Notre Dame in line for No. 1 spot after KSU, Oregon fall
By Mark Lazerus Sun-Times Media November 17, 2012 11:34PM
Notre Dame wide receiver TJ Jones scores a pass from quarterback Everett Golson against Wake Forest during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: December 19, 2012 4:04PM
SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame linebacker Dan Fox’s mother raced toward her son as he burst out of the tunnel on Saturday afternoon, the two meeting at the 40-yard line for an endearing, if slightly awkward, flying hip bump during pre-game Senior Day festivities. Kapron Lewis-Moore made his mother disappear in a burly bear hug. And Manti Te’o — the last one out of the tunnel — ripped off his helmet and spiked it into the ground as he ran into his father’s arms at midfield.
No, there would be no emotional letdown, no sluggish effort at home, this time around. As a result, the Irish are set to become the new No. 1 team in the country.
Notre Dame scored three touchdowns — all by seniors — in the first 11 minutes, and redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson had a career day as the Irish cruised to a 38-0 dismantling of hapless Wake Forest (5-6).
“We saved our best for the last home game,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said.
A few stunning hours later, Baylor finished off a 52-24 shellacking of No. 1 Kansas State, and Stanford rallied to beat No. 2 Oregon 17-14 in overtime. That means Notre Dame will rise to No. 1, and is one win over USC away from playing for its national championship since 1988.
The stunning results made ND receiver John Goodman’s words earlier in the evening eerily prophetic.
“Coach has been telling us the whole season it’s all going to work itself out, and we just have to take care of what we can take care of, and that’s what we did tonight,” Goodman said.
Golson played only 21/2 quarters, yet completed 20-of-30 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Cierre Wood ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the game and finished with 150 yards on just 11 carries. T.J. Jones had six catches for 97 yards and a score, and Tyler Eifert became Notre Dame’s all-time leading receiver among tight ends with six catches for 85 yards and a score.
Notre Dame outgained the Demon Deacons 584-209 — even though they “took it easy” in the second half, in Wake coach Jim Grobe’s words — with Golson cracking the 300-yard mark for the first time in his career before halftime.
Those are the kinds of gaudy numbers that the Irish haven’t been putting up all year; the 21 points Notre Dame scored in the first quarter were more than it had scored in regulation in any home game this season. For once, Notre Dame had true style points, not talking points about a stout defense, a tough schedule, or a gritty team spirit.
Not that the Irish seemed to care. Nor did they wind up needing it.
“Where the hell did style points come from? I hate that,” said nose guard Louis Nix III. “I don’t believe in style points, I believe in winning.”
Instead, the Irish were basking in the glow of a perfect end to a perfect home slate — their first since 1998. Te’o, draped in so many makeshift leis — including a couple made of candy bars — that you could barely see his face, spoke in reverent tones about the school, and about the “magic” moments when he ran out of the tunnel for the last time, and when Kelly called a timeout so he, Kapron Lewis-Moore and Zeke Motta could each get one last curtain call in front of the adoring crowd.
“Definitely two things I’ll always remember the rest of my life,” Te’o said.