Let’s take a look at one of the most compelling games of the year in this edition of Bond’s Brew.
This certainly wasn’t the season Brian Kelly envisioned. Then again, neither was 2016. A record of 4-8 is not the Notre Dame tradition. At least not for the most storied (some true, some not) program in college football history.
With a roster that underachieved last season but returned 15 starters and a challenging schedule, Kelly’s Heroes are 6-1 and considered over achievers.
Delivering a crushing 49-14 defeat to their cross country rivals USC, the Irish held the Trojans to a paltry 76 yards rushing. Notre Dame then piled on 377 yards using 8 different ball carriers. This team dares opponents to stop their ground attack. So far there have been no one that could meet that challenge. That may come to an end this weekend.
Coming into South Bend is an NC State squad that sports a matching 6-1 record but without the signature win to hang their helmet on. What is undisputed is a defensive front seven, ranked sixth in the nation in run defense is about to challenge the Irish. The Wolfpack are yielding just 91.3 yards per game to their opponents. Those are impressive numbers in a sport where offense rules.
As I said in the beginning, this is the most compelling game of the year in my opinion.
Bond’s Brew – ACC Nation Podcast
The coaches, Kelly and counterpart Dave Doeren, were on warm to scorching chairs before the first kick off. I believe Doeren has survived to this point because of a lame duck athletic director in Debbie Yow. Kelly, because Notre Dame is still forking out the green to Charlie Weis.
Yet, here we are. The reality is one team must lose and with that loss any hopes of the playoffs may well be dashed.
In the case of the Wolfpack, I don’t see them getting close to Clemson this year. As for the Irish, anything short of a perfect record kills their shot of wrapping up a playoff spot.
The selection committee has made it quite clear that unless your name is Ohio State, a conference title is practically a prerequisite for consideration. Notre Dame’s stubborn grip and a first week loss to Georgia will cost them dearly.
With these facts in hand, this may well be the game that forces the old guard’s hand. Notre Dame, the richest (yes, it’s about money, shocker, I know) private athletic university in America may finally have to go all in with the ACC in order to compete for a conference title.
Being on the outside looking in because of old traditions will force change like nothing else. This long romance with the conference needs to take the next step in the way of commitment.
We love them. We know they love us. Notre Dame is already competing in every ACC sport. Why not take the plunge? This may be the last straw that prompts the administration to “pop the question.”
Unforeseen circumstances have brought us to this juncture. Fate has delivered the most interesting game in the ACC this season. It may well carry with it the winds of change as well.
Sometimes those expected big games turn into classics. The Notre Dame – NC State game is bigger than we would have imagined.
I suggest, as you prepare for the game, that you pick up your favorite craft beer. The best memories deserve nothing less.