What a game. What a finish. What a season. After years, and years of being left out of the BCS National title game talk, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are back. And in a big way!
The rugged, never-say-die, relentless hard-nosed play of the Fighting Irish has been on display all season long for the nation to see, and Saturday night in Los Angeles this was never more evident.
We can take away a lot from the game, and here are the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in recap of Notre Dame's national title invite-clinching win:
There are many candidates we could list here including a raucous Coliseum crowd that pro USC, but had many die-hard and loyal Irish fans. Or possibly the five field goals kicked by Norte Dame kicker Kyle Brindza that helped propel the Irish over Southern California.
But the pick here goes to the Notre Dame defense, that stood on its head, just as it has all season; and stopped the opposing team when it mattered most. In the fourth quarter, with time running down and USC on the doorstep to scoring a touchdown that would have made it a two point game, Notre Dame stepped up and shut out the Trojans the rest of the way.
USC had first and goal from the two yard line, and after consecutive pass interference calls on Notre Dame freshman cornerback KeiVarae Russell, USC had the ball first and goal at the one yard line. Four tries. Four empty results. Notre Dame held. When push came to shove, the Irish pushed back harder and secured their spot in Miami with a memorable goal-line stand. Linebacker Manti Te'o and the boys held their ground.
I am going to give it to Southern California quarterback Max Wittek, though only a freshman and thrust in to a big game; this is a results oriented league and a results-needed game. When it really mattered, Wittek was off the mark, and as a result; so were USC's chance at an upset.
On fourth and goal from inside the one yard line with the clock ticking down on USC's season, Wittek threw a low pass to Trojan fullback Soma Vainuku in the end zone; and the pass fell incomplete. It was a throw that could have been made. It should have been made. But it wasn't, game over for the Trojans.
This one is easy, did you check out the mustache on USC punter Kyle Negrete? Wow, that growth of hair would have fit in if this were the 1970's or 1980's, or if Negrete was prepping for a career in the adult film industry Los Angles is known for.
But not in a big game like this. Not with millions of people watching. Not with so much at stake...it just seems so wrong.
Good bye USC. Good luck Notre Dame.