Winning in November
It’s pretty simple: the good teams win games in November. It is the final stretch of the season where teams in contention for the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six Bowl Games start looking ahead and historically trip up. Winning games in college football is hard, especially winning every game you play. Just ask 126 out of the 130 teams in the FBS who have lost a game this year.
Winning is even harder late in the season when you have a target on your back. You are everyone’s circled game — their Super Bowl. Teams are going to give you their best shot every week, trying to be the ones to derail your season. I made the same point last week with the Irish playing their first game after being ranked in the top-4 of the CFP rankings. It brought about new expectations for them as a legitimate National Championship contender and just brightened their spotlight.
Under Brian Kelly, the Irish are 19-13 in the month of November. Last year, the Irish suffered a late season collapse during this month, falling to Miami and Stanford to ruin their postseason hopes. If this team is truly a legitimate playoff team, they will find ways to win late in the season. The focus and intensity has to match that from Week One. The teams that are able to do this are the ones who have late-season success because of how hard it is to match that intensity in Weeks 10 or 11.
This weekend, with the Irish back at home on Senior Day, against a struggling opponent, I would expect that type of energy to be present throughout the game. As I’ve said before, this is the most important game of the season because it is the next game. Look for an energized performance by the Irish this week and another statement made in the month of November.