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The good, the bad, and the Irish: SEASON RECAP AND CITRUS BOWL VICTORY LAP

Strap yourselves in, folks, this is one hefty blog post.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Notre Dame vs Louisiana State Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

HAPPY NEW YEAR! IF YOU ARE READING THIS, IT’S 2018, THE IRISH ARE 10-3, BRIAN KELLY OWNS COACH O AND MILES BOYKIN IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

What a wild year it’s been already and how bout that Citrus Bowl?! As a recently graduated 23-year-old, I always knew that watching the morning bowl games on New Year’s Day would be a struggle, but I never really anticipated what would actually transpire on the first day of our new calendar year.

If you are familiar with the internet’s own @celebrityhottub then you know that:

1. He is the Executive Producer/my boss/overlord at SB Nation and

2. He somehow finagled his way into being the Bloomin’ Onion mascot during the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.

So although hungover, I was pumped up and ready to go on January 1st when the Outback Bowl kicked off at 11am. Hindsight would indicate that I was perhaps too pumped up. Minutes prior to kickoff, I grabbed my laptop off of my dresser, hurled toward the staircase in my parents house, lost my footing on the top step and subsequently ate shit not one time, but 13 times as my left hip/ass/elbow rammed into every single wooden step all the way down to the first floor.

Me:

And thus I died as I lived, in anxious anticipation of a Notre Dame football game.

Just kidding - I luckily was only left with severe embarrassment and J.J. Watt level leg contusions, but I had to watch the rest of the day’s slate of football games, including the Citrus Bowl, motionless on the floor covered in ice-packs. Truthfully, not too far from the norm.

THE GOOD

Defense

After 2016 I never thought I’d be typing this but the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a good defense. All I can say is thank Jesus that Mike Elko is sticking around.* AND a lot of key players will be back next year.

Notre Dame held future NFL running back Derrius Guice to less than 100 yards and stopped the LSU offense in a couple critical 3rd and goals that led to two missed field goals.

* After writing this blog post Mike Elko took the defensive coordinator position at Texas A&M. Yes, it is appropriate to start drinking now.

Ten win season

A lot of people on the internet (and probably IRL but I wouldn’t know) were very upset after the Stanford game, which is understandable. For a team that was in the top 4 after the first CFP ranking, it was pretty devastating to watch the Irish fall embarrassingly to Miami and painfully to Stanford in the last game of the season. Despite those two disappointments, ten wins are ten wins. Notre Dame’s only losses wound up being against:

  • Georgia - which I maintain would have been a win if it was played at our home stadium. Ahem.
  • Miami - who lost their last 3 games, but still were a stronger Miami team than any we’ve seen this decade. P.S. Paul Chryst is the goat for this.
  • Stanford - one of the most stable CFB programs in the country, whom I still despise losing to, but accept as they are less embarrassing than losing to Northwestern, USF, Navy, NC State, etc.

AND GUESS WHAT

Notre Dame was not ranked in the preseason, played one of the toughest schedules against teams of which the majority played in a bowl game, and won their bowl game against an SEC team (albeit, one that lost to Troy, but that’s a story for another day.)

The Catch

I’m sure you’ve already watched this five hundred times, projected it onto your garage door for all your neighbors to watch, and tattooed a stop motion rendering onto your back, but I just had to share this video one more time.

Plays like this usually happen AGAINST Notre Dame in bowl games, not FOR us!

NOT A MEME

Ten. And. Three.

The Bad :/

another fucking quarterback competition

It would be nice if just one time Notre Dame could head into the offseason without the drama of a QB competition looming over the heads of everyone in the program/universe. Also bonus points for having two previous Notre Dame quarterbacks tweet some beef during the game.

LMAOO SPECIAL TEAMS WYD

The last month has not been great for Notre Dame’s special teams. First, Montgomery “Gummy” Van Gorder didn’t win Holder of the Year, THEN Notre Dame’s special teams made a horrific mistake during a kick return that at the time had me convinced it’d be the final nail in the proverbial coffin. It really reminded me of that BS touchdown that NC State scored in 2016 off of a muffed punt that wound up being the only TD of the game. Luckily, Notre Dame’s offense made up for the mistake but Brian Kelly’s facial hue has still not returned to its natural shade.

GOODBYE MIKE MCGLINCHEY, QUENTON NELSON, ETC.

As I’m writing this, the word is still out on who will declare for the 2018 draft. If you are considering leaving early to go to the NFL, PLEASE STAY!! Because I am selfish and want my former university football team to play well. But also, I understand if you leave to ya know, actually get paid and move away from the permacloud over South Bend, IN.

THE IRISH

The Florida Curse

Going back to his Cincinnati days, BK has a pretty upsetting record in Florida.

Hopefully this win broke the curse, even though thankfully Notre Dame does not have a regular season game in Florida for at least the next two years.

#FryinNanni

As I mentioned previously, #FryinNanni made his debut in the Bloomin’ Onion suit during the 3rd quarter of the Outback Bowl, which was roughly around the second quarter of the Citrus Bowl. This led to some issues with the remote control.

This is the second time my dad has forced me to turn to a Notre Dame game while something massive was happening during a game on another channel.

Yes. I am equating #FryinNanni to the Kick Six. Get over it.

Moral of the story - sometimes the most exciting thing on isn’t the first half of the game Notre Dame is playing in and sometimes your boss dresses up as a giant fried appetizer and you should maintain control over the remote control at all costs.

2017’s Greatest Hits

I’ve had so much fun recapping Notre Dame games this year. Here are a few of my favorite moments from 2017.

  • Notre Dame obliterating USC at home by 35 points and thus (probably) keeping them out of the playoff
  • Having my blog post about the UGA/ND game shared by 5k UGA fans because I called them nice in the paragraph before I made fun of them all
  • Interviewing Cam McDaniel about the time he was a meme.
  • Somehow attending FIVE Notre Dame games this season because I am sick and have a problem. (I live in NYC, so this is actually a pretty remarkable feat.)
  • Brian Kelly reaction gifs:
  • Brian Kelly’s Gatorade bath after beating USC
  • Brian Kelly dancing in the locker room after the Michigan State game
  • Finally watching a game in Notre Dame Stadium with a video board!
  • Making it through an entire season without any key players suffering a devastating, career-threatening injury.
  • Poor, poor, sleepy Ramseys
  • Brian Kelly kissing Brian Polian gently on the face
  • Brian Kelly showing us his softer side

I’m sure I missed a bunch so if you have any more favorite memories, leave ‘em in the comment section!

FAREWELL, FRIENDS

It has been my honor to blog about Notre Dame football for you this season. If you want more hot sports takes/occasional Maui Brey appreciation tweets follow me @jessica_smetana.

And Congrats to this year’s National Champions: The UCF Knights!