Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly insisted that his team had no idea that just a little earlier last night Texas A&M just beat the number one team in the nation, Alabama 29-24. Whether or not they were really unaware we may never know, but the Irish’s performance against the Eagles in the Holy War XXII sure seemed like the team didn’t feel the need to give their all.
Don’t misunderstand me, a win is a win. This late in the season, any time you stand at 10-0 and a likely #3 ranking in the BCS, it’s a good win. But the Irish looked uninspired in downing Boston College 21-6. The defense in particular looked sluggish – again – in a game they should have been more dominant in. Don’t let the final score deceive you; the Eagles were able to move the ball more on the vaunted Irish D than they should have been able to, converting tough first downs and fooling the coaching staff with roll out screen passes. Luckily they maintained the break-don’t-bend philosophy yet again, and only gave up the 6 points.
The offense looked good in the first half. Quarterback Everett Golson completed 66.7% of his passes for 200 yards, two touchdowns, with another one the ground. It was especially gratifying to see Golson get the ball the senior tight end Tyler Eifert this game more than he has all season, grabbing 6 passes for 67 yards. Theo Riddick was the team’s leading rusher with 104 yards, but had two drive killing fumbles in the game. And the unit as a whole was able to convert 11 of 14 first down attempts.
But now is the time to go full throttle. You cannot win games to teams .500 or worse this late in the season in the championship hunt and look just above average. As much as I hate to say it, the Irish need to go full-out Oregon on the remaining two games blowing out Wake Forest and USC (at USC) to have a chance at leap-frogging the Ducks or Kansas State, who figure to be the nos. 1 and 2 after the BCS standings are released tonight. And quite honestly that doesn’t look it’s going to happen at this point. And if they have another so-so performance against a 5-5 Demon Deacon team, don’t be shocked if an SEC team – Georgia, Alabama (depending on where they drop to this week) or even LSU moves ahead of them in the BCS.
The only other slim hope (assuming the Irish still win their last two games) is if either of the two teams ahead of them stumbles. But there’s a reason I said “slim.” KSU’s remaining games are 4-5 Baylor, and then Texas who is ranked but has been a disappointment all season. Oregon’s schedule appears a tad bit tougher, but with the number of points Chip Kelly’s team is throwing up on the scoreboard, #14 Stanford (who the Irish beat earleir this year in an overtime thriller) and #11 Oregon State (who just lost to Stanford last night) may not be much of a fight after all.
If the right chips fall, and Notre Dame gets just a little bit more of the “luck ‘o the Irish” a Championship Game is possible.
It’s just not likely.
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