You have to really hand it to the Miami-Florida Hurricanes after this 41-8 pounding that they put on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Canes did what any rival would love to do, and that’s to beat your opponent so bad, every negative perception about that opponent is brought to light.
Notre Dame has had the reputation over the years as a team that is consistently:
And that’s exactly what they looked like on Saturday night in Miami. The real problem here, is that the underlying issues for those traits, is a much more difficult set of problems to fix.
But l don’t want to get too macro here. There will be no discussion of firing Brian Kelly, and even if that’s what this was about - there is no way in hell that Notre Dame would do that this year. So... please shelf those kind of responses for the other 9,278 places where that is being discussed. This is about Notre Dame’s 3 remaining games in 2017.
My eyes can’t unsee what has already happened with the Irish this season. Notre Dame is still, basically, most of what we thought they were in the 9 games leading up to the disaster in Miami.
How many times this year have so many of us commented about this being a “different” kind of Notre Dame team. The Irish were winning games, but unlike the years that they were winning this much, Notre Dame was POUNDING teams - and good teams at that. It had a “different feel” according to most of us.
How does one game change all of that?
I don’t have a real answer, but it did. Were we all just plain crazy? Did we honestly believe that a team that went 4-8 in the previous season was truly capable of making a real run at the national championship?
I think we did - and of course we were out of our minds. Although Brian Kelly has made an immense amount of changes to the program in the last year, the Irish still have problems when the stage is big, when the lights are bright, and when the jerseys are white.
So that points me right back to tomorrow. Where do the Irish go from here with two games left? Notre Dame has one last home game this upcoming Saturday against the Navy Midshipmen, and then they finish the season in California against the Stanford Cardinal. The Irish could very easily win both of these games to close out the regular season at 10-2. While last nights trouncing at the hands of Miami, and the Georgia Bulldogs losing in similar fashion to the Auburn Tigers, means that there is a 99.9% probability that the Irish are out of the playoffs... they can still go to a major bowl with a 10-2 record.
Jerry Palm with CBS Sports has Notre Dame slotted to play in the Cotton Bowl against the Penn State Nittany Lions. A 10-2 Irish squad would stand a great chance at beating Penn State to end the season with an 11-2 record with a major bowl win.
98% of you out there would have took that IN A HEARTBEAT before the season began - another season that has played with our emotions with conversations of the national championship. So, if that turns out to be the case (11-2 with a major bowl win) we can say that this season was still a major success as it comes on the heels of that 4-8 season we all loathed so very much.
Would that make you happy?
Now, that is still a lot of “could” for one conversation, but it is still a scenario that is easy to rationally agree to as a real possibility. If that’s to be the case, what do the Irish have to do to win the final two games of the season and then a bowl game?
I’m not sure what the answers are to the many questions we all have about this team and this program. I think there still are answers for this season that the Irish can find and use to end the campaign at 11-2, but will they be able to come back from such an ass-whooping to do so?
I really don’t know where they go from here, but it certainly isn’t the playoffs.