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Throwback Thursday: Notre Dame Fighting Irish VS Utah Utes 2010

A strange time for the Fighting Irish.

Utah v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

2010: Notre Dame Fighting Irish 28, Utah Utes 3

For this Throwback Thursday we go back to Brian Kelly’s first year with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2010. It wasn’t just a tough year leading up to the game against the #14 ranked Utah Utes — a real tragedy occurred on campus.

Heading into the game, Notre Dame had an awful 4-5 record. The 5 losses:

  • Close home loss to Michigan
  • Close road loss to Sparty (Little Giants)
  • Asspounding via Stanford
  • Asspounding via Navy
  • Meltdown vs Tulsa
Utah v Notre Dame Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

More than the record, however, it was the tragic death of team videographer Declan Sullivan in the week leading up to Tulsa. The campus and team was just crushed emotionally by the loss of such a well-loved student.

The build-up of emotion was intense and palpable.

Utah week comes around and it’s senior week. The Irish were a home underdog to the Utah Utes, and it was a game that many were unsure as to how the Irish would respond to everything the season had been up to that point.

As it turned out... the team showed up ready to play.

  • Robert Blanton had a punt block for TD
  • Harrison Smith is picking Jordan Wynn off
  • Tommy Rees throws 3 TD’s and 129 yards
  • The Irish rattled off 28 unanswered points

The most memorable moment though, was when the student body rushed the field. The AP game recap gave this explanation:

The result: a 28-3 Irish victory, their first over a ranked team since beating Penn State in 2006, ending an 11-game skid in those games. No wonder Notre Dame students poured onto the field to celebrate with the players when time ran out.

If that was the reason, it would certainly be something to snicker at by alums and fans. I mean... this is Utah — regardless of rank, it’s freaking Utah and this is Notre Dame. The AP totally missed the point by looking at the game in a bubble. That outpouring from the students was just an emotional explosion from everything else that had happened that season.

Sports gives people an outlet to sometimes forget themselves a bit, and during tragedy, it seems to make everything feel okay if only for a few moments. We can’t dismiss the two months that led up to this game because every second of that time manifested itself into the students celebration.