Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly gets his revenge in win over South Florida

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Much was made of what happened the last time Notre Dame football met with South Florida on the football field. The Irish got their revenge Saturday.

Coming out of the half, while leading 35-0, Brian Kelly openly said that he wanted the Notre Dame football team to shut out USF. That’s not coach speak. That’s not sportsmanlike. You don’t announce that you want to humiliate your opponent. You may feel that you want to dominate the opponent, and obviously if you could shutout every opponent you play, you would, but coaches don’t breathe that where media can hear it.

That should tell you just how much Kelly wanted to dominate USF, nine years after what many consider to be the worst loss in the Brian Kelly era.

In 2011, amid lightning delays, USF beat Notre Dame by a score of 23-20. Notre Dame was ranked, it was the season opener, and it took the air out of the 2011 season. It took the air out, not just because Notre Dame lost a game they really shouldn’t have, but because of how they lost that game.

Besides the lightning delays making the game last about six hours, the entire game was a disaster, so ridiculous that you couldn’t even be upset about the loss. You just had to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

On the opening drive, Notre Dame drove down the field, only to have Jonas Gray fumble on the goal line, which allowed USF to scoop the ball up and return it for a touchdown. Not ideal. Neither were the other 4 additional turnovers, which negated the fact that Notre Dame doubled up the Bulls on yards gained. Some of those turnovers were truly ridiculous, too, such as the Tommy Rees  — who replaced Dayne Crist at quarterback after halftime — interception that bounced off TJ Jones’ head.

It was completely ridiculous, including the bright red face of Brian Kelly, as he screamed at his players, which to this day has affected his reputation as a coach who can’t keep his temper under control.

With all of that in the back of his mind, it must have felt good for Kelly to beat USF into the ground. In fact, 52-0 is the worst loss in USF’s program history. Notre Dame came out and beat the ball down their throats, and didn’t let up all game. Even into the 3rd quarter, Ian Book and the offense stayed on the field, throwing downfield, not letting off the gas.

Brian Kelly got his shutout, and may have been able to excise a number of demons in the process. It’s weird to think of a game that occurred nearly a decade ago as one that required vengeance, but that’s what it felt like going into Saturday’s game. Now, Notre Dame can take them off the list of teams that they’ve never beaten.