After a long absence from the top of the Division I football rankings, Notre Dame is back on top after a 19-year absence.
Ranked No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series poll, they’ll be heading to Miami to play for the BCS National Championship in January.
Notre Dame’s opponent will most likely be the winner of the Southeastern Conference Championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Georgia Bulldogs.
Most analysts are saying that Notre Dame has their work cut out for them if they want to beat a team from the SEC, but Notre Dame has had their work cut out for them since day one.
The Fighting Irish have been fighting an uphill battle all season. Starting off the year unranked, they’ve won their way into the top spot of the polls.
It hasn’t been a pretty ride to the top of the college football world for Notre Dame, as five of their 12 wins have been decided by seven points or less. Two of those five wins, against Stanford and Pittsburgh, were overtime victories. Those two were a little too close for comfort, but they got it done.
The defense, which is led by senior linebacker Manti Te‘o, has been the backbone of the team all year.
The Irish defense finished the season ranked second in the nation in points against, giving up just over 10 points per game. The superb play of the defense allowed the offense and redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson to sharpen their skills as the season progressed.
If you’re anything like me, you were pleasantly surprised by Golson’s performance this season. Most of us were unsure if Golson had what it took to be quarterback at the University of Notre Dame, but he has put most of his doubters to rest.
He’s thrown for over 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. Golson’s passing figures aren’t record-setting, but they aren’t bad when you’re on a team that has nearly as many rushing yards per game as it does passing.
The redshirt freshman adds a very exciting element to the Notre Dame offense. He is a very mobile quarterback who likes to get out of the pocket and run the ball at times. His quarterbacking style compliments the ground and pound offense of Notre Dame very well. He also makes the offense much more fun to watch with his speed and athleticism.
Notre Dame does have a much-improved offense this season, but the reason they are undefeated is the defense.
Coming up with goal line stand after goal line stand has been a staple of the Irish defense.
During the fourth quarter of last week’s game at USC, the Irish defense might have had their best series of the season. USC had a first down inside the Notre Dame 3-yard line and were stuffed on every attempt to get into the end zone. That series exemplifies what the entire season has been for Notre Dame.
They may let you get close, but you’re not going to score on them. Quite a few teams have been close to beating the Irish this season, but they always come up just short.
There is a bend but don’t break mentality to this Notre Dame defense, as well as the team. The whole season they have been bending back almost to the point of snapping, but then just as you think they can’t bend anymore, the game is over and the Irish have won.
Now this football team is going to play for the National Championship (which should be a game against Ohio State but that’s a whole different story).
If they win, it will be the first National Championship team Notre Dame has seen since 1988.
It has been a very long drought for Notre Dame fans and they’re hungry. The Notre Dame faithful want this win almost as bad as the players and coaches want it. The fans have invested themselves in this team. They have placed their hopes on that stellar defense and Manti Te‘o. They have placed their hopes on the offense and the young quarterback Everett Golson. Will Notre Dame win? Can they beat one of the powerhouse teams from the SEC?
I believe they can. I believe that it’s time for a team to show the SEC that they aren’t the only division worth anything anymore. I believe it’s time for Notre Dame to rise back to the top and win a 12th National Championship.
No one will know for sure until the game is over. What I do know is that come January, the echoes will be awake and cheering her name in Miami. Cheering for old Notre Dame.