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Notre Dame made a statement with its 36-3 win over Syracuse

This isn’t a Pete Thamel takedown piece — or at least I didn’t plan to do it.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Notre Dame Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Get used to it.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Notre Dame Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have received as little respect as any top 5 team in recent memory. Some of it is their fault, and then there is the other 90% that seems to come out of nowhere.

Notre Dame is playing good football right now, and a 36-3 win over the #12 ranked Syracuse Orange should be a huge statement to the rest of the country. Over the course of 5 or more weeks, Notre Dame fans have heard a relentless media attack over and over again.

It’s not on the same level of disrespect the Irish saw in 2012 when the Rick Reiley article about relevancy was published. No, no... it’s been much worse. Whereas the 2012 team was mostly a slow build up until the Oklahoma game, this year has seen a reluctancy from many with any type of respect.

Beating the Michigan Wolverines should be a feather in the cap, but analysts, talking heads, and blowhards have done a masterful job in the media by discrediting that Notre Dame win, and at the same time pumping Michigan up.

After the win, Brian Kelly was asked:

Do you think this kind of shows that you guys should be included in the same conversation with Alabama and Clemson as national title favorites?

BK- Here’s my only comments on that. We’re not interested in being compared. All we want to do is play our best football when we get to November. We’re playing really, really well, especially on defense. Can we play better as a game offensively? Yeah, we probably could. Today we didn’t do the things.

But when you’re playing really good defense -- and remember now, we’ve played triple option. We’ve played a very physical team in Northwestern. And then Florida State and a spread offense in Syracuse. We’ve had to do a lot of things in the month of November, and defensively we’re playing really well. We’re playing good football.

I think the only message to me -- or that we would like to get out is we’re playing really good football. So this narrative of who’s playing great or who’s not playing good, we’re playing pretty good football right now.

Clearly Brian Kelly has heard the “noise,” as much as he likes to say that he avoids it. The fact that this is the type of question that is asked to Brian Kelly after an ass-whooping of the #12 team in the country says everything you need to know about that narrative.

What’s also clear is that the college football playoff committee doesn’t buy what the media is selling. Notre Dame has been a firm #3 since the 2nd rankings were released (after a little disrespect of having the LSU Tigers ranked ahead of them in the first set). But just like any bad rumor or narrative, it had a chance to become a reality with a slip here or there.

Notre Dame has been nothing but sure-footed in the month of November with one game to go. The Irish went on the road and fairly easily beat the Northwestern Wildcats (Big Ten West Champion Wildcats), smoked a down Florida State team in South Bend, and then destroyed Syracuse in a baseball stadium.

Getting the win against the Orange was important, but doing it so convincingly will surely have to change some of that negative voodoo that has been thrown at the Irish for weeks now.

NCAA Football: Syracuse at Notre Dame Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame held one of the best offenses in college football to 234 yards and 3 cheap points. The defensive effort was pure dominance as the Irish forced three turnovers (Jalen Elliott INT, Alohi Gilman 2 INT) and had 6 sacks on the day. The Orange only ran 73 plays while averaging 3.2 yards per play.

Notre Dame’s offense wasn’t on the same level as its defensive partners though. The Irish only scored 10 points from those 3 turnovers, and seemingly left a ton of points on the field as it struggled to get its running game on track in the first 3 quarters. Justin Yoon had to kick 3 field goals, and he even missed a PAT — yet Notre Dame still scored 36 points.

When the spread is 10 points, and most were picking this game as a “close one,” and then it turns into beatdown... respect must be given. It was a statement win — AGAINST SYRACUSE! Notre Dame absolutely showed it’s one of the best teams in the country today, which was something many thought wasn’t going to happen.

And so Brian Kelly gets the crap question instead of something more tangible to the game or the next one against the USC Trojans. Included in the same conversation as Alabama and Clemson? Hey Pete, they’ve BEEN in that conversation for weeks, but you must have been paying too much attention to the dismissals of Notre Dame’s accomplishments.

With one more win, the Irish can underline the statement they made today... they’re here for the playoffs.


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