Dec 31, 2012, 2:35 PM EDT
November was another special month for Notre Dame athletics. Basketball kicked into full swing, hockey swept one of its top rivals on the road for the first time in decades, and on the gridiron, the Fighting Irish continued their incredible season.
On Nov. 3, that quest for perfection seemed in jeopardy. But then, the magic happened.
The next week, the women’s basketball team traveled to Charleston, S.C. for the Carrier Classic aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown.
Later that weekend, the men’s soccer shocked Georgetown in the BIG EAST championship game, earning its first conference title since 2003.
For the first time since 1978, the Irish hockey team swept Michigan at Yost Arena.
Before taking on Wake Forest on Nov. 17, the Notre Dame football team honored its senior class. The game kicked off, and the Irish went out and dominated the Demon Deacons, 38-0.
I’ll never forget being a student two seasons ago, when the Fighting Irish beat #14 Utah, 28-3 – their first victory over a ranked opponent since 2006 – on “my” Senior Day. That win was a weight off the shoulders of the student body, and a fitting sendoff for the class of 2011.
But I didn’t feel any personal connection to the team or any of the players. It was tough to say goodbye, but mostly to that seat in the front of section 29, and the friends with whom I’d shared the joys and heartbreaks of being a Notre Dame football fan.
Tomorrow will be different. Over the past two seasons working closely with the team, I’ve gotten to know these guys.
I worked with Mike Golic Jr. (and his fellow film major buddy Brandon Newman) on the “Our Team, Our Story” series last year.
I watched Trick Shot Monday grow from a mindless locker room competition to a national YouTube sensation.
I grew up a Notre Dame football fan because I was Irish Catholic, and my dad and uncle had been cheering on the blue & gold since they were kids.
As a student, I was a fan because I loved the university and college football.
Now, I’m a fan because of guys like Kap, Braxston, Goody, Carlo, Robby, Jamoris, the Golic brothers, Cierre, and of course, T-Stock. I can understand why they’ve grown so much on the field, because they’re such a close bunch off of it.
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Later that night, Stanford stunned #2 Oregon and Baylor shocked #1 Kansas State. Just like that Notre Dame was atop the rankings. Still, it would be all for nothing without a win in the season’s final game at USC.
Not to be denied, the Irish topped the Trojans, 22-13, thanks in part to another legendary goal line stand.
In its biggest non-conference game of the season, the men’s basketball team dominated the defending champs, downing #8 Kentucky, 64-50.
The defending national champions. The #1 recruiting class. The #8 team in the nation. The supposedly bigger, faster and stronger Kentucky Wildcats. All that might have meant something had this game been played in Rupp Arena.
But as Notre Dame has demonstrated time and time again during Mike Brey‘s tenure as head coach, few teams come to South Bend and leave with a victory.
With what seemed to be nearly half of the top-ranked Fighting Irish football team standing courtside, and the rowdy Leprechaun Legion in full force behind them, Notre Dame dominated Kentucky, 64-50 on a “blackout night” at Purcell Pavilion.
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And finally, the volleyball team advanced to its first NCAA tournament since 2009, taking on the Ohio State Buckeyes.
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