One win stands between Notre Dame football and a berth in the College Football Playoff. Notre Dame’s rise has been nothing short of remarkable.
Throughout Brian Kelly’s tenure as the coach of the Notre Dame football team, the Irish have regularly fallen short of the College Football Playoff. This season, but one game remains between Notre Dame and their ultimate goal of competing in the playoff for the first time since its inception.
Regardless of the outcome Saturday night in Los Angeles, Notre Dame fans have witnessed a dramatic–and perhaps, improbable–escalation for the Notre Dame football team.
Since Notre Dame went 12-0 to start the 2012 season, eventually to lose to Alabama in the National Championship, the Irish have failed to lose fewer than 3 games in any succeeding season. The Irish were, as many put it, mediocre. Many called for Kelly’s job.
Those calls got louder after Notre Dame put together a 4-8 campaign in 2016.
The last time Notre Dame traveled to The Coliseum, it was without much purpose. The Irish, already eliminated from bowl contention, were playing merely for pride. Eventually, they would lose to the Trojans 45-27, but the game wasn’t even that close.
When the Irish take the field on Saturday, it will have been just less than two calendar years removed from the dismal end to a lost season. This time, the tables have turned.
After the Irish returned to South Bend in November 2016, it would have been hard to imagine that two years later, they’d be back in the same place, this time looking for a berth in the College Football Playoff. And whatever word you’d use to describe Notre Dame’s rise from rock-bottom to playoff contender, I’ll leave you with the adjective I feel best surmises Notre Dame’s dramatic ascension: Unbelievable.
Notre Dame’s ascension–starting with the drama of 2016, the re-invention of Brian Kelly as a coach, the re-tooling of the coaching staff, and everything in-between–is nothing short of remarkable. I might go as far as saying that the story is Hollywood-worthy.
Maybe Rudy will have some competition as the best Notre Dame football movie.