By Steve Silverman
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There’s a little bit more to college football this year besides crowning a Southeastern Conference team like Alabama as champion.
You know the script. All the outside contenders fade away as the season progresses and Nick Saban leads his team into the void and becomes the national champion.
We’re not talking about the SEC advantage today or railing about the BCS.
We’re talking about the team that has breathed life into this scandal-ridden sport and taken sports fans minds off of all the evil and cheating incidents that have been the face of college football for years.
We’re talking about Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish went to Norman, Oklahoma Saturday night and laid a 30-13 beating on the Sooners that left no doubt as to the visitor’s strength.
It’s been 24 years since Notre Dame’s 1988 championship season, the last one that was won by this university the Fighting Irish.
That was a team with Lou Holtz at head coach and Tim Brown at wide receiver. They were a team that won games by big margins and regularly excited its fans.
They have been largely a disappointment since. Coaches like Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and the disastrous Charlie Weis have often left the Fighting Irish in the ditch, bowled over by the USCs, Michigan States and Boston Colleges of the world.
But not this year. Notre Dame is winning football games and doing it the old-fashioned way. They are beating opponents on both sides of the line of scrimmage. They are using a pounding defense to pummel opponents and relentless play by the offensive line to establish their identity.
Notre Dame is relevant again and there’s a very good chance that when the regular season is said and done, Notre Dame will be the No. 2 team in the nation and will have earned a spot in the national championship against Saban’s Alabama team.
Now that will be a game worth watching.
If you have any interest in college football at all, this story is a good one because a new script is being written. For years, it seems that it has been one southern powerhouse against another to win the national title.
The Big Ten has been out of the equation for years, the Pac-12 rises every so often and so does the Big 12, but for the most part college football has become a geographical nightmare for any non-SEC fan.
Head coach Brian Kelly is not a football genius, but he is coaching a very sound team. He has keyed his team around the play of linebacker Manti Te’o, quarterback Everett Golson and running back Cierre Woods.
The Irish play a physical game that football fans appreciate. They outhit you and pound you into submission.
Their heroes are tough guys. Teo is a linebacker who is the top-rated linebacker in the 2013 draft. At this point he is a top-15 pick and his status could help him rise much higher by the time April comes around. Teo had 11 tackles and a brilliant interception that keyed the win over Oklahoma.
Golson sees the field well and he knows when to run and when to put the ball in the air. He threw for 177 yards and ran for 64 yards and a touchdown against Oklahoma. He also did not turn the ball over.
Woods has an explosive quality to his game and he proved it against Oklahoma with an eye-opening 62-yard TD burst in the first quarter.
The subway alumni have had little to cheer about for a couple of decades. But this year, college football’s most illustrious team is writing a new chapter that the sport desperately needs.