SOUTH BEND, Ind. – At 12:10 a.m. on Sunday, the last student circling the playground at Notre Dame picked up his sweater and walked away when the security was closed. Four boys dressed as nuns and girls in green pajamas had departed. Hundreds of chest-blocking people, random hugs, photographers and other wild celebrators have appeared.
It was 27 minutes after No. 4 Fighting Ireland beat No. 1 Clemson in double extra time, 47-40, in the biggest and best match of the season. What took place after the final play was an excited, inattentive, emotional, unwise, spontaneous celebration. It’s a scene from a simpler era, before 2020.
COVID-19’s social alienation is damnable, a high percentage of the 11,011 published crowd burst into the courtyard and turned it into an old-fashioned mosh pit. During a completely unusual season, it was a joyous moment of perfectly normal college football turmoil. Those days associated with a buttoned existence were washed aside by the emotional tidal wave created by a huge and dramatic victory.
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“It was crazy,” said Notre Dame’s broadcaster Avery Davis, whose two last-minute catches helped prevent the defeat and forced the game into extra time. “It’s different from when you see it in movies. You are being surrounded by fans. “
Notre Dame Stadium announcer Mike Collins, 75, tried a diplomatic approach to dissolve the crowd. This is his 38th and final year at work, and obviously he doesn’t want to be the killer at the biggest football party in this historic mansion since the Irish beat them. Florida number 1 in 1993.
“We want everyone to be safe and safe here,” Collins said. “Please leave the field. … Please use any open aisle. … And if the openers can help out a little, that will help. ”
“Okay, the band is leaving,” Collins said a few minutes later. “The fans should be too. The players have left. “
The boys race from the center of the field to the goal line. Others jumped to hit the crossbar. A girl made a wheelchair. In the end, Collins dropped one last incentive for play enthusiasts.
“If you stay too long,” he said, “that will be the last call somewhere.”
This is an empty threat. About 45 minutes later, the bars on Eddy Street are still packed. The Notre Dame Cathedral and the surrounding area will be active long and vigorously for a few hours on Sunday mornings.
College football and pandemic best practices are incompatible. In the end, the emotion of a pivotal moment wins.
And this was a crucial moment for Notre Dame, in a seemingly relentless quest to awaken its own glorious afternoons.
Coach Brian Kelly has done a great job bringing the show to relevance, but there’s a gap between coverage and dominance. He has yet to close that gap. There are plenty of wins – last week Kelly mentioned several times that his team has won 12 in a row and 29 of their last 32 games – but not the kind of wins Clemson and Alabama won.
Clemson, with a 36-game win in the regular season, has come to showcase that kind of juicy goal. And the Tigers are very vulnerable, lacking the most talented player in the college game (midfielder Trevor Lawrence) and some key defensive players.
Face-to-face with an opponent who crushed his team by 27 points in the 2018 College Football knockout qualifiers, Kelly has played a prophetic role in the positivity for her players all week. He forewarned the post-game warning.
“When we win this, our fans will burst into the pitch,” he told the team during an instructional session on Friday. “So when they do that, we have to leave the field. We have to go to the tunnel. “
After kicking off, Kelly’s confidence was immediately rewarded. In the first official play from the script, Kyren Williams ran back to the left flank and went 65 yards for a touch.
Notre Dame will not score an attacking touch again until a final offensive match is decided. In the middle, the Irish took a 23-10 lead, seeing it disappear into a 26-all draw, then found itself behind 33-26 after a great touch drive and great patience set Designed by freshman midfielder Clemson DJ Uiagalelei.
With the Notre Dame’s defense refusing to rise and a sure block, the Tigers had to make a series of short-term attack situations to go down the pitch. It’s another indication that Uiagalelei’s impending star, whose cannon is one thing, but the poise of big contexts is another. One night when the Irish star stopped while running back to Travis Etienne, Uiagelelei responded by throwing 439 yards away.
“The DJ is a special player,” said Kelly. “Trevor Lawrence is also a special player. Boy, I want to solve Dabo’s problem. “
But Kelly also has a special player in midfielder Ian Book. He doesn’t have a career future or material gifts like his Clemson counterparts, but he’s a very successful moderator of Kelly’s crime. And he had his greatest college moment on Saturday night – not long after one of his darkest college moments.
Books found an ownership potential to continue into the region last in the third quarter. But Kelly told him he would win the game, and the sunbae chose to trust his coach.
“Everything happened,” Book said. “The player forgets it. … Defenders are really difficult. You face a lot of pressure, but when it goes in the right direction, you will receive a lot of love. “
On the last down from the 43-yard line at Notre Dame at the last minute of the match, Book passed and saw a gift: Clemson let Davis go deep without safety assistance. Book took a pass down the middle and Davis took a catch, eventually being dealt with at the 4-yard line. Three plays later, Book beat Davis for forced knockout.
That took the game overtime. After hitting the ground in the first half, Notre Dame used seven card runs to score and lead 47-40. That time of possession gave the Irish defense time to rest, and that unit appeared turbocharged, knocking out Uiagalelei twice and delivering massive blows on the receiver.
When the 4th and 24th innings were stopped, the game was won and the stand – which had filled about 14% of its capacity – was empty. It’s the kind of uncontrollable celebration you see a few times somewhere in annual sport – except this year.
“It was fun,” said Book.
There could be more fun for these two teams. They are the two best teams in the Atlantic Coast Games, so a rematch in Charlotte to win the league title seems entirely possible next month – and with Lawrence’s return Clemson will certainly be favored. This result also does not reduce the likelihood of both teams reaching the knockout round of College Football.
And there is some growing competition between the two shows. Kelly said last week that he was aware of Clemson’s acumen in stealing signals, and adjusted accordingly – the Irish had gathered and called it off the strap. Kelly says it’s “correct” has to do with keeping the Tigers from intercepting their play commands.
Then there was a moment Swinney appeared to threaten the ACC crew to pick up an important intervention flag in the fourth quarter. That leads to “f—- you Dabo!” Cant of the students of Notre Dame.
More competition, please.
Of course, that will require both of you to run the business for the rest of the way. Clemson’s schedule was not too arduous (Florida, Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech). Notre Dame played three of the last four games on the road, starting at Boston College on Saturday.
And let’s say there is some disturbing precedent for the Irish to settle there. Their final victory over the No. 1 team, a match in the State of Florida in ’93, followed by a disastrous defeat against Boston College. That takes away the national title of Notre Dame.
Trust Kelly to get that number up about 200 times over the next six days.
“I have to bring this team back,” he said. “We’ve got a target in the back of us.”
Let’s hope the series of challenges ahead do not include a new COVID boom from this sector storm. It’s nice to have an ordinary moment of college football in 2020 at no cost to it.