The early evening brought plenty of good news for Notre Dame, with top-ranked Alabama faltering and falling to Texas A&M. But how would the Irish respond to a chance at further solidifying a top-three spot in the Bowl Championship Series title chase?
With a solid performance that left no doubt about one thing at least – Boston College
is no match for the Irish on the football field. Notre Dame
21, Eagles 6. The hosts didn't embarrass themselves, but didn't pose much of a threat.
Will we look back at Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, as a decisive day on the road to a national championship?
If so, it will have as much to do with the Alabama loss, perhaps, than the Notre Dame victory.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was asked before the game for his reaction to Alabama's defeat.
"Winning's hard," he replied. "College football is difficult, every week."
Kelly and Notre Dame know that well. They needed a measure of luck as well as grit in a come-from-behind home victory over Pittsburgh last week.
Kelly knows that for his team to be one of two left standing when the national championship matchup is decided, his team needs to run the table. He and the Irish will also require a necessary bit of good fortune.
Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame are the three undefeated contenders (as of this writing, Oregon led Cal 14-10 in the first half). Notre Dame has as good a case as any to be in the running for the final prize.
The Irish need to beat Wake Forest and go on the road to overcome USC, in what will be the biggest game for the program in many, many years.
They will suit up with a dual-threat quarterback under center, the likes of which Irish fans haven't seen in some time – for their team, anyway. Everett Golson
continues to grow into the role. He has overcome injury, turnovers, and a former starter looming over his shoulder.
"I think he's battled through some tough times," Kelly said of Golson during warmups. "We expect to see that tonight."
Golson scored the first touchdown on a 2-yard quarterback keeper. He found tight end Troy Nicklas for a 7-yard scoring pass to tally the second touchdown. For the third, he rolled right and threw back left, hitting John Goodman for an 18-yard touchdown.
That I have yet to specifically mention the defense and running game is a credit to those aspects of the 2012 Notre Dame football team – the defense and running game are so good that we almost start to take them for granted.
The passing game is enough of a threat, both to pop a big play and in the intermediate game, most often to Tyler Eifert
, that defenses can't absolutely key on the running game. That makes the ground attack all the more effective.
And what can be said about the defense that has not already been said? As impressive as the individual standouts are (six interceptions and counting for Manti Te'o), what makes this defense as good as it is has turned out to be the sheer depth, the number of players who range from good to excellent. They make plays, linemen, linebackers and secondary alike.
Boston College is not a good team, dropping to 2-8 and going nowhere. But credit the Irish for taking care of business in a way they did not last week.
"They hung in there, kept them off the board in terms of touchdowns," Kelly said after the win. "Our offense did enough to get by."
Ten wins, no losses, two more tests, two more teams stand between them and a date with destiny, or history if you prefer.
This team has been built from the ground up, with focus on the lines and depth. In Kelly's year three, this team has arrived. Its destination? We'll soon find out.