Meeting in the middle in Chicago, Notre Dame battled Wisconsin for the first time since 1964. The headlines leading up to this matchup circulated around the quarterback matchup. Senior Jack Coan, Notre Dame’s signal caller, just had transferred from Wisconsin where current freshman quarterback, Graham Mertz, had just nudged him out of the starting position. The drama surged with discussions of which quarterback would prove himself more worthy. In the end, inexperience would be the difference as Wisconsin literally threw the game away.Continue reading “Game 306: #18 Wisconsin vs. #12 Notre Dame”
The glint of the golden Irish helmets have not reflected off the light in Evanston since 1976. Notre Dame and Northwestern have met often in the past, but home games for the Wildcats were typically shifted to Soldier Field. The purple invaded South Bend four years ago and shocked the Irish in overtime. That same magical feeling was hovering over tailgates around Evanston and over Ryan Field as an undefeated Notre Dame team spilled out onto the Wildcats’ home field.
Describing college football is a challenging task without uttering Notre Dame in the same breath. No sports tour of any kind is complete without a stop in South Bend, Indiana. The gameday experience here is rich with eye-opening appeal. With the first step on these hallowed grounds, fans truly feel the history of former players, Heisman winners, and legendary coaches who made this game famous. Strolling around the campus prior to kickoff is where these traditions get pieced together – it’s college football’s theme park.
Northwestern did it before. 1995. The Irish opened the season ranked 9th and the Wildcats were supposed to be the welcome mat that Notre Dame trampled over to initiate a fresh new season. But, Northwestern knew that scripts can change. The Wildcats stunned the Golden Domers with a 17-15 victory that the Chicago Tribune dubbed “The Upset of the Century.” This win would propel the purple towards one of the must unexpected Cinderella stories culminating in their first Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl appearance since 1949.
The hallowed grounds of Notre Dame have become hollowed out by the weak and the mighty. Teams that are not traditional powers (Navy, Tulsa, etc.) have been undaunted by the mystique of Notre Dame Stadium. Coach Kelly is all about retrieving that mystique and making a win over the Irish in South Bend a rarity. In comes hobbling Utah (8-1) and reeling after a pounding from Texas Christian. Ranked fourteenth and seemingly overrated, this could be the Irish’s chance at toppling a ranked team for the first time in a long while.
The t-shirts worn by the Notre Dame student section this year read, “Notre Dame will rise again.” That’s a bold statement considering the tumultuous season the Irish experienced last year. However, a couple of early season wins this year, including one over rival Michigan, has allowed hope to trickle back into South Bend. Will the Boilermakers hammer a dent in the railroad that leads to Notre Dame’s anticipated ascension to greatness? The classic college football setting in South Bend coupled with a perfect autumn Saturday afternoon served as the backdrop for this exciting battle…
Army scored first and last, but Notre Dame walloped them in between. Led by Heisman hopeful, Brady Quinn, the Irish made senior day in South Bend a memorable experience for all who packed inside Notre Dame Stadium. The Black Knights had the intensity, but lacked the offense to keep up with the luck of the Irish. Notre Dame came pouring out of the famed tunnel in their rarely worn green jerseys. When the captains met at midfield, Brady Quinn received the largest ovation – one of many to come on this nippy November Saturday…
Fans that venture to South Bend, Indiana and only watch the game are not real college football fans. Notre Dame is the capital of college football tradition. Walking the campus and visiting the symbols that represent this program are practically part of the ticket price. Prior to the game, we viewed the Golden Dome, Touchdown Jesus, the Grotto, a band concert on campus, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. It was at this chapel where the team gathers for prayer before going to battle on the gridiron. Our timing was impeccable because the team exited the basilica as we arrived. Led by head coach Bob Davie, the Fighting Irish walked through a tunnel of fans on their way to Notre Dame Stadium.