Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13
Let me just say this right now: Anyone who watched that game and still claims the Irish are lucky, or that Oklahoma was overrated, or that Notre Dame faces a cupcake schedule, or that we need to argue over Notre Dame's relevance, is a f*$&ing moron.
I would like to steal a phrase from my friend Nick, and say that anyone who is still concerned about the Irish "silencing the doubters" can KISS MY RELEVANT ASS.
Because seriously--SINCE WHEN DO THE DOUBTERS MATTER? The doubters are a bunch of whiny attention-hogging pissants so pleased by the sound of their own disdain they should be forced to spend ten years in purgatory feeding an endless bowl of Joe Montana's chicken soup to Rick Reilly on a fork.
The Irish are amazing. A-MAZ-ING. There was nothing that was not flabbergastingly awesome about that game.
It almost feels like I sat down and made a list of everything I hoped the Irish would do (or not do) in that game: Don't turn the ball over. Play smart. Minimize penalties. Stay on the ball. Force turnovers. Don't flinch. (Don't. F***ing. Flinch.) Play every down. Don't wait for them to come to you. Attack. Attack. Attack.
...and then the Irish took that list, wound it around their collective fist, and punched me in the face with it.
It was AWESOME.
So I'm sitting here in kind of a toothless daze
wondering if maybe my front teeth actually got knocked out in a bar fight and I've just passed out on the sidewalk for a moment with little tiny leprechauns jigging in circles around my head (like some acid-trippy version of 1988), or if I'm actually living in this surreal reality where the Irish are 8-0.
It's not that I'm a doubter. That is the opposite of true. It's just that we've been waiting and waiting (and waiting and waiting and waiting), gnashing our teeth and devoutly clinging to our rally beads and being crushed under the pain of loss--and suddenly, in the space of half a season, it's all morphed into leis and GameDay signs and HeisManti campaigns and national title talk that the ND Nation's half-scared to listen to, because WHAT IF JINX?! What if this?! What if that?!
WHAT IF NOTHING.
I am so over that.
Read my bold-faced font:
THE IRISH ARE NATIONAL TITLE CONTENDERS.
This is not a test or a publicity stunt or a SportsCenter gag. This is not Lou Holtz saying the same thing Lou Holtz says every season (i.e., "Notre Dame is for real!") Guys: THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
I don't care what anybody else says. I. Don't. Care. There are going to be plenty of heathens spewing hot shit all over the message boards and the Twittersphere (and wherever else it is on the internet these denizens of dodo-brains choose to congregate), and what they say does not matter one stinking bit.
You know why? Because the Irish don't care what the message boards say. The Irish don't care what the betting lines say, or what the pollsters say, or what the bloggers or sportswriters or media pundits or news anchors or Heisman voters or random hyperbolic fans have to say. You know how I know? Because THEY JUST WENT OUT ONTO THE FIELD IN NORMAN AND THEY PROVED IT.
We are the noise. And outside the roar of the faithful stadium crowd, the NOISE DOESN'T MATTER.
There are lots of all-caps moments in this rant, because that is how Freaking Sick I Am of having to listen to a bunch of media clowns air their opinions based on watching approximately thirty seconds of our games each week. But you know what? You can take any f*$&ing thirty seconds of this game you like, and you will see the Irish dominating the line of scrimmage on almost every down.
Best stats off the top of my head: Zero turnovers. One penalty for five yards. One forced turnover. Two sacks. 5.5 ypc. 13 points surrendered to an offense averaging over 40 points per game. Second home loss for the Sooners for the first time EVER in a single season under Bob Stoops.
Seriously, if Mark May says ND is overrated and facing a weak schedule one more time, I'm going to see to it that he's trapped inside a boxing ring with Mike Lee until he can work his issues out.
I mean, in a way I appreciate the dude's illogical consistency (in the same way I appreciate Lou's semi-delusional pro-ND predictions at the beginning of every season), but Come. On.
At this point in the season, you have got to give it up and admit that there's SOMETHING going on with the Irish. I mean, really, anyone who actually FOLLOWS the Irish (such as Brian Hamilton from the Chicago Tribune, or Keith Arnold for NBC Sports, or Tom Coyne for the Associated Press, or hell, even Kirk Herbstreit, who seems to think Everett Golson is "my man Ev" after this game), will tell you that this game was proof that the nay-sayers ain't got much to say nay about anymore.
Now: could the Irish beat Kansas State? Or Oregon? Or (holy shillelaghs) Alabama?
I HAVE NO IDEA BUT WHAT I'M SAYING IS I THINK WE MAY HAVE THE CHANCE TO FIND OUT.
So I gather there are still Stanford fans who are probably convinced that non-TD in overtime was actually a TD. (But too bad, because Wrong.) In the same vein, I'm sure there will be OU fans who are vexed with the holding call that brought back the TD before halftime.
But if you were watching the game on TV, it's definitely not the refs' fault that A) ABC didn't show the appropriate camera angles, or B) the mic in the stadium didn't work on that particular penalty. Also: C) even Brent Mushmouth said later that it was the totally correct call, and D) Oklahoma got a rushing TD later in the game, so you can just get over that.
Plus: E) even if Oklahoma had scored that first touchdown, Notre Dame still would have scored enough points to keep the game out of reach. Soooo that's that.
Look, I don't mean to be flippant about a tough game. I'm sure Oklahoma fans are feeling a little soul-crushed right now. They have a good team, they're used to having killer seasons, and they haven't had to cope with this many home losses since 1998. (Um...boo hoo?) Trust me, I know how it feels to feel like the officials may have screwed you out of a score. (ND Nation knows how this feels REALLY, REALLY WELL.)
But I will not concede that that holding wasn't holding, because it totally was. Nor will I accept any arguments that Golson's TD was not a TD. (I don't know who would argue this, anyway. It was an incredibly straightforward QB sneak and I still have no idea why the refs were so intent on reviewing it.) As for Manti's interception: the dude had possession before he hit the ground. They reviewed it for a good long time, and if you don't like it...well, as Coach Stoops said before halftime, "there's nothing you can do about the officials' calls." You've just gotta do what you can do to win the game.
And trust me: Notre Dame DID THAT.
It was impressive as hell, because Oklahoma is a very good team. They didn't get to where they are by being overrated. They got there by moving the ball extremely well; by having a beast of a backup quarterback; by stuffing our offense, forcing FG's, and pushing us into worse and worse field position as the game progressed. And if Notre Dame's offense had played against the Sooners the way they played against, say, Michigan, Oklahoma would have most likely won this game. Fortunately for us, ND's offense turned in their best performance all season, against the best opponent we've faced all season. And despite surrendering that rushing touchdown, I'd say our defense did the same.
Yes, I'm a bit sad that the "no rushing TD's allowed all season" stat is gone. But we still managed to hold our opponent to less than 17 points and 15 yards rushing. Plus we WON, so let's move on. Truly, this game wasn't won or lost by that rushing TD. This game was won by what happened on the line of scrimmage. At pretty much every point in this game, the Irish were in control. Oklahoma kept picking up first downs, often quickly--but they didn't often score. Our defense went bend-but-don't-break, and absolutely, they meant DON'T BREAK.
Guys. GUYS. GUYS.
We pretty much kicked ass.
Favorite Moments of the Game
1. Cierre Wood's breakout TD run during ND's first drive of the game for a 62-yd touchdown
2. Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick putting their hands in prayer position and bowing to each other afterward
3. Manti Te'o sacking the quarterback
4. Manti Te'o doing a flying midair tackle
5. Manti Te'o intercepting the ball
6. KeiVarae Russell having like three huge tackles in a row (and his celebrations thereafter)
7. Kyle Brindza making two 40+ yard field goals after totally shanking a 35-yarder
8. Chris Brown's jaw-dropping 50-yd reception, after which I couldn't help feeling as though ND was trying to say, "lol jk Oklahoma, we're going to play with our real offense now"
9. Basically all of Oklahoma's penalties
10. Pretty much any time Cam McDaniel had the ball
11. Theo Riddick getting that TD run after dropping what would have been a first-down catch
12. Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood putting their hands in prayer position and bowing to each other afterward (seriously, can anybody find a picture of this?!)
13. Danny Spooooooond
14. EVERETT GOLSON ALL NIGHT LONG (srsly Everett why are all your best games in hostile away environments? you should get that checked out man)
15. John Goodman's Twitter feed describing what all the players were doing on the bus ride to the airport after the game:
"@jgoodman81 What about Golson. I'm guessing he's doing some serious tunes. Plugged in.....” Ev is listening to Ricky Martin
"@jgoodman81what is @stadium20status doin?” Cierre is still arguing w the fan on the sideline behind our bench
"@jgoodman81 what is @MGolicJR57 doing?” Mike is currently eatin the leftovers that were in his beard from lunch.
"@jgoodman81 what's cam up to? Love that dude” Cam the Man is just smiling from ear to ear. #gameball
...is to be worried about next week. Let's celebrate for 24 solid hours, then keep our eyes on the prize for the Pitt game.
I'm sure Mark May's looking forward to that one.
Go Irish Beat Everyone