Originally posted on College Spun  |  Last updated 5/29/13
Being able to attend the University of Notre Dame was a special, special thing. As a recent 2013 graduate, it’s just about time that I get all nostalgic and recap some of the fantastic sports moments that I was fortunate enough to be able to witness in my short time at Notre Dame. Here are my own personal top five, though I can’t begin to explain how difficult it was to pare it it down to just five: 5. Notre Dame beats Washington 37-30, in OT, after a double goal-line stand — October 3rd, 2009 Taking myself back to freshman year here, and the Charlie Weis era at that (for the record, I still really like Charlie. It didn’t work out at Notre Dame obviously, but still pulling for that guy). Notre Dame had enjoyed a 3-1 start, and was facing a tough Washington team that was led by Jake Locker and had already beaten 3rd-ranked USC earlier in the season. This game was a back-and-forth affair where Jimmy Clausen, in his final year with the Fighting Irish, threw for 422 yards. But as good as the offense was, it was the defense that stole the show, particularly on the goal-line. The Irish had two goal-line stands in the second half, including an unfathomable eight-play double goal-line stand (on the first 4th-and-goal, defensive tackle Ian Williams was flagged for roughing the snapper — a penalty most fans didn’t realize existed on normal, non-special teams plays until that moment — it gave the Huskies a fresh set of downs on the 1). In the pouring rain and 40 degree weather (classic South Bend), the Irish outlasted the Huskies to move to 4-1 on the season, before it all went downhill. 4. No. 7 Notre Dame blows out No. 19 Villanova on Senior Night in Purcell Pavilion — February 28th, 2011 Of all of the highlight videos I watch over and over again, this one makes me geek out the most (I’m a basketball guy, I can’t help it). It was Senior Night in South Bend for an unbelievable group of players, and it was a huge matchup with a ranked Nova team with Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher. But this game was never a competition. Notre Dame hit a school record 20 three-pointers, while Tim Abromaitis and Ben Hansbrough both went for 30 points apiece. But the absolute highlight of the game was when Tom Kopko, the last man on the bench for his entire career, was put in the game in the final minute, after the Leprechaun Legion had been chanting for him for what seemed like hours. Kopko managed to get the ball off of a rebound and absolutely streaked up the floor — he wanted a bucket to finish his career. He drove hard to the lane, got bumped, and then his contested floater fell through the net. The building erupted. 3. Notre Dame upsets No. 1 Syracuse, students storm the floor — January 21st, 2012 Going into this game, not many people gave the Irish a chance, including most of the student body (for the record, I ALWAYS expect us to win in Purcell Pavilion — it’s a magical place). Who could blame them? Notre Dame was 11-8 on the season, had lost captain and leading scorer Tim Abromaitis for the year to injury, and were going up against top-ranked and 20-0 Syracuse, who, by the way, had come in and won at Notre Dame in its last trip to Purcell. Well, the Irish controlled this game from the tip, handed the Orange its only loss of the regular season, and the game served as the starting point for a nine-game Big East win streak that propelled the Irish back into the tournament. The court storming after beating Syracuse got me into Sports Illustrated 2. The No. 7 Irish defeat No. 17 Stanford in OT en route to the National Championship — October 13th, 2012 Notre Dame was 5-0, ranked 7th in the country, and optimism was really starting to permeate the campus. But the Irish had not been truly tested yet (although the MIchigan State win still looked big at the time) and had a stiff matchup ahead versus Stanford, a BCS-winner from the year before. The Irish offense struggled for most of the game, and Notre Dame had only scored three points heading into the 4th quarter. After starting quarterback Everett Golson had to leave the game with an injury, Tommy Rees entered the game, driving the Irish down for a game-tying field goal. He then threw the game-winning touchdown to TJ Jones in overtime, before the defense stepped up for a miraculous goal-line stand that actually caused one of my roommates to pass out in disbelief in the stands. He was pretty excited when he woke up though. 1. No. 25 Notre Dame beats No. 11 Louisville (eventual national champions) 104-101 in 5OT thriller — February 9th, 2013 How could this not be the most exciting sporting event in my career at Notre Dame? The recent history between Notre Dame and Louisville has been insane, with eight of the past 13 matchups going into at least one overtime, so we were set up for a crazy game. Fellow CS writer Casey Murdock had already hit a half-court shot on College Gameday to win $18,000, so the buzz was at an unbelievable level before tip. The Irish took a three point lead into half, and looked to be in pretty good shape, but went on a crazy ten-minute field goal drought, leaving them trailing by seven with just over a minute to play. Then the unthinkable happened — Jerian Grant had one of the most impressive 23 seconds I’ve ever seen in basketball, when he scored 12 points in that same short span. Yeah, 12 points in 23 seconds, enabling Notre Dame to take Louisville into overtime. Then the game turned into an absolute slugfest, in which the Irish ended up winning the longest regular season Big East game ever played, in the fifth overtime period. And yes, of course, another court storming ensued. Did I skip something spectacular, or did you have different moment that was extra special? I’d love to hear it in the comments below — Go Irish!
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