Well, just as with Stanford the week before, we witnessed another hard-fought battle by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish this past weekend that they just could not manage to come out on the victorious side of. I’m talking, of course, about the national game of the week, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-5) vs. the Bye Week Benders (8-0). There was electricity in the air in South Bend, Indiana, as not even the Friday Night Hangovers could keep the students at bay on Saturday morning. Gameday found itself in its usual spot on the quad in front of the Hesburgh Library. Many thought that Texas A&M vs. Alabama deserved Gameday, given the fact that the game held actual relevance, but this matchup was too good to skip. Despite the seemingly lopsided records, analysts thought that Notre Dame might have a shot at winning this game given the lack of defensive manpower on the side of the Benders. The picks were pretty split. Guest pickers Kim Kardashian and Kanye West really struggled with who was going to win this game. Kardashian went with the Irish because she couldn’t take her eyes off the helmets that were all “gold and shiny and stuff,” and West predicted that he himself would win the game, followed by a seemingly random comment of, “Father Jenkins doesn’t care about Jewish people.” After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, Lee Corso said, “Not so fast! Bye Week may not have much on offense, but the Notre Dame defense will not be on the field this weekend. Bye Week comes out on top!” He then chugged a Natty Light (The Benders’ mascot), crushed the can on his forehead, and began to run around with way more energy and reckless abandon than any 81-year-old should possess.
At the start of the game, the Benders elected to receive the opening kickoff. The ball sailed into the endzone for a touchback, as nobody was back deep to receive. Right from the get-go, Corso’s prediction proved very accurate. The Benders experienced an offensive surge, and the Notre Dame Defense was non-existent yet again. They took their time getting to the endzone, using only short slant routes and running plays. After a time-consuming drive that lasted the entire first half and a daring 2-point conversion try, the Benders were up 8-0 at halftime. Brian VanGorder looked on in ecstatic elation as his former place of employment continued to flounder in the absence of his defensive prowess. While running into the tunnel, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly commented on the first half performance, “We need to get the ball, ya know? We can’t play football if we don’t have the ball and we’re not on the field.”
The Irish received the opening kickoff of the second half. After a touchback, they began at their own 25. Bye Week employed an interesting defensive scheme, packing all 11 players in the box. Notre Dame went with a pretty standard spread formation for most of the game with two receivers split out to each side and Tarean Folston joining Kizer in the backfield. The first drive failed miserably as Kelly elected to run three draw plays right up the middle into eleven defenders as all four receivers ran their routes completely unguarded for first, second, and third down. The Irish were forced to punt the ball back to the Benders, who took their time yet again, scoring a touchdown with 32 seconds left. Their strategy proved successful, as Kizer was kept off the field for almost the whole game. The Irish took the field and scored on the first play, as Brian Kelly finally realized the mismatch on the outside and DeShone Kizer took advantage of the absence of cornerbacks and safeties, connecting with Alphabet Soup St. Brown for a 75 yard touchdown. Justin Yoon’s point-after attempt was good.
The Irish recovered an onside kick and, once again, scored in one play as Brady Quinn came into the game and connected with Jeff Samardzija for another touchdown. The Irish were down 15-13 with no time left on the clock. Kelly, using his unprecedented, unparalleled coaching abilities opted to kick the extra point, claiming, “They’ll never expect it.” The PAT was good, and Kelly was seen on camera leaning over to interim defensive coordinator Greg Hudson saying, “See, I told you it would work.” The game ended with that play and Kelly’s face became a shade of red/purple that wasn’t on the color wheel as he screamed at referee Ed Hoculi, “We get the ball back!” As usual, nobody knew what he was talking about.
Kelly kept his press conference short and took few questions. He began by saying, “My players suck. That’s all there is to it. They suck. They were given everything they need when the university brought me in but for some reason, they can’t get it together, even with ME as their coach! I’m a coaching genius, and there’s no other way to word it.” An approving Kanye West sat in the front row nodding his head. When asked what the biggest problem was in the game, Kelly simply yelled, “The Benders are who we thought they were! And we let ‘em off the hook!” and stormed offstage.
This was a real turning point week for the Irish, given the game and Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick, announcing that Brian Kelly will be returning to lead the Irish in 2017. Given this bit of information, I predict the Irish will lose this matchup again next season.