I preface this by acknowledging the harsh truth that I am a 28 year old Notre Dame Football fan. Which means – I’ve experienced nothing but lofty expectations based on the premise of ancient success.
I didn’t experience the glory days of old – the “Four Horsemen”, gold ol’ Knute Rockne… not even Joe Montana! All I have gotten was mid-level bowl games (still lost) and a lot of great players. Recycled. Over and over again. Good football, but, none of that amounted to anything on the score column.
Sure, I’ve been blessed to witness a sneak peak of some NFL players like Harrison Smith, Zack Martin, Chase Claypool, Kyle Rudolph, the list goes on and on. That’s even without mentioning some incredible players at the college level – Brady Quinn, Jeff Smardzja, Jimmy Clausen – that list goes even further on. But how many national championships came throughout that span? 0.
The Fighting Irish suit up for another year with a top 10 rank and the reoccurring theme of “maybe this year will be the year”. Really? With a guy who did nothing last year running the helm at QB? On top of that, our best players (with exception to Michael Mayer) having left for the draft? With a first year head coach? I’m not so sure it is our year? Let’s think back to even our best season in recent years. That’s right – the year now stamped by Manti Te’o getting played a fool. What happened? Yeah. Trounced. So, I think it’s fair to assume the bar was set pretty low going in to Week 1 of 2022.
A Post-Game Musing
What we saw in Week 1 was more of the same – but, to be fair, it was better than expected; a glimpse of hope. While we didn’t come away with the upset, we did come away with something we haven’t been used to. Pride. The new-look Buckner, Freeman led squad put up a solid fight – which was as pleasant a loss as ever. We fought well in the trenches, our offense moved effectively – hell, we effectively stopped one of the nation’s best QB’s! We beat the spread – and that’s saying something; considering even I myself did not think we would.
As we look to the future, there’s certainly some areas of improvement – not to mention working our way back up the rankings. But, there was much more to like than vice versa. Compared to the gut-wrenching, can’t even watch any more losses – this was a welcomed surprise. Will we win the Championship this year? Probably not. But, a game like this does give us some hope for a quality year of football that should be fun to watch.