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College Football Recap Week 13 (or Notre Dame Edition)
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has taken the Fighting Irish to the National Championship game. In just his third year at the school, Kelly has turned the program around and changed the fortunes of the most recognizable college football institution in the country. The Irish were not expected to be in this situation at the season’s outset, but coach Kelly remade this team. The Irish became a physical team relying on the run game and defense. This was not Kelly’s M.O. coming to Notre Dame. He was known as an offensive guy who utilized the spread offense to out score his opponents. This season however he was smart enough to play to his team’s strengths and now they have earned the opportunity of playing for ND’s first national championship since 1988.
The Notre Dame defense has been one of the most surprising things in all of college football this season. The Irish defense has finished their regular season second nationally in points against average (10.3 ppg). ND has played this season in an old fashioned style depending heavily on the defense. Manti Te’o and the boys did not disappoint. The most points they allowed in a game was a 26 point effort by Pittsburgh in triple overtime. The play by the defense was without a doubt keyed by their leader Te’o. Te’o leads the team with 103 tackles and seven interceptions. He also has 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and two fumbles recovered. Without a doubt Te’o will be in New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony and his defense will be showcased in the title game.
Notre Dame coaches have had a great history of championship third seasons under the golden dome. Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine, and Lou Holtz all won national titles in their third season guiding the Irish. Brian Kelly looks to join the pantheon of legendary ND coaches this year. Kelly has the Irish on the precipice of hoisting that crystal football. They are the only undefeated team in the FBS ranks and are awaiting to find out who their final opponent will be. Kelly has turned Notre Dame back into the winning program many have hoped for. They have the chance now to put his name down with the rest of the legends in South Bend including Mr. Rockne himself.
Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida is the location the Irish will take the field against the SEC Champion with the national championship on the line. Notre Dame has played in some big games but without a doubt this will be the biggest contest since 1993. Notre Dame will look to do what they did following the 1989 Fiesta Bowl and that is rush the field to celebrate an undefeated season and national championship.
Other Notes from the Final Week
The Ball State Cardinals won their sixth straight game to finish the season 9-3. BSU took down Miami (OH) on Friday 31-24. Pete Lembo has completely turned this program around and back to where it was a few years ago under coach Brady Hoke. Lembo’s Cardinals finished second in the MAC West and third overall in the conference. Now Ball St. will wait to see what bowl game they will get invited to and who their opponent will be.
Purdue beat Indiana for the second straight season. With their third straight victory, the Boilers became bowl eligible. They finish the regular season 6-6. Although Purdue beat IU again and will be going bowling, that was not enough for coach Danny Hope to stay on board. Purdue Athletic Director Morgan Burke announced this afternoon that coach Hope will not be returning and will not coach the bowl game.
The Marian University Knights have advanced to their second consecutive NAIA Football Championship Series semifinal. Marian beat fellow in-state NAIA power St. Francis 45-34. The Knights lost last season in the semifinal round to St. Xavier. Next Saturday Marian will travel to #2 rated Missouri Valley College with a trip to Rome, GA and the NAIA title game on the line.