After the scintillating victory over then #1 Clemson on November 7th, many Irish fans were riding high and on top of the college football world. A small dose of reality hit hard yesterday after the Tigers got their revenge with a 34-10 victory in the ACC Championship. On top of that, Notre Dame is now slated to take on #1 Alabama in the Rose Bowl in the College Football Playoff. To say confidence among the fan base is low would be an understatement.
However, there should still be plenty of optimism left for the remaining game(s). Contrary to popular belief, the sky is not falling as Notre Dame had won 16 consecutive games entering yesterday’s contest. Brian Kelly has spent the past 4 seasons rebuilding his program and is sitting on the cusp of “elite” status in the sport. We have the all-time winningest quarterback in the university’s history directing one of the most explosive offenses in Notre Dame’s recent past. Although the defense was uncharacteristically sloppy against Clemson, they have been consistently among the nation’s top units over the past 3 seasons.
This is not to say that the Irish should be overconfident walking into AT&T Stadium on January 1st. We all know what and who Alabama is. With that said, the Irish have a pretty good history against Alabama, especially in bowl games, 2012 notwithstanding. Luckily for Notre Dame, Alabama’s defense is not quite on the level of their 2012 squad. While Mac Jones, Najee Harris, and DeVonta Smith are the stars of Nick Saban’s offense, they are no different than what we have already seen from Clemson’s offense.
There will be plenty more written about this matchup in the coming days. If you are like me, you will talk yourself into the Irish somehow finding a way to pull this win out, and that is ok. Brian Kelly has been hell-bent on dispatching demons from Notre Dame’s past over the last few seasons. Alabama seems to be next on his list.