Each week the pressure builds for Notre Dame. It reached its most palpable level to date at 7:05 of the 4th Quarter on Saturday Night in Evanston. Following a blocked punt by Northwestern which brought back shades of last year’s November meltdown, the Wildcats trailed just 24-21. A game that was seemingly over just minutes ago was now very much alive.
Should Notre Dame make the College Football Playoff and beyond what followed will perhaps go down in Notre Dame folklore as “The Drive”. Ten plays, 89 yards, roughly five minutes of clock, and the Wildcats erased. The final dagger a beautiful play fake that culminated in a 23-yard touchdown run by Irish quarterback Ian Book. Great teams are not always great, they have blemishes. However, great teams are great when they have to be. In my mind, the Irish took a gigantic step towards being a great team on Saturday Night.
In the aftermath of a great win, twitter was ablaze with thoughts of Michigan. Irish fans speculating about whether the Irish would move up to #3 in the College Football Playoff rankings, or whether Michigan would leap-frog the Irish. My answer at this point is who cares! I don’t care about Michigan, Alabama, or Clemson. My only concern is Florida State. Senior day games are tricky. The emotion of your last game, the mounting pressure of an undefeated season, the effects of the travel could all be potholes along the route to the post-season. The last thing the Irish need is another distraction.
My answer to fans is to enjoy the ride, pack the Maalox, and ignore the suits. Since 1988, Notre Dame has been in true National Championship contention at this point in the season a handful of times. (89, 90, 91, 93, 12?) These years are could be debated and perhaps others could be included. My point, is to enjoy this! Unless you were alive for Ara or the early Holtz era we are in kind of rare air here. My intention is to enjoy the last three games and ignore polls and the “double secret committee” that picks the playoff teams. If the Irish keep winning polls and suits will not matter!