Notre Dame Post Game 6-Pack: Did We Really Just See that USC Beatdown?

Khalid Kareem - Notre Dame DE

THAT. WAS. AWESOME.  Notre Dame came out last night and ran the ball down USC’s throats to the tune of 377 yards enroute to a 49-14 victory over the previously 11th ranked Trojans.  In the first meeting between the programs in over a decade in which both were ranked in the top 15, Notre Dame left absolutely no doubt who the better team is.  The win raises the bar for Notre Dame  after passing the first major test of a second half schedule featuring four ranked opponents including the Trojans.

1. That was the best win of the Brian Kelly Era

The Brian Kelly era at Notre Dame has been phenomenally bi-polar.  The same coach who has guided his team to a 12-0 record in 2012 and is credited with the only shut out of Michigan in program history while also being the owner of a 4-8 record just last year now can add the biggest blowout of USC in over 50 years to his Notre Dame resume.  The last eight years have been a rollercoaster for Notre Dame under Kelly but last night was the best win of his time in South Bend.

Notre Dame still has five games left including three against ranked opponents so a lot could happen still, but last night was a total domination of the #11 team in the country who just so happens to also be Notre Dame’s arch rival.  Kelly has been roasted at times in his Notre Dame career – rightfully so most of the time – but the turnaround he has engineered with this team and himself in just a year really is remarkable.  Last night Notre Dame beat USC by 35 damn points. I repeat, last night Notre Dame beat USC by 35 damn points.

Whatever happens for the rest of this season, just think, Brian Kelly has now beaten both Michigan and USC worse than Lou Holtz ever did.  After last night he is also now 5-3 against USC.

2. Brandon Wimbush is improving as a passer

His numbers weren’t the prettiest last night, but Brandon Wimbush was more effective throwing the ball last night than he was the last time we saw him.  He ended up just 9 of 19 for 120 yards but threw for two touchdowns and didn’t turn the football over.  He was also the victim of a couple big drops – most notably one on the first drive of the game by Josh Adams that could have been a huge gain and then one by Alize Mack down the sideline in the 3rd quarter.  There was another one from Equanimeous St. Brown at the end of the first half too.  If those three are caught we could be easily talking about a  12 of 20, 200 yard, 2 TD performance.

Even with the drops we saw Wimbush take some steps forward as a passer.  His touchdown strike to St. Brown was a laser beam and right in stride.  His back shoulder touchdown toss to Kevin Stepherson was one of his best throws of the season.  Even the drop by Mack was a beautifully placed ball between defenders.  He’s not a finished product by any means yet, but the important thing is he is improving.  If we see Wimbush take similar steps forward each of the next five weeks, we are going to have one hell of a dangerous quarterback come bowl season.

Also, let’s not take for granted the job Wimbush is doing as a runner.  With two more rushing touchdowns last night, he tied the Notre Dame record for rushing touchdowns in an entire season of 10 by Deshone Kizer.  Wimbush has played 6 games.  Everett Golson and Deshone Kizer were good runners but Wimbush is truly dynamic in the open field.

3. Welcome to the show Khalid Kareem

One of the biggest question marks heading into the season was who would rush the quarterback for Notre Dame.  Khalid Kareem threw his name into the mix with the first two sack game of his career.  Kareem had just one sack in his career coming in but he spent almost as much time in the USC backfield as Sam Darnold considering Darnold watched the 4th quarter from the sidelines after getting pulled.

Between Daelin Hayes, Julian Okwara and Kareem; Notre Dame has a great group trio of edge players on their hands for this year and beyond.  As a team Notre Dame recorded 5 sacks last night alone and now has 18 on the season.  Reminder: Notre Dame recorded just 14 sacks all of last season.  Reminder #2: Kareem is just a sophomore and at one time was committed to Alabama.  His future is very bright and we should expect to see much more of him as the season progresses.

4. Josh Adams did it again

I mean, what else can we say about Josh Adams at this point?  Yeah, the hole on his 84 yarder was big enough to drive Charlie Weis’s old golf cart through but he still ran away from all that team speed USC supposedly has.  He ran the ball just 19 times last night but those runs racked up 191 yards and 3 of them ended in the endzone.  He’s got 967 yards on the season in seven games.  That pace puts him at nearly 1,700 yards in the regular season alone.  The Notre Dame single season record is 1,437 by Vegas Ferguson in 1979.

Josh Adams now has 2,735 yards in his career.  That puts him 6th all-time at Notre Dame.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Adams to finish 3rd overall in program history by the end of this season.

Oh by the way, have I mentioned that Adams racked up all these yards this year despite not even playing in 9 of the 28 quarters of football Notre Dame has played.  So he’s got almost 1,000 yards in seven games despite spending more than 30% of the time on the sidelines.  In short, can someone please get this kid’s name into the Heisman mix?

5. Kevin Stepherson adds a dynamic to the Notre Dame offense it was missing

We might not ever find out exactly why Kevin Stepherson didn’t play the first four weeks of the year.  I mean he wasn’t suspended right? (eye roll).  What we do know, however, is that the Notre Dame offense has an added element to it with Stepherson in the lineup.  Notre Dame got him the ball a couple of different ways last night including in the running game where his speed was evident.

As Wimbush continues to evolve as a passer, having Stepherson as another weapon makes this offense even scarier for opposing defenses.  Not only do they have to account for Wimbush as a runner, but now there is speed demon on the field that they have to keep in their sight at all times as well.

Last night Stepherson had 3 catches for 58 yards and a touchdown after registering just one catch for negative yardage in his first two outings of the season.  As his role develops more and more this year look for things to start opening up more for Equanimeous St. Brown as well.

6. You can all safely use the “P” word in relation to Notre Dame now

It’s ok.  You can say it.  Playoffs.  Yes, Notre Dame and playoffs are allowed to be said in the same sentence at this point.  Notre Dame’s resounding win over USC has grabbed the attention of the college football world.  If the Irish continue their winning ways this weekend against NC State, the playoff conjecture will heat up even more with the first official ratings coming out from the College Football Playoff Committee coming next Monday.

Last night’s win was so easy I don’t know if it is even getting all of the recognition it deserves.  Notre Dame just beat the hell out of its arch rival by 35 points.  Its arch rival that also happened to be ranked #11 in the country with a preseason Heisman favorite quarterbacking them.  That same quarterback got the hook after Notre Dame extended its lead to 35 points.

On Saturday night, Notre Dame did what playoff teams do – they beat down a quality opponent and played a complete football game from start to finish.  There is still a lot of football to be played and Notre Dame’s three upcoming games against ranked opponents loom large. That said, Notre Dame has done everything it can since its week two lose to stake its claim as the best one loss team in the country.  If they continue winning, that claim will become easier and easier to back up.

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41 comments

  1. beatha breath 2 years ago

    Well I for one, couldn’t be happier to eat crow. Granted Wimbush still misses an astonishing percentage of his reads, passing and running. And, the secondary is still sketchy as nails on a chalkboard. But, apparently the rest of the team is good enough to not only cover for them, but also goad that weakness into opportunity.
    I’m not sure which group is more fun to watch, the D Line and Linebackers, or the O Line and Running Backs. Talented, physically impressive, and extroadinarily well coached. I would say that this next game is a silencer. A convincing win ends dullardrous criticisms.

    So, legitimate question to David…what do you do if Kelly continues to kick ass? What do you post if ND is consistently in playoff contention?

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    1. Damian 2 years ago

      I’ll be curious what people in David’s situation do myself. What if this team does the unthinkable and wins a NC? I know it’s way too early to be thinking in those terms, but what if? I’m not 100% sold that BK has made a complete 180 quite yet, but I don’t “hate” BK like people in David’s position. If they win an NC under BK I’d be thrilled.

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    2. Damian 2 years ago

      Hell, if they won a NC period I’d be thrilled.

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  2. Jack 2 years ago

    I for one loved not hearing our safeties name called the entire night. Did they even have a tackle. This defense is getting better every week.

    I wrote on a post it 38-13 and I was way off, we slaughtered them!

    GO IRISH ☘️

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  3. Greg Kelly 2 years ago

    Oh vey, Dr. Duranko, can you dumb down your brilliant recitals to at least a Ph.d level. At this rate we will have to pay to read your manuscripts like the Book of Kells. Oh, and Nebraska wasn’t that the state that produced the best Fighting Irish coach of all time?

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    1. duranko 2 years ago

      Well, this was not a blanket slam of all Nebraskans. Frank Leahy’s formative years were in the eponymous
      Winner, South Dakota. You might want to consult Fred Leahy, Frank’s son, on the letter that Frank wrote as a school boy in Winner, professing his love for Notre Dame.

      And if you don’t have Wells Twomby’s book on Frank Leahy handy, I believe that there is an abbreviated discussion of Leahy and his achievements in the History section of this very website.

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  4. Jack 2 years ago

    It is to early for playoff talk. This team needs to go through NC State, Miami and Stanford. Not to mention Wake who would love to beat their old dcoordinator and Navy. There is a lot of football to play and this team needs to stay focused on one game at a time. I am not ready to put them in the top four and unlike the dumbass Penn State student section, please no “We want Bama” chants. I don’t need to go through another 2012 NC game.

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    1. david 2 years ago

      You seem quite balanced and rational. Your kind ain’t welcome here.

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      1. SteelFanRob 2 years ago

        David,

        If you have been on here for any amount of time you know the abuse I have suffered from the pie-in-the-sky crowd. So I appreciate you being critical.

        Having said that, can we for a second enjoy what we’ve seen so far. Is this team perfect? Look at my in game comments and see how critical I am. I’m not delusional.

        However, once it’s all said and done, this team is off to a great start! ND is one over-turned call and incredible catch from being undefeated.

        Peace to you!

        GO IRISH!

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    2. Damian 2 years ago

      I do agree from a team standpoint they need to stay focused. But for us fans it’s still fun to imagine playoff scenarios. Thankfully, so far, the team has kept their mind on the next game. So far there have been no trap games, no let downs, save for Georgia (man, that game still kills me). I’m relatively confident if the Irish win out, everything will fall into place.

      And ND fans are usually a smart bunch, no Bama chants. The Irish know all to well not to give any potential opposing teams any ammo.

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      1. Jack 2 years ago

        I’m not saying they can’t win, but I see it all the time. Everyone goes 100% positive with the Irish and one loss and they want to hang BK from the rafters. This team is a good team and the rebound is great, but every game is going to be tough from here on out. If they lose, I am sure it ins’t from lack of effort or prepreration. I like the personality of this team.

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    3. Ryan Muha 2 years ago

      In my best Jim Mora…. PLAYOFFS?!?! https://youtu.be/s2R2sH2ScBM

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      1. Damian 2 years ago

        Worse case scenario for ND if they win out is that Alabama or Georgia only have one loss, that being in the SEC Championship game, and PSU and TCU go undefeated and win their respective conferences. That is one scenario that could leave ND at number 5 and outside looking in. We need either PSU or TCU to lose a game, or Alabama and Georgia to lose 2 games.

        But I said starting the season for me personally I want to see them at least get a NY Day 6 bowl invite and for them to finally win that game for me to consider it a decent turnaround. More is certainly possible but that’s the bare minimum I’d like to see. I’d certainly hate to see them go 11-1 and get left out of the playoffs though.

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      2. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 years ago

        Damian – don’t forget about Wisconsin…they are still undefeated as well as PSU. Both the SEC and the Big Ten could have undefeated teams going against each other in the championship game. There are too many variables to consider. Let the season play out. It’s the end of October and we are still in the conversation…that’s real progress over the spring and summer reaping its reward. Let’s just beat NC State (hopefully in a nice North-Central Indiana sleet storm).

        BGC
        La Crosse, IN

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      3. Damian 2 years ago

        Bruce, I figured the Big 10 would cannibalize each other down to no more than one undefeated team. At some point they all have to play each other and I figure a 1 loss ND team would beat out a 1 loss Big 10 team. I figure PSU probably has the best shot of going undefeated, though Wisconsin should not be taken lightly

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  5. ChrisJ 2 years ago

    I’ve been saying all along that ND is going to have to earn “style points” by smoking teams they should and then also beating up on a couple of ranked teams, which USC and Michigan State both now we have blown out. This couldn’t have ended up any better for ND. One of the greatest wins I’ve seen. I still don’t understand how there are other 1 loss teams ahead of us considering their losses but whatever. I think if ND takes care of business like they have basically all season long so far, I think they get in regardless.

    What a turnaround for Kelly though. To see his demeanor on the sideline change so drastically, to see McGlinchey hugging him smiling on the sideline, a Gatorade bath from the team, dancing in the locker room with the team after the game, and also McGlinchey’s post-game interview about how Kelly looked in the mirror and made all the necessary changes he needed to…wow, that all says a lot! I’ve always liked Kelly and have always tried to back him up for the most part, but certainly started having my doubts after last season. It was tough for me to question that faith in our coach considering he was the last coach to take ND to a national championship. The lack of success will do that though but Kelly has responded with everything a great leader could do. I’m really happy for him and happy for the players that they clearly have faith in Kelly in leading this team.

    Go Irish!!

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  6. duranko 2 years ago

    The coaching staff has shown steely resolve throughout the turnaround.

    Last Spring, after Pagano went to Oregon, and Taylor and Cage were hurt the “experts” on the paysites were demanding that Jay Hayes be moved in to defensive tackle to shore up the area. Elko, Elston and Kelly said NO as they wanted a strong physical presence on the edge. They were correct, and the nattering nabobs were incorrect.

    During the Summer, when the safeties had not yet been Elkoized, those paysite experts went as far as to say that Notre Dame would be unsuccessful unless Julian Love moved to safety. Elko and Lyght and Kelly said no as they just needed time to “coach the safeties up.” They did not want to weaken two positions. They were correct, and the nattering nabobs were incorrect.

    During the pre-Fall, when Kraemer, Eichenberg and Hainsey were struggling at right tackle, the paysite “experts” argued for Bars to move back to right tackle. But Heistand and Long and Kelly said no as they just wanted to give Kraemer, Eichenberg and Hainsey time to work into the position. They said NO. They were correct. Bars, but for the false starts, is better at RG than he was at RT. And now, Kraemer has shown his hegemony at RT with support from Hainsey, And in 2018 Hainsey, Eichenberg and Kraemer will all be better for having been tested in the crucible.

    The dumbest Nebraskan commenting on Notre Dame football, who astoundingly collects money from the unwitting, declared it a near tragedy that the Irish had Georgia in the second game. The coaches and athletic department said no, and accepted the challenge. That test against Georgia has informed the work of this team since. They have seen what works against a big, speedy, SEC defense, and they will know what they have to do if they meet another SEC style defense either in Miami in November or in the next game after Stanford.

    Dumbo from Nebraska, with his sycophant, groveling, toadying ex-coach, railed about the mutltiple running back usage, and said that “the only good running attacks use one back.” His sycophant nodded and clucked and assisted Dumbo in criticizing the coaching staff. But Denson, Long and Kelly said no. They would be using multiple running backs. How’s that working out? But don’t believe me on multiple running backs. Just ask Nick Saban, and watch what he does more than what he says.

    These coaches have LOTS of remaining challenges, in player skill, depth and development. But they, each day, make sound, deliberate, well-thought out football decisions. Doesn’t mean they are always right, just that they are always applying steely logic and discipline.

    I trust the coaches, not the paysite nabobs. Make up your own mind!

    Go Irish!

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  7. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 years ago

    At this time I’m more concerned with beating NC State than developing playoff bracket scenarios.

    Bruce G. Curme
    La Crosse, IN

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  8. Bob Rodes 2 years ago

    FYI, Frank: that’s “Vagas” Ferguson, not Vegas Ferguson. http://www.und.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/vagas_ferguson_135280.html

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  9. david 2 years ago

    Missed it. Went to the Az-Cal game….great entertainment, in a truly grand stadium. One like ND used to have.

    So I found out this morning that Kelly is a “big win” (!?!) closer to crawling back from career purgatory, rekindling his dream of the NFL. If some shi+ for brains will hire him.

    So congrats on both counts.

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    1. Bob Rodes 2 years ago

      That isn’t very nice. Did we get up out of the wrong side of bed today?

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      1. david 2 years ago

        As long as that fraud is still ND’s coach, yup.

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      2. Damian 2 years ago

        How bout it. The ND-USC game was a game for the ages. Now I’m not ready to crown BK the next Knute Rockne or anything. This team still has a lot to prove. But anyone who says this was not a phenomenal win for ND is crazy. Hell, even the ESPN pundits are saying this was a signature win for ND, and ESPN is generally not know for their love of the Irish.

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    2. duranko 2 years ago

      And yet you come here and post repeatedly. One wonders……………

      And what are most interested in, self-loathing or public flagellation. Voila, you are accomplishing both.

      But that’s the interesting thing about American Free Speech (there are theorists who believe that the very existence of libeland slander laws is violative of a “pure construction and original intent” of the framers). You can have people think that you have a miserable screwed up life, dominated by fear, resentment, envy, anger et alia, or come on the internet and remove all doubt. Well, I guess you’ve made your choice!

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      1. david 2 years ago

        Ah, the self-appointed webmaster, complete with thesaurus and kung-fu grip.
        Physician, heal thyself. Putz.

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    3. Jim 2 years ago

      There’s an entire website where you can post that nonsense with all your like-minded minions. Why not just stay there? Rather than spreading your misery like a disease?

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    4. ndcrazymike 2 years ago

      cry cry cry daveys back

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      1. david 2 years ago

        Was the handle “Ndmensamike” already taken?

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    5. david 2 years ago

      Damian:

      ESPN shows USC games, pumps USC ad nauseam, and pre-ordained Darnold as a sure-bet Heisman finalist.

      So what do YOU think the post-game narrative from the world’s leader in BS & spin would be? That this USC team is a completely forgettable mess, and their entire “braintrust” got it completely wrong?

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      1. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 years ago

        David, Why don’t you do the unthinkable sometime in the next 6 games and actually sit down, shut up, and actually watch the IRISH before posting your predictable and ever repetitive lines?

        PS – The stadium is awesome…you should go to a game and see it sometime.

        As for the old recruiting trick of “fake news” about BK going to the pros (to win recruits away from ND) I’ve been wondering when the “good ol’ boys” networks were going to start floating that crap. I should have seen you coming first though.

        BGC ’77 ’82

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      2. david 2 years ago

        Bruce:

        Yes. I’ve started a baseless conspiracy theory on Kelly’s wish to end up an NFL coach. You exposed my Russian-esque scheme, and I’m so humiliated by that. He’s truly an ND man, like Leahy and Ara. My apologies.

        ND stadium was a pantheon of college traditions. Now it’s a tarted up whorehouse.

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      3. Damian 2 years ago

        David, are you a ND fan? I’m not being pithy, I’m serious. ND just had it’s biggest win in years. They played their best all around game I’ve seen. Even SFR noted they played with spirit and he’s no BK fan.

        I was another who thought BK should have been fired after last year (my turning point was last year’s Duke game). But I want the Irish to win. If they were to win a NC under BK, Hell, I’d be fine with that. But you seem to be rooting for ND to lose either because you hate BK so much you don’t care what happens to ND Football as long as he’s gone or you just want to be proven right that BK is a lousy coach (or some combination of the two).

        Not me. I’d gladly eat my words if ND wins out. While still cautiously optimistic, I’m excited at least about the potential this team brings. I don’t know about BK, but I’m convinced the team is not a fraud.

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      4. david 2 years ago

        Damian: I was. And plan to be again, when Kelly leaves.
        And I’d like to see it happen sooner than later.
        You’re welcome.

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  10. KMart 2 years ago

    Yes, ND has done more than enough to stake its claim as the number one, one loss team (only loss to #3 Georgia by one point, blow out wins over two other top 25 teams, a better beat down of Boston College on the road than Clemson could muster at home, and yet they’re still the third ranked one-loss team in the polls. Shame on the pollsters.

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    1. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 years ago

      KMART, They have no shame.

      BGC
      La Crosse, IN

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  11. Damian 2 years ago

    All true. Truly satisfying. I do think we will still need some help to get in the playoffs if we win out (a big if–just being cautiously optimistic). Alabama, forget it, they have 1 gimme loss every year so they’d need to lose 2 games to fall out. PSU does have a couple tough games ahead (ok, maybe just 1 in Ohio State–congrats I guess to them for beating the crap out of the Meat Chickens–never sad to see them get embarrassed). Georgia beat ND so not sure how short of them losing 2 games we can jump them. But, the Big 10 teams above us will have to face each other and should cannibalize each other to some extent. We play Miami so we can knock them out, and some impressive wins may allow us to jump Clemson. That just leaves undefeated TCU. So we can potentially jump a couple 1 loss teams, beat a team above us and we’d still need a little help.

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    1. Bob Rodes 2 years ago

      I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if TCU gets left out in favor of Notre Dame, if both win out. Not saying it will happen, but SOS might be a factor.

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      1. Damian 2 years ago

        Yeah, maybe, but TCU has some impressive wins I believe too. I figure if we win out we can get as high as number 5 right now. At this point it’s very possible the SEC will field 2 teams in the playoff. Basically either Alabama or Georgia would need to lose 2 games to get knocked out. If they both get to the SEC championship undefeated they are both in regardless of the result of that game, IMO. Our best hope is for TCU or PSU to lose a game (as someone from PA I’d love a ND-PSU playoff or NC game–could you see the headlines “Wimbush vs. PSU” since he was committed there for a time.

        But I also agree with others, ND still has a lot of work to do before we get to that point. It’s fun as fans to imagine playoff scenarios but the team better just worry about beating NC State.

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      2. Bruce Gregory Curme 2 years ago

        Bob, I think It will be the ACC and/or the PAC 12 that ND bumps if we win out…not an undefeated TCU. But it is far from clear that we will win out…though we seem to be flirting with becoming a “team of destiny.”

        BGC
        La Crosse, IN

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  12. Greg Kelly 2 years ago

    A very learned nephew just pointed out to me that Notre Dame won its last championship in 1988. coincidently it was also the last time the LA Dodgers won the World Series. To bad Jeff Samardzija isn’t pitching for the Dodgers.

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    1. VaJayJay 2 years ago

      It would be a tough rotation for him to crack right now with Kershaw, Darvish, Wood and Hill, but I think I would take the shark over Hill at this point. I’d love to see him in Dodger blue. It’s been waaaaay too long for the Dodgers and Notre Dame football, but things are looking very good lately…

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