The Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat the USC Trojans today to claim an undefeated season and a trip to Miami for the National Title game. This win caps of a remarkable season for Notre Dame, who were unranked to start the college football season.
At the beginning of the college football season, I remember hearing heated debates on the airwaves of ESPN radio about how Notre Dame Football being independent was a joke and that they should not have their own TV contract with NBC. The spark to these debates was a Rick Reilly article written in August of this year. In the article, Reilly writes,
Notre Dame has won 86 games since the turn of this century. Oregon has won 111 games since then. TCU has won 119. Boise State has won 136. Do they have their own TV deals? Do they get to be the only school that sits with the BCS conference commissioners, deciding how a playoff is going to work?
It is true, Notre Dame hasn’t won a championship since 1988. It hasn’t had a Heisman trophy winner since 1987. It has lost 10 of its last 12 bowl games and they had lost 9 of 10 to their big rivals, USC. Well, this season things are changing, starting with today’s win against USC. They will have a chance for a title and the team’s best player, Manti Te’o, will be in the Heisman discussion (although, I don’t think he wins it).
Notre Dame finished 12-0, which is a tad better than Reilly’s prediction, “this season looks like 7-5 to me, with Ls to Michigan State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh and you don’t even want to know what USC will do to the Irish in the Coliseum.” They may not have been relevant in recent years, but this year they certainly have been all season long.
Notre Dame will await the winner of the SEC title game between Alabama and Georgia, and will most likely be underdogs in the title game, especially if it is Alabama that they play. But, after watching tonight’s game, don’t write the Fighting Irish off. They can win the title.
[Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images via BleacherReport.com]