It was quite an an interesting day in South Bend. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat the Syracuse Orange 45-21 — but it was just odd. I called the game sloppy, but I’m not sure if that was entirely accurate. In essence it was a slow game, which made the bumps in the road more visible.
It’s one of those things that we come to expect from a Senior Day game — even if it doesn’t happen every year. The Irish had a lot going on and a lot on the line. Despite Syracuse only having one win in the books, you could tell the weight of the game by what we witnessed, AND what Brian Kelly said right away in his opening remarks of the post game press conference:
“Yeah, I’d like to start with how we got here. And we wouldn’t have gotten here without the vision that Father John Jenkins had for opening up our university. And I want to start with thanking him for giving us this opportunity to play. Provost (Marie Lynn) Miranda coming up with a great academic plan for our guys to be able to play football. If we didn’t have academics, we wouldn’t be playing football. And our executive VP Shannon Cullinan put together a Houdini of a financial plan to make this work. This was an extremely expensive plan in so many ways. My boss, vice president athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who is there daily, supporting us, and giving us all the resources necessary to compete during this very difficult time. Our VP for campus safety Mike Seamon who implemented a comprehensive safety plan and testing and as is equally important, Dr. Matt Leiszler who oversaw the daily testing. And then Rob Hunt who heads-up our training, the care and custody, our athletic trainer, Rob Hunt has the incredible task of following this virus daily with our student athletes and the care and custody that he showed during this time was amazing. Our support staff that wears many hats just in here today. Not only do they handle social media, but they serve breakfast to us on the road. And a support staff that just so committed to seeing our football team succeed this year, to my coaches that had to deal with starts and stops in a flexible mindset to do that, and, you know, 4 AM texts as to what the roster looks like each and every day. And then finally, incredible players that have had to commit themselves and sacrifice all year to be here and then have an undefeated season. So I’m so proud of them, blessed to be their head football coach, and was so happy for them to go undefeated this year. And all those people that made it happen. We wouldn’t be here without them. So with that, open up the questions.”
Not a single thing about the game was uttered in that statement.
And it’s fine. Notre Dame got a 24 point win to finish an undefeated regular season, and now they move on to the ACC Championship game.
- This was the last game for Mike Collins as the Notre Dame Stadium announcer for the past 39 years.
- The win slayed the demon of the 1993 loss to the Boston College Eagles — the last time Notre Dame finished the regular season at home.
- Irish are on an NCAA leading 16 game winning streak.
- This was the 3rd time Brian Kelly has coached a Notre Dame team to an undefeated regular season.
- The Irish are 43-6 since the start of the 2017 season.
- Ian Book is now the all-time winningest Notre Dame QB with 30 wins.
- Notre Dame’s home winning streak is now at 24 games.
- Kyren Williams is the first 1000 yard rusher for Notre Dame since Josh Adams in 2017.
BRIAN KELLY POST GAME
Ian Book Quotes
On what it means to be the all-time winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history ....
It’s a dream come true just to be able to attend Notre Dame and have a good career. To be able to have this be my last home game and step back for a second and to never have lost at home - it is really a team award though rather than an individual award. I’m just really thankful to be part of this special team. I probably didn’t think that, honestly. When I stepped foot on campus I just really wanted to work hard and become the starter whenever that may be and now we’re here today. It really just means a lot. I couldn’t have done it by myself, there’s a lot of people who have helped get me to this point. When I got here, all I wanted to do was just play quarterback - I wasn’t thinking about breaking any records, or never losing at home. Again, it’s just a special, special night.
On his connection with Javon McKinley ...
Javon (McKinley’s) been doing an unbelievable job - I’m just happy for him. With this being his last night in Notre Dame Stadium and him being able to finish like that in Notre Dame Stadium, it’s unbelievable. It’s (our connection) just trust. I trust he’s in the right spot at the right time and we showed that tonight and we’ll see that more in the next three games that we’ve got.
On the ability to lead the team to two undefeated regular seasons ...
First off, it shows this team’s got grit and is tough. There was a time we didn’t even know if we were going to play with Coronavirus. We join a conference (the ACC), which nobody’s done at Notre Dame, and just a lot of unexpected things and this team just never shied away. We put in the work that was necessary and here we are undefeated as we joined a conference and are headed into the Championship Game. It just shows this team has grit, never gave up, never flinched and to have two undefeated (regular) seasons is just doing what Coach (Brian) Kelly has asked - he always says ‘protect the house’ - so that’s one thing and we’ve been able to dothat. Just fight for every win - we’ve been down, we’ve been up - this team just never shies away so it’s a special team and you don’t always say that, but this team is just special.
On walking off the field for the final time ...
Bittersweet, definitely a little emotional but I just took it all in. I definitely took a step back and just embraced everything. It’s been an unbelievable journey. I remember my first day on campus and now I’ll never forget my last game in the Stadium. My family has been in my corner since I was born and they’ve always motivated me to work hard. It’s unbelievable that they could all be here tonight, I really appreciate them never missing a game other than the Boston College game. It’s who I wanted here and they were able to make it and it makes that moment more special.
On how he wants to be remembered by fans ...
I want to win a national championship and if you hear my name, that is what you think of. We still have to go do that, so that’s what I want (Notre Dame fans to remember about me).
All-time winningest QB in Notre Dame history.— Brian Kelly (@CoachBrianKelly) December 5, 2020
The game ball goes to @Ian_Book12. #GraduatingChampions pic.twitter.com/5e90LCsMdE