Stanford Game Same Old Story for Notre Dame Football 2013

Wayne Lyons - INT vs. Notre Dame
Stanford Cardinal cornerback Wayne Lyons (2) intercepts a pass intended for Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver William Fuller (15) in the fourth quarter at Stanford Stadium. Stanford won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame fans hoping to see the Irish pull off the upset as a two touchdown underdog last night were instead treated to the same old story of Notre Dame Football in 2013.  Fall behind early.  Rally back.  Turn the ball over at the worst time and fall short.

In three of Notre Dame’s four losses this season, the Irish were down double digits before they could blink.  Against Michigan, the Wolverines jumped out to a 10-0 lead.  Notre Dame battled back valiantly that September night in Ann Arbor, but a Tommy Rees interception in the end-zone on 1st and goal put the final nail in Notre Dame’s coffin.

Against Oklahoma a few weeks later, the Sooners jumped out to a 14-0 lead just 1:10 into the game after a Tommy Rees interception was returned for a touchdown on the first drive only to be followed up by an interception on Notre Dame’s very next play.  Again, Notre Dame battled back and was within 6 points in the 4th quarter.  After an Oklahoma touchdown put the Sooners up 14 though, the Irish went three and out on three consecutive drives and lost by 14.

Last night the Irish yet again found themselves in an early hole.  Stanford marched down the field and scored touchdowns on each of their first two drives to take a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.  Notre Dame once again battled back only to have their comeback bid fall short though when Tommy Rees threw not one, but two back breaking interceptions in the final 6 minutes – both of which came with the Irish trailing by just 7 points.

Three games.  Three early holes.  Three unsuccessful comeback attempts.  Three losses.

Notre Dame’s 4th loss didn’t follow the exact template, but did include another killer interception in the end-zone with the Irish poised to take the lead on Pitt in the 4th quarter before falling to the unranked and less talented Panthers.

And therein lies the difference between 2012 and 2013.  A year ago Notre Dame avoided the killer turnovers for the most part and were able to navigate the regular season undefeated.  This year, however, the back breaking turnover has become the norm, rather than the exception much like it was in 2011 when the Irish also stumbled to a 8-4 regular season mark.

This year will be labeled a disappointment by most and following a berth in the national championship game there really is no other way to slice it, but it didn’t have to be.  In all four of Notre Dame’s losses the Irish had their chances but failed to make the plays necessary to overcome early deficits that were in large part self inflicted.

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Much like in 2011 when Notre Dame was its own worst enemy in losses to South Florida, Michigan, and USC; the Irish once again couldn’t get out of their way more often than not.  That’s why Notre Dame will be playing in the Pinstripes Bowl or some other lesser bowl this year instead of getting ready for another BCS bowl.

Yes, Notre Dame has faced a rash of injuries the likes of which we haven’t seen in a while – at least at critical positions – but at the same time, they were in a position to win every game this year.  In every single loss this year, Notre Dame was either tied or trailed by just one possession at some point in the 4th quarter.

With just over 9 minutes remaining against Michigan, the Irish trailed just 34-30 before losing 41-30.  In the loss to Oklahoma the Irish pulled within 27-21 with just over 14 minutes remaining before falling 35-21.  Against Pitt the Irish were tied at 21 ready to take the lead before the interception in the end-zone and subsequently losing 28-21.  Last night Notre Dame had the ball twice with less than 8 minutes remaining down 27-20 but could never get closer.

In those four losses, the Notre Dame offense scored a total of 10 points in the 4th quarter while the Irish defense contributed 7 points.  That kind of offensive production in the 4th quarter is just not going to get it done and for Notre Dame to end the 2014 season on a much better note, Brian Kelly and his offensive staff are going to need to find a way to score points in the 4th quarter.   If they don’t, well, then 2014 might be the same old story for Notre Dame as well.

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31 comments

  1. Jack 6 years ago

    When I played football and I did not play at this level – you recognized a good coach from a bad coach by conditioning and organization. ND was in very good condition and well organized. But what ND didn’t have was a QB that could run the ball and without great receivers and/or a great running threat – everything is on the defense. Injuries hurt them because the defense was not deep – ND is not LSU or Alabama with 30 6’4 240 lb players that can run 4.55 to 4.7 40 yard dash times. Only the SEC and the Florida schools gets that kind of talent. So yes Golston would have won 3 more games than Rees – Tommy is a game player but because of the lack of foot speed came up short. Accept it and remember we have 2 mobile threats next year. GO Notre Dame.

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  2. Jerry Seppanen 6 years ago

    It is the first time Im glad the season is over. This team is very poorly
    coached. They will be more exciting next year with a new QB and depth at
    running back. However, with the defense being so timid as they are coached
    and BK ruining the running backs I say 8-4 again.

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  3. Rich 6 years ago

    They truth of the matter is that the Irish were not a good football team this year. Starting with Rees, Atkinson, Carlisle,and an inconsistent offensive and defensive line. They beat one very good team this year and that was Michigan State. They lost to Pitt, inexcusable! Playing close games or playing a good second half doesn’t make for any wins or make you a good team. Another 8-4 season for Kelly. There was a time when 8-4 seasons meant a possible change in leadership but not this time. Kelly is more likely to leave ND, then ND getting rid of him. He has brought the program back to respectability but how many more 8-4 season will the ND faithful put up with? Things can still get better at ND and hopefully they will and quickly. GO IRISH!

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  4. Ron 6 years ago

    Sports is funny. Nick Saban has championship after championship and a statue of him and is considered the best coach since god and after last saturday he is a piece of garbage for losing to auburn. Pretty funny!

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    1. Jack 6 years ago

      Coach Saban is a wonderful man – a member of the Knights of Columbus. He is probably the best coach in college football. With Meyer probably #2 and BK is not that far behind.

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