clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Bagpipe Monday: Will Notre Dame Ever Get That Killer Instinct?

Wins are wins, but knockouts are better.

Mike Miller/One Foot Down

Welcome to another Bagpipe Monday on One Foot Down! Friends, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are 9-0 and positioned to make the college football playoffs. If things end the way we all hope, by the end of November we can say these things:

  • Brian Kelly would be only the third Notre Dame head coach to go unbeaten and untied twice in his career. Frank Leahy also did it twice, and Knute Rockne did it five times.
  • The Irish would be in the college football playoffs for the first time.
  • It would give Notre Dame its best back-to-back seasons since 1992 & 1993 (22-2-1). Notre Dame could be 22-3 with one or two games left.

That’s a pretty big deal.

The thing is though — not many people really believe this team is as good as all of that. Notre Dame has done some pretty amazing things, but because of its history over the past 20 years, it’s easy to dismiss these stats, or even project some type of collapse.

Bagpipe Monday Notre Dame @phillykelly

I tend to take things one season at a time, but even this season has shown a fundamental weakness that great Irish teams of the past did not have... they lack a killer instinct. It would seem that the Irish haven’t really been able to put its foot on the throats of its opponents with intent to terminate life.

Some of that is because of the games they have gotten into this season (such as Ball State and Vanderbilt) whereas they HAVE done it against Virginia Tech, Stanford, and Wake Forest.

But we’re in November now, and these things are more important than at any other time of the year — especially with a perfect record. The Irish simply must end all hopes that the other teams might have of winning, and remind them of that each play.

Former Irish great, Reggie Brooks, talked about this in the Notre Dame post game show, following the 31-21 win by the Irish over the Northwestern Wildcats. The spread was right around 10 points, but Notre Dame was up 24-7 in the 4th quarter and watched it dwindle down to a 24-21 lead with 7 minutes to go in the game.

That’s a perfect example of playing without the killer instinct. The Irish had a 17 point lead with a chance to bury the Wildcats, and instead... they gave them CPR.

Notre Dame has 3 games left this season. They are all games that the Irish should win, but they are also games that present some challenges: Senior Day, weird baseball stadium against a top 15 team, and a trip to Los Angeles to take on their biggest rival.

It could get tricky, and the best way to handle trickiness is to vaporize the trick. Can Notre Dame do this? Can they rise above their (still lingering) November past and win all three games? Can they bury these teams and make each game more about Notre Dame than who they are playing?


Do you believe this team is capable of "stepping on the throats" of its next 3 opponents?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    (665 votes)
  • 41%
    (480 votes)
1145 votes total Vote Now

We’re about to find out as a very down Florida State Seminoles team travels to South Bend this week. This is the opportunity to put everything on flex, and prepare them to win out and move towards the playoffs.

Enjoy the pipes!