Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2014 Issue

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

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Page 33 of 107

Tale Of Two Seasons Pride and frustration meshed during Notre Dame's 8-4 campaign O By Lou Somogyi n the surface, it would seem one of the more contradictory sentences ever penned in literature was the opening by Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … "Which one was it?" one might joke. All one has to do is review Notre Dame's 2013 regular season to understand how it can be both. It had its share of joy with numerous quality wins while overcoming numerous personnel setbacks. Yet the stellar performances only exacerbated the frustration of several defeats, leading to the inevitable "what might have been" second-guessing. At its best, Notre Dame was at a top-15 level, but often it was around top 25-40 while playing to the level of the opponent. The 8-4 regular season wasn't a failure, but it wasn't fulfilling either, particularly following a berth to the BCS National Championship Game the year prior. Here were five defining aspects of the 2013 regular season that epitomized the best of times and worst of times: Roller-Coaster Ride Only Auburn and Stanford defeated more teams (four) in the final Bowl Championship Series standings than Notre Dame, which tied Arizona State for third place with three victories. The Irish handed Big Ten champ Michigan State its lone defeat (17-13), held on versus favored and Pac-12 South Division champ Arizona State (37-34), and put forth a titanic secondhalf defensive show to repel archrival USC (14-10). The physical, defensive-minded home wins this year against Michigan State, USC and BYU (23-13) were vintage 2012. Conversely, the setbacks to Michigan (41-30), Oklahoma (35-21) and Pitt (28-21) were straight out of the roller-coaster 2010 and 2011 campaigns. An Arranged Coach/ QB Marriage At the end of last spring, Notre Dame was projected nationally as a 10-2 BCS team. After the academic exile of starting quarterback Everett Golson, though,

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