We covered the heart-stoppers. The games against Stanford, BYU, Purdue and Pitt. The nail-biters that grayed a few hairs.
And while a few of those make for excellent football and great television, 12 of those can physically and mentally wear a team down. So Notre Dame spared itself and its fans by winning a few less dramatic games, as well.
|Week 1||Notre Dame 50, Navy 10|
|Week 3||Notre Dame 20, Michigan State 3|
|Week 5||Notre Dame 41, Miami 3|
|Week 10||Notre Dame 21, Boston College 6|
|Week 11||Notre Dame 38, Wake Forest 0|
|Week 12||Notre Dame 22, USC 13|
And, yes, while Notre Dame beat Oklahoma by a greater margin than they beat USC, Kyle Brindza’s leg kept the Trojans at bay for most of the game. The Irish didn’t lead the Sooners by double digits until Brindza’s field goal with 3:22 left to play.
Think about the weeks leading up to the Pitt game.
A dramatic goal line stand win in overtime against Stanford.
An ugly, gritty “trap game” win against BYU.
An emotional, underdog win on the road against Oklahoma.
Talk about draining. No wonder it took three overtimes to knock out the Panthers.
A week after surviving Pitt, Notre Dame traveled to Chestnut Hills, Mass., and won comfortably but unspectacularly against Boston College. The week after, the Irish blanked Wake Forest on Senior Day.
Earlier in the season, Notre Dame registered an emotional win on the road against then-No. 10 Michigan State and a vicious revenge win against rival Michigan at home. Then the Irish rested on a bye week and came back to demolish Miami 41-3 on Soldier Field.
When I ran cross-country in high school, my coach would say the rest days are sometimes as important as the hard days. The same can be said for Notre Dame (though I’m not suggesting the Irish ever truly “rested” this year).
While the close games are important for building a team’s mental toughness, the comfortable wins are important in recovering from those cliffhangers.
Previously on “12 Days of Notre Dame…”