Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 24, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 53 of 55

54 SEPT. 17, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED T here is not a more enjoy- able and refreshing inter- view on the 2018 Notre Dame team than junior cor- nerback and All-America can- didate Julian Love. Typically upbeat, intro- spective and congenial with- out the Pollyanna, Love was transparent as ever during the week following Notre Dame's hard-fought 24-16 victory over 34.5-point underdog Ball State. "Let's be honest — we over- looked Ball State and what they could do," Love said. "They're a solid team that played with great fight. I was frustrated with our approach, more than anything." Nevertheless, Love also took some solace and more wisdom from the outcome. "I thought we handled ad- versity when we realized we were in a battle," he said. "Our entire defense stepped up, and we played pretty well. It was more so the ap- proach of our team that got me frus- trated a little. "In college football, when you don't prepare to your full capabili- ties and still come out with a win, it's always a good day. I had to calm myself down and realize that. My family, my girlfriend helped me real- ize that we won the game." Naturally, the familiar quotes about "a good learning experience for life," or "not taking anything for granted" or "getting a wake-up call" were replete amongst Notre Dame players and head coach Brian Kelly afterwards — just as they have been in every locker room through the de- cades, or even century. The reality is no matter how many times one talks about learning their lessons on overlooking or taking an opponent lightly, it is a part of human nature to have letdowns along the way. In college football especially, what is vital is "timing" those letdowns correctly (more on that later). I often like to tell people that per- haps the three most emotion-laden or stunning victories in Notre Dame football annals were the 1928 "One For The Gipper" victory over un- beaten superpower Army, the as- tounding comeback at unbeaten Ohio State in 1935 that in 1969 was voted the greatest college game in the first 100 years of football (1869-1969), and the stunning upset at Oklahoma in 1957 that ended the Sooners' NCAA- record 47-game winning streak (which included a 40-0 win at Notre Dame the year prior). In Notre Dame lore, though, those epic moments will gloss over "the rest of the story." The week after winning one for the Gipper … Notre Dame was whipped at home by Carnegie Tech (27-7). The week after the dramatic 1935 rally at Ohio State that put the Irish in the driver 's seat for the national title … it lost at home (14-7) to a Northwestern team that entered with a sub-.500 record and had lost to Ohio State, 28-7. The week after the colossal upset of Oklahoma in 1957, Notre Dame fell at home to a good Iowa team (21-13). It's not a modern or "Generation X" mindset to have letdowns. It is perpetual through all eras. I first experienced and understood it as a 10-year-old in 1972 when Ara Parseghian's No. 8-ranked and un- beaten Irish were nearly five-touch- down favorites at home against a Missouri team that not only finished 1-9 the year prior but the week before the game at Notre Dame lost 62-0 at Nebraska. The Tigers then stunned the Irish, 30-26. A couple of years later against the reigning national champion Notre Dame team in Parseghian's last year, four-touchdown underdog Purdue took a 24-0 first- quarter lead at Notre Dame en route to a 31-20 win. One can always talk about "learning" from the Missouri game two years earlier, but we are human and mortal. The future generation would witness in 1993 a 10-0, No. 1 Notre Dame team, the week after defeating No. 1 FSU, losing at home to a Bos- ton College unit it had oblit- erated 54-7 the year prior. (By the way, BC would lose the fol- lowing week as well after the Notre Dame upset.) Although Lou Holtz (1986-96) was/ is renowned as a motivator supreme, he acknowledged in a one-on-one in- terview his first year that in the course of a football season a team will be at an emotional peak/fervor in maybe three games — and for each such high a low would also follow at some point. Pivotal was those ebb tide mo- ments occurring at the right time. For example, the 1988 national champs had emotional peaks spread out in game one (Michigan), game six (Miami) and game 11 (at USC) against top tier foes, and the lows came against a reeling Michigan State unit that started 0-4-1, 6-5 Pitt and a Navy team — a 22-7 victory, with quarterback Tony Rice temporarily getting benched — that finished 0-8 against Football Bowl Subdivision competition. Wake-up calls in athletics and throughout life generally remain, no matter how often we are reminded of painful lessons from the past. ✦ Letdowns Remain Eternal, Despite 'Learning' THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI Senior Editor Lou Somogyi has been at Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 1985. He can be reached at Junior cornerback Julian Love eventually enjoyed the hard-fought 24-16 victory over five-touchdown underdog Ball State. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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