Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2021

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

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48 AUGUST 2021 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TODD D. BURLAGE W hen COVID-19 shut down all college and professional sports in March 2020, the question of whether Notre Dame athletics would resume in the fall of 2020 — most notably football — became a worry on every Irish fan's mind, especially after a CO- VID-19 outbreak in August moved in-person classes online and essen- tially shut down all campus activities until Sept. 2. Students were restricted from leav- ing campus and gatherings of more than 10 were prohibited. Athletic schedules were abbreviated and of- ten regionalized to protect against excessive travel, and many games, matches and events were canceled because of positive COVID-19 tests. The events that did take place were often played in empty or sparsely filled stadiums and arenas. Notre Dame Sta- dium allowed faculty, students and some staff into football games later in the season, but even so those contests and everything about the 2020-21 ath- letics season had a strange feel. The Irish hockey team qualified for its fifth straight NCAA Tourna- ment but couldn't play in it because of positive COVID-19 tests. Sports including cross country, soc- cer and volleyball had their seasons start in the fall but not finish until the spring, while other programs had their entire season moved from the fall to the spring. All Irish student-athletes were tested almost every day and faced strict protection protocols — some- times even practicing and playing while wearing face masks — as the nation anxiously waited for the CO- VID chaos to subside. Highlighted by an 11th national championship in fencing, a second College Football Playoff berth in the last three seasons, a run to the Su- per Regionals in baseball, a national runner-up finish in men's cross coun- try, and the first NCAA bid for Irish men's golf since 2012, somehow the 2020-21 athletic season held together and held together very well. Playing half of its season in the fall and the other half in the spring, Notre Dame volleyball finished 15-4 overall and 13-3 in the ACC to finish second in the league — its best ever conference Playing in empty stadiums, Notre Dame athletes still provided great results and a slow return to normality after the 2020 pandemic shutdown 2020-21 DIRECTORS' CUP FINAL STANDINGS Rk. School Points 1. Texas 1,252.00 2. Stanford 1,195.75 3. Michigan 1,126.50 4. North Carolina* 1,126.25 5. Florida 1,121.75 6. USC 1,052.00 7. Alabama 1,017.25 8. Arkansas 988.75 9. Ohio State 972.50 10. Georgia 971.50 11. Virginia* 970.25 12. Kentucky 960.25 13. UCLA 933.25 14. Notre Dame* 900.00 15. LSU 895.00 16. Florida State* 893.00 21. Duke* 831.50 23. NC State* 783.25 32. Virginia Tech* 631.25 36. Clemson* 554.75 40. Louisville* 532.75 44. Georgia Tech* 487.00 54. Wake Forest* 394.75 62. Miami (Fla.)* 358.50 64. Syracuse* 328.00 73. Pittsburgh* 279.00 74. Boston College* 277.00 * ACC schools 2020-21 IN REVIEW 2020-21 IN REVIEW Senior quarterback Ian Book led Notre Dame to an epic 47-40 upset of No. 1 Clemson in double overtime last November in South Bend. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS

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