It’s hard to find the right words to write to make sense of the thrashing Notre Dame took at hands the Miami Hurricanes. In an attempt to capture the emotions of such a brutal loss one thing can be said: This was not the same Irish team we watched all season. The Irish came so close to prominence only to deliver what some would categorize as a cowardly performance. Here are my final thoughts:
- Notre Dame did exactly what they needed to do on their first drive. Brandon Wimbush delivered two crucial third-down throws on the drive that kept the chains moving. Then, he missed Equinameous St. Brown by inches on a play that would have been a touchdown. From there, not much went right for the Irish.
- Coming in to the game, the Irish had turned the ball over just 7 times. The Irish turned the ball over 3 times in the first half, which was Notre Dame’s undoing.
- This game showed how football truly is a game of inches. The Irish were inches away from a touchdown on their first drive. They were inches away from a catch and a first down that was Brandon Wimbush’s first interception.
- After the Hurricanes were able to capitalize on Notre Dame’s first turnover, the game was effectively over.
- The Irish showed a little bit of life when Ian Book came in to the game with the Irish trailing 20-0. Book completed a few passes and had the Irish in scoring position to end the first half, but threw a pick-six that sent the Irish into the locker room down 27-0.
- Much will be made about Brian Kelly’s decision to replace Wimbush with Ian Book. Really, this was the least of Notre Dame’s problems. Outside of the first drive, Wimbush couldn’t even hit the open receivers. It wasn’t an isolated problem. The decision made itself. Wimbush chose this game to play perhaps the worst game of his career.
- To Brandon’s credit, he didn’t quit. The Irish put an end to a potential shutout late in the third quarter. After a 12-yard touchdown pass to Alize Mack, Wimbush ran in a two-point conversion. Wimbush lowed his shoulder to get into the endzone and had a few words for the Miami defender in the process. Wimbush showed his competitiveness.
- Hiding since mid-September, the Brian Kelly critics are out in full force. I wrote about it before: Perception is reality. Right now, the perception is that the hype around the Irish was fraudulent, the same way it’s been fraudulent in the past. Another egg in a big game seems to be par for the course.
- Much of the criticism is warranted–after all, the Irish once again failed to beat a top-10 team on the road. Their last win came against the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman in 2012. That season, ironically, ended in a blowout loss to Alabama in the very same stadium the Irish played in Saturday.
- The Irish won’t be playing in the College Football Playoff in January. They will, however, be in contention for a New Year’s Six Bowl game. Even though the Irish are undoubtedly disappointed, the reality is that a berth (especially a win) in a New Year’s Six Bowl would have been considered a major success before the season started.