When the final gun had sounded, the last second ticked off, and before the last fan had left Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, it was finally official. After twelve grueling weeks, playing arguably the toughest schedule in all of NCAA FBS, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have claimed not only the #1 ranking, but a chance for immortality in BCS history. That's right folks, the 12-0 Fighting Irish are going to Miami for a chance at the BCS National Championship Game.
It was nearly 23 years ago that the Fighting Irish last played in the National Championship, beating the West Virginia Mountaineers 34-21 under the guide of Lou Holtz. Since then, Notre Dame has either come close to but just barely missed out (in '89 and '93), experienced a string of bowl game losses (9 bowl games from 95-07), or didn't even come close to getting a bowl game invite. During that time frame, Notre Dame suffered from lackluster coaches from the likes of Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham, and Charlie Weis.
But since Brian Kelly was hired on as Head Coach, the team has been performing at a consistent level of play, making bowl games his first two years and now a third one in 2012. This season alone Notre Dame has been playing at an elite level, led by a defense that ranks #1 in points allowed (10.1) and #5 in total yards allowed (288.3 YPG). They held high scoring teams like Oklahoma, USC, and Stanford to pedestrian numbers, and held 6 of their opponents to 10 points or less. And let's not forget to mention that in games against Stanford, Pittsburgh, and BYU that Notre Dame fought their way back after trailing going into the 4th quarter.
Now it'll be 6 weeks till when Notre Dame lace up their cleats to take the field against their next opponent, which will more than likely be the winner of the Alabama/Georgia SEC Title Game. Six weeks is a long to wait for any football game. But the Fighting Irish know that sometimes good things come to those who wait. They will still practice hard, look at game film, and listen to their coaches. In the end, they got their eyes on the prize: bringing home a BCS Championship Trophy back to South Bend, Indiana. Good luck and godspeed.
-Ryan L. Fox
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