Notre Dame’s Dream Season Ends in Nightmare

Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon (4) breaks away from Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety Zeke Motta (17) during the first half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012 season was a magical ride for Notre Dame fans featuring a trip to the BCS Championship game that no one saw coming four months ago.  Last night that ride came to a crashing halt in Miami with a resounding 42-14 beating at the hands of Alabama – a nightmare result no one saw coming either.

From start to finish last night, Alabama controlled the game and inserted their will on Notre Dame.  While Alabama scored touchdowns on their first three drives, Notre Dame struggled to simply move the ball.

The Irish defense that was so strong all season was pushed around by an Alabama offense that was methodical in their production.  Notre Dame had given up two rushing touchdowns over the course of the first 12 games of the season.  Alabama ran for two in the first 16 minutes last while while racking up 529 yards of offense.

By the time the Irish defense adjusted and got used to Alabama’s size and speed, the score was 28-0 heading into half-time with Brian Kelly saying that the Irish could maybe get back into the game if Alabama didn’t show up for the second half.

A lot can be said about the game itself – what went wrong, what could Kelly and Notre Dame have done better to prepare, etc; but despite the truly disappointing finish to the season, Notre Dame fans should not forget just how special this year was.

In the pre-season this team was predicted to finish 8-4 or worse by most experts.  The fact that the Irish were even in the position they were in last night defied odds and rejuvenated an entire fan base that was in desperate need of a run like the one the 2012 Fighting Irish gave us.

I’m sure many fans are depressed today.  Hell, I know I am after sitting in the Alabama section last night and hearing Roll Tide, Roll after every damn first down even after they built a huge lead, but at the same time, I think back to where we were a year ago and can’t help but feel better about where this team is and where it’s headed.

A year ago we were discussing a bowl meltdown against a weak Florida State team in the Champs Sports Bowl.  Today we are discussing the fall out from losing to a team that has now won three of the last four national championships in the BCS Championship Bowl.

This team gave us so many amazing memories over the last four months.  The trip to Dublin to start the season, Tommy Rees coming off the bench against Purdue, intercepting Denard Robinson four times against Michigan, the epic goal line stand against Stanford, the beatdown of the Sooners in Norman, the triple over time thriller against Pitt, Manti Te’o’s improbable run for the Heisman, and the list goes on.

It sucks that we lost last night.  It sucks that this team did not play to the level it’s capable of.  And it sucks that Notre Dame missed out on an amazing opportunity to add to the trophy case at the Gug.  You know what sucks more though?  Losing the Champs Bowl and playing in bowl games days before New Year’s Eve sucks more. Playing in the Hawaii Bowl in a glorified exhibition sucks more.  Not even going to a bowl game and losing to teams like Navy, Syracuse, and Tulsa sucks more.

Losing in the fashion in which we lost last night should never be acceptable, but things can be – and recently were – much worse.

It’s unfortunate that the clock struck midnight on this team’s dream season last night – especially for the seniors like Manti Te’o, Kapron Lewis-Moore (whose injury was heart breaking), and Braxston Cave.  Guys who have given so much to this program through tough times and came up just short of their ultimate goal, but this team will regrroup and will get back to work at making another march towards a title next fall.

The dream that was the 2012 season may have ended with a nightmare in Miami last night, but nothing we’ve seen from Brian Kelly, his coaching staff, and this team leads me to believe that another dream season isn’t possible in 2013.

Here’s hoping that we’re still dreaming on the morning of January 7th next year in sunny California.

View Comments

  • 19 posts this hour
    Most Popular Master Time Management
    Lists 30 Under 30
    Video Tumblr's David Karp

    Quora

    Quora, Contributor

    A continually improving collection of questions and answers
    Follow (100)
    Tech
    |
    1/09/2013 @ 1:05PM |1,163 views
    Why Was Alabama Able To Blow Out Notre Dame?
    Comment Now
    Follow Comments

    Aaron Ellis

    That the University of Alabama football team was able to beat Notre Dame 42-14 in the BCS Championship Game was not much of a surprise. The Crimson Tide were heavily favored to win. That the game was so lopsided – Alabama at one point had a 35-0 lead – is what was most surprising.

    So how did Alabama pull off this blowout? One part of it had to do with Alabama executing its gameplan to perfection. The other part of the equation was that The Fighting Irish made many uncharacteristic mistakes.

    3 Things Alabama Did Right:

    Contain Everett Golson: As a quarterback, Golson is a threat when he is allowed to move outside the pocket, where he can elude tacklers for big runs, or elude defenders and connect with a receiver downfield. When forced to stay inside the pocket, his playmaking ability is limited. Alabama kept him in the pocket for the entire game. He was unable to make any big runs and he really struggled to connect with his receivers. Alabama didn’t send much pressure after him. They only blitzed on occasion, and even in blitz packages they never sent more than five after the quarterback. But the point wasn’t to get sacks on Golson, it was simply to keep him contained, and it worked.

    Dominate the Line of Scrimmage: Alabama’s offensive line had its way with Notre Dame’s defensive front. Notre Dame rarely got penetration. It seemed like every time Alabama running backs Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon touched the ball, they had massive holes to run through. Quarterback AJ McCarron had a lot of time to throw, though he didn’t really need it because he quickly got rid of the ball and completed passes with ease. Notre Dame needed to get to the quarterback quickly and hit the running backs at or behind the line of scrimmage, but they seldom did.

    Disrupt Passing Routes: Everyone watching the game on TV probably noticed the cameras focusing on Golson as he was yelling at his receivers for running the wrong routes. This was no accident. Alabama knew exactly how to confuse and disrupt the Notre Dame receivers. Their defense would show a zone coverage before the snap of the football, then switch to man coverage when the ball snapped, and vice versa. ‘Bama’s coverage was stifling. Everyone was covered. It forced Golson to make difficult passes all game.

    Three Things Notre Dame Did Wrong:

    Missed Tackles: This was the real killer for Notre Dame. Usually disciplined and reliable tacklers, the Irish missed an unbelievable number of tackles in the game. Even Manti Te’o, the highly touted linebacker, missed a lot of tackles. I can’t fault the Irish defense too much for missing the elusive Eddie Lacy when he made one of his signature spin moves, but often they missed him when he ran straight ahead.

    Blown Coverage: Many of McCarron’s big passes to Kevin Norwood, Christion Jones, Mike Williams, and Amari Cooper were uncontested catches. Defenders were nowhere near these guys when they caught the ball. Williams’ 3-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, where he was wide open in the endzone, and Cooper’s 34-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, where he almost ran out of bounds before straightening out and tiptoeing into the end zone, are prime examples of this. This is partly due to Alabama’s speed, which is unlike anything Notre Dame had previously faced. However, this was mostly because Alabama succeeded in confusing the Irish defensive backs and linebackers. Every time Notre Dame gambled on defense, Alabama made them pay for it.

    Third Down Conversions: Notre Dame had serious trouble sustaining drives. Of their 15 first downs in the game, very few came on third down. The Fighting Irish were 25% on third down conversion and 0% on fourth down. Despite having two running backs who ran for a combined 1600 yards this season and a quarterback who also runs well, Notre Dame abandoned the run early on. They tried to create big plays via downfield passing, but because Alabama’s defensive line kept Golson contained in the pocket and their defensive backs kept tight coverage on Notre Dame’s receivers, the Irish had a high number of incomplete passes early in the game, which halted all of their drives. The short drives and lack of a running game also skewed time of possession in Alabama’s favor, 38:13 to 21:47.

    Though this was an ugly loss for Notre Dame, this was really all about Alabama doing what it has done all year. Including the BCS Championship Game, The Crimson Tide scored 40 or more points eight times this year, Notre Dame only did it twice. outcoached, outcoached outcoached.

  • ND wasn't slow, wasn't unmotivated, and wasn't flat.

    They just got beat by a better team. Period.

    You know, it does happen.

    Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you. Get over it.

    Now I have a question for you....
    How much longer do we have to put up with your constant whinning and blubbering before you "get it" ???

  • ND got an old fashioned butt kicking and now has got there butts kicked in every BCS game they have been in. Until ND wins at least a BCS game vs a real opponent they will never be taken seriously.

    • Until you learn 2nd grade English, you won't be taken seriously either. Let me help you with this: It would be "their" not "there". Also, "they're" is a contraction meaning "they are", for your future reference.

      I'm also betting you think "lose" and "loose" are the interchangeable.

  • JDH--

    Don't you just love it when people say your when it should be You're?
    Or Their when it should be there? Choose, chose, lose, loose--and they point the finger at Notre Dame in all seasons. You are right JDH as you are in several of your posts. I despise the fact that the "trolls" as SFR calls them, arrive on the scene to talk smack after the fact. We DID get beat by the better team. Jimbo and Richard and Assassin Or whatever his name is SHOULD celebrate. However, they are NOT welcome here and the fact you pointed out THIER errors is reason for applause! Meanwhile, I've been called mean spirited. I congratulated Alabama but reminded them were it not for the losses on the part of K. State AND Oregon they might have been elsewhere. It is clear that they were great. It is also clear MOST -including myself did not expect ND to be in the BCS title game this year!!!
    I'm proud of the Irish and Notre Dame. Others can celebrate the Crimson Tide Victory elsewhere--as well they should and deserve. Here is a final thought: Alabma graduation rate-75%-Notre Dame 97%. Numbers speak in life off the field far more as the years go by. That is not being stuck up, arrogant or rude. That is having expectations in many facets if not more. I'm proud to be part of the University of Notre Dame family. With a schedule such as 2012 COMBINED with the Academic Challanges NO OTHER UNIVERSITY comes close with this combination! 0-12 or 12-0 WE ARE ND!!!!

    • Yeah it's just silliness. I've talked to some fellow fans who were at the NC game and read some reports from others. The consensus seems to be that there were a small handful of Alabama fans who were jerks (as I'm sure some ND fans were too). The overwhelming majority were respectful, friendly and congratulatory.

      I've got nothing to say to Alabama fans other than, "Congratulations! You have one hell of a program! We'll get back to work."

  • Notre Dame: a FRENCH name for a school founded by ITALIAN franciscans who chose an IRISH moniker. Confusion is not limited to the football team!

    • You and bj must be brothers!

      Clearly someone pee'd in your family's gene pool!

      Neither one of you have a clue!