Notre Dame football: A defensive machine

There is one thing that has been stable for Notre Dame football this entire season. From the beginning, the Irish defense has held the team together and continues to strengthen and grow into an exceptional force. Now, Notre Dame has the opportunity to make the College Football Playoff. Even more specific, the Irish might have a shot at defeating Clemson twice, which would make history.

There are many reasons why Notre Dame has had a successful season. For example, the offensive line has been fantastic at adapting to sudden change, the running backs are strong and fierce and Ian Book has risen to greatness over the past few weeks. Certainly all are essential aspects of Notre Dame football, I believe the Irish defense has been the most valuable aspect of the team all season. To many, they are a machine that is unstoppable.

Against North Carolina

Notre Dame defense held an explosive Tar Heels’ offense to minimum gains last weekend. North Carolina’s offense was held to 17 points the entire game with the Irish defense only allowing 298 yards. That is 5.2 yards per play, which if you look at the Tar Heels average statistics, is much lower than they are used to. Before Notre Dame came to Chapel Hill, North Carolina was averaging 563.4 yards per game, being ranked No. 4 in the country for yards per play. For the Irish, that is an impressive showing and certainly gives them a reason to be nationally recognized.

Comparing other top teams

Looking at the other contenders in the College Football Playoff rankings, Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State all lack the defensive intensity that Notre Dame has. For example, those three teams had much higher averages of yards per game leading up to last weekend than Notre Dame with Alabama giving up 359 yards per game, Clemson giving up 349 and Ohio State giving up 390. Notre Dame allows 303 yards per game, which is not only impressive, but gives a look into how Notre Dame could be a tough competitor come playoff season.

Moving forward

There is no doubt Notre Dame’s defense is in an excellent spot at the moment. The only two major players with injuries at the moment are tackle Jayson Ademilola and tackle Jacob Lacey. Ademilola had a knee injury that required surgery, but is expected back within the next two weeks. Lacey was claimed to be banged up this past week and was given a break against North Carolina but should also play in the upcoming games.

Right now, the Irish defense must stay healthy. Not only because the offensive line is continually changing due to new injuries, but ultimately because Notre Dame’s defense is what has driven the team to greatness. Not only has it been consistent, but the numbers on paper show the defense would be better than any other team that would be fighting in the national championship.

The coveted year

This could be the year Notre Dame takes the title. Granted, the Irish still have Syracuse and an ACC Championship to win. There are obstacles ahead, but I have no doubt in the potential of the Irish defense. Notre Dame is hungry for a title and this could be the year for it.

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