Notre Dame football: The good and the bad of the regular season

Notre Dame football

Notre Dame football completed the season on quite the high note. Ending 10-0, the Irish have put themselves in an excellent position to be a highly ranked candidate for the College Football Playoff. There is just one obstacle that lies ahead holding Notre Dame from focusing on a national championship. That would be playing the Clemson Tigers for the ACC Championship on Dec. 19. There is speculation that Notre Dame still could be admitted into the College Football Playoff even with a loss. Although the future is unknown, I believe in the strength of the Irish. Before covering the upcoming game against Clemson, I thought I would take a trip down memory lane and review the good, and the ugly of the 2020 regular season.

The ugly

I always prefer to start with the lows in order to end on a high note. Although the ending went as well as it could have, Notre Dame experienced some bumps along the way. Whether it was with injuries or close games, the Irish definitely kept the Notre Dame fandom biting their fingernails when stakes were high.

Worst game

In my opinion, the game against Louisville was Notre Dame’s lowest point of the season. With a close 12-7 victory, Notre Dame had a lot to prove in the next few weeks. For a game with a very high win probability for the Irish, there was not much action that proved Notre Dame deserved that game. Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham threw more passing yards than Ian Book. With 132 yards and one touchdown, Cunningham simply outdid Book, as Book only threw for 106 yards. The Irish offense was slow, lacked momentum and the game seemed as if it would never end.

Ultimately, the performance was disappointing to say the least. For a team that was being so highly considered as one of the best in college football, Notre Dame deserved the talk of being overrated.

Worst injury

Besides wide receiver Kevin Austin being out for the season, starting center Jarrett Patterson‘s injury to his left foot during the Boston College game heavily impacted the offensive line late in the season. With the Irish replacing Patterson with rookie Zeke Correll, Notre Dame had to quickly adapt to the roster change, hoping it would not hurt what is already in place. Patterson was a key part of the offensive line and although Correll is handling the pressure quite well, it is still not the same force that it was before.

The good

It is easy to say the second half of the season was a turning point for Notre Dame. After Louisville, the Irish were scoring at least 30 points every game. The defense was turning into an unstoppable force, which has now made them one of the best defenses in college football. Ian Book has turned many heads in college football. He has made history for Irish football, which has created some talk surrounding the Heisman.

Best game

This might be the easiest question I have ever had to answer thus far in my college sports writing career. Forcing No. 2 Clemson into double overtime on a November night in South Bend will never be forgotten by Notre Dame football. It was the golden ticket that allowed Notre Dame to hold a spot in the College Football Playoff rankings.

This November night could certainly be the start to an unforgettable ending, but the rest of the story has yet to be told.

Photo by Rosie LoVoi | The Observer