“You’re the only one who ever took me seriously, Pete” – Rudy
Notre Dame Football is iconic, one of the most storied and successful programs in college football history. But when the powerhouse was announced as the No. 3 team in the College Football Playoff, immediate doubt followed.
Whispers of how the undefeated Irish were not worthy of a playoff bid floated beneath the loud chatter of how they will be dismantled on the big stage once again.
The big stage this time has been considered a reflection of 2012. It’s the reflection of “Notre Dame’s back”, only to have those hopes squandered by this season’s potential rematch, Alabama.
We use a mirror to compare ourselves to the reflection we see. Every ounce of success that the Irish have received this season has been compared to 2012. It was the last undefeated season. There’s been a comparison of the defenses, the players and even the route taken.
But the truth is, 2012 isn’t a reflection, it’s a picture. We can use the picture to show similarities, but it’s not the reality that is this 2018 team.
The past can’t be a reflection, but it can be a motivator. From the guaranteed matchup to the potential ones, Notre Dame has every reason to fight for vengeance.
When it comes to the weather in South Bend, only two things are guaranteed; it will be outlined by a grey October sky and Lake Michigan will not provide a hurricane.
While the grey sky is iconic to Notre Dame, the latter is something the Irish are grateful for.
History has proven that hurricanes are the Notre Dame’s kryptonite.
On Oct 3rd, 2015, Hurricane Joaquin didn’t hold Notre Dame back. In fact, it looked like it would be a historic comeback for the Irish.
Notre Dame had four turnovers in the game, yet still had a chance to win. C.J. Sanders and C.J Prosise both uncharacteristically fumbled the ball during crucial times.
With 12 seconds left and a touchdown pass to Torii Hunter Jr., Notre Dame’s 19-point quarter was two short of what they needed. During the two-point conversion attempt, Kizer rolled right, but there was no route to the end zone.
Just two points separated Notre Dame and Clemson in their last matchup. Those two-points ended the Notre Dame’s undefeated season on a night where they repeatedly shot themselves in the foot.
Notre Dame versus Oklahoma has been a one-sided affair with the Irish leading the series 8-2.
Before 2013, the last time the Sooners were victorious over Notre Dame was 1956. When the schools announced that there would be a home-and-home series in 2012 and 2013, college football fans knew they were in for a good one.
The script switched for both games. In 2012, it was all Notre Dame playing a flawless game. With no turnovers and only five penalty yards, the Irish walked away with a 30-13 victory.
2013’s matchup was quite different.
Notre Dame opened the game with two interceptions in their first four snaps. Oklahoma quickly went up 14-0 as Blake Bell and the rest of the Sooners played a near-flawless game. Their offense rolled thanks to Bell’s 22-30 for 232-yard day and 25 first downs.
Tommy Rees would go on to throw one more interception while completing only nine of his 24 passing attempts. Once again, a bad taste has been left in the mouth of Notre Dame Football as they fell 35-21.
The bad taste in your mouth from the other two opponents doesn’t even compare to the gut check Irish fans feel when Alabama is mentioned.
2012 was a year of pride, an undefeated season, and a return to the spotlight for Notre Dame football. It’s a beautiful thing to remember, but a painful one while reflecting on Alabama’s 42-14 thrashing in the BCS National Championship game.
Alabama’s chants of “SEC, SEC, SEC” still ring in Irish ears.
Notre Dame came into the game ranked No. 1, but Alabama arguably was one of the most complete teams we’ve seen in recent history.
A young Everett Golson and Heisman finalist Manti Te’o never really stood a chance. The Irish rushing game never left South Bend and the famed defense wasn’t prepared.
While the endnote of the 2012 season is one to forget, most people forget how the Irish got there. Starting the season unranked, traveling to Ireland, having to find ways to win during adversity; Notre Dame had to do what no one thought they could.
This time the Irish have faced much of the same from a difficult travel schedule to changing quarterbacks and playing the beginning of the season without their running back. But this is a much more complete Notre Dame team from top to bottom compared to the 2012 season.
Still, no one thinks the Irish stand a chance. From a ridiculous line versus Clemson to cries that the Irish shouldn’t even be in the Playoff. It’s practically being predicted that this will be a repeat of 2012 once again.
Every stop along the way has been a comparison of 2012 and has been full of doubt. Now more than ever, the 2018 College Football Playoff provides an opportunity for vengeance for Notre Dame.