2013 Notre Dame Football
As a combat veteran, for me one of the most gratifying parts of Notre Dame’s schedule is their annual games against the services academies. Of course they will never receive the hype of a Michigan or USC game, but the tradition of these institutions and the character of their cadets provide an example for student-athletes across college football. They sacrifice four years of their young adulthood to train for a life of service, discipline and dedication. By adding these institutions to their schedule, Notre Dame acknowledges their importance, not just to college football, but to the nation. In 2013’s installment, Notre Dame faces the Air Force Falcons at their scenic home in Colorado Springs.
The Falcons are coached by former player and Academy alumnus, Troy Calhoun. After taking over in 2007 from legendary Falcons’ coach, Fisher DeBerry, Calhoun posted two 9 win seasons and four bowl appearances. Since then the Falcons have regressed posting a 7-6 record and 6-7 record in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and halfway through the 2013 season are an abysmal 1-6. After beating Colgate (an FCS team) in their opener, the Falcons have dropped six straight contests and have yet to play a ranked team. Air Force’s closest contest came against Nevada who won in a shootout 45-42.
Even with Air Force’s struggles, Brian Kelly knows that what the service academy teams lack in size they more than compensate with discipline, execution and tenacity. After an emotional win against rival USC, the Irish coaching staff needs to recalibrate their team mentally and physically and prepare them for the unique triple option attack of Air Force.