Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2016

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

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Page 127 of 127

THE FIFTH QUARTER LOU SOMOGYI and 2‑2 versus Stanford since 2012) doesn't mean you are a "program" yourself. That would be like North‑ western claiming it is Notre Dame's equal after vanquishing it in 2014. Even Auburn — which won the na‑ tional title in 2010 and was the runner‑ up in 2013 — has been too volatile to be a "program." Other schools such as Notre Dame, Michigan, USC, Ole Miss (if probation isn't coming) and Georgia are on the cusp, but just have too many four‑ and five‑loss seasons mixed in as well. There are two primary ways to avoid such finishes. The first is to win the games you are "supposed to," or those in the 75th percentile. That was the prime issue with Kelly's teams from 2010‑14, nota‑ bly the setbacks to Navy and Tulsa in 2010, to South Florida at home in 2011, at Pitt in 2013, and Northwestern and Louisville at home in 2014. In 2012 and 2015, Notre Dame avoided such upsets, especially with 11th‑hour wins versus Virginia and Temple. Last year in the preseason, we noted the only foes that could match the Irish in talent were Clemson, Stan‑ ford and USC. All came down to the final series, with the Irish finishing 1‑2. The second is to hold serve on your home field. Kelly's troops have been achieving that, finishing unbeaten at home in both 2012 and 2015. In the 22 seasons from 1990‑2011, it happened only once (1998), believe it or not. There are five "no way Notre Dame should lose" contests in 2016: Army, Nevada, Navy, Duke and Syracuse. There are four "upset specials," or 2016 versions of Virginia and Temple in 2015: Texas and North Carolina State on the road, and Miami and Vir‑ ginia Tech at home. Expect an atmosphere such as the one at Virginia last year at both Texas and NC State. Yes, the Longhorns are young in a lot of areas, probably a year away, and are 11‑14 under Charlie Strong, but the last we checked they recruit a lot better than Virginia. Just ask 2015 College Football Play‑ off participant Oklahoma, which lost to Texas the week after TCU crushed the Longhorns 50‑7. Beware the wounded animal, especially in its home den. Stanford and Michigan State have become programs since 2010 — but Notre Dame has taken care of busi‑ ness at home against both (2‑0 apiece versus both in South Bend since 2011). And, of course, I refer to the Los Angeles Coliseum as the Notre Dame football version of The Wailing Wall, and always consider the Irish the un‑ derdog there, even with Kelly's 2‑1 record in the venue. Anything less than 10 wins the rest of Kelly's tenure (especially because of 13‑game campaigns with the bowl) will be considered a letdown. That too should be a compliment, because as of 2010, 10 victories were like a Holy Grail. ✦ Senior Editor Lou Somogyi has been at Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 1985. He can be reached at

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