The Notre Dame bandwagon might soon have to invest in some extra seats.
Notre Dame hasn't played anybody.
The Irish defense will wilt against Oklahoma's vaunted offensive attack.
Everett Golson can't get his team enough points to win in Norman.
The Irish naysayers are starting to run out of songs. Though let's not delude ourselves, they'll be out in force again this week, but some people just never learn.
But not one single Notre Dame fan cares what anyone has to say tonight, as the Irish silenced many of their critics with a thrilling 30-13 victory over Oklahoma in Norman.
And now the Irish have officially jettisoned their pretender label, and are now a bona fide National Championship contender in 2012.
It was a special night, with the Irish defense proving they are championship caliber and Everett Golson emerging, with huge plays in huge spots, as that special kind of player who can win big games in hostile environments.
And then there was Manti T'eo, who might just be the best player in all of college football, who all but sealed the deal with a huge interception deep inside Oklahoma territory in the final minutes.
It takes a special group to go into Norman and beat the Sooners. And the Irish did just that, riding a defense that made championship-caliber plays all night long.
It was the first time in Bob Stoops' 14-year career in Norman that his team lost two games at home in one season.
And the Irish earned it.
The main storyline coming into the game was how the Notre Dame defense, particularly the secondary, would hold up against a vaunted Sooner offensive attack.
The secondary held its own and made the big plays in the big spots. Sure Landry Jones had a big game and the passing statistics viewed in isolation don't seem to support this point.
But the defense came up huge every single time they had to and made the crucial play that sealed the deal late.
On offense, Everett Golson, who is explosive but mistake-prone, chose a great time to have his biggest game of the season. The key stat for Golson: zero turnovers.
He finished 13-of-25 for 177 yards in the air, and added another 64 on the ground. But the stats again don't tell the whole story.
With just over nine minutes remaining in the game, Oklahoma marched down the field and punched it into the end zone, the first rushing TD against Notre Dame this season, to tie the game at 13-13.
It was a huge momentum swing and placed the bullseye squarely on Golson's back.
With ice water in his veins, he marched the Irish 73 yards in seven plays, including a clutch 50-yard completion to Chris Brown, culminating in Golson taking it himself into the end zone from the 1-yard line.
It was that drive that broke the Sooners.
And the Irish never looked back.
While the victory is certainly impressive, it is made all the more so by the fact that it was dominant.
Notre Dame out-gained Oklahoma 215-15 yards on the ground and shut them down when it mattered most.
While the win will certainly silence many critics, it was just that—one great win.
Time to prepare for Pittsburgh. And make room on that bandwagon.
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