Notre Dame football rests on the fine line between tradition and idolatry, and despite arguments that the team is reaching the frontiers of greatness from its most deluded of fans, the team remains an imposter of talent and its promise. The victory against the University of Southern California often gets separated from Notre Dame’s low-scoring loss against Ohio State in the final second of the game — a game for which storming the field would have been rightful if not for the tragic ending. Although Notre Dame’s defensive line takes comfort in its mantra “One play, one life,” at the game’s end, it was truly one second that ruptured the team’s hopeful visions of victory and consequent success. The loss against Ohio State can partly be attributed to head coach Marcus Freeman’s poor decision-making, opting to afford the Buckeyes a play against 10 defenders, with the 11th player arriving late preventing Notre Dame from receiving a penalty. Though the Fighting Irish avoided a penalty, Freeman’s hesitancy unfortunately cost the team a touchdown, a fate arguably worse than a flag. Thus it is entirely unfair to praise Notre Dame’s win against USC without remembering the team’s embarrassing earlier display against Ohio State, a game for which storming the field was highly anticipated and would have been, unlike the USC game, highly deserved.
If the devastating loss against Ohio State wasn’t enough to put Notre Dame’s claims of greatness in question, the team’s win against the University of Southern California was nothing short of expected. Notre Dame was favored to win by three against a team that hasn’t seen talks of relevancy in this decade. The Notre Dame rivalry against USC runs long through history yet Notre Dame consistently champions the latter, with Notre Dame beating USC in five of their last six games, six of their last eight, and nine of their last 13.
In short, this season’s victory against USC was arguably routine and unworthy of storming the field: a ritual that should be reserved for impressive victories for the sake of avoiding trivializing the occasion into mundanity. I understand arguments favoring storming the field in the name of rivalry, but is beating a team worse than yourself worthy of such a celebration? It struck me as pitiful rather than poetic.