While the Notre Dame Fighting Irish may be currently sitting at 3-0, the first three games of the season were not won in convincing style. Need more proof of that? Just surf social media or the web. Everyone has an opinion of this year’s team, what’s wrong with it, and how to correct it. So this week, my Throwback Thursday post is going to be a look back at the first time Notre Dame faced the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, in the magical season that was 2012. Yes, there were several games in the 2012 season that were “lucky” wins, that maybe Notre Dame didn’t exactly deserve to win, but the Wake Forest game was not one of them. They came out on senior day, and did exactly what they needed to do to continue their climb in the rankings, and shut out Wake Forest.
As I sit here watching the video highlights of this game, the cast of characters is a familiar one, and one that makes me smile. It was the first season that I had a seat in the press box. It was the year I wrote my first book. And it was a group of student-athletes that I got to know well, who will forever be a part of my Notre Dame family.
It wasn’t one of the bigger games of the 2012 season, so maybe you’ve forgotten the game highlights. Let me refresh your memory. Notre Dame scored it’s first touchdown only one minute and fifteen seconds into the first quarter, on a huge run by Cierre Wood.
Then, on the following Wake Forest possession, the Irish forced a fumble on a Wake Forest completion by Josh Harris, and the ball was recovered by Notre Dame’s Zeke Motta. This fumble recovery set up an Irish touchdown reception by Tyler Eifert on a play that the Irish had tried to run on the previous play and were unsuccessful, and then ran a second time for the touchdown.
Still in the first quarter, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson drops back and heaves a touchdown pass into the end zone, caught by Irish receiver John Goodman. It was a pass that Golson got off kind of late, and Goodman, all tangled up with the Wake Forest defender in the end zone, somehow came down with the ball. And so with 4:28 left in the first quarter, the Irish were already up 21-0. This is the Notre Dame football we all know and love, right? This is the kind of game Notre Dame needs this weekend on the road against Wake Forest.
The next touchdown, which didn’t come until 6:17 left in the second quarter, was a long Golson pass to TJ Jones. The 2012 Fighting Irish squad was so much fun to watch. So many receivers at the ready for Golson: Eifert, Goodman, Jones, Carlisle, and Daniels. I loved listening to the commentary during this game. As each receiver made big catch after the big catch, the announcers were still criticizing Golson. “I thought Golson was late again on that one because he stumbled.” Or, “I really didn’t like the progression by Golson on that one.” But time-after-time, balls were caught, and touchdowns were scored.
Do you remember the notable record broken in this 2012 game against Wake Forest? On a pass reception with 11:24 left in the third quarter, with the score Notre Dame 28 - Wake Forest 0, Tyler Eifert made a 15-yard catch which made him the all time leading tight end receiver in Notre Dame football history. Nicely done, Tyler.
The 2012 Fighting Irish team had so many offensive weapons. I’ve already talked about the receiving core, but as George Atkinson III made a rushing score with 3:32 in the third quarter to make the score 38-0, I started to think about the tremendous rushers on that team: Atkinson III, Wood, McDaniel, Prosise, Riddick; man was that team loaded with talent.
Yes, I am happy that the current Fighting Irish team is 3-0. But, if the Irish were to show up and convincingly beat Wake Forest this weekend, similar to the win in 2012, it would be great for their confidence and mindset moving forward.
Got a few mintues to kill? Check out the highlights from the 2012 match up of Notre Dame and Wake Forest.
Cheers & GO IRISH!