Notre Dame football improved to 9-0 the only way they knew how – through adversity.
As you watched Notre Dame football look to continue its winning ways against Northwestern — a team focused on making the Big Ten championship game — you would have had a hard time staying relaxed.
The Irish gave reasons to believe that they might drop this game and the Wildcats just didn’t look like they could find the edge to grab a lead.
The narratibe will be that Notre Dame made too many mistakes and that Northwestern couldn’t capitalize.
They are fair points, but this is a distorted view of the reality that Notre Dame did what we expected them to do. We expected the running game to struggle, and outside of that, it’s hard to say that Notre Dame didn’t dominate in other aspects of the game.
There were a few mistakes by the Irish that turned this game into a much closer score than it should have been. Ian Book’s fumble to start the game — as well as a missed field goal attempt by Justin Yoon – highlighted the first half woes.
Still, Notre Dame showed glimpses of domination. Every now and then we saw the type of Notre Dame team that should earn a trip to the College Football Playoff.
The peak of this was a play that resulted in the turning point. With a 14-7 lead, Notre Dame gained momentum by attacking through the air.
Just past midfield, Book went for it all as Michael Young beat his matchup and ran past the rest of the secondary to end up on the other side of the home run ball for a 47-yard touchdown.
Northwestern went on a run after that and made it a game once again, but it showed what the Irish could do and created the cushion needed to win this game.
Young had 60-yards on the day and added 52-yards on kick off returns. He wasn’t highly targeted, but Young made the play that he needed to get the Irish to 9-0.