship sport. You do not keep in mind the Irish ending 12-Zero in 2018. You keep in mind Clemson throttling the Irish 30-Three within the School Soccer Playoff semifinals.
With the victory in opposition to Clemson on Saturday, Kelly affirmed these losses had been “not the end-all” both. The Irish are 30-Three since 2018. This validated that success. You may’t name Notre Dame overrated, and we all know the subsequent factor that can come out of the nay-sayers’ mouths:
Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence did not play due to a optimistic COVID-19 take a look at final week. Sure, that was an enormous issue, however freshman quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei handed for 439 yards and two touchdowns, including one other on the bottom. He rallied the Tigers again from a 10-point halftime deficit. He led the go-ahead drive within the fourth quarter, too.
The extra vital narrative must be that the Tigers’ expertise did not overwhelm Notre Dame. Clemson had 34 dashing makes an attempt for 33 yards. The Irish transformed 10 of 19 third downs and took benefit of the Tigers’ errors.
Prior to now, Notre Dame folds on this spot and laments the missed alternatives. There have been greater than sufficient of these, too. Two first-half drives ended with red-zone subject targets due to a false begin and a dropped go, respectively.
And, with the rating tied at 23 within the third quarter, E book appeared to have the go-ahead landing run on a quarterback keeper. He fumbled, nonetheless, and the ball trickled into the top zone the place Clemson’s Baylon Spector pounced on it. That regarded just like the sequel to the “Bush Push” in opposition to No. 1 USC in 2005. Uiagalelei led the go-ahead drive within the fourth quarter, and Travis Etienne scored the go-ahead landing with 3:33 remaining for a 33-26 lead.
Then one thing completely different occurred. Notre Dame responded within the clutch: E book hit Avery Davis for a 53-yard deep ball. That arrange the game-tying 4-yard landing to Davis. Nonetheless, there needed to be doubts. Keep in mind when Eric Crouch led No. 1 Nebraska to an exhilarating extra time win in opposition to Notre Dame in 2000?
The Irish did not let that occur once more. E book guided back-to-back scoring drives in extra time. Kyren Williams, who rushed for 140 yards and three scores, closed out each drives with quick landing runs. The Irish’s go rush got here up with back-to-back sacks within the second extra time that pressured a fourth-and-24.
Uiagalelei could not provide you with the miracle go, and Notre Dame celebrated with its first victory in opposition to No. 1 at residence for the reason that legendary “Sport of the Century” in opposition to Florida State in 1993. The scholars storming the sector merely made it a “Sport for this Century” in an unsure season the place you do not know what tomorrow will convey.
Notre Dame can no less than plot out the subsequent month. The Irish — with a one-year lease within the ACC — have sole possession of first place. A rematch with Clemson appears inevitable, and it is nearly sure Lawrence, who was on the sideline together with his masks on, will likely be again on the sector for that one.
Notre Dame has a robust Playoff case win or lose, however which may not imply a lot on Dec. 19 if the rematch is a blowout. In spite of everything, the Irish would not have that ACC championship.
So Kelly’s ideas ring true, even when this nonetheless felt like multiple sport.
Saturday was a reminder that no program wakes up the echoes fairly like Notre Dame when it beats the No. 1 staff within the nation. This was the most effective sport of the 2020 season, and the rematch will possible be essentially the most anticipated Energy 5 convention championship sport.
It’s “not the end-all,” not by an extended shot. It is a new starting for the Irish.
Even in 2020, that is one thing to behold.