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Irish eyes are smiling

After an 0-5 start, Notre Dame celebrates a win

Posted: Tuesday October 9, 2007 11:53AM; Updated: Tuesday October 9, 2007 12:12PM
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By John Everett

The headline in Monday's campus newspaper says it all:

Jimmy Clausen and the rest of the Fighting Irish celebrate their first victory of the season.
Jimmy Clausen and the rest of the Fighting Irish celebrate their first victory of the season.
AP

"Finally"

Notre Dame has won a football game for the first time since beating Army, 41-0, last November. At the end of that game, his last in front of the home crowd, senior quarterback Brady Quinn made his way into the student section, leading a raucous cheer of "Beat SC!" that lasted several minutes. There was confidence in that moment that, as the song says, "Old Notre Dame will win over all." It was a stirring moment that has, of course, been slightly tarnished by what followed.

We didn't beat USC ... or LSU ... or any of our first five opponents this year, either, a fact I'm sure you're aware of because Mark May, Jay Leno, countless bloggers and this very Web site have all taken such delight in the failings of the Irish. There was the mock Clausen for Heisman campaign video, showing him repeatedly getting sacked by modest Michigan rushes and scrambling to catch errant snaps. There was Leno using Notre Dame for a point of comparison for other futile efforts, such as stating that the school's name is Latin (never mind that it's actually French, he was rolling) for New York Mets. And of course, there were the knowing grins on the faces of the talking heads and sportscasters, who in every possibly relevant context would bring up the struggles of Notre Dame in every facet of the game, trying to hide their glee as they predicted an 0-8 start to the season.

"Well, so-and-so State looked an awful lot like Notre Dame on that last three-and-out."

"Yeah, they're really Notre Dame-ing it out there tonight."

All that changed Saturday night, when the Fighting Irish played in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1925 and emerged victorious. On campus, the sense of relief displayed itself in a Bacchanalian scene of too-long forestalled joy, as hundreds of students took to dancing in the school's water fountain -- said to resemble the Stonehenge monument in England -- and through the library's reflecting pool. Cell phones and other devices were lost and water-damaged, clothing was stained by the library pool's dark-blue dye, but personal property was a secondary concern. Aided by unseasonably warm weather, these students were probably as happy as any fans of a school with a record of 1-5 have ever been. For the first time all season, the Saturday night drinking would be in celebration, not in an effort to ease the pain.

To be sure, a lot of you out there are probably still laughing. Look at Notre Dame, you may say, reduced to celebrating a win in October over an unranked team forced into playing a walk-on quarterback with three last names. (Seriously, Mcleod Bethel-Thompson, were his parents huge fans of Gavin MacLeod, who played Captain Stubing on The Love Boat?)

Yeah, the game tape probably shouldn't be used as an instructional tool on how to play winning football. Eventually Jimmy Clausen may have to throw for more than 84 yards to win a game, and Maurice Crum can not be counted on to generate quite as many turnovers every week. But for now, as someone once said, a win is a win is a win. With BC and USC coming to town the next two weeks, we'll take whatever we can get at Notre Dame, and hope it's not another 11 months until we win again.

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